The Value of Kavod

Each season, we send out a series of Camp-related informational messages called “Hoda’ot”. These are sent out weekly to families registered for our upcoming summer, and are filled with valuable info about procedures, forms, policies, staff introductions, etc. A few weeks ago, however, we sent a Hoda’ah to our registered camp families that centered more around philosophy and intentionality. We wanted to share the same message with our whole camp community:

At the end of each summer we gather as a team to look at the past summer and identify areas where we can improve. At the end of 2015 we identified that we wanted one of those areas to be KAVOD (dignity, respect and honor) and how people interact with Camp. We often hear from campers, staff and alumni that Camp Interlaken is a place than they consider their home, yet we have seen some behaviors that don’t always align with how you’d expect someone to treat their home. We often talk about kavanah, intentionality, and we plan to lead camp with kavanah. With that in mind, we want to introduce you to the theme of 2016: Kavod.

As we have developed the idea of Kavod as a theme for camp 2016, we have broken down this large and vast concept into three facets: Kavod Atzmi (Respect of Self), Kavod Kehilati (Respect of Community) and Kavod Svivati (Respect of Environment – Camp). Kavod will permeate all programmatic and administrative areas in camp including our staff orientation and training for all of our leadership staff, our specialists, and our cabin counselors. We understand that behaviors don’t just stem from campers and staff; thus, we are dedicated and committed to living, modeling, and experiencing an intentional and Kavod-filled summer at camp.

We are working to develop our expectations of ourselves, our staff and our campers, and we plan to clearly share them so that we can set everyone at Camp up for the most success that we can. Here are a few examples that campers and staff may see differently in our day to day operations of Camp:

We are going to be more intentional with rewarding campers with Schmutzbuster’s shirts for picking up garbage and for helping keep camp clean. We are going to be more intentional in the creation of the cabin Job Charts, and we are developing a new grading system for the cabins that reflects the jobs that campers are being asked to perform. We are going to go back to having one person from each cabin stay after the meal to sweep under their table (“sweeper’s stay”); the intention of this is to inspire the cabin treat their area better during meals. We are going to be timelier with regards to start and end times throughout the day.

Our cabins are filled with graffiti on the walls. We’ve always embraced our graffiti on cabin walls in camp as it helped us remember our history when we looked around. We’ve noticed that some of the graffiti in camp has ruined the legacy of past campers and staff as it has become increasingly more inappropriate. The graffiti that has been added to our walls over the last few years does not represent a community filled with kavod. For that reason, we have decided to paint the walls and beds in six cabins this summer with the expectation of campers and staff not writing on them. With this change, ten of our cabins will start graffiti-free for the summer of 2016, and we expect that the summer will end without new graffiti on these walls as well. Each camper will continue to sign a signboard that is hung up to acknowledge their summer in that cabin. We have had a policy that stated that $25/letter will be charged to the family of a camper who writes their name anywhere in a cabin that isn’t a signboard; we began enforcing this policy with the construction of our yurts in K’far Noar and our renovated cabins. We will continue to enforce this policy this summer within all of our cabins as we expect that our campers and staff will treat their cabins with kavod.

With the influence of the underlying theme of kavod affecting all of our programming at Camp this summer, we hope that at the end of the summer that we all feel that we’ve treated camp with equal, if not more, kavod and kavanah than we treat our own homes. This is all a part of our plan to send each person home from camp a better version of him or herself, and we hope that we get better at that each year!

We can’t wait to spend the summer with you!

Toni, Jonah, Sas and Beth