It’s All About the Relationships – David M. Scott, RJE


In the summer of 2017, I attended GFC as a faculty member for the first week of camp. I was paired with the Shoftim unit, which included campers who were entering 7th grade and about to become B’nai Mitzvah the following year. Making connections with these campers was a wonderful experience, and it was made possible in large part because of a strong partnership in that summer’s Shoftim unit head, Graham Gadd. Graham and I worked closely together to develop mutual trust and explore ways to build programming together. He included me in every program, activity, and evening event, and it offered me more ways to integrate Judaism throughout the day. I regarded that summer as my best experience at GFC.


This summer, however, has been even more amazing. I am now completing my 2019 faculty week at GFC, and I have spent the last several days with the S’ganim unit. This is a group of incoming 9th graders, many of whom were in Shoftim two years ago while I was here. I remembered them, and they remembered me. Similarly, I have been blessed to work with another incredible unit head, Lidor Levin, from Yehud in the Gush Dan area near Tel Aviv, Israel. With her trust and willingness to include me as a faculty member, I’ve been wholly adopted into this unit. These campers and 10 staff members have become a very tight-knit group because of the strong relationships and trust that have been created among us. I’m now considered by the campers as one of their counselors – as opposed to being just a specialist who shows up to teach Jewish content for a week. Even more importantly, I have been welcomed by their counselors as another member of the staff.


They say that a day at summer camp is like a week anywhere else. And this is true; the intensity of the day and lengthy periods of the group being together create solid and lasting bonds and friendships. But it all starts with cultivating relationships.


The work of the faculty at GFC is essential. These rabbis, education team members, Jewish educators, song leaders, and Jewish professionals, freed from the distractions over logistics, administration, program planning, or anything else, are able to bring Jewish content and Jewish experience into the camp setting. Without the faculty to weave Jewish learning into camp, then the core values at GFC (Kavod/Respect,Reut/Friendship, Hineini/Being Fully Present, and Am Yisrael/Being part of the People of Israel) would not be as significantly reflected in the camp culture. It would just become an ordinary camp.


But to really excel at incorporating these values, it must occur outside of former learning times. And being accepted into the informal learning spaces takes great relationship building and mutual trust. I look forward to continuing to watch these campers return for their experience on Kibbutz next year, and I know that the incredible work that goes on here is devoted to a cause larger than any one person. Greene Family Camp is here to cultivate and strengthen Jewish identity – both among American Jews, but also among the several dozen Israeli staff members who spend their entire summer immersed in a completely different Jewish experience. There is no greater calling than to raise a generation of committed Jews. And it all starts with building relationships, one unit at a time.