Staff Week 2024 Highlights

Here’s an update from Rabbi Gelb, CEO, on our wonderful Shavua Hachana — staff week!

Shalom Parents,

We are giddy with excitement to open our gates tomorrow and welcome you to camp! Staff week has been incredible as we build our Ramah community, train and learn together. I wanted to share some of what we have been up to and give a few tips on how to help your campers transition to camp.

Staff Week Happenings:
With all that has happened in the world since October 7th, I was wondering if the Ramah joy and ruach would still shine through. I needn’t have worried, as coming to camp seems to be a balm for our tzevet (staff). Some highlights:

  • Tzrif (bunk) Brit (covenant): One of the keys to a great community is shared values and commitment. Our staff have been working on a first day program that each bunk will do to create their own Tzrif Brit. Each edah has developed some of their core principles and each bunk will engage in conversation on what type of bunk community they want to be. They will then make a bunk crest representing their agreements, sign them and hang them in their tzrifim. Each brit will both be individualized to the input of the camper but also share core Ramah values on how we treat each other.
  • Finding meaning in tefillah: We have done several programs to teach more about tefilot and discuss meaning. On Friday, we had traveling tefilot where each edah went to different stations representing different parts of the service. They then engaged in an activity to learn and discuss some of the tefilot in that section. I led one on birchot hashachar (morning blessings) and was so impressed with the madrichim’s insights on what the blessings meant to them. We saw great opportunities on how to have similar conversations with their chanichim.
  • Israel: We have been so impressed with our mishlachat. They have jumped in and are learning about the Ramah community.
    • On Friday our staff participated in Resetting the Table, a program to learn how to communicate across differences and handle difficult topics while keeping our connection strong.
    • We have had several Israel related programs. One powerful program included seven staff members telling their story about October 7th and its impact. We heard from Israelis and their experiences on that day and what they did to help their communities, we heard from American college students about campus anti-Semitism, we heard from Americans in Israel on gap years and their volunteer work and also from one soldier’s experience in Gaza. The support and love, along with rapt attention, helped our community come closer and understand each other’s experiences better.
  • Silly fun: At the start of every staff week, Co-Director Josh Edelglass leads an opening night competition between the edah staffs. We always film an intro video to kick it off. Then, there are silly challenges that each staff tries to complete. The ruach was amazing. Here is a link to our masterpiece video.

Pro Tips for coming to camp:

  • Here are some helpful tips about managing and minimizing homesickness.
  • The spirit of adventure – talk to your kids of how proud and excited you are of/for them as they embark on this magical journey. Encourage them to try new activities, taste new foods and be open to making new friends (even if they have friends at camp). Camp is even better when you are enthusiastically involved.
  • Talk through drop off. Whether at the bus or if you arrive by car, walk them through how you will say goodbye so they can know what to expect when you leave. If at camp, let them know you will say goodbye at the drop off point by the car. Knowing when/how this will happen relieves a lot of anxiety for parents and campers.

All of us at camp are here to make sure your camper is well cared for and having fun. Please reach out to your Yoetzet and/or our leadership team if you need anything.

, כל טוב(all the best)

Rabbi Ed Gelb (He/Him/His)
CEO, Ramah New England