February 9, 2012, New York --In a first-ever programmatic partnership, the National Ramah Commission and The Union for Reform Judaism's Camping Movement have announced a joint initiative to develop training opportunities for specialty staff in advance of the 2012 summer camp season. A grant of $144,000 from the AVI CHAI Foundation, to be shared equally by the two camping movements, will fund the creation of a series of training programs designed to bring together cohorts of summer camp specialists for professional development, the sharing of best practices, and the building of a network of camp specialty staff.
The program, called "Kivun," is designed to enhance the skills of staff not only in their specialty areas, but also in the integration of Jewish content and knowledge in their work with campers. It will provide experiential learning with experts in the field, as well as skills training that can be practically and immediately applied in their camp settings. The program is also expected to have an impact on increasing rates of staff retention, by deepening the commitment of specialty staff to the camp and to the field of informal Jewish education.
In the coming months, camp specialists from URJ and Ramah camps will join together for training in a wide range of camp specialty areas including sports, arts, and outdoor adventure. In addition, there will be specialty training for staff members working in the camps' special needs programs.
Once the program is established and past its pilot phase, Ramah and URJ will seek to increase the number of specialty areas involved in the training program and will explore opportunities to involve additional camping movements.
"We are thrilled to partner with Ramah on creating the Kivun specialty training program," said Paul Reichenbach, Director of URJ Camping and Israel Programs. "Kivun will have a transformative impact on the staff members that participate and on the Jewish educational experiences that our camps provide."
"Ramah believes the two camping movements can benefit greatly from sharing resources and seeking points of professional connection, to benefit our staff, campers, and families," said Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director of the National Ramah Commission. "This grant will enable Ramah and URJ Camps to broaden the Jewish engagement and learning that campers experience through the many specialty areas we offer, and enrich the immersive Jewish experiences that inspire campers to lead Jewish lives."