Reflections on a Virtual Nivonim Summer
May 20, the day that we announced the cancellation of our summer 2020 season, was a tough day for everyone, but it was toughest for Nivonim 2020, the oldest edah (unit) at our overnight camp in Palmer. Throughout the late spring, we worked long and hard to find ways to bring Nivonim 2020 to Palmer, not accepting until the last moment that this would be impossible. And so, in the wake of our cancellation, we started to ask, how could we make Nivonim virtual – and special?
This was a tough question. We had to acknowledge that were aspects of the summer that could not be replaced. However, under the direction of Rosh Edah Andy Weissfeld, we began to imagine a new summer. And, with the participation of Tzevet (staff) Nivonim, our plans began to take shape.
The virtual Nivonim summer contained many components: Peulat Edah (unit activities), Kvuzah time (group time), Hadracha (leadership training), speakers, Harga’ah (bedtime activities), Shabuddies (small group conversations), and Hachanah L’Shabbat (Shabbat preparation). Some of these activities mirrored things that would happen at camp, but Andy and his tzevet also brought new traditions to the group, such as ten minutes of silly introductions at the beginning of each call.
However, the most unexpected and special parts of the program were the many projects created by the campers: an edah song recording, a practice Miriam Dance video, a pen pal program for would-have-been first-time campers, the weekly Niv News video updates, Nivonim speeches, social media spotlights, and program planning for Tzad Aleph (A-side) campers, Tikvah campers, and Nivonim campers. Looking back on all of this, what I am most proud of is how the edah used the circumstance of convening virtually to their advantage. Not only did they still find ways to do many things that would have happened at camp, but they also went above and beyond to create new experiences and outcomes that might not have been possible at camp. The social media content, pen pal program, and videos were unique to this virtual summer and were some of the most rewarding parts of it. I hope that as Nivonim 2020 looks back on this experience, they will remember how they took the resources available to them to create something new and exciting, how they found ways to connect our community in unprecedented times, and how they were still able to have fun and find joy doing so.
Andy, Tzevet Nivonim, and I are so proud of Nivonim 2020. We thank them for each time they pushed us, laughed with us, asked questions, and shared ideas. In the end, Virtual Nivonim was exceptional. So, here’s to you, Nivonim 2020. Thank you!