by Ellison Karesh,
I ended my final year as a 6 Points camper last year, the third session of the 2012 summer, by giving the speech during the famous 6 Points session ending tradition of havdalah/firefly at the lake. In my speech I said “I wont be returning to 6 Points next year… but maybe I’ll be back as a counselor!” Well it turns out that I did return to camp this year and not as a counselor or a camper, but a weird and sometimes awkward combination of both. This year I became a 6 Points Sports Academy Counselor In Training (CIT). The CIT program here at 6 Points is only in its second year of existence and already it is evident that this program will continue to grow in the future.
From the very first steps in the application process, I realized that this would be a a serious program. These steps included submitting the CIT application, providing two personal references and a Skype interview with camp’s Associate Director. I was elated to be selected for this program, but could not help to be a little anxious. I wondered as to who would join me in my cohort, and who would be my mentor.
We arrived to the American Hebrew Academy on opening day session 1. Just like all of the campers we checked in, received our medical screening, and went to our dorms to organize our belongings. It was great! I felt at home being back at 6 Points! Our CIT cohort was finally together and we were eager to get started, meeting campers and training.
Every afternoon, all of the CITs have a meeting during first elective. This meeting is usually run by the CIT Director but we also met with the Director of Jewish Life and camp Unit Heads. We learn different values as well as counselor skills. During one meeting we had to “create-a-camper”, focusing on the different developmental stages of children. We were tasked with describing how we would make sure that this camper had the best possible time at camp. Something else that we learned was how to be an active listener. Learning how to become an active listener helps us as we work toward becoming counselors, but also helps us in everyday life.
Throughout the first session we were assigned to help out in some of the younger dorms. This taught us a lot about working with the younger children and the other counselors. At the end of the first session we were told that we would be living in the oldest dorms but working with one of the younger dorms all day. We got to meet with the counselors before the next session started, helped set up and greeted the new campers coming to camp. This worked really well, plus we stood out because we had bright pink 6 Points T-shirts with “C.I.T.” on the back.
As a CIT, we have some privileges such as cell phones, computers and a later curfew than campers. Throughout the sessions we received rewards for our hard work in the form of field trips to Target, the movies, frozen yogurt and more. It may not seem like a lot, but we were all very grateful!
Another big component of the CIT program is the tikun olam project. We are in the process of setting up the first ever 6 Points Takun Olam 5k Run. This event is organized by the CITs with the help of the Director of Jewish Life. We have divided responsibilities, selected the charity and have had meetings to communicate our progress. The experience of planning this event has provided us with an important lesson on how to work well with others. It is truly a blessing to be able to help people in need while having fun! Stay tuned to our blog for updates on our first ever 6 Points Sports Academy 5K, benefiting the Make a Wish Foundation.
As my CIT experience comes to a close, here is my advice for future cohorts: If you are willing to work hard, learn, and be a good leader then give it a shot! While the CIT program at 6 Points is fairly new, it definitely has helped me become a better coach and counselor, and it has more to come as it grows and improves!