The 'Jewish' at Camp: It's Leader Powered

March 27, 2014

Source: AVI CHAI Foundation Blog


Over 650 Jewish camp professionals and devotees gathered for the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Leaders Assembly this week. With the tagline of “One field. Moving Forward,” the conference featured an impressive array of speakers and skill-builders inside and outside the camping world, and even an Israel night with David Broza. A myriad of attendee-suggested and peer-led “hot topic” sessions addressed issues from “Living Jewishly All Year” to “What’s Your Israel Connection?” to “Institutional Collaborations to Strengthen Staffing.”


In this post, Deborah Fishman reports on the the question of: How are camp leaders shaping what is “Jewish” about Jewish camp and what has been the resulting impact?


In the skill-building workshop “Building a Mission-Driven Culture,” Lou Bergholz of Edgework Consulting offered a framework that can shed light on the process of creating a camp’s Jewish mission and culture. He maintained that while the strongest cultures feel natural, a culture actually needs to be intentionally designed through structuring spaces, activities, and experiences that result in a true blend with a camp or organization’s mission. The leadership, he suggested, has an unequal responsibility to advance the culture’s development. In addition to design and leadership, the final piece of the equation is the other people – including campers and staffers – who are impacted and can impact the culture.


In order to better understand how camp leaders are now shaping the “Jewish” of their camps and what the resulting impact have been, Fishman spoke with several conference attendees who have been engaged with AVI CHAI leadership programs. She presents some big ideas she heard through these conversations, along with accompanying videos in which they tell their stories in their own words.


Read and view their words on the AVI CHAI Blog.

Updated: Apr. 23, 2014