Assistant Director, Toronto Campus Advocacy
Hart Jacob, LEAD facilitator, working with staff at Camp BB-Riback in Alberta
There is nothing quite like the feeling as a child, when you first arrive at summer camp. Nervous, excited — who is going to be in my cabin, who am I going to dance with on Saturday night? One thing campers don’t usually think about is, what is the relationship between Israel and my camp? What is Israel at my camp? What do I learn, experience, associate, feel and think about Israel as a result of the informal education at my camp?
That’s where we, at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, (CIJA) come in. Over the past few weeks I was fortunate to facilitate some of our LEAD workshops at a number of Canadian Jewish camps across the country, specifically working with staff during their training sessions. The workshops combine professional/personal development of the individual staff members and also serves as an opportunity for staff to view themselves as educators and begin thinking of how they will share their Israel engagement with their campers. The LEAD programs explore ways in which summer camps, utilizing principles of informal education, can instill a love of “the real” Israel, while also grappling with, and contemplating, real issues in Israel today.
The LEAD program is specifically designed and customized by CIJA professionals to meet the needs of the individual camp. The reason that we make the effort to have these conversations at camp is because we understand that camp can have a greater impact on the Jewish involvement of young people then almost any other avenue. The camps also recognize the importance of a strong sense of Zionism and have worked with us in order to strengthen these ideals.
The best aspect of traveling to five camps over the past two weeks and facilitating this program to over 225 counselors is hearing from them. The staff at all of the camps I visited were smart, engaged, and inquisitive. I’m excited for the prospect of my future children attending one of these camps.