by Lucia “Lulu” Carson, Machon Media Specialist
The Machon leadership program is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I have been fortunate enough to take part in this summer. It is a tradition where past campers can come back after their unit has completed NFTY in Israel and become counselors in training. Through my experience being a Machon I have had the chance to shadow many different age groups and figure out the unit I am best suited to be a counselor for. Along with this, being a Machon gives me the tools to be a successful counselor for any age group.
As a Machon I spent the first session of camp training and participating in programs that require critical thinking and problem solving in exercises such as “Ages and Stages” and “What If Situations”. “Ages and Stages” requires us to split into groups and write and discuss the challenges and characteristics of a certain age group. This was very beneficial because it allowed us to learn more about how to properly deal with our future campers as well as what to expect as a counselor from the different units in camp. Similarly, “What if Situations” allowed us to act out many different possible situations we may deal with within our new role in camp. This not only helped us work on applying specifics of our training but also allowed us to practice leadership. We also accomplished this by planning and running multiple camp wide events such as the 4th of July Carnival and the First Session Banquet. These experiences improved our decision-making skills as well as our ability to effectively communicate with others.
Despite this extra leadership training, many may still describe the Machon leadership program as an elongated staff week. Personally, I have found it to be so much more. I have never felt more equipped for any transition than I do becoming a counselor for second session. This is surprising considering how enormous a weight caring for others’ children 24/7 can be. Despite the fact that all us Machon are very busy taking care of our campers, we still meet weekly in smaller groups to advance our training. Machon directors not only focus on each individual Machon’s readiness to be a counselor but on their ability to be a leader outside of camp as well. As the sixth week begins we have started to plan individual pop-up events that each Machon will hold over the coming year. These events are designed to expose our local communities to the culture of camp and help us apply our leadership training outside of the camp environment.
Machonikim also have the opportunity to become specialists. Specialists usually go to their specialty area for a few periods a day. For example, I am a media specialist Machon and leave my campers for two periods a day to work in the media office. This way, I am able to gain experience in an area of interest for me, while still being an involved counselor.
I have experienced a few moments that are particularly rewarding, such as my campers telling me I am a great counselor or running up to me to hug me after they haven’t seen me in an hour. Considering I was a quiet camper, I never thought I could be like my favorite counselors were to me growing up. Those counselors changed my life and demanded respect at the same time as being kind and fun. Through the Machon program, I have turned into the kind of counselor I have always been inspired by and have begun to see my past counselors in myself. This part of me would never have come out if it weren’t for the immersive learning experience that is the Machon leadership program.
Now as a proud counselor of Lower Bonim girls I am forever grateful for the Machon program and Cory Hermann and Josh Squire (the Machon directors here at Crane Lake Camp) for guiding me and my fellow Machonikim through this transition and giving us the tools and confidence to become the influential counselors that we have now become.
Lucia Carson is a current Machon at Crane Lake Camp. She is from Montclair, New Jersey and is an upcoming senior at Montclair High School. She is excited to be spending her 7th summer at Crane Lake as a lower Bonim counselor and media specialist.