My Summer Camp Challenge: The Dance

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Posted by: Jill Levy

My summer camp challenge this year: To teach every camper, in every camp, the same dance, and come together to perform it.

You may not see this as a major challenge, but with seven different camps, at least eight camp directors, numerous counselors and hundreds of children, there are a number of different people and personalities at play. While this may still seem like a simple task, I can assure you, it is not.

Our Judaics theme this summer was “community”, which was punctuated on Mondays with a joint Havdallah ceremony and Fridays with a joint Shabbat celebration. It was important to me that the kids were experiencing Judaism not only learning about it. I truly believed that if we could start each Monday with a meaningful and fun Jewish expression it would set the tone for the entire week. That is how the “Hinei Ma Tov Dance” was born.

In order to accomplish this task I approach our Dance Director, Maxine Silberstein, our Camp and Assistant Camp Directors, Randy Comensky and Julie Levine, and our Judaics staff, Rabbi Samantha Safran and Nomi Barancik, and together we were off creating the dance. We then taught it to all of our counselors at staff training, approached individual camps and practiced again at our first Havdallah.

Teaching this 1-minute, 14-second dance actually taught me a great deal about what it means to work in a team and be in a community. It has reaffirmed my belief that even though we often find ourselves in communal silos, with the right approach, we can find a way to work together to accomplish a goal. Here are eight takeaways that I think apply to any community vision.

  1. Good Ideas: If you believe something is a good idea, it probably is a good idea.
  2. Partners: Find partners who admire your strengths and complement your weaknesses. 
  3. Accept Help: People will be willing to help, even if you don’t ask them. They will often have great ideas that you never would have come up with on your own.
  4. Persistence: Don’t be afraid to persist, even if you have to keep trying.
  5. Make a Fool of Yourself: Don’t be afraid of making a fool out of yourself, especially when it comes to dancing
  6. Relationships: When working with numerous groups, take time to create a relationship with each one separately before coming together
  7. Don't do it Alone: No need to teach a dance by yourself when you have a Performing Arts Camp
  8. Believe: Believe that it is possible for people to come together even if they have not done so in the past

Community is not just about being in the same space, having the same religious tradition, or purely caring about others. Community is working together to achieve something greater than you can on your own.  Hinei Ma Tov U Manyim – How great it is to be together, building our community one dance at a time.

Jill Levy
Director of Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living and Learning

Category: CJLL