Blog  When Dodgeball is more than Dodgeball: A Story of Camp Moms, Dodgeball, and Community

When Dodgeball is more than Dodgeball: A Story of Camp Moms, Dodgeball, and Community

by “Mamas” Lisa Tenenbaum (Assistant Limud Director) and Lauren Chizner (Limud Director)

There is a special group of staff members at Crane Lake who over the years has lovingly been termed the Mamas, because each of us has, or has had, a child here at camp. We serve in different roles on camp and bring our more mature and maternal qualities to the Leadership Team and office staff.

At CLC, our Staff Engagement Coordinator works tirelessly throughout the summer to plan activities and trips for staff. The Mamas don’t always participate in these programs since they are meant for our younger, college-age staff, but this week was going to be different.  The staff dodgeball tournament was scheduled for Tuesday night and despite the fact that none of us had played dodgeball in over 20 years, we decided to assemble a team and join the fun. Extra points were awarded for the most diversified team – and (of course) we managed to do just that. Four mamas joined forces with two staffers from the Maintenance crew, and rounded out the team with two Machonikim (CIT’s). Naturally, our team included a mama (Lauren) and her son (Jed). That is how the “Average Mamas” team came to be.

We live by Jewish values every day and share examples each morning at our Leadership Team meetings. The morning after the dodgeball tournament, we realized that our simple fun was an experience worth way more than just a game. For the Mamas, the intermingling with staff members and CIT’s exemplified each of the four values that our staff highlight here at camp: Pride, Interdependence, Gratitude and Shiga’on (Wackiness):

Just like the campers, staff are encouraged to push themselves to grow by seeking out new experiences and trying new things. As older staff members, we were proud of ourselves for participating in a game that brought us far out of our comfort zone. That evening, we pushed ourselves beyond our physical and emotional limits; even when we were not sure how we would be received by the younger staff members.

At CLC, interdependence means relying on one another so we can keep camp running smoothly and provide a safe and fun environment for everyone. That night, our fellow teammates dove, jumped and ran in front of balls that whistled at us through the air in order to ensure that we were safe and injury free! This made the experience all the more fun because we weren’t worried about the more athletic counselors knocking us over. Due to the support we received from our teammates, we were simply able to have a fun and stay safe (emphasis on staying safe).

Every morning we sing Modeh Ani together as a camp community to express our gratitude for the new day. For decades to come, we will be grateful to our staff community for cheering us on and accepting us as equals. For making us feel young again: our younger teammates inspired us by their intense physical skill and unprecedented effort that eventually led us to win the whole event! (Also, we thank the judges for their awareness of our limitations – they knew when we should step aside and let the younger ones take control).

We tried to show all our Shiga’on by dressing to the nines in our Average Mamas t-shirts (modeled after the Average Joe’s team in the movie Dodgeball), tube socks, and bandanas! In the future, we will continue to display our Shiga’on by proudly wearing our t-shirts  and by cherishing such a great memory that is only possible from our summers at Crane Lake Camp.

Love and acceptance define our Crane Lake staff community, and, although we often say say that camp is for the campers, sometimes camp is for the staff as well – regardless of your age!