About the Project

At my Cornerstone conference in 2006, I spent all four days learning from my fellow delegates, and sharing details about my own camp. Upon returning to Camp Tawonga, my home camp, I was surprised to learn that no framework existed for camps to continue such conversations over the summer. Indeed, the most effective way to understand a camp, and to learn from it, is to see its operations in action. But I was told that such visits would be too complicated for any individual camp to organize.

Last summer (2013), I piloted a new initiative, in consultation with FJC, with the support of Prof. Joe Reimer, and under the mentorship of Sarah Raful Whinston, Executive Director of Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village. Participating camps chose 2-3 supervisors to visit another camp for 1-2 days, identify exciting ideas there, and ultimately spark innovation at their home camp. The project was designed to meet two parallel sets of objectives:

Project Objective #1) Create, test, and optimize the exchange process for North American Jewish summer camps, ultimately ending up with a comprehensive, pre-packaged procedure that any camp can use.

Project Objective #2) In the future, adapt that concept to meet the needs of other sectors within the Jewish and nonprofit communities.

In a larger sense, the goal of this project is to foster a culture of collaboration across the entire Jewish professional world, and to develop an effective framework to facilitate those interactions. Even while competing, organizations should feel comfortable sharing their innovations, and building on each others' successes. If you would like to be involved in adapting this concept to fit another part of the community, please drop me a line!

About the project director:

Noah Zaves recently received a nonprofit-focused MBA at Brandeis University's Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership, where his emphasis was on Jewish camping and informal education. Previously, he was a Jewish educator in San Francisco, where he taught at various age levels, and consulted for nonprofits in the community. He was also an 8-year staff member at Camp Tawonga, most recently as Program Director and Lead Jewish Educator.