Taking time each summer to spend at Crane Lake Camp is a wonderful opportunity for our staff members. Some work as teachers and Jewish professionals year round, and look to camp during the summer for extra resources during the year. Some of the programs they run during the school year are rooted in their camp programming, and the connections they make with staff and campers alike translate into their year round positions. Here’s a look at how a few of our Leadership Team members apply their 2 months of camp to the 10 months of their year round positions.
Tara Levine, Director of Youth Engagement at Woodlands Community Temple
My summer at Crane Lake has been one full of excitement, new opportunities, and learning. A few nights ago, I finally got to experience the magic of Maccabia (Color War) concluding, and the entire camp being unified again. It was a beautiful moment of both victory, heartbreak, and reunion all in one. As final scores were announced, I saw blue and white divisions disappear and one community reemerge. As the Upper Nitzanim Unit Head, I have learned a lot this summer that will benefit me in my role as the Director of Youth Engagement at Woodlands Community Temple. This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Upper Nitzanim, kids going into fifth grade, while throughout the year, I mainly work with teens. I’ve gained a new skill set for how to help guide staff in an effective way and how to help younger kids have meaningful experiences. I’ve also been able to build closer relationships with kids and teens who belong to my synagogue that attend Crane Lake, and I have a better understanding of why camp is such an important piece of their Jewish identities. This understanding can help me shape youth programs throughout the year that cater to their passions and interests in a way that keeps them engaged year round. This summer has been such a positive experience for me, being immediately welcomed into the Crane Lake bubble with open arms. I am looking forward to bringing back the ruach and love for Judaism that camp inspires and passing it onto my synagogue community.
Being a camp counselor and spending a year on the Leadership Team working with the Machon Program has given me skills for the rest of my life, including the job I am starting this fall. Through Avodah (the Jewish Service Corps), I will be a coach at Teens Run DC, a program that promotes the physical, social and emotional well-being of underserved youth through a mentoring and distance running program. I will have many responsibilities including establishing an after school running club for middle school and high school students, teaching them about nutrition, and organizing school-wide events to empower them. At camp, we learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, which for me relates inside and outside of camp. Camp has taught me to never be afraid to ask questions while never doubting your gut decisions. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of growth. Caring for people is a life skill that camp helped me to develop and I hope to work on it for the rest of my life. Something as easy as smiling can change a person’s day. I have Crane Lake to thank for my growth as a counselor, mentor and person.
Shahar Peled, Shaliach at Temple Israel of the City of New York
When thinking of what I can bring back to my synagogue, Temple Israel of the City of New York, a few ideas come to mind. Through programming, I am able to bring informal education of Jewish values and inspire student to create friendships in their Jewish community. The idea that you can be whomever you want to be at camp, is applied through our “Summer Camp Week,” at the Religious School, weekend retreats and the communal feeling of T’filah, just like at camp. When I am able to share my personal experiences with my community and with the students that I feel can benefit the most from the camp experience, I show them the magic that camp can bring.