When we first heard that camp was going to be canceled due to the Coronavirus, much like the rest of the Jacob’s Camp community, we were devastated. While we felt lucky that we had already gotten to experience all of our years as a camper, go to Chalutzim, and have the opportunity to go to Israel, we still knew we were missing a vital year to ensure that our group would be prepared to be good counselors. Solelim is the ever so important bridge between being on the receiving end of the Jacob’s Magic as a camper and being the magicians that put on the show. I know that my peers and I felt nervous about what this gap in our camp experience would mean for our future as Staff, but every step of the way Jacobs has ensured that we feel prepared and well trained for the hopeful summer ahead.
Starting in July, the Solelim group met with Rabbi Lexi virtually twice a week to have important discussions about what it means to be a counselor and go through a portion of the training that we would have received had we been at camp. Starting that first Tuesday, we met and shared what qualities made our favorite counselors as a camper our favorites. Listening to the group share these qualities brought back so many amazing and life-lasting memories, that truly shaped our idea of leadership. Whether it was a unit head who displayed patience or a Talmidim counselor who had the perfect balance of authority and fun, it was interesting to see which staff made lasting impressions on us. Throughout later sessions, we talked about how to handle situations within the cabin, unit, and each other as counselors. We learned the background work that goes into programming and discovered that there are multiple groups of people that go into the planning of a single evening program. These are all things that we were used to having done for us, and now I know I am personally excited to do the same for the present campers to make their camp experience as joyful as mine was. Towards the end of our sessions, we took a deep dive into our own identities, Jewish and otherwise. This discussion helped transition to learn about how Social Justice and Action have been implemented into the Camp experience in the past few years and how we now must lead these important discussions with campers.
All of which to say that we’ve packed A LOT into just a short month. While it can never compare to the hands-on experience that camp offers, the month we’ve spent virtually helped bring us all a little closer to camp while learning what is in store for us come Summer 2021. I’m so grateful for the two hours a week I get to bond with the rest of Solelim, Lexi, and special guests throughout. I can safely say that camp is going to get a great group of loving, creative, counselors next year eager for the camp gates to open once again.
Sophie is a rising senior from Memphis, Tennessee and was going to return to camp as a Solelim participant this summer. Sophie was a camper at Jacobs from 2014-2018 and is looking forward to returning as a staff member next summer.