The Cornerstone Fellowship Program
Last week I joined 6 fellows from Camp Ramah New England at the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Cornerstone conference. Forty-One camps representing different denominations, with different visions, and a variety of backgrounds, all came together with the overall goal of creating impactful and meaningful Jewish summer experiences. The Foundation for Jewish Camp helps the camps achieve this goal by creating an interactive, diverse and incredibly intense four-day experience. The Cornerstone Fellowship, made possible by the generosity of The AVI CHAI Foundation, empowers third-year Jewish bunk counselors to view themselves as Jewish role models for both campers and younger counselors.
Now it its eighth year, Cornerstone provides advanced professional training that enables Jewish camps to continue to attract these critical staff members. The Cornerstone fellowship program recognizes that third-year counselors are the future leaders of our camps and that they have the opportunity to serve as positive role-models to the camp community. The program teaches counselor skills, best practices in Jewish content programming, and teambuilding exercises. While the sessions at the conference are fun and interactive, all the programs are transferable to the camp experience. Taking the big picture of an activity and making it applicable to each fellow’s individual camp is part of the excitement and challenge. The conference helps get staff energized for the summer and starts the creative process of generating new and innovative programs.
One of the most amazing things to witness at Cornerstone was the coming together and sharing of strengths between the camps. It was amazing to see the Ramah fellows learn from camp Tawonga about environmental education and programming, and the Ramah fellows engaged with the fellows from Tawonga about how to incorporate a deeper Jewish context into environmental education.
It was also very invigorating to see all the Ramah camps connect. At Cornerstone there were five Ramah camps represented– Ramah Darom, Ramah California, Ramah Berkshires, Ramah Canada and Ramah New England. The Ramah fellows all spent a lot of time together. For many of the Ramah fellows this was an opportunity to reconnect with fellow Ramah Israel Seminar participants, friends from other National Ramah Leadership training programs, and fellow participants from the Nativ Year program in Israel. They shared the same objective of creating excellent summer experience that inspire commitment to and engagement in Jewish life, and create impactful Conservative Jewish Summer experiences.
This year we are very fortunate to have 6 great fellows: Yair Schatz, Jeremy Henowitz, Ari Hausman, Ilana Rosenbaum, Becca Lipson, and Eva Jablow. Davey Rosen (Assistant Director of Ramah New England) joined us for part of the conference as well. We are also very lucky to have a faculty adviser through the Foundation for Jewish Camp – Seth Wax. I am very excited to be able to work with the fellows over the summer to create amazing Jewish programming.