Posts Tagged 'Cornerstone'

Back to Bamidbar – Cornerstone 2015 Shavuot and Going Back to Camp

I just got back from an exhilarating week at the 2015 Cornerstone Fellowship Seminar. There we trained over 330 counselors and supervisors who will be enriching the Jewish lives of thousands of campers and staff members this summer. I was thinking about this as we are in the final countdown to Shavuot and as we start the reading the Book of Numbers this Shabbat. In Hebrew, the book is called Bamidbar, the wilderness. With Shavuot we celebrate the giving of the Torah, what is the significance of our “entering the wilderness?”

In the Midrash we learn, “There are three ways to acquire Torah, with fire, with water, and with wilderness” (Midrash Numbers Rabbah 1:1). This Midrash could be understood to mean that we acquire Torah through passion (fire), immersion (water), and through a long trek in unknown land (the wilderness). Shavuot coming means that the end of school is close at hand. And with the end of school, the camp season is around the corner. This Midrash seems to be lived out at Jewish camp.

Camp is an amazing place where our children will make s’mores and memories by a camp fire (the fire), take the deep water test (the water), and go on a physically challenging hike (in the wilderness). Jewish camp is amazing on another level though. There, our children will be led by extraordinary role models who will ignite our children’s passion (the fire). There they will be part of building their own immersive purpose-driven Jewish community (the water). And there, we hope their experience will set them on their life journey to have a community of people to travel with along life’s path (the wilderness). As we are getting ready for Bamidbar and Shavuot I hope we are all also getting ready for camp, they are all profoundly revealing and edifying.

Chag Shavuot Sameakh – have a great holiday and enjoy packing for camp!

Advertisements

Cornerstone Banner- A Model for Pluralism

At the start of BaMidbar, this week’s Torah portion, we read of the desert encampment of Israel. There we read:

When the Israelites set up camp, each tribe will be assigned its own area. The tribal divisions will camp beneath their family banners on all four sides of the Tabernacle, but at some distance from it.  ( Numbers 2:2)

I want to think about the need for the “distance” , but first I want to explore the meaning of the banners. According to Rav Hirsch the banner   דגל is related to דקל, which is a tree that can be seen all around.  Rav Hirsch also explains the phrase תמרות עשן similarly – like a תמר tree (דקל), that can be witnessed in all directions (and from all perspectives). Their banner was their signature stand out trait. They needed to maintain distance so that they could witness and appreciate each others stand out traits.

This seems like a wonderful model for pluralism for our community. We should strive to come together with people who you are different from us and make sure that we give each other  space to witness and appreciate our differences. I am still on my yearly Cornerstone Program high where I get to see this encampment first hand. I got to see 250 2nd year Bunk staff from camps all over North America come together to learn how to enrich Jewish life for their fellow staff and campers. In the name of helping their campers this summer  we brought together representatives from Zionists camps ( Young Judea, Habonim Dror, HaShomer HaTzair, B’Nai Akiva), Community camps, Ramah camps, URJ camps, Day camps , and Independent camps. But this encampment did not try to have them all become the same, but rather gave them all space to stand up for their own beliefs. There seems to be a sacred space when we can both come together and give each other space to hold our banners high.

– Already looking forward to Cornerstone 2015

 

 

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


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 185 other followers

Archive By Topic

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: