The Machon Summer Leadership Institute at Eisner is a 7 1/2 week intensive values-based leadership development internship for rising high school seniors. Utilizing Jewish values, participants (Machonikim) explore what it means to become productive and successful staff members of the camp community, discover their Jewish identity, and gain valuable skills as Jewish leaders. We asked two of the Machonikim to share how their understanding of their favorite place at camp has changed over the years.
There is something special about sitting on Silo Hill, watching the sun set over ‘the bubble.’ Over the many years I’ve been at camp, I have a collection of memories at this one particular spot on camp. As a camper, t’filah on Silo Hill was an ideal spot; close to the bathrooms and plenty of grass to pick at. But more importantly, it was a space where an entire unit could be together and focus on their song leaders, reflect on their long, exciting day, and wind down until the evening program brought the energy back up. When I made the transition from a camper to Machon, Silo Hill changed for me. It had been a place that filled me with that warm, fuzzy feeling of community and friendship; now it is a physical reminder of my time as a camper. From Silo Hill I can see my clay hand, which I made during my Olim summer, posted proudly on the side of the silo for all of camp to see. Additionally, if I look very, very closely, I can see into the dance studio and admire the mural that I helped to paint during ‘camp beautification’ my Olim summer. These images, hopefully, will stand the test of time and give all current and future campers that same warm, fuzzy feeling I got from admiring the beauty camp has to offer from little old Silo Hill.
-Sam Aaronson, Cortlandt Manor, NY
Camp is such a special place. The people, the ruach, Shabbat, Israeli dancing, song session, the activities, the laughs, and so much more. Imagine being able to see practically of this from one spot. That spot is Olim Hill, my favorite place in camp. I am in Machon, but as a camper leading up to my Olim summer, I looked at the Hill with excitement and awe. In my early camp years, Olim campers served as role models for me. Then, my Olim summer (that I had looked forward to for so many years) finally came, and the Hill became even more special than what I had ever imagined. Some of the best moments were throwing a frisbee on the Hill, mud sliding in the rain, hearing the entire unit’s beautiful voices during a unit t’filah, or just hanging with friends. Olim Hill gives you the best of both worlds; seeing camp in action while also having the time of your life. Although I am not an Olim camper now, I can still visit my favorite spot. Now I see campers participating in all the activities I used to enjoy, and I see the hard work that goes into making those activities happen. I see campers learning to be independent with the guidance of their counselors. I see that leadership extends beyond my Olim summer, as I take my new place in Machon and soon, as a staff member.
-Emily Kraus, Port Washington, NY