Vocational Training: Learning New Skills and Working Around Camp

For several decades, participants in the Camp Ramah New England Tikvah Program have developed vocational skills while training at work sites around camp. The training provides participants with the “soft skills” that are critically important to job readiness and work success (such as learning about job options, practicing interviewing skills, developing a strong work ethic, and practicing appropriate personal interactions). Many also learn specific vocational skills that can be used in workplaces outside of camp. This summer, they returned to many of the same sites where they had worked in 2019, while new work sites – such as “Roo Brew,” our in-house coffee shop – are providing new opportunities to build skills.

Participants in Tochnit Avodah (Voc Ed) and Voc Ed Ma’avar (the transition program that bridges Amitzim and Voc Ed) spend several hours training each day, while members of Amitzim train for an hour each day. During the pandemic, in their lives outside of camp, some participants were able to continue to building their work skills, while others were not. They are thrilled to be at camp, learning to be more independent, building job skills for the future, and having fun!

At many of our in-camp work sites, participants are developing food services skills. Trainees can be found preparing coffee drinks for our staff at Roo Brew, making smoothies and baked goods in the Voc Ed bakery, preparing our Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) tables for lunch, helping with food prep in the kitchen, and packing up the snack boxes for the entire camp. Others are in sorting and delivering letters or working as assistants in our chuggim (camper electives). Trainees are guided by Voc Ed advisors, madrichim (counselors) working in Amitzim, and job coaches who arrive each day to help with training time. The jobs performed by the trainees really help to make camp run smoothly – they are absolutely essential to the daily running of the camp.

Here’s a glimpse into what our trainees are learning this summer:

Sharon is often busy filling coffee orders at Roo Brew. She fulfills both written orders, submitted in advance, and verbal orders for the Roo Brew “customers” (no money changes hands!). Many of the coffee orders are quite complicated, with as many as five to six ingredients. Sharon loves this role: “I love serving everyone and making sure that the staff is happy, especially because they can’t leave to go to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. The job is getting easier and easier.”

This year, at the Voc Ed Bakery, the participants are learning to make cookies and cakes (especially birthday cakes!), as well as the bakery’s new offerings: smoothies, guacamole and rice crispy treats. The trainees who prepare snacks – Josh, Sam, Tiki, Molly and Jack – have to learn to stay organized so that each snack box has the correct number of snacks and fruit. So, too, do the trainees who prepare the Chadar Ochel for lunch, who have to count out the utensils, plates and cups that each table will need.

We are so thrilled to have our trainees back at camp – working hard, building their skills for the future, and contributing tremendously to our camp community.


Categories: Voc-Ed