June 27, 2018

Making An Impact

By Sam Bloom

I am always looking for ways to make our staff realize the impact they have on their campers.  We talk a lot during staff training week and throughout the summer about being role models.  Perhaps the term “role models” is one we throw around loosely and use too often.  Easy to do in this environment.   But I am always looking for ways to make them realize the level of responsibility they have.  To make them realize they are parents for the 7 weeks they are camp staff.  To make them realize that their actions and words will impact the lives of kids forever.

Every Tuesday night we have an all staff “event.” Like a meeting…but we make it fun.  Exciting.  An event!  We play games, serve food and show videos.  Its only 30 minutes long.  And we use this time as an opportunity to motivate and provide ongoing training to our staff.

At last night’s event, we showed a video from David Flood, a motivational speaker who recounts a heartwarming story about how his son’s hockey team taught him a life changing lesson about the power of love and its impact on people.  He tells the members of his audience that your life is not about you.  It’s about the people around you who you can impact, and change, and love.  And how good you will feel if you source your life like that.  His son happens to have autism.  So he also talks about embracing the differences between people.  And encourages us to stop looking at what’s on the outside, but to look on the inside.

One of my favorite programs we have is the Big Brother Big Sister program.  This is a program where Sabras, 2nd – 4th grade campers, get paired with one of our oldest teen campers as their big brother or sister for the session.  This program is something the teens look forward to for their entire camper career.  This morning the teens and their little brothers and sisters were scheduled for a day trip to a nearby park called Chestnut Ridge.  Unfortunately, that trip was cancelled due to “heavy dew” (rain).  However, that did not stop the fun.  The teens and their little brothers and sisters spent the entire morning together at camp.  The little ones got to participate in Teen Challenge (a month long competition only for teens) activities with their big brothers and sisters.  All of a sudden the sabras no longer cared that their trip was cancelled.  These kids were SO excited to participate in Teen Challenge and be with their big brothers and big sisters.  The impact these teens are having on their little brothers and sisters is tremendous.  In 10 years, these Sabras may not remember their first time going zip lining, or the soccer game they won against the cabin next door, but I guarantee you they will remember who their big brother or big sister was.  And I guarantee you they will remember the rainy morning at camp where they got to participate in Teen Challenge with them.

As we head into the end of Week 2, we have several Sabra campers who were signed up for 2 weeks, that have decided to stay for 2 more weeks and finish out Session 1.  I was recently talking to one of our Sabra campers who decided she wanted to stay.  When I asked her why she wanted to stay so bad, she said “because I have the best counselors ever.”  Another testament to the impact these staff have on their kids.  Enough for them to want to stay at camp, and be comfortable enough being away from their parents for another 2 weeks.  If you are one of those parents who has a 2-week camper returning home on Friday, I can’t wait for you to hear your child talk about the good times they had with their counselor, or their favorite boat driver, or the horseback riding staff member who taught them how to ride for the first time.

We truly believe we’ve got the best staff in the country.  And we are the lucky one to watch them make a difference in the lives of these kids every day.  Tonight we’ve got the Sabra Pool Party and the Halutzim roller skating trip.  Our robotics program is taking place this week and teens have a meaningful Open Space bonfire this coming Friday night with 2 EKC alumni who will be facilitating.  I know no matter what the activity is, our staff will make it great for their kids, and will make memories with them that will last a life time.  But at the the end of the day, it isn’t about the trip or the pool party, it’s about the people.  For our staff, it’s about loving our campers, changing them for the better and having that lasting impact.

We Are Family!