Shavuah Hachanah Begins!
Over the last two weeks, our kehillah (community) has been slowly growing here in Palmer. First our year-round staff moved up, and we were soon joined by our tzevet agam (waterfront staff) and our tzevet havalim (ropes/adventure course staff) who came for their training courses. Then, on Tuesday, approximately sixty members of our mishlachat (our delegation of Israeli staff) joined us, along with several Argentinian staff-members! They were all tired from their long flight but bursting with excitement to at last be at Ramah after months of anticipation. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, which was a gorgeous sunny day here in Palmer, well over a hundred other excited hevrei tzevet (staff-members) arrived at camp! Shavuah Hachanah (Staff Week) had officially begun!
Shavuah Hachanah is a critically important time for us, as we train our staff-members and work to set up the program for all of the hanichim (campers) who are counting down the final days until the kayitz (summer) begins. We work hard, and we also have a lot of fun. We train and we learn and we build our community here at camp.
So far during Shavuah Hachanah, our tzevet (staff-members) have participated in training programs focusing on the matarot (goals) of Camp Ramah and our educational approach; the developmental levels of their hanichim; our systems of Camper Care; and their roles in ensuring the health and wellness of every person at camp. Our madrichim hevrati’im (bunk counselors) have work-shopped how to approach nikayon (morning cleanup) and bed-time in their tzrifim, and walked through “a day in the life” of themselves and their hanichim. Meanwhile, our mumchim (specialists) have been working on setting up their program areas and all of the plans for their first chug rotation of machzor rishon.
Our tzevet have also had the opportunity for limud (study) with three impressive teachers. Rabbi Gordon Tucker is the senior rabbi at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY, and was Dean of the Rabbinical School at JTSA from 1984-1992. He is Honorary Chairman (and former Chairman) of the Board of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, and he served on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly from 1982 to 2007. Rabbi Tucker has a long history with us at Camp Ramah in New England, and we are delighted to welcome him back. Rabbi Tucker taught a session on “Gentiles and the Jewish Community: Should Views Change?” Dr. Josh Kulp, who is the co-founder of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and author of Reconstructing the Talmud and The Schechter Haggadah: Art, History and Commentary, taught a session on “Christian Texts and Jewish Reflections.” Last but certainly not least, Rabbi Elliot Goldberg, who is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University, and who is a long-time Ramah tzevet-member and current member of our Board of Directors, taught a session on “The Ramah Experience, My Hanichim and Me — Transitioning into the Role of Informal Jewish Educator.”
We’ve also had a lot of fun! Our edot have engaged in all manner of bonding games and activities. Last night, at our opening Peulat Erev, our tzevet competed in an elaborate competition to create the many different elements of an (imaginary) movie about their edah. Staff-members created a movie trailer, wrote a theme song, did a photo shoot, and all sorts of other silly things. The creativity on display was very impressive! (The photo at the top of this blog post is of our hanhallah (senior staff) dancing during the intro video.) And tonight we just wrapped up a Leyl Kishroniyot — a Talent Show! Our tzevet is an incredibly impressive bunch, and we can’t wait for you all to meet them, just as they can’t wait to meet all of their hanichim!
We have another busy day tomorrow, and then we’ll enjoy a relaxing Shabbat together. The countdown until the hanichim arrive continues…!