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Archive for December, 2011

Night 7 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

For the seventh night of Hanukkah, give your child a personalized jersey!  Get iron-on letters and designs online or from your local craft store.  They are available in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures.  Iron on letters spelling his/her name to the back of a camp shirt or jersey.  Or use blank clothing and write his/her camp or bunk name and year on the front.  Get creative and have fun!

Night 6 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

For the sixth night of Hanukkah, make a camp and Hanukkah-themed word find puzzle for your happy camper.  Get a piece of paper (a lined one will make it easier to create rows) and draw a large box on it that takes up most of the page, leaving some room for the list of words the player will need to find.  Choose the words you want the player to find.  Write each one twice – once in a list on the side or bottom of the page and another time in the box.  When writing the words in the box, alternate the area they go in as well as whether they go up/down, across, or diagonally.  Here are some ideas for words to use to get you started:












Once all of the words are in place, fill up the rest of the box with random letters making sure that row (up/down and side/side) is as straight as possible.  Happy Hanukkah – let the fun begin!

Night 5 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

Not sure what to do for the fifth night of Hanukkah?  Make a slide show!  Have your campers choose their favorite photos from the summer, the school year, your last vacation, even from when they were babies!  Plus, take some new pictures today – kids lighting the menorah, opening presents – and let your kids be creative by handing them the camera to take shots of whatever is going on in their lives.


You can use PowerPoint or any other slideshow software you may have.  When you’re done, have a viewing party complete with popcorn!

Night 4 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

It’s the fourth night of Hanukkah so why not celebrate with some fun, delicious treats!  Here directions for making candy dreidels, reminiscent of s’mores!  Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

- Chocolate kisses

- Chocolate for melting

- Marshmallows

- Pre-made icing and/or marshmallow fluff

- Food markers or cake decorating gel

- Pretzel sticks



- Use the icing or fluff to attach a marshmallow to the flat side of the chocolate kiss.

- Gently push the pretzel stick halfway through the other end of the marshmallow.

- Dip the marshmallow/kiss part into melted chocolate and let set.

- When the chocolate is hard, use a food marker, decorating gel, or extra icing to add the Hebrew letters to the dreidel – shin , hey, gimel, nun – and you’re done!



Night 3 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

The third night of Hanukkah is here, and tonight’s project is burning a CD. Sure, we know that most music comes in digital form these days, but nothing says camp like a mixed CD. It’s a great gift for your friends to take to camp, and their bunkmates will be thanking you all summer long!


How do you select the music? Start by brainstorming songs that remind you of summer—fun, breezy, and uplifting tunes that would make a great soundtrack for in-bunk activities and cozy, campfire nights. Here are some ideas to get you started:


“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams

“Brown-Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

“You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor

“Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

“Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls

“Runaround” by Blues Traveler


Make sure to mix in songs from your favorite bands, and blend newer songs with older classics. When you’re done, you’ll have a great CD that your friends will love.


Happy mixing, and happy Hanukkah!

Camp and the URJ Biennial

As the week of the 71st Union for Reform Judaism Biennial approached, I asked my friends and congregants what they were most anticipating. For those who had attended a Biennial in the past, the answer was unanimous: they couldn’t wait until Shabbat services and the Song Session that followed. I was somewhat surprised by this – not the incredible teachers? Not the honored speakers? Not the networking opportunities? No, they were looking forward to services, surrounded by thousands of other committed, involved, passionate Reform Jews. I have been pondering this, and I finally came up with my own theory for why this is so: the Shabbat experience at Biennial is the closest most Reform Jewish adults will come to experiencing the beauty of Jewish camping.

My own years at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) as a teenager were profoundly transformative, and they are one of the primary reasons that I chose to become a rabbi. At camp, I found kindred spirits. I found extended family. I found friends who cared about being Jewish, about enjoying our Judaism, and about being with fellow Jewish kids. And I found the beauty of Shabbat – the magical feeling of holiness that descended each Friday afternoon and continued through Havdalah on Saturday night.

I was one of the few who continued past Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and I know that my summers at camp had a lot to do with it. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to be involved in synagogue life. I sought out NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) and temple youth group activities – anything that allowed me to bring a bit of the camp ruach (spirit) home with me.

In my rabbinate, one of my primary goals is to enable today’s students to experience some that camp magic in their lives. At the URJ Biennial, over 200 NFTY kids and campers added enthusiasm, awesome dance moves, and youthful energy to the convention’s proceedings. They even got a “shout-out” from President Obama during his address on Friday afternoon. To harness and enhance this energy, the URJ has started a brand-new Campaign for Youth Engagement, aiming to creatively encourage students to stay involved in synagogue life after they become B’nai Mitzvah. The URJ seems to actively recognize the role that Jewish camping plays in nurturing positive Jewish identities. The various URJ Camps were mentioned often during the Biennial, and camp-style worship was quite popular each day. Camp alumni proudly advertised which camp they had attended, as well as sang camp harmonies and clapped special camp rhythms during all the songs.

It is clear to those of us who treasure Jewish camp that it is a vital part of the Campaign for Youth Engagement formula. I can close my eyes, and immediately be back at camp, smelling the camp fire, hearing the guitar playing a favorite Hebrew song (“Y’hiyeh Tov,” “Oseh Shalom,” “Kol HaOlam Kulo…”), and feeling my arms around my bunkmates. The magic will be with me always, as I pray it will be for all Jewish children from this generation to the next.

- Rabbi Marci N. Bellows

Rabbi Marci N. Bellows serves as rabbi of Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, NY. A graduate of Brandeis University, she was ordained by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004.

Night 2 of A Camp-y Hanukkah

For the second night of Hanukkah, friendship bracelets made of beads and leather make great, personalized (and camp-y) gifts!  Make a friendship bracelet with a special word or name—the name of your child’s camp or bunk, perhaps with her name and the name of her best friend, or just “I Love Camp.”






What you’ll need:

- Three pieces of flat suede cord, 2 feet long

- Two pieces of flat suede cord, each 6 inches long

- Alphabet beads with large holes.  You can also use beads with pictures or symbols on them.

- Scissors



- With one of the 6-inch pieces of cord, tie together the three 2-foot pieces leaving a four-inch tail.

- Secure the tail under a heavy book or use a clipboard.

- Braid the leather. After the first inch of braid, put on your first bead. Braid and slide on beads in regular intervals.

- After you put on the last bead, braid for another inch.

- Use the other 6-inch cord to tie off the bracelet.

- Trim the ends so they are even and you’re done!

A Camp-y Hanukkah

Hanukkah is here!  Kids all over are excited for latkes, jelly donuts, games of dreidel, and of course, presents!  Bring camp to Hanukkah this year with eight homemade gifts sure to delight your happy camper.  They make perfect gifts for a bunkmate, favorite counselor, or friend going to camp for the first time too.  These are great projects to do for your camper or with him/her over school vacation.  This blog post will teach you step by step how to decoupage a clipboard but stay tuned for another idea over each of the next seven days…


Happy Hanukkah!


Decoupage clipboard 

What you’ll need:

- A clipboard

- Pictures – they can be cut out of magazines, catalogs, or books. If you have photos or other items that we want to use but are either not made of thin paper or you don’t want to lose, try photo copying or printing them from your computer.  Another cute way of personalizing is to print out your child’s name, “I Love Camp,” or his/her bunk name in a cute, fun font.

- Mod Podge or Collage Pauge for adhering the pictures to the clipboard – they are available in a variety of finishes.

- Popsicle Stick

- Foam Brush or paint brush



- Make sure the clipboard is clean and dry.

- Arrange the pictures onto the clipboard to create the design you want.

- Remove the pictures, one at a time or one section at a time, and apply the Mod Podge or Collage Pauge to the clipboard so that every place where a picture will be touching is covered.

- Stick the picture on to the adhesive and smooth it out with either your fingers or a popsicle stick making sure to get out any wrinkle, bubbles, and extra paste out.

- Once you have done this with all of the pictures, let the adhesive dry.

- When it is dry, coat the pictures/clipboard completely with the adhesive using the foam brush or paint brush and let it dry.  Repeat this step until the edges of all of the pictures are smooth.

Defining Open Space

The Foundation for Jewish Camp is employing a new format at Leaders Assembly 2012. It is designed as an “open space” style conference which we are referring to as peer-to-peer programming and its goal is to empower, energize, and encourage the creativity of everyone who takes the challenge and comes ready to participate.  I didn’t quite understand how this “open space” style conference worked until I went to check it out at the recent JFNA General Assembly in Denver.  In fact, I didn’t know what to expect at all.


I learned that to participate, you have to suspend your disbelief and your skepticism.  The rules are quite simple – show up and be present in the moment.  The facilitator directs anyone who desires to “host” or “suggest” a conversation to those assembled.  It can be anything from, “helping my camp board members understand their roles” to “building a state-of-the-art kitchen” to “using music and song effectively at camp” to … whatever you feel like discussing.  Inevitably, there will be people who show up to your conversation who want to learn about the topic, but there will also be those who can and will share best practices.  It just works out that way.


At the GA, I chose to “host” a conversation.  I had been bristling about the issue of “inclusivity” in Jewish communal institutions and I decided that this was as good an opportunity as any to bring it up with a larger group.  Several people joined me and the conversation took unexpected turns because everyone came to the discussion with diverse and complex definitions of “inclusivity.”  By the end of the hour, the group had grown from eight to about twenty!  And no one wanted the conversation to end.  Many members of our group hastily exchanged cards and many have already been in touch with me.  Now we aren’t only talking about inclusivity.  Our hour together afforded us the opportunity to begin strong connections to each other and I have already begun to explore collaborative opportunities with at least two of my group members.


Most importantly, my experience demonstrated how the “open space” conference format supports those aspects of conferences that are often the most rewarding – opportunities to establish new connections to people with similar visions and the sharing of creative ideas.  What I and others found so gratifying about the “open space” session at the GA was precisely that it allowed for these “most satisfying” of conference experiences to take center stage.  Rather than grabbing these “moments” in the corridors between sessions, they became the core of our “open space” experience and we were given the time we needed to relish them.  We left the session with deep connections to new colleagues and with the basis to pursue further dialogue and collaboration.

- Abby Knopp, Vice President, Program and Strategy

BE A NADIV EDUCATOR! We are looking for great senior-level experiential Jewish educators

    Nadiv is a five-year grant program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, funded by the Avi Chai and Jim Joseph Foundations, to create partnerships between a Jewish residential camp and a Jewish school in each of six communities (see the press release here). The goals of the partnerships are:

-To enhance the quality of Jewish education at the participating camps

-To enhance the offerings of the participating schools by making available an educator skilled in “informal” educational techniques.

-To encourage a synergy between the school and camp, providing ongoing benefits to both.

-To open a new kind of career path to select, talented educators.

There are SIX openings for Nadiv Camp – School Educators, to be located in the following communities:

-Atlanta (URJ Camp Coleman and the Davis Academy)

-Minneapolis (Herzl Camp and the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School)

-New York metro area (Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake and Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County)

-San Diego (Camp Mountain Chai and San Diego Jewish Academy)



The successful candidate will serve in a full-time, year-round position that spans both the camp and the school. While the precise description for each position will be determined by the respective camp and school partners, and each will therefore differ slightly from the others, in general each Nadiv educator will serve as director of education at camp during the summers, and in a senior administrative position in the school through the school year. Each Nadiv educator will be part of the senior staff in both institutions, and will help create the educational vision for both. S/he will work with the camp and school to imagine new approaches to integrating formal and informal education techniques, helping both communities to be more successful in the work they do.

Beyond serving in discrete senior educational positions at both camp and school, the Nadiv educator may serve as an important educational link between the two institutions, helping to build educational and communal synergies between them.

Additionally, Nadiv educators will take part in a unique community of practice. Supported by experienced mentors from the field, Nadiv educators will meet both in person and on conference calls to learn together, reflect on their work, and share in best practices.

Ideal Qualifications:

-Experience in both formal Jewish education settings (such as day school, religious school and adult learning) and informal settings (such as youth groups, camp, Israel travel programs and retreats).

-Advanced degree in Jewish education/learning, such as rabbinic ordination, MAJE, MARE or the equivalent.

-Ability to work in partnership with both professional staff and lays leaders to craft educational vision for the respective institutions.

-Strong administrative and organizational skills.

-Warm and outgoing personality.

-Strong interpersonal skills with both professional staff and lay leaders.

-Ability to integrate formal and informal education models.

-Experience in program planning and curriculum development.

-A high degree of Jewish literacy.

Conditions of Employment:

-To begin June 1, 2012 or earlier

-Appropriate salary and benefit package commensurate with experience

-Specific details to be determined in conjunction with the specific camp-school partners



Responsibilities will be determined by the specific camp-school partnership, and may include the following or similar responsibilities:


-Manage the development of the structure and nature of the camp’s Jewish education program.

-Work closely with camp administrative team.

-Work in partnership with the camp senior staff to craft a vision for the camp’s approach to Jewish living and learning.

-Maintain communication with camp’s seasonal education staff, including visiting faculty (if appropriate), ensuring programmatic goals and general expectations are clear (conference calls, newsletters, emails, etc.).

-Develop learning programs for seasonal staff, such as counselors, faculty and others, including both Judaic elements of staff orientation and ongoing learning during the camp season.


-Work with the camp staff and faculty to execute summer education program.

-Supervise the activities of seasonal education staff, including visiting faculty members, song leaders, tefillah preparation and delivery, as appropriate for the specific camp community.

-Provide staff with ongoing Jewish and leadership learning program.

-Act as a primary resource of Judaic knowledge for the camp community.


Responsibilities will be determined by the specific camp-school partnership, and may include the following or similar responsibilities:

-Oversee practice and education of school tefillah.

-Serve as a resource to school faculty with regard to informal education (as applied both within and outside the classroom).

-Work with the senior staff of the school to craft an approach to informal Jewish learning that is appropriate to the setting and constituency.

-Guide Judaic Studies and Hebrew instruction and practice in the school.

-Lead faculty and parent education on Jewish topics.

-Facilitate youth programming including senior and junior youth group activities.

-Conduct informal Jewish educational programs, such as Shabbatonim and winter encampments, for students and parents.

-Work closely as a member of the senior administration to support the progress of the school.

For Further Information:

Contact Nadiv Project Manager:

Ramie Arian

(914) 682-2814