Creating a Caring, Loving, and Peaceful Space at Camp: Welcome Leah Hart Tennen, Community Care Director

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For a few days now, I’ve been telling people that I get to go to camp for the whole summer.  Those that aren’t “camp people” wonder why an adult would want to do that, but those in the know say things like, “how did that happen?”; “you are so lucky”; and “I am so jealous”!  Well?  You should be jealous, but in a good way.  The ability to return to camp as an adult is really the dream on top of the dream, and I am beyond thrilled to be able to make that dream come true for 2021 as the new Community Care Director.

I am a clinically trained social worker, licensed in the state of Massachusetts.  I have had a variety of clinical roles, but my area of expertise has been in social group work.  When I learned about group work in graduate school, I had the revelation that I had actually been participating in (as a camper),  and running (as a counselor) groups my entire life.  It’s no coincidence that many camp alumni go on to pursue what I call “helping professions”, especially when you think about how the core Jewish concepts of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and social justice are part of the everyday language and culture of Jacob’s Camp. 

The pandemic, widespread racism & hate and political unrest leave many of us stressed, anxious for ourselves and our children, and incredibly uncertain about the future.  I don’t know where you were just over a year ago, but I know I cried for a long time when I got the word that my kids would not be “welcomed home” in 2020. We need camp more than ever and my job for this summer is to help enhance and maintain a safe, caring, loving and peaceful space for our children (and ourselves, if we’re lucky!).  Leading, and being a part of, the Community Care Team guarantees that there are support systems in place for the emotional and mental well-being of the entire camp community! I am so excited to be traveling on “the road to welcome home” with the HSJ community and can’t wait to actually welcome you home in just a few months!

Leah Hart Tennen, MSW, MPH, LICSW is the Associate Program Director of SocialWork@Simmons  and Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Social Work at Simmons University in Boston, MA. Leah grew up at both URJ Camps Jacobs and GUCI and is an alumna of NFTY and EIE.  Leah lives in Winthrop, Massachusetts with her husband, Eric, and her two Jacobs’ campers Lev & Eli, and their foster son, Ulises.