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Becoming Ourselves

By Eli Chanoff
Cornerstone Counselor, Camp Tawonga

I always knew I wanted to be a counselor at Camp Tawonga. I was a camper for seven years and the impact my counselors had on me is something I’ll never forget. When we were campers, many of us talked about growing up and becoming counselors ourselves– most of us are working here together now, impacting kids the same way we were impacted.

I happened to see one of my counselors the other day, and we both agreed that being a camper at Tawonga is the best thing ever, and the role models you get to look up to in your counselors are a huge part of that.

My counselors struck a perfect balance of being like big brothers but also like father figures. They were always very real with us and kept us in line. I also remember just thinking that they were really cool, and I just loved hanging out with them. Being a counselor, you’re actually needed as opposed to just wanting to be needed.

As a counselor now, I can appreciate aspects of Camp in different ways, like how Tawonga has a way of finding a place for everyone who comes through. Not just to fit in, but for people to really feel important and that they belong in this community. Being on staff at Camp Tawonga has prepared me for life more than anything else I’ve ever done by teaching me things like patience, empathy and so much more. I’ve realized Tawonga made me exercise these traits not just because I should, but because I enjoy it.


Eli Chanoff currently a bunk counselor for B-5, has spent eleven years at Tawonga – first as a camper and now a counselor. As a third-year counselor this summer, he is also a Cornerstone Fellow – a small group of counselors dedicated to bringing leadership, mentorship and Jewish programming to Camp. Eli is a San Francisco native in his 3rd at Oberlin College. He is studying biochemistry and is also involved in an a capella group and Oberlin’s Kosher Hillel co-op.




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