Hillel taught: “Don’t say, ‘When I have time I will study,’ because you may never have the time.” —Pirkei Avot 2:5
Wednesday was the twentieth day of our twenty-three days of staff training before the opening of camp. There’s a lot to do to get camp ready– training staff in supervision, safety, and camper care; preparing different program areas; orienting new staff to the culture of Eisner Camp. This last item involves learning about and experiencing the core Jewish values of our camp. So on Wednesday the entire staff, including administrative, housekeeping, kitchen, counselors, instructors, and leadership team all had a chance to participate in a day of Jewish learning.
We are fortunate to have outstanding Jewish teachers. Faculty members (rabbis, cantors and educators from our Reform synagogues) visit camp every week to teach our campers and work with our staff to make Jewish life meaningful and joyful. These synagogue professionals that sometimes seem out of reach, form close relationships with our campers. The faculty readily admit that while they come for the campers, they energize their own professional work by being part of our vibrant Jewish community. For this crucial day of learning they are willing to make the trip to camp early in the morning, teach our staff, have some lunch, and head back home.
Classes ranged from “Jewish Ritual Objects 101” to “Jewish Denominations in America” to “Mindful Eating”. Staff experienced three different classes and then learned about the curriculum for the summer that their unit will be learning during Limud their daily hour of Jewish learning every day. K’tanim campers use story books to learn social-emotional skills and the Jewish values of Hineini (present awareness) and Shalom (keeping calm). Bonim campers will be focusing on the Mitzvot we do at camp, while Chalutzim campers explore the correct balance of different Middot or character traits. Our Ofarim campers learn about their own power to make a difference through Tzedakah and community organizing. Upper camp gets to choose electives offered by our faculty each week, and they love the choice and variety. This program is called “Kesher”, and this year’s day of staff learning was called “Kesher College”. Look at all of our happy graduates!
There’s a lot to do here to get camp ready. Programs have to be prepared and cabins cleaned. Of course procedures need to be reviewed and practiced. But Eisner Camp would not be the special kind of community it is without all of us uniting around a common set of values, the unique purpose that gives our camp its enduring value. Wednesday all of us saw how Jewish learning can enrich our lives and center our experience, and that learning doesn’t happen incidentally if we don’t make the time for it. Now we are ready to share it with you!