Camp is (also) for the Counselors…
Our campers’ incredible summer experience is the responsibility and the delight of our staff members who create the amazing environment that is Camp Tel Noar. We are proud of the staff family we create each summer. It is represented by staff members in many different stages of their camp career, from all over the country and the world, and our special bond is uniquely Jewish. Jordan, Adam, Rachel and Ron share below how they cultivated their love for camp, and how that influences the values that make our Community so special. Each journey is unique, and yet, somehow, so very “Tel Noar.” Enjoy.
Campers in Transition
Sitting in the Staff Lounge on a hot summer day in early August last year, my fellow CATs and CITs and I were completing our “coursework,” the obligatory counselor training sessions that all CITs experience upon their return from Israel. Our counselor, Dave, brought up the acronym CIT, and described how the latter not only means “Counselor-in-Training” but also “Camper-in-Transition.” I didn’t take much notice at his description, but for some reason, the term stuck with me. On the closing day, after all the tears had been shed, the last hugs given, and the last goodbyes spoken, I sat down on the waterfront and reflected upon my journey at camp. I sure hoped it wasn’t over, but whether or not I would be returning to the shores of Sunset Lake in 2013 was something that was out of my control.
I thought about my first day at camp in 2006, and how much I begged my parents not to leave, and the sense of not-knowing what the coming summer would bring. As most campers typically are, I was assimilated to the camp environment by my second or third day at CTN. The counselors, activities, and of course my bunkmates, made me realize rather quickly how special Camp really is. And thus on that day my journey began, the ensuing 266 days I spent at camp each presenting an adventure of their own; from rainy days to basketball tournaments to trip days and so much more.
When I was a camper, I looked up to my counselors, and I couldn’t wait until I had the chance to be on staff myself. Although two of my older brothers (Josh & Dana) attended camp before me, it was my counselors, especially in my first year, who taught me the camp traditions and customs which I have to come to know and love over my seven years at CTN. I remember the counselor who I was sitting with when I finally nailed the Birkat Hamazon in Bunk 2, the counselor who taught me exactly the right way to serve a tennis ball, and the counselor who showed me just the right way to do the breaststroke. As I look forward to Summer of 2013, my first year on staff, I am eager to pass on the camp traditions and customs to a new generation of campers. I have no idea what this summer will bring for me as a counselor, but just being at camp is enough for me. The journey I’ve taken from my first day in Bunk 2 ‘til now has been incredible, and I can’t wait to continue it at Camp for summers to come.
by Jordan C-K., Junior Counselor from Newton, MA (8th Summer at CTN)
EVERYONE Gets a Chance!
Upon meeting my fellow counselors last summer, one thing was clear- Camp Tel Noar was a completely new ‘world’ of it’s own, and I was only going to discover it by throwing myself in head first. Luckily, one of my bunk co-counselors was also on Drama staff with me. It was Jeremy’s twelfth year at Tel Noar and he was there
to answer every question I had. My other bunk co, JP, was one of five siblings/cousins that had a long history at the camp too, it was obvious this place had an incredible history.
My co’s had a certain ‘pride of place’ at camp, which I began to notice also shone within every member of the camp family. In showing me the foundations and traditions of where they had spent their summers growing up, I discovered a legacy that I regret not having available to myself in England. Camp has an all-inclusive program of activities that provide children with all-rounding skills as well as a place of belonging. Whilst casting our two shows during first session, the head of Drama, Jenn, turned to me and said: “Nobody gets cut”. Imagine a world where nobody gets cut — where EVERYBODY is given a chance!
This idea of all-inclusion was illustrated once again during color war, and was a theme carried throughout all aspects of camp culture. The captains were tasked with giving everyone something to do during the Apache Relay. Somehow, they managed to give every camper a fitting event and make them feel like a part of their team. Regardless of team Negev or Galil, everyone got to represent camp with pride.
So why am I leaving my job, packing all my things and flying back to Camp Tel Noar for a second summer? My bunk co’s were a strong team, further strengthened when Ben Salwen joined us halfway through the summer. The Drama department was a strong team, each with our own strengths to play to. The new friends I had gained made me feel so welcome in their country, and houses during our days off, and camp warmly welcomed me into their family, and I am proud of my place there. I look forward to showing this same warmth and community to all of my campers that walk into camp on the first day.
by Adam L. , Second-Year Counselor from Pinner, England (2nd Summer at CTN)
Carrying on Tradition
Camp is and always will be a special place for me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities, friends, and learning experiences Tel Noar has given me through the years, and I have loved being able to continue my journey here on staff. As a counselor, I have had the wonderful opportunity to give back to camp and repay Tel Noar for all it has done for me. I remember how much I admired and adored my counselors as a young camper, and it is truly a special feeling to know that my campers look up to me in the same way. My summers at camp have shifted from simply a summer activity to a lifelong connection and impactful summer job. The skills I have acquired through training, the support of the other staff, and the overall experience have been, and will continue to be, invaluable.
As a senior staff member this year, I couldn’t be more excited to act as a leader and role model not only for the campers, but for the junior staff members. I feel as if I am carrying along a tradition, sharing the skills and knowledge I have developed the past two years and guiding the younger staff to eventually take my place. The camp community is unique in that it takes people from various ages and somehow forms them into a close-knit family, and this year, I get to be one of the heads of the family. I can’t wait to be able to leave my mark on camp and to do my part in the long-standing tradition that is Tel Noar. One of the things that makes CTN so special is the blend of long-time staff who grew up at camp with a great mix of new counselors from other cultures. The combination provides campers with a unique culture and warm community; something they can be proud to be a part of.
Camp is often a place of firsts. The first time you make your bed on your own, the first time you get up on waterskis, and the first time you hit a home run on the big diamond. To have the chance to be my campers biggest fan and advocate, and provide them with the support they need to accomplish these firsts, is an awesome responsibility. My roots are deep at Tel Noar, and I look forward to another summer of strengthening my campers connection to this incredible place.
by Rachel G., Third-Year Counselor from Needham, MA (11th Summer at CTN)
I live in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city and this will be my second year coming back to camp. I knew I would come back to Tel Noar when my campers left camp after the long summer we spent together. When they left, their absence made me realize that being a counselor is not only taking care of the kids and helping them, but also connecting with them in a way which you feel like they are your children, like family. I believe that living with our campers and the set up of our bunks just strengthens this feeling. The thing I like the most about being a counselor is that the campers open up to me and share stories from their personal life, and it gives me an energy to keep working to do things for them to have a great summer.
As a member of the Mishlachat (Israeli delegation) I try to include subjects that happen in Israeli daily life in different activities in a fun ways and I hope that they can understand our culture better. My role is not just to be there for my campers but to help teach and broaden the staff’s knowledge and love for Israel. I am passionate about working with kids and my co-counselors in the bunk and teaching Tennis during the day. I miss the community of Camp Tel Noar during the year; it feels like family and without it I feel “homesick”. I can’t wait to come back for another summer.
by Ron M., Second-Year Counselor from Jerusalem, Israel (2nd year at CTN)
There is nothing quite like Tel Noar — everyone grows each summer, and our community is all the more richer for it! Were you a counselor at CTN? How did your experience help you grow and what lessons have you taken with you into the rest of your life?