As it is written: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good.” (Bereishit, 1:3-4)
Each day, we have moments of light. We have thoughts, ideas, and contemplations about ways to improve life. We think about how we can help our family and friends. We think about ways to make our jobs more meaningful or easier. We think about how to become healthier. We think. Not every idea is a good one. We likely have more bad ideas than good ones. Yet, rarely do we take the moment to reflect and determine its merit.
Human nature inherently pushes us to go and do. Many of us attend seminars, trainings, workshops, meetings, conferences, etc. The rooms buzz with excitement and ideas. The hour long presentation was the best thing you ever saw. You walk out the door energized. You get back to your desk and realize you can’t articulate the ideas you left the room with just moments ago. Shadows of your thoughts ruminate in your brain. You try your hardest to put your thoughts on paper, but you can’t reach them. It’s too late. The moment of reflection has passed.
God teaches us reflection from the start of the Torah. Each act of creation is followed by a recap and nod of approval. The Yitro Leadership Program brings Assistant and Associate Camp Directors together from all parts of the US. In a three-day seminar, not a moment is wasted. We walk in and have agendas, workbooks, notebooks, and pens waiting for us. The flip charts are placed at the front of the room near the PowerPoint projector. There is a coffee table at the back of the room. It’s time to work. You look at the agenda, and it looks like any other schedule: three sessions before lunch, another four before dinner, and an evening program. The agenda, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. We revisit the content from our previous two seminars. We look at the challenges facing our own camps today. We build a frame, together, for what we are about to do. We are learning as we share with each other best practices. With each topic, we work through case studies, build skills, and develop benchmarks.
We are asked to flip to page one of our workbooks and jot down any revelations we’ve had. The top of the page reads “Ah-Ha Moments”. It’s a blank page in a workbook. We are in session, but we are silent. Many would look at this as wasted time and space. This is intentional. Reflection is critical to learning and development. It underscores that which we have found most important. It allows us to remember our thoughts at a later time.
Thinking back on our sessions, I had so many “Ah-Ha Moments”. One of the most profound discussions and topics was about the way we train our staff. Training is not a one week process at camp. In fact, training is an ongoing process in life. We coach, we teach, we cultivate, and we teach our staff to be better individuals. We are in the business of role modeling. We are in the business of growing children into young Jewish adults. What do we want our kids to Know, Value, and Do in their lives? These are the methods we use to train our staff as role models.
What’s an idea that you lost? What do you wish you remembered? What got lost between the meeting room and your desk? Stop. Think. Reflect. Write. Imagine the good that can come from it.
- Dan Baer, Associate Director, Camp Interlaken JCC