Cornerstone Excitement

Two weeks ago at this time I was at Capital Camps in Pennsylvania. I go there twice a year on a trip for the Cornerstone Fellowship. I am really excited about Cornerstone this year. While it could be the record number of camps participating in our largest seminar yet or the number of campers whose lives will be enriched their Cornerstone role models back at camp this summer, neither is the reason. In every respect, Cornerstone is committed to role modeling. That is not limited to the work that we hope the Fellows do in the summer or even the May seminar. Role modeling is also critical to our winter planning seminar.

We do not just hire staff and tell them to do a job; we bring them up to the site to train them and run through what we are looking to see in May. And we are not just doing that, we take time away to have them model sessions with their peers and get feedback from each other. In the words of Jonah Canner, one of our returning Cornerstone faculty members:

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is, as an experiential educator, to have opportunities to play the role of participant in workshops and activities that are similar in nature to the ones that I am often the facilitator of. It lets me see other facilitator’s styles, remember what it is like to be facilitated, and step outside of my own creative process, to learn from and provide feedback to my peers. Perhaps most importantly it reminds to not over think things, to not be too complicated. It reminds me that in experiential education; most of the heavy lifting is done by the participants. As a facilitator my job is to frame the experience in context and reflection. My job is to create a safe place where the participants can trust me, trust each other, and trust themselves. My job is to bring them in and then get out of the way. (from Jonah’s blog)

At the core we are doing something unique at Cornerstone. Every year we are exploring what it means to be enriched by Jewish pluralism. Cornerstone is not about the small reading of pluralism, meaning orchestrating everyone playing together nicely in the sandbox. Cornerstone aspires to motivate Jewish cultural change at camp by inspiring and empowering fellows and liaisons to develop and implement experiential programming for campers and staff that speaks to the diversity of Jewish life while embracing a variety of learning styles and modes of expression. This starts with the faculty loving being part of a community that celebrates diversity and is enriched by excellence. I left our winter retreat inspired by all of the ways to be and express what it might mean to be Jewish. I am confident that when the Cornerstone Fellows arrive in May they will follow our lead and want to bring their best forward.

-As posted on the Foundation for Jewish Camp Blog

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