Specialists are Special: Highlights of Kivun Training

Megan is ready to rock at Hava Nashira 2013!

Megan is ready to rock at Hava Nashira 2013!

Being a specialist at camp takes a special set of skills–makes sense! Most of our specialists are responsible for running programs in art or song leading, chavaya (adventure activities), waterfront, or sports in addition to being responsible for campers in a cabin. They spend as much time as they can in both places giving their all to make camp an awesome experience for our campers. To help them prepare, we send a few specialists each year to Kivun, a joint program with the URJ and Ramah camping programs that trains staff working in specialty areas. This year, songleader Megan Brumer sang her heart out Hava Nashira, the Song Leading track of Kivun, while Sports Specialist Cory Lewin learned and played at the sports track and our Hiking/Outdoor Specialist Rebecca Calderon got to hang outside during Kivun’s Teva track.

When Rebecca left for Kivun, she said, “I expected to learn a lot about hiking and camping with kids, and about planning trips.” What she found was she learned how to do all those things in an experiential format. Kivun didn’t teach her to just take kids on a hike up a mountain, Kivun taught her how to integrate Midrash and Torah into that hike, making it meaningful and Jewish.

Incorporating Judaism into activities was also a huge part of what Cory learned at the Sports Kivun track. He learned what it means to be a Jewish educator in an informal setting. He says he used to judge success by whether kids were smiling and energetic, but he learned at Kivun that maybe there was more he could be doing. He said, “After receiving leadership training from some of the great Jewish educators in the country, I understand that a successful activity must have Jewish values tied in. My goal is to have the children beaming with joy and energy, but if I do not utilize Jewish values as a theme throughout the activity then I did not do my job as a Jewish educator.”

Megan’s favorite experience at Hava Nashira was watching faculty member Billy Jonas helping to lead an evening service. She said, “He makes music with instruments that he has made from everyday household items.  He embodies what we were talking about in our intensive, a Jewish educator through his music and his actions.  He commands the stage like a performer, but he engages the audience and makes it interactive.  By doing this he is able to teach while he leads.”

Each specialist brought their learning and excitement back to Kalsman this summer. Megan is rocking out during Shira, Cory uses Jewish Teachable Moments with his campers, and Rebecca is challenging her campers to think Jewishly about the world around them.

As Megan said, “Our job can’t be done with just us; we need the support of others.”

We can’t wait to work with all of our specialists this year to make camp a huge success!

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