Gesher Experiences: A Blog from a Camp Harlam Staff Member

My name is Sean Carlin. My first summer at Camp Harlam was in the summer of 2005 and I have been on staff for the past four summers. I have also been studying Elementary Education at Penn State University. I am currently in my senior year and am in the process of student teaching. What follows is the first post of my blog titled, “Student Teaching vs Summer Camp: Gesher Experiences.” As the post will explain, this blog came about during my experience this year so far as a student teacher in a second grade classroom. I noticed that there are so many parallels between my two true passions in life: teaching and camping. The remarkable thing so far is that I have already come to the conclusion that these two things are both forms of education, just using different vehicles and mediums to transmit said education. My love for teaching and my love for camp is what has given me the desire to try to go into Jewish Camping as a career one day, using my education background in the camping environment…or visa versa, using what I have learned in camping and put that into effect in my classroom. Either way, the Gesher (bridge) experiences of my life are no where near over and have many more, highly awaited, detours to come. Please take a look at this Intro Post and then feel free to read the rest, and follow my journey throughout the year at gesherjobblog.blogspot.com.

 

Written on Tuesday October 16th, 2012:

I am not quite sure when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Maybe in sixth grade when I had one of the best teachers I ever had and, more than likely, ever will have, named Mr. Layer. Or maybe it was when I realized I am quite good at working with and teaching children, while working as a teacher’s assistant at my synagogue in eleventh and twelfth grade.

I am not quite sure when I decided I wanted to be a Jewish camping professional. Maybe when I first attended Camp Harlam as a camper in the summer of 2005. Or maybe it was when I first worked with children at camp as a Counselor-in-training in the summer of 2008. Or maybe it was when my eyes were opened to the professional side of Jewish camping as I began to work my way up the “camp hierarchy.”

If you think I mistakenly copy-and-pasted two introductions from two separate blogs, with two different topics, you are not too far off. My semi-confused introduction is exactly how I feel. I am not quite sure which career is best for me. And that is because, I have noticed, that they are very similar. They use many of the same skills, philosophies and require many of the same personality traits.

This blog idea crept into my mind during my first day of student teaching this year. I noticed that many of the same things I learn about in my senior level education classes, I already knew from working at Camp Harlam. I noticed that many of the skills I use in the classroom to be a successful student teacher, I use on a daily basis while working at camp. When I first realized the multitude of parallels, I took out a pad and paper and just started listing the parallels I could think of right then and there. I got fifteen. A pretty good size list for something that was written while my students were taking a spelling test.

I included the word Gesher in the title of this blog because of its meaning. It means “bridge” in Hebrew. This word was given new meaning to me this past summer (2012) by the counselors-in-training I worked with at Camp Harlam. They saw their role at camp as a bridge between being a camper and being a counselor as well as a bridge between their campers and the staff with whom they worked. They felt so passionately about this word that they proposed a name change for the Counselor-in-Training Program from Machon (institute) to Gesher (bridge).

I see my role as a student teacher as a bridge as well. I am currently taking a journey on the bridge from my years as a student to my future as an educator of young minds. I am also a bridge between my students and my mentor teacher. It is a bridge that will have many experiences along the way, just like the bridge of being a counselor at Camp Harlam has.

The rest of this blog is mainly for me to get my ideas out of my head and into a more tangible media. Because, to be honest, with all of these ideas stuck up there, I’d go a little crazy. But it is also a chance for anyone who reads it to understand just why I am so in love with both of my possible career choices. And maybe by the time I am finished with this, I have been able to make an educated, yet passionate, decision on which one I would like to pursue.

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