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Camp Ramah Staff Train All Year Long

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Robyn Diamond1.10.20

Last week, 11 of our Camp Ramah Darom tzevet (staff) were together at the National Ramah Winter Leadership Training Conference at Camp Ramah in California. It was an incredible four days of learning together. Five cohorts came together to develop leadership skills and share best practices with over 20 year-round Ramah professionals from across the movement. The cohorts included returning counselors, vatikim (veteran staff), rashei aidah, Tikvah staff and Ramah College Network Coordinators.

At the conclusion of this year’s National Ramah Winter Leadership Training Conference over 40 participants joined an extended Ramah leadership institute. The cohort of Vatikim (veteran counselors), along with rashei aidah (division heads) and year-round Amitei Ramah Fellows, spent Sunday exploring innovative Jewish institutional models in Los Angeles – Beit T’shuvah, an addiction recovery center and congregation, and IKAR, a modern vision of an inclusive congregational community. Participants learned with Rabbi Mark Borovitz, founding rabbi of Beit T’shuvah, and Rabbi David Kasher of IKAR.

On Monday, the group spent the day at a Disneyland Leadership Institute, drawing connections between Disney and Ramah’s shared principles, and discussing methodologies of leadership and teamwork. During the three-hour program, designed for Ramah’s college and post-college participants, Disney educators taught Walt Disney’s approach to leadership and teamwork through a variety of experiential methods. Through different exercises, participants applied these leadership concepts to their practical roles as madrichim (counselors), brainstorming effective ways to reinvigorate programming and tefilot (prayer).

“It was inspiring to watch our Ramah madrichim and rashei aidah connect the dots, integrating Disney’s wisdom into their vision for the coming summer at Ramah.” -Amy Skopp Cooper, National Ramah Associate Director

The following is an excerpt from one of our participant’s reflections from her experience during the Vatikim Leadership Institute:

“Our Disney educator, Raeleen, greeted us by saying how she had woken up late that morning and didn’t brush her hair. However, despite her constant apologies, and the fact that she has been working at Disneyland for around 30 years, she seemed as enthusiastic as though it was her first day on the job. 

It is not up to the campers or visitors to create the magic of the place. Walt Disney’s vision of a theme park for people of all ages has stayed successful because people have bought into it and come to work each day with the enthusiasm of their first.

What Raeleen and I share is that we both think we have the best job in the world, getting to teach people about what we love in a place we love. If she can wake up late in her 31st year of a job and make me feel like my being there is the greatest thing to ever happen to her, there is no reason for any camper to get bored of camp or for me to ever give up on a difficult lesson plan or a frustrating situation. Disneyland runs not only on Raeleen’s constant exuberance but also on the enthusiasm of the Mickey Mouse actors and trash collectors and all of the cast members; that is the magic that keeps the place running. And since my job actually is the best one in the world, I intend to bring some of that magic and passion with me this summer.” 

-Liana Slomka, Camp Ramah Darom Gesher ’16, Tzevet ’19/’20