Crane Lake Camp is a magical place. I don’t think I fully understood this idea until I was away from it. This is my first summer since I began my CLC adventures in Nitzanim that I have not returned to the bubble. While closing this chapter of my life is harder than words can describe, the last couple of weeks of watching camp as an outsider has given me the opportunity to reflect on how camp prepared me for my next life journey.
My favorite camp tradition was Fight Song. As a two time Bonim girls winner (2006 and 2013!), I loved the unit comradely and everyone’s determination to master every lyric. It wasn’t until I began teaching organic chemistry this summer that I realized the values I learned from Fight Song as a camper and counselor would mold the way I mentor my own students.
First and foremost, Fight Song taught me patience. When I had the opportunity to lead fight song my Olim summer, do you think the entire unit learned our rendition of R. Kelly’s Ignition overnight? Not a chance. We as camper leaders had to be innovative with the strategies we used to teach the lyrics. I refused to give up and took the time to help anyone who needed it. Organic chemistry might as well be a different language, and it takes some students a little extra help to get them to where they want to be. Some students are visual learners who need me to draw mechanisms step by step. Others like when I offer them different resources. Either way, no two learners are alike; I take the time to learn what makes them unique so they can succeed.
Being a counselor during Fight Song also helped me learn when to take a step back. As a staff member, it was important to let my campers take initiative and develop their own leadership skills. It was during these moments that I matured into the adult I see myself as today. In class, when I see peers helping their partners, I am overjoyed by their confidence and independence and I work to encourage them to help one another.
Finally, Fight Song reminded me that winning isn’t everything. While I won twice, I also lost 8 times. Sure, I cried and was frustrated, but that didn’t ruin my summer or stop me from loving my favorite camp tradition. Science experiments have a far lower success rate. Often after hours of meticulous planning and execution, labs will utterly fail. And that’s okay. What is more important is learning from our mistakes and trying to improve for next time. The success of a student learning chemistry is not measured by our percent yield of product, but the techniques we learned along the way.
My passion for teaching is almost as strong as my love for Fight Song and camp. I can’t wait to see how CLC continues to prepare me and the rest of our community for the real world ahead!
Ari Matz has been a camper, Israel traveler, Machon, and counselor from 2005-2015. She’s going to be a senior at Brandeis University in the fall. This summer, Ari is a teaching assistant for an organic chemistry lab while applying to medical school. She is excited to visit camp this summer to see old friends and watch a new generation of campers become leaders.