By Samantha Berezowsky, Development and Marketing Assistant at GFC during the summer and a member of the URJ Service Corps
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the first ever URJ Service Corps Fellowship which allows me to bring camp into different synagogues and get children excited about camp.
All of the fellows recently went to the first ever winter training session at Camp Ramah in Ojai, California. Before going to the retreat I had a few things on my mind:
1. I was very excited to see Camp Ramah (I heard it was a gorgeous place).
2. I was thrilled to be going on this retreat with my camp friends Jennifer Luskey and Sarah Beth Gordon, who are also in the corps, and even one of our Assistant Directors, Scott Braswell, was able to join us.
3. I was excited to meet people from different URJ camps to learn what their camps were like.
While I didn’t know what to expect when we got there I thought that it would be a lot of programming and sharing ideas to carry out until May. I was wrong. This retreat was ‘camp magic.’ Everyone has heard about camp magic and people who have attended any sort of camp can attest to its powers and capabilities. The bigger question is, how do you get someone (parents included) who has never been to camp, to experience enough camp magic inside of a synagogue to make him or her sign up for the summer?
We talked about different tactics we could each do based on the synagogues we were in. We could make display tables, or show the camp video, or even have a camp Shabbat and sleepover. Those are things that we can plan and execute and have a successful result by talking to parents and kids.
What I learned though was that my apparent love for camp is the biggest tool I can use. We talked about how camp has not only changed all of our lives but it has made us the people that we are. Being able to express that to a parent of a child is something invaluable.
I have been working with Temple Sinai in Houston, Texas this year and this retreat solidified that camp magic is what needs to be present. In every program, every conversation, and even in the downtime; camp magic is what makes this successful.