The Heart of Camp: Caring for Hanichim (Campers) | Camp Ramah Northern California

The Heart of Camp: Caring for Hanichim (Campers)

Building a good staff begins with selecting the right entrepreneurial, reliable leaders. We focus year round on recruiting and selecting the best qualified tzevet (staff) to support, be role models for, and ensure the safety of our campers. All of our camp leadership, specialty track directors, and medical staff have years of experience in their specialty or summer camp role. Moreover, we will open the doors of Camp Ramah in Northern California with an impressive group of mature, dynamic counselors from many different colleges and rabbinical schools around the country.

We are especially lucky to have a large group of tzevet who have been part of other overnight summer camps (including all 8 other Ramah overnight camps) both as tzevet members and hanichim. They know camp traditions and songs, and, more importantly, they remember what camp looks like from the point of view of the hanichim. During our staff orientation, they can share their experiences with other tzevet and serve as ambassadors for our mission and traditions.

Of course, selecting the right people is only the beginning of the process of creating a successful tzevet. The tzevet must also be trained and oriented to the camp’s particular rituals, protocols, and culture. To do so, all tzevet must complete a week-long orientation. The orientation is filled with training in individual responsibilities, working with children, and of course, health and safety procedures. By the time the hanichim arrive, the tzevet have a great understanding of every child in their care, gleaned from information from conversations with parents, as well as the hanichim information forms. Orientation is fun, and the hanhallah (camp leadership) work hard to create a feeling of unity and teamwork amongst the tzevet.

Beyond the formal week long orientation, we spend months working with tzevet (specialty track, rashei edot, waterfront, and even our kitchen staff) to train prior to orientation. Tzevet who are responsible for specific program areas work closely with our Director to develop high quality, engaging programming. Finally, every camp tzevet member is well-trained in general safety procedures and first aid, with additional courses and certifications dependent on staff responsibilities.

All this training and excitement quickly spills over into a great summer for the hanichim (campers). However, tzevet orientation is just the beginning! Tzevet attend regular meetings and trainings, and everyone receives ongoing support from our outstanding camper care team throughout the summer. Without a well-trained tzevet, no camp can have a successful season. The right people – people who love children and are good at working with them – create the foundation for a terrific summer of experiences and memories for the most important people at camp, our children.

Check out our Kayitz 2016 tzevet highlights here