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Reflections on CIT Graduation

The below reflections were written by Adam Broms, Camp Director. 

 

I have the opportunity throughout the year to collaborate and speak with a variety of camp professionals from around the Jewish world. A hot topic of conversation these days centers around how to grow and develop the best cohort of future staff members in our camps. It is no surprise that our staff members are the key to our success. It’s easy for me, as the Camp Director, along with my team, to sit in our office during the year and consider new initiatives or make big decisions. But it is the counselors who, with their campers every moment of every day, truly make the difference.

I believe that one of the best decisions we’ve made since I began my tenure here seven years ago, was extending the CIT program from a one session program to the full summer. The opportunity for young people, who have a deep love of camp, to come together, learn together, practice together, and process together, is so critical to their future success as staff members. Since we made this change, we’ve seen our staff retention, our staff engagement, and most importantly, our staff performance, increase at incredible levels.

This summer is no different, and we are here to express sincere gratitude for the commitment everyone in this room made to taking the next step on this camp journey. I’d like to speak directly to three groups.

First, the CIT staff team. Hannah, Izzy, Max, and Aaron (Ginger), on behalf of the CITs, their parents, and our entire staff here at Capital Camps, thank you for everything you have done to lead this wonderful experience. The countless hours of effort you put in to making each experience along the way memorable, special, and something from which we can learn is remarkable. I know I speak for everyone here when I say – thank you. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Next, to the parents, siblings, and other family members. You have each made a true commitment to this camp. We have CITs here who have spent no fewer than five and as many as 18 summers in this place. That is commitment. This summer alone, each of these individuals gave up countless other opportunities to spend seven weeks here at camp. That is commitment. It’s not lost on us that you have also made a financial commitment through the years to ensuring that you provide one of the greatest gifts you can give in the form of camp. As Simon just mentioned, we hope you’ll consider continuing your commitment long after this summer.

This commitment, this fundamental idea that camp can have a positive impact on your child’s life, is essential to their being here. It’s not enough for them to want to be here. It’s not enough for them to see their friends. You have to buy in. You need to be all in.  I know that for some of you, it was a very difficult decision to send your child, but I hope you know how much it means to them. The growth, the development, the learning, the maturity, the relationships – all of these things will serve your children well, as they prepare to enter the next phase of their lives – whatever that phase may be. This place changes lives, and I hope you will join me in celebrating how Capital Camps has changed your child’s life. Thank you for everything you do to support our wonderful CITs.

And finally, to the 39 outstanding people we celebrate tonight. It was the first Shabbat of first session two years ago when you were in Macks Village that I realized there was something special about this group. Shortly after song session, we sat together on the plaza to have a brief discussion about the Siyum – the closing ceremony for Shabbat. That discussion led to a longer conversation down in the village the next day. And that conversation led to one of your peers standing up in front of the entire camp to discuss what Siyum means to her and to make a request of the entire camp on your behalf.

Following that unique interaction, I started spending more and more time with this group – in both 1st and 2nd session. I’ve said this before (and don’t tell other villages), but I believe I’ve spent more time cumulatively with this group of individuals than any other single age group in camp. Why? Because you collectively thirst for learning. You seek to understand more about camp, more about the people around you, and more about yourselves. You genuinely hope to engage in meaningful conversations about both the challenges and opportunities we face here at camp.

I have been blessed, particularly in the past three summers, to consider you all partners in our ongoing learning journey. Whether it was discussing Shabbat Siyum, split meals, how to handle Shabbat practice, or even who should attend this very celebration today, I continue to be impressed and in awe of your thoughtfulness and desire to engage in productive dialogue that advances our community. It demonstrates your commitment to and your love for Capital Camps.

There is a wonderful quote in Pirkei Avot that says, “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my friends, but most from my students.” I identify with that quote, as I think about my own learning from each of you.

More than that, though, you as a group demonstrate amazing kindness, patience, understanding, and respect. Each of you has his or her own qualities that have helped you become a wonderful CIT and a powerful role model for our children. Of course, my sincere hope is that you consider joining us next summer, as full staff members at camp. But even if you don’t, I know that you will be carrying with you the tremendous power of your experience into everything you do.

Camp is an amazing place, and I know that Capital Camps has a special place in each of your hearts. On behalf of our entire camp community, your CIT staff, the board of directors, Jonah, Ari, Laurie, Deb S, and countless others, I thank you for all that you have contributed to this camp this summer and in the more than 300 cumulative summers previously. In truth, while this may be the end of your experience as a camper, it is only the beginning of a new experience and relationship with Capital Camps. Until we see you back here again, we wish you a B’hatzlacha – good luck – on the next steps of your journeys.

Thank you.

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