CGI Central – a division of The Shluchim Office, recently held their 2nd annual Camp Training Conference in Crown Heights. Geared for staff and head staff going to camps around North America, the conference gathered over 350 young adults from 36 day camps and 8 overnight camps including CGI Parkville, Detroit and Florida. The conference was also broadcast live for over 65 staff and directors who couldn’t make it in person.
The one day event featured presentations on a variety of topics. Beginning with Hashkafa – participants learned about the goal and mission statement from Rabbi Yossi Deren, executive director of CGI of Greenwich, CT. Other presentations included a segment on professionalism by Rabbi Zalman Gerber, executive director of CGI Philadelphia, and a segment on bullying and social exclusion by Dr. Eli Shapiro LCSW Ed.D.
Participants also had a comprehensive and sensitive presentation from Mr. Barry Howritz, LCSW – R on abuse and molestation awareness and prevention. A highlight was the keynote by Mr. Michael Brandwein on “Building Better Children”. As one staff member put it, “the clarity and applicability of his presentation was remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, and look forward to bringing these newly learned skills to my campers.”
When asked to list one “take away” from the conference, Shmuly, a learning teacher from CGI Florida said, “I learned the value in focusing on positive behavior and new skills to prevent bullying in my class.”
98% of those that filled out the feedback form said they gained new knowledge. Staff used words like “enlightening, informative and relevant” to describe their experience at the conference.
One counselor from CGI Parksville that was interviewed said he felt “more confident” about going to camp with his newly-acquired knowledge. Sheina, a counselor in CGI Bethesda, MD said she found “a new appreciation” for her responsibility as a counselor and the role she plays in keeping campers safe.
Rabbi Yossi Futerfas, director of CGI Parksville, said, “I am pleased with the conference, and speaking to staff afterwards, they expressed appreciation that this was arranged for them.”
Having been granted “Educational Endorsement” by the American Camp Association, participants received a certificate of attendance awarding them five continuing education credits (CEC’s).
Yosef Dovid Schtroks, a Head counselor from CGI Detroit, said, “I am grateful for this resource as I feel it not only empowered my staff as a whole, it helped me as well.”
Complete with a conference companion and a memento of 76 interactive games always ready on demand, staff also received a gift of a water bottle or fashion sun glasses from Pro Forma A and S.
Rabbi Yossi Goldblatt, Director of CGI Florida who was one of many camp directors that viewed the conference online said, “I was truly impressed with the topics, presenters and the professionalism of the program.”
Rabbi Shloime Rabin, Director of CGI Central said of the conference “I am deeply grateful to be able to play a role in such a valuable and needed program. I am also appreciative of all those who enabled the conference to take place, especially Rabbis Gedalya Shemtov and Moshe Shemtov, and our great director of operations, Benzion Shemtov.”
As a resource to camps, CGI Central recently opened a pinterest page (pinterest.com/cgicentral) full of great ideas for fun and activities.
Staff at CGI Central said, “B’’H the conference was a great success, and we look forward to next year’s conference which we’ve already begun talking about.”
Photos indicated by Baruch Ezagui, others by Levi Weingarten