In Jewish tradition, when someone asks “Ayeka? Where are you?” the response is “Hineini – I am here,” or “Here I am.”
This idea has been at the forefront of our minds recently, as Foundation for Jewish Camp has created new, innovative camp-facing resources around the concept of Hineini offering a framework for exploring how members of the camp community “show up” for one another. I’d like to focus on one of the significant truths highlighted by Hineini: often, the most powerful thing we can do is to be truly present for one another. It is good and necessary to want to do things for other people, but it is essential that we take the time to listen to them as well.
In our ever-changing world often dominated by polarized perspectives in which people tend to talk past one another, we are proud of the way Jewish camps model the value of active listening. At every level and on an ongoing basis, camps enable their communities to grow and evolve by seeking out the honest feedback of various constituencies – campers, parents, counselors, alumni, and more. Camps aim to teach the next generation of Jewish leaders that “showing up” for others means being open to sincerely listen to the thoughts, perspectives, and feedback of others.
Each year, Jewish camps have the opportunity to participate in FJC’s Camper Satisfaction Insights (CSI), a tool which surveys campers and their families on their experiences across a range of measures. This feedback enables camps to learn and reflect – with data – on how to enhance and improve their camp. CSI began as a small, Midwestern pilot in 2007, and in 2018, over 70 camps participated, receiving feedback from more than 15,000 campers.
We created a similar tool in 2014 to survey camp staff – including college-age counselors, who we consider the linchpin of the Jewish camp experience. By “showing up” for camp staff and seeking their feedback, we better enable them to “show up” as role-models and Jewish educators for their campers. In 2018, FJC’s Staff Satisfaction Insights generated feedback from more than 3,500 staff members working in 50+ camps.
In an effort to accelerate learning, innovation and adaptation, FJC will conduct five field-wide CSI and SSI Webinars for the first time. Throughout this month, camp professionals can hear directly from their peers on how they leverage CSI and SSI data to develop best practices. Each webinar will highlight innovations in response to particular challenges facing camp such as communications, programming, staff training, and more. We are excited to facilitate this opportunity for listening and learning.
Just as we encourage camps to seek feedback, FJC actively solicits input from camps and camping movements. We want to learn how we can better advocate on their behalf and support them in creating ever-more-meaningful Jewish camp experiences.
We invite you to continue sharing your thoughts and perspectives with us. Your voice is essential in helping FJC – and the entire Jewish camp field – grow, improve, and thrive. Whenever you share your comments with us, be they good or bad, rest assured: you are heard.
We are here for you, with open minds and grateful hearts.