Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Louis & Shoshana Winer Institute for Rosh Edah Training hosted at Ramah Darom in Georgia. This intensive three-day workshop brings together both new and returning Rashei Edah (unit heads) from all Ramah camps across the nation and year-round professionals to learn from each other and hone their leadership skills, reflect on the past summer, build new connections, and most importantly begin preparing for the upcoming summer. The focus of this workshop is leadership development and to provide Rashei Edah with all the necessary resources and strategies to enable them to be the most effective leaders in their respective camp communities.
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Behalotecha, we see one of camp’s core values, manhigut (leadership) in action, as Moshe is tested as a leader when faced with handling all of the frustrations of B’nai Yisrael while they journey through the desert. Moshe calls out to God to express that he feels the tremendous burden of having to carry the entire nation on his shoulders. God responds to Moshe by advising him to appoint seventy elders to help assist in bearing the burden of the nation.
As a first time Rosh Edah, transitioning from the role of being a madrichah (counselor) into a new leadership position, I now have the responsibility of my entire edah on my shoulders. I will have a group of tzevet (staff) relying on me to serve as a resource for them and help teach them to be the best madrichim (counselors) they can be. I am the one who has to make sure all moving parts come together so that a program can run smoothly. There will be instances where I have to make tough calls on situations. And most importantly, all of this while juggling a group of campers, each with their own unique needs. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by this new responsibility and like Moshe, feel burdened by the stress and pressures that come with such responsibility.
Being a part of the Ramah community, however, I am not alone in bearing the burden. What is so incredible about the Ramah movement is that you constantly have the support and encouragement of those around you. Making each and every day happen at camp is truly a group effort, with each person playing a role in carrying a piece of the “burden” to create a successful end result. Throughout the summer I will always have my fellow hanhallah members (leadership team) and tzevet who I can turn to for help when I may be balancing ten different things at once. Engaging with individuals from different camps at the Winer Institute, also reminds me that I have the support of the larger Ramah community that exists beyond the gates of our camp who will be there to advise, assist and encourage me throughout the summer as I navigate this new role. Being a part of this Kehilah Kedoshah, wonderful community environment that is fostered at Ramah camps throughout the nation, is what for me makes camp feel like a home away from home and a place that I can’t wait to return to summer after summer as a leader.