Gil, Summer Camp Shaliach | The Jewish AgencyGil, Summer Camp Shaliach

Gil, Summer Camp Shaliach

Gil, Camp Ramah - New England
Gil ,19, is from Modi'in in Central Israel. This summer, he's serving as an eighth grade counselor and also helping run a ropes course elective at Camp Ramah in Palmer, MA.

Getting Comfortable | July 19, 2021

Last week I feel like I truly discovered myself at camp. Before then, I didn’t feel sure of myself what with learning how camp works, etc., but then all of a sudden, I felt a lot more confident and comfortable.

I realized something very important: I must initiate. I can not let the camp experience pass me by. You see, there is active fun and passive fun and I had to start actively enjoying camp. In my opinion, the way I truly made my mark on the group and on my campers was through an Israeli game I introduced them to during a night activity.

The campers went wild for the game and in the middle started chanting “we love Gil” which was really fun and satisfying.

I continued with the same energy the next day and also led a prayer. I really like prayers and had not yet had the opportunity to initiate in this area in camp. I recited a prayer very similar to what is done in the camp but I added all sorts of interesting anecdotes and put my own spin on it. And it was a hit! The staff were really excited about the prayer and said it was the most engaging prayer there had been since the beginning of camp.

I realized that the secret is to bring things from home to share with the campers and camp at large. Not necessarily “Israeli” things, just things I do in my local youth movement, in school or at home. My fellow Shlichim and I also taught an Israeli line dance to the campers during a recent activity.

I’m excited to continue to share my traditions with the camp throughout the summer!

Embracing Challenges | July 7, 2021

Time at camp is crazy! On the one hand, every day seems like a week–but when you look back, the time has actually flown by.

The first week of camp was very intense. I started off with some challenges but as the week progressed, I had a few successful interactions that stood out to me.

One had to do with a challenging camper and his phone. Campers aren’t allowed to have phones at camp and this camper, although he knew the rules, brought a phone and hid it under his bed. During cleaning time, I found the phone, and that same night I gave a talk to the whole bunk saying that if someone brought a phone by accident, this was their last chance to hand it in with no consequences. That same camper then handed in the phone.

This might be a minor accomplishment in the scheme of things, but for me, it was truly the beginning of starting to connect with that camper. We’ve got seven more weeks together to bond and grow, and that thought amazes and excites me.

Another proud moment for me was when I started to feel comfortable with my whole Edah (age group), so much so that I shared an Israeli tradition during prayer that I brought from my youth group back home–and everyone loved it!

I can’t wait for another magical Shabbat at camp and to continue this amazing journey with my campers.

GET TO KNOW GIL:

Why did you decide to be a summer camp Shaliach (Israeli emissary)?

I decided to be a camp Shaliach for a number of reasons. The first is that because my mother is from Canada and I was raised in a Conservative home, I kept hearing about this magical place called Camp Ramah. In addition, this year I was exposed to American Jewry through my pre-military program when both Israelis and Americans participated — and I was simply amazed in the best way possible. I also really love to mentor kids and summer camp offers such tremendous educational opportunities.

Why do you think that Camp Shlichim are important? 

The role of the Shlichim is super critical. As I learned in the pre-military program, the best way to strengthen the bond between the two largest Jewish communities in the world (Israel and America) is to create a community that allows us to interact and make personal connections. Camp is the perfect place for that. In addition, because we come from Israel, Shichim bring a new and different perspective to camp, which is so important.

What do you think your biggest challenge will be?

As much as I think Shlichim need to offer a new perspective, I also want to observe all the unique traditions of Camp Ramah so I’ll need to find the right balance. Also, camp is a very intense experience and I want to make sure I keep in touch with family and friends back home.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love keys and have always wanted to own a donkey! 🙂