Unexpected Emotions; Profound Outcomes

Geoff Menkowitz7.10.20

The creative counselors who have been conducting Zoom zaniness are not running our extraordinary virtual program, Kayitz BaBayit, all on their own. They are supported by a cadre of senior members of our Camp staff who are also volunteering their time this summer. The professional development and mentorship which they provided for our staff enabled us to maintain a “Ramah approach” even as we moved into a very new experience.

This week one of our Yoatzim (Senior Advisors), Shira Schwartz, shared a touching reflection with me. When Shira worked as a teacher, she used to teach her students every year the powerful observation penned by the pre-state Zionist thinker Ahad Ha’am: “More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”

While Shira was meeting with a group of Ramah Darom counselors a few days ago to collect their feedback from the summer, Ahad Ha’am jumped to her mind. “It is really Ramah that is  keeping our kids,” she told me, “on so many levels–both the counselors and the campers!”

Having guided my own children through the challenges of virtual school and personally enduring the Zoom work-life that is the new normal for many of us, I was committed to making sure Kayitz BaBayit was a different experience. But, I did not anticipate that our counselors would have tears in their eyes thinking about virtual camp coming to an end!

The fact that our staff members have enjoyed themselves and so deeply cherish the connection with their campers and fellow counselor speaks volumes about what our Ramah Darom community offers our children and young adults. By stepping up to keep Ramah Darom alive and relevant for our campers this summer, our staff have themselves been able to experience what we set out to achieve for everyone involved with Kayitz BaBayit: a summer of meaningful Jewish experiences; a summer of feeling connected; a summer that counts.