The Campfire

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Archive for January, 2012

What’s in Store at Leaders Assembly 2012?

We’re counting down—only six weeks until Leaders Assembly 2012!
What can you expect at this one-of-a-kind conference?

THE SHUK: Your Jewish Camp Marketplace
An “ideas exhibition” will feature organizations and individuals with experiential education expertise. Our hand-picked vendors offer a diverse spectrum of ways to connect to Judaism at camp, and will showcase programs aimed at helping camps engage a larger market segment of North American Jewry.

DO MORE WITH LESS: A Keynote with Nancy Lublin
In her recent book Zilch, Nancy Lublin proposes that “zero” can be a powerful mechanism for nonprofits. “Starting with zero isn’t a problem for [nonprofits]. It’s a challenge that we rise to everyday. Zilch is what drives us to be more innovative, more passionate, more creative.” How can we do more with less? Nancy will share how operating from a “zilch” perspective ultimately led her projects Dress for Success and Do Something to thrive.

CREATE YOUR OWN AGENDA: Peer-to-Peer Programming
Our unique conference format puts the agenda in your hands. What are your burning questions? What topics are most challenging in your work? With the guidance of savvy facilitators, you’ll have the chance to craft our agenda in real time.

FROM HIGH ROPES TO HIGHER ED: Experiential Education on the National Agenda
Jewish camps have always used experiential education to build Jewish identity in America. Last year, the Jim Joseph Foundation granted $45 million to the country’s top three Jewish educational institutions to significantly increase the number of trained Jewish educators. In a rare public conversation, learn from the leaders of these institutions—Richard M. Joel (Yeshiva University), Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D. (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion), and Arnold M. Eisen (Jewish Theological Seminary)—how and why experiential education is being prioritized on the national agenda.

We have expanded the capacity of our skill-building workshops for camp professionals, lay leaders, and educators on March 11th. We have also updated our session originally dedicated to managing special needs campers to include all types of children with challenging behaviors. If you would like to modify your workshop selections, please update your registration.

Know anyone who is interested but not yet registered?
Tell them to REGISTER TODAY:

We look forward to seeing you in March!

Cornerstone Excitement

Two weeks ago at this time I was at Capital Camps in Pennsylvania. I go there twice a year on a trip for the Cornerstone Fellowship. I am really excited about Cornerstone this year. While it could be the record number of camps participating in our largest seminar yet or the number of campers whose lives will be enriched their Cornerstone role models back at camp this summer, neither is the reason. In every respect, Cornerstone is committed to role modeling. That is not limited to the work that we hope the Fellows do in the summer or even the May seminar. Role modeling is also critical to our winter planning seminar.


We do not just hire staff and tell them to do a job; we bring them up to the site to train them and run through what we are looking to see in May. And we are not just doing that, we take time away to have them model sessions with their peers and get feedback from each other. In the words of Jonah Canner, one of our returning Cornerstone faculty members:

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is, as an experiential educator, to have opportunities to play the role of participant in workshops and activities that are similar in nature to the ones that I am often the facilitator of. It lets me see other facilitator’s styles, remember what it is like to be facilitated, and step outside of my own creative process, to learn from and provide feedback to my peers. Perhaps most importantly it reminds to not over think things, to not be too complicated. It reminds me that in experiential education; most of the heavy lifting is done by the participants. As a facilitator my job is to frame the experience in context and reflection. My job is to create a safe place where the participants can trust me, trust each other, and trust themselves. My job is to bring them in and then get out of the way. (from Jonah’s blog)

At the core we are doing something unique at Cornerstone. Every year we are exploring what it means to be enriched by Jewish pluralism. Cornerstone is not about the small reading of pluralism, meaning orchestrating everyone playing together nicely in the sandbox. Cornerstone aspires to motivate Jewish cultural change at camp by inspiring and empowering fellows and liaisons to develop and implement experiential programming for campers and staff that speaks to the diversity of Jewish life while embracing a variety of learning styles and modes of expression. This starts with the faculty loving being part of a community that celebrates diversity and is enriched by excellence. I left our winter retreat inspired by all of the ways to be and express what it might mean to be Jewish. I am confident that when the Cornerstone Fellows arrive in May they will follow our lead and want to bring their best forward.

-Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow, Director of Jewish Education at the Foundation for Jewish Camp