Jun 25, 2012
For A Better (and Safer) Summer
The summer just got better: Staff of 44 Chabad day camps and 6 overnight camps joined the first Camp Training Conference.
By COLlive Staff
Girl Staff Photos: Dina Duchan Photography - facebook.com/dinaduchanphotography
Boy Staff Photos: Nachman Blizinsky
CGI Central – A division of The Shluchim Office - recently held its first ever Camp Training Conference for staff and head staff. 44 day camps and 6 overnight camps made up the 500 participants, staff from boys and girls camps that attended in separate locations.
The young men and women who took part in the conference will make up the summer staff of camps in the Gan Israel network, the largest network of Jewish camps in the world, run by Chabad Houses and affiliated institutions in more than 40 countries with day and overnight programs serving both boys and girls of all backgrounds.
The conference, which was broadcast live, was also viewed by an additional 150 online participants from around the world.
“The Achdus and unity at the conference was powerful,” said M. Cohen, a counselor in CGI Montreal.
The conference, which covered five core topics, began with “Hashkafa”. Given by Rabbi Avremi Schapiro, Director of CGI Milwaukee, WI, staff learned why Shluchim provide camp services, and the role the staff plays in that picture.
When asked to tell one lesson she could take away from the conference, Esti, a counselor in a CGI in southern California said she learned “that it's all about making camp a positive and nurturing environment through love and warmth. When you do that, accomplishing your goal in camp becomes more of a reality.”
The staff participated in a “hands on” workshop on combatting bullying and social exclusion, led by Mrs. Rivkie Ives of the Tag Institute.
Suri, a counselor in CGI Morristown, NJ said she learned “how to better take care of the children entrusted in her care.” Her friend Shana said she learned “to be in tune and be conscious about including all children in every part of the day.” Both said they’re more ready and more excited to fill their role as counselors.
The staff then enjoyed a segment from Rabbi Shmuly Rothman on professionalism.
Following lunch, the staff heard a comprehensive and sensitive presentation from Mr. Yair Cohn LMFT of Aleinu, on abuse and molestation awareness and prevention.
Ending off the day on a high note was Mr. Michael Brandwein, who entertainingly spoke about Positive Discipline in his 2.5 hour keynote speech. He shared practical ideas and words, all of which are immediately applicable.
The staff also took an online segment on physical and general safety prior to the conference.
“I was quite impressed by the conference, they really addressed all the pressing issues and I believe staff felt the same,” said Chaim Levi Cohen – Head Counselor Of CGI Detroit. One staff member told COLlive that the conference afforded staff high quality learning, and was geared and tailored to a Frum Chasssidish environment.
95% of staff that filled out the feedback form said “leaving the conference, they had a more positive attitude towards camp,” proving the conference was more than just educationally rewarding.
Endorsed by the ACA, participants were awarded five Continuing Education Credits.
Mrs. Chana Devora Solomon, who’s entering her twentieth year as Director of CGI Morristown - a camp with over 300 campers - who attended the conference and registered over 25 staff, expressed her appreciation for the new initiative saying, “I always really wanted more formal training, and now with CGI Central and the Camp Training Conference, my dream is finally being fulfilled.”
Chani, a Head counselor on the West Coast said, “it was so inspiring and helpful, and really got me into the right frame of mind.”
When asked what he has his sights on next, Rabbi Shlomie Rabin, Director of CGI Central, said, they are weighing a few possible options, such as a Camp Directors conference, creating an online library of downloadable resources and curricula for learning class. Another area would be expanding the training options for both staff and directors.
“At CGI Central we focus our energies and resources on programs that bring the maximum benefit to camps," he said. "The Training Conference met that criteria and going forward we’ll listen for input from those in the camping community as to where we can once again provide a service that is currently lacking.”
"The conference exceeded our expectations on every level,” added Rabin. “It was a tremendous first year and we are already thinking about improvements and additions for the coming year."
This program has been coordinated by CGI Central, a new division of The Shluchim Office. CGI Central aims to create a network among the 300+ day camps and 40+ overnight camps worldwide, providing support with professional development, curriculums, and more. To learn more go to www.cgicentral.org