CIT Experience BaBayit

Robbie Medwed8.10.20
Becoming a Gesher CIT (counselor-in-training) is often a highlight of the summer for our oldest campers. For many of our current staff, their experiences as CITs helped them shape their own skills and goals as they prepared to become staff members. In a typical summer, Gesher campers spend every Monday and Thursday with their CIT campers. From planning programs to joining together for meals to learning the bedtime rituals, Gesher campers are given a chance to form deep and meaningful relationships with our youngest campers. Even though this summer was anything but typical, our Gesher campers were excited to become CITs and they knocked it out of the park.

During Ramah Darom Kayitz BaBayit (Summer at Home) Gesher CITs joined the younger age group Zoom sessions and planned programs under the guidance of the counselors, just as they would any other year. The CITs found creative ways to connect with our youngest campers and newest campers. In addition, several  CITs volunteered to assist with our Tikvah support program to facilitate social inclusion. Below, two of our CITs, Sadie Klaff and Pnina Sasson, share some of their reflections on the program.

Gesher CIT Reflections from Sadie Klaff, Garinim and Halutzim CIT

Every Tuesday,  Gesher CITs logged on to a Zoom chat with Robbie Medwed and Michael Fingerman. During these calls, we participated in exercises that taught us lessons and values about being a CIT and a counselor. One of my favorite activities was a blind drawing test where we were placed in breakout rooms and had to listen to our partner explain their drawing while we tried to replicate it on our own. Let’s just say, this was a hilarious experience. The lesson that came out of it was about communication, and it stuck with me as I completed my sessions. It was also fulfilling to hear about my other Gesher friends’ experiences while CITing and getting advice from them. Overall, we learned a ton of lessons about how to be a better counselor and focused a lot on the values of a counselor. We described our past counselors’ traits that we loved and realized that’s how we wanted to treat our chanichim. All we want is to provide chanichim with the best camp experience just like we had and the counselors are a huge part of it. I will continue utilizing the lessons I learned from Robbie and my Gesher friends, and I look forward to applying them as a tzevet member in 2022.

This was definitely not the CITing experience I thought I would have this summer. I’ve always looked up to my CITs in the past and admired their passion for Camp and Judaism. All I wanted was to give the same love I got from my past CITs to new campers. I got to say it was a bizarre experience. At times, it was awkward when no one knew what to do, but, in the end, it was truly a rewarding experience. Not only was I able to build connections with other campers, but I also learned how to solve problems during tough times. I had the pleasure of having Garinim and Halutzim, two very different age groups. The one thing that they had in common was their love for Camp, no matter if they’ve been there before or not. This provided me with so much joy seeing these kids, so much younger than me, having a huge amount of love and gratitude for Camp. As I come out of my CIT experience, all I want is to be back at Camp to meet these chanichim (campers) in person. Although it was harder to build connections with the campers through Zoom, it meant a lot, knowing that Gesher had an impact in their summer.

Gesher CIT Reflections from Pnina Sasson, Sollelim and Nitzanim CIT

Spending my Mondays and Thursdays with the younger aidot (age groups) was such an incredible experience. It helped me stay positive and brought me so much joy to see the next generation of Ramah Darom coming to Camp despite it being virtual. Every CIT day, we would log onto the call 15 minutes before, and our counselors and Rosh Aidah (Group Head) would prep us for the program. These connections we made with the staff really gave us a preview as to what being a counselor is like. It was definitely a step in growth for us to have the opportunity to lead programs for the younger campers, just like our counselors did when we were their age. The CITs brought more light and enthusiasm into each call. We typically welcomed the kids into the session with a rikud (dancing) and songs from Camp. As a CIT, my responsibility was to put as much energy into everything as possible, so I always made sure to get up and dance myself. This made the kids more comfortable to be themselves and got them excited for the program to come.

During the programs, we often split into breakout rooms or “tzrifim” (bunks) to get to know the campers individually. I really enjoyed spending time with my campers and seeing them smile, laugh and have fun on the calls. We had fun and interactive programs like dance parties, scavenger hunts, virtual bingo, hangman and so much more! The kids loved participating in the activities. I was really impressed by the staff for coming up with so many great ideas and ways to keep our campers connected to the Ramah Community this summer.

I believe these kids brought me more joy than I gave them. Having conversations with campers the same age as when I started at Ramah Darom meant a lot to me. This summer, Gesher ’20 was robbed of countless memories, experiences, stories, laughs, cries and everything in between, but CITing was not one of them. I am so thankful that I was given the privilege of spending 4 weeks, 8 hours of my time this summer, impacting our younger campers. The little things really meant the most to me. For example, on the Camp-wide calls, I would often spot a Sollelimer or two that I CITed for. Since I wasn’t in the Camp amphitheater and I couldn’t run up to them and give them a hug at Kabbalat Shabbat or Havdallah, I would instead send them a private message with “Shabbat Shalom!” or “Shavua Tov!”.

I can’t wait to be back at Camp to welcome all the campers I met this summer. Aside from the counselor skills I picked up this summer, the biggest thing I learned was to make the most out of what we have. Ramah Darom truly never gives up on its campers and community, and Kayitz Babayit was a perfect demonstration.