Our Nivonimers Begin Their Leadership Experience!

One of our major programming initiatives this summer is the complete revamping of our Nivonim leadership programming.  I have blogged about this often in recent weeks!  We have created nine intensive leadership tracks for our Nivonim campers (our oldest division at camp), each focusing on a different area of camp: bunk counseling, Amitzim bunk counseling, camp programming, shira (singing/music), rikud (dance), teva (nature), sports, drama/theatre, and lifeguard-training.

After having spent many months developing this program, our leadership team (including Rabbi Gelb, Davey Rosen, Leora Kimmel, and Rosh Nivonim Jen Stern) were beyond thrilled to have seen the program launched earlier this week.  We kicked things off with an intensive two-day leadership workshop.  We invited a number of talented specialists to camp to work with each of our leadership tracks, and on Sunday and Monday our Nivonimers got to spend many hours training with and learning from this amazing group. 

Our teva (nature) track learned from Rabbi Seth Adelson.  Seth spent several summers working as our Rosh Teva (head of our nature/outdoors program), and for two years served as our Jewish Environmental and Nature Education Fellow.  Over the course of the workshop, Seth took our teva track participants all over the camp grounds, teaching them all about our local plant and animal life and demonstrating opportunities for nature education here at camp.  Seth also helped the teva participants develop their camping skills.
Our rikud (dance) track learned from Rachel Arcus.  Rachel is a former Rosh Edah who also spent two summers on tzevet rikud (dance staff) here at camp, and she has been teaching Israeli dance for over 18 years.  Not only did she help our rikud track participants to build their repertoire of Israeli dances, but she ran a series of exercises intended to help these kids learn how to teach dances to others.
Our shira (singing/music) track learned from Ami Yares and Dan Pugach from the band The Shuk.  Ami is a former Rosh Edah here at camp who has studied and taught music all over the world.  While exposing the shira track participants to music from many different cultures, he also helped the kids develop their skills at teaching songs & music.  On the second day of the program, he ran a special workshop with the shira track on how best to facilitate Friday night shira in our chadar ochel (dining hall), which is a major Nivonim responsibility.
Our sports track learned from Andrew Robinson.  Andrew, a former football player at the collegiate level, is on staff at the Center for Sports Psychology.  Andrew and the sports track participants delved deeply into questions of leadership through sports — how sports can be used to bind together a group of kids, how sports programs can help develop kids' self-confidence, how one can coach and teach kids at different skill levels, and many other topics.  On the second day of the program, he began working with the sports track on developing exciting plans for the big all-camp program for later in the summer that our Nivonimers plan and run, about which I dare say no more here due to its top-secret nature!
Our drama/theatre track learned from Rebecca Barish.  Rebecca is the Creative Director for the improv group Erasable Inc. and has studied at the Annoyance Theatre and at Improv Olympic in Chicago.  This is Rebecca's second visit to Ramah NE this summer, as she joined acting coach David Jahn to help train our hanhallah (senior leadership team) in early June.  She trained our theatre track participants in feeling comfortable on stage, developing character skills, gaining listening skills, staging a scene, and games and exercises that they could run for younger campers.
Our Camp Programming track learned from Shana Zionts.  Shana is the Special Projects Coordinator for the National Ramah Commission, and she spent many summers at Camp Ramah in Canada, most recently serving as their Program Director.  Shana taught our Camp Program track participants about the many steps necessary to plan a successful camp program.  She broke down the specifics of setting program goals, thinking about the purpose behind one's program, identifying all the steps necessary to put a program together, and much more.  Her workshop culminated in the Nivonimers' developing a peulah (program) to run for their fellow Nivonimers later in the summer.
Our lifeguard track began work with our S'gan Agam (Assistant Head of Waterfront) here at Ramah New England, Leah Collier.  Over the course of the summer, our lifeguard track participants will spend many hours training with Leah as they work to obtain their certification.
Our Amitzim Bunk Counseling track learned from Dave and Emily Kieval.  Dave and Emily have over 25 summers of Ramah experience between them, and both have served as Rosh Amitzim (the head of our special needs program here at camp).  They trained our Amitzim Bunk Counseling track participants in special needs education generally, as well as the specific disabilities encountered in Amitzim.  They ran sessions about treating all people as individuals, and balancing support with autonomy when working with Amitzim campers.  They worked with our Nivonimers to develop programming to run with Amitzim later in the session.
Finally, our Bunk Counseling track spent the first day training with senior members of our Nivonim tzevet (staff) and camp's leadership team, while day two was an intensive hands-on experience apprenticing in various Tzad Aleph tzrifim (A-Side bunks) and learning from our counselors.

I was so happy to see the seriousness with which our Nivonimers approached this two-day workshop, and the energy and enthusiasm with which they dove into their different programs.  In the coming weeks, we will build on the skills taught in each of these sessions, as the Nivonimers in each track begin planning for how they can contribute to camp in their areas of specialization!