BB Campers in good hands this summer
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2009-05-18T00:00:00
Introducing 90 of the best-trained and highly experienced and supervised teens and young adults a parent will ever hope to meet: your kids’ B’nai B’rith Camp counselors and staff.
BB Camp always has promised top-notch counselors and supervisory staff to oversee 16 cabins and our Day Camp yurt filled with summer campers. Summer 2009’s lot of employees, however, has undergone a more rigorous training and vetting system than ever before.
“In keeping with our promise to parents that BB Camp is safer than ever – with six pediatricians each spending time at the camp in addition to our two camp medical assistants all summer long – Camp staff now is better than ever, too,” said Michelle Koplan, B. B. Camp’s executive director.
“Our counselors and staff members are faced with big decisions, every day, about how best to care for young children and ensure their happiness and safety,” Koplan continued. “BB Camp’s policies ensure global, top-drawer care for our young charges.”
BB Camp’s staff is older than at most other summer overnight camps; many are parents themselves. Such as Jason Miller, the camp’s chef, whose two children will be along for the summer-camp ride, and Allison Kaufman, Camp’s registrar and bookkeeper, whose three daughters, too, will take part in camp activities, all summer long.
Camp staffers also come to the job with rich experiences and training under their belts.
Such as Emily Bauman, mother of three campers, BB’s summer program director, who’s created curricula for preschools and has a strong background in event planning. And Barb Gordon, mother of two former staffers, BB Camp’s Day Camp director, has more than 25 years experience, working with hundreds of kids with a focus on environmental awareness and education.
Also, Rachel Rothstein, BB Camp’s associate director, recently won a berth in the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yitro Leadership Program, which is designed to teach camp executives the leadership, management and business skills required to lead camps in the 21st century, while weaving in Jewish values and ethics.
Even the camp store is backed by high-level expertise; Rachel’s mom, Nora Rothstein, is its manager, a role she’s had for two years. Her assistant, Nicole Sacks of Medford, brings to Camp a variety of community-fundraising experiences.
BB Camp has an impressive retention rate for its counselors (ages 17 to 22); of last summer’s 36 counselors, 25 are veterans for summer ‘09. And this year’s stable includes leaders from around the world – including Israel, England and across this country – whose presence will organically enrich campers’ experiences.
With those numbers it’s clear they’re having a ball alongside their campers, and they work hard at it, too.
Before any counselor is hired, she undergoes an application and interview process and a background and reference check. And every counselor – as well as every B. B. Camp staff member – undergoes drug testing and must hew to the camp’s very stringent no-smoking, no drugs policy. A single infraction results in immediate termination.
Some counselors receive targeted training in addition to BB Camp’s requirements.
For example, third-year counselors participate in the FJC’s Cornerstone Fellowship, which is a training seminar enabling these experienced Jewish camp counselors to further imbue their campers with a love of and dedication to Judaism. This year’s Cornerstone Fellows are Rachel Sherman, Lora Mednick, Sylvia Smith and Noah Wallis.
Russell Braman, serving as the Cornerstone Fellows’ Liaison, also is BB Camp’s Jewish enrichment director and soon will earn two master’s degrees, one in education, the other in non-profit management from L. A.-based American Jewish University. This will be Russell’s third summer as part of the BB Camp team. Prior to attending American Jewish University, Russell taught high school for four years in Texas.
And Melissa Bernstein, leadership and staff development coordinator, is part of an Executive Fellowship program that Koplan created; its focus is developing structural change throughout Camp by fulfilling the following goals: Enhancing the Jewish ambiance and programming at Camp in keeping with B.B. Camp’s mission and educational goals; Implementing a one-on-one mentoring program for third-year Cornerstone counselors to enable Camp to support and retain this critical asset; and Empower campers themselves to become leaders and role models and encourage ongoing engagement in the Jewish community.
”The Executive Fellowship strives to effect change on a camp-wide, systemic level by training and fostering growth amongst the Fellows. The Executive Fellow will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with me to learn about leadership, program development and mentoring. These skills will be translated into action as the Fellow implements new and innovative programming and mentorship with younger counselors,” Koplan explained.
B’nai B’rith Camp is located on a lakeside campus on the scenic Oregon coast. For more information, visit www.bbcamp.org.