Learning During a Pandemic

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by Aaron Gurvis, Assistant Director, Crane Lake Camp

In September of 2000, I experienced my first transition from camp to school. I had just finished two weeks in K’tanim and was getting ready to start second grade. I remember how hard it was to leave camp that first summer, and how challenging it was transitioning back to the “real world.” After two months away, I had to relearn how to live with my family at home, and how to be a student in school. Needless to say, it was not my favorite time of the year.

Now for the first time, 20 years later, my transition to the school year is different. Along with me, I know that many are experiencing this new phenomenon after their first summer without camp. I also know that this experience is vastly different for me now than it would have been when I was a student.

There has been a lot of discussion about schools reopening during this pandemic. Every system and institution has been planning and re-planning for months as new information becomes available. The plan seems to be different everywhere, and we can only hope that everyone’s first priority is safety. Having been through the process of planning and re-planning for camp during this pandemic, I understand how challenging this must be for the institutions.

With so much uncertainty…how do we ask our students to learn? How do we support our campers through the camp(less) to school transition so new and foreign to them?

I believe the answer lies in the end of our camp mission statement, which reads:

 “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben horin, l’heebatel mimena.”

“You are not required to complete the work, nor are you free to ignore it.” Pirke Avot 2:16

In this moment, I believe this lesson is more important than ever. We need to have reasonable expectations of ourselves and others. School will not look the same this fall. It may continue to look different from one month to the next. We’re not going to complete all the same work and learning we would have in another year, and that is okay! What matters is that we don’t ignore the work we can’t complete, that we don’t give up when the work gets hard, and that we know our limits within this new reality.

We can all still learn this year. Let’s just give ourselves permission to do so differently!