In a few short months, we will open our fourth summer at Ramah Outdoor Adventure. And if this summer is anything like the first three, the key to our success will once again be the incredible group of passionate, dedicated and inspirational staff who come to the Ramah Ranch each summer to implement our innovative outdoor adventure program.
As we tell our staff and campers throughout the summer, at Ramah Outdoor Adventure, we invest heavily in ensuring that we have one of the finest staffs of any summer camp in America!
Over the winter break, we had two staff training experiences. This week and next, we will share some reflections on each of these experiences. Below are two reflections from the National Ramah Weinstein training, held annually at Ramah in Ojai in early January and attended by a handful of senior counselors from each of the Ramah Camps. Next week, we will present some reflections on a more local training for our senior staff here in Colorado.
From Zack Slavkin:
The Weinstein Institute was a great opportunity for all staff alike to grow, learn and share with their national and international counterparts from other camps. There were programs and discussions aimed at helping better us as counselors and mentors for the children that we see each summer, and each gave the chance to share and receive feedback on a variety of topics ranging from Jewish education, to handling social tensions and programming.
As a Ramahkie (Ramahnick from Ramah in the Rockies) I found it an invaluable resource because as a young and growing camp, we have yet to establish the long traditions and legacies that exist elsewhere. I was given encouragement and a plethora of ideas about what we can bring to camp in the coming seasons and heard all sorts of stories and customs that have rooted themselves in the essence of older camps. Being that ROA is such a unique Ramah and camp in general, we were bombarded with questions about how we worked and if we were even really a Ramah! I was proud to explain how we use the outdoor setting to emphasis and support or Jewish connection and identity and how our week in week out tripping works. I thoroughly enjoyed the shocked expressions that adorned the faces of those northeastern counselors when they heard about doing Teffilah on a cliff during a 5 day backpacking trip.
Overall, Weinstein proved to be a growing and learning experience, allowing for connections and ideas to be formed, that otherwise may have remained unseen. We have new songs and games, thoughts and ideas, and inspiration for summers to come and all of it is a result of gathering counselors and staff together from all over and letting their minds run free.
From Jessica Dworkin
Many people across the United States have grown up going to a Ramah camp. They have attended camp since they were young and gone through every edah until they were old enough to work there. This is not the case for me. Ramah Outdoor Adventure is the first Ramah camp that I have attended. I have only experienced what it is like to be a staff member, and I have only seen the ritual and traditions at Etgar b’Ramah. That is until now.
The first week in January I attended a training for returning counselors at the Ramah in California. This training, known as Weinstein, opened my eyes to all that National Ramah has to offer. I met amazing counselors from each of the Ramah camps in the United States and Canada. We had the opportunity to share stories, ideas, advice, and most importantly traditions. Everyone at Weinstein was so curious about Ramah Outdoor Adventure. I was asked countless questions about our new and exciting camp. Everyone was so enthralled in our stories and experiences of Jews living, learning, and loving the outdoors in the Colorado Rockies.
As much as I enjoyed bragging about how amazing the Ramah camp that I work at is and how much I love it there, I also enjoyed hearing other people’s stories. I discovered that although Ramah Outdoor Adventure is a very unique camp we still have the same values as the other Ramah camps and we also have many similarities. On Shabbat at Weinstein every camp shared a tradition that was unique to them. It was inspiring to see how proud everyone is of their unique camp and how excited and willing everyone is to share their traditions. As Ramah Outdoor Adventure grows I hope we too can develop more traditions that will carry on through generations.
Each day at Weinstein we attended discussion sessions where we had the opportunity to share stories, thoughts, and advice related to specific topics. I learned so much about myself, and how I can become a better counselor from these information sessions. The first session I attended was about how to make your camper feel ten feet tall. In this session we talked about how to make every camper feel special and included and how to make sure no camper is left out or unhappy. Every child is unique and it is important to value all that they have to offer at camp. Another session that I really enjoyed was about how to effectively communicate with your fellow staff members and campers. Communication is extremely important to ensure that camp is run smoothly and every child is taken care of and happy. Communicating with campers is extremely important so that we as a staff can knows how each child is feeling, and what their needs or wants may be so that we can ensure that they are enjoying themselves at camp.
Weinstein was a great experience. I met so many incredible counselors and I learned a lot about the Ramah movement. In my opinion Ramah is not only incredible for campers but for counselors as well. I enjoyed getting to know other Ramah staff members as well as bonding more with my fellow Rockies Tzevet. I enjoyed seeing all the Ramah values emerge in different ways through each camp, and I found it inspiring to see the strong Jewish pride that national Ramah instills in all of its campers and staff members.