by Jon Adam Ross, Rosh Mercaz
Camp Ramah in Wisconsin operates a full time think tank for fun. That may sound unbelievable, but it’s true! Our cabin staff spend a great deal of their days planning programs for their campers. But they don’t have to create these programs on their own. Our program design team (the think tank of master experiential educators who work as יועצי תכנון (programming consultants) during the summer has been hard at work meeting with מדריכים (counselors) to plan original, engaging activities. Some of these programs are about Israel, Jewish values, the Torah, Shabbat, or Hebrew. And some are just about having FUN! This summer, we’ve created a brand new program for cabin activities and eidah activities with a menu of really cool programs offered by the different ענפים (specialty areas) in camp.
For instance, our Music staff is offering live karaoke this summer. You pre-pick the songs, they’ll learn how to play them so you can do karaoke with a full band backing you up! Or a צריף can host a special radio show on WRMH 89.3 FM for a camper’s birthday. And our outdoor education staff is running meditation activities in the יער (forest). And outside the ענפים one cabin is this very day walking around camp dressed like Pirates for a day full of (approved) mischief. (Side joke: which staff member at Ramah Wisconsin is the favorite of pirates everywhere? Jarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!)
One fun way we help צוות (staff) engage with Jewish values is with a tool created by Rabbi Avi Orlow at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. This Making of a Mensch periodic table contains elements that are Jewish values that we hope to instill in our campers and צוות. Every program planned at camp has to identify at least one element from the periodic table. And we have integrated these Jewish values all over camp! (for instance: this periodic table of הכרת הטוב (positive feedback) for staff in our Mercaz Kopin staff lounge.
As you can see, the staff in the Mercaz (programming center) is hard at work this summer helping our counselors make it the most fun and meaningful summer for our campers. With one more week to go, there’s still plenty of time for more bad pirate jokes!