Voices from the field
Letters from Camp: Stronger Together
URJ Crane Lake Camp
Before campers emerge joyously from buses to summer camps across North America, thousands of staff members have undergone intensive training and preparation designed to ensure that every camp offers children and teens an experience of a lifetime.
At URJ Crane Lake Camp last week, counselors, specialists, and the rest of the staff dedicated a day to study that gave them an opportunity to think about their own values and perspectives as a precursor to an intensive afternoon of planning evening programs for the summer.
Using The iCenter’s Israel Resource Cards, Crane Lake staff shared stories about their personal connections to Israel and then considered how they can use their own experiences to craft immersive experiences for campers. In another session, members of the 20-strong delegation of Israeli staff members—most of whom are in camp for the first time—were challenged to remember why they applied to work in camp.
“When I first got here in 2017,” said third-year staff member Inbar Kedmi, “I was in shock. I didn’t speak—not English, not Hebrew, I was just silent. But as soon as the campers arrived, I remembered why I had come, and why I wanted to do this. That will happen for all of you, too.”
Later in the afternoon, as staff worked in small groups to plan evening programs for every age group throughout the summer, Israelis sought input from Americans, and groups of Israeli and American staff members came together to build programs that merged the Israelis’ ideas with the expertise of the Americans, many of whom grew up at Crane Lake and have a deep understanding of camp culture and traditions. The cards found their way into many of the planning sessions, providing inspiration, ideas, and information for staff as they cobbled together programs that will be workshopped with program specialists before being implemented in the coming weeks.