FJC’s Top Ten
2020 has been a long
decade year that will be forever be marked by our Zoom seders and sourdough bread, virtual song sessions and socially distant walks, branded face masks and cozy pajama pants. As we move into 2021, there will be a lot to remember from these past 12 months. Here are our top 10 articles, the top 10 things we at FJC will be remembering from 2020:
1. This year, we all needed something to feel good about. In collaboration with Noam Katz and in memory of Allie Rae Edelsberg z”l, we released a music video for Noam’s song, Belong, filled with members of the Jewish camp family, because no matter who you are, no matter what your story, you are here, you are whole, you belong. I Belong to Jewish Camp
2. Leaders Assembly, our biennial conference attracting over 800 registrants, was set to happen on March 15th. As COVID creeped up on us, with one week to go, we had to make some quick decisions, and ended up pivoting into a extremely successful all virtual conference, which ended up being the first of many this year. “Such a Time as This”: Responding to Challenges
3. Speaking of pivots, it seems like everyone had to do a lot of those, but after months of pivoting, FJC’s Teri McGuire and Jill Goldstein Smith had a new proposal – with more thoughtful choreography and the right gear, we could move on from the pivot, and to the pirouette. From Pivot to Pirouette
4. We are particularly proud of the collaborations, which may not have happened without the disruption of COVID. In Partnership with Mosaic United, we launched Jewish Camp @ Home and created the Experience Shuk, a platform for educators and camp pros to share their content and activities, and for camps and communities to find what resources they’re looking for! Many resources and virtual platforms we’re born out of this crisis, that have not only enhanced summer 2020, but will continue to enhance future summers. American Jewish summer camps spoiled for choice with virtual engagement
5. Our state of crisis opened up room, not only for collaborations but innovations. FJC consultant, Stephen Brand, posed the question, “how might we innovate in a way that doesn’t attempt to replicate the irreplaceable experience of in-person camp, but allows campers and staff to connect in new ways?” FJC answered this question with two new innovations, the Jewish Camp Hack-A-Thon, and the Jewish Camp Innovation Challenge. From Crisis to Innovation at Jewish Camp
6. 2020 and its unique path also left room for research. FJC’s Director or Learning and Research, Nila Rosen, saw the pandemic as an opportunity to explore how teens and young adults were sustaining themselves and adapting to their new circumstances. How are Teens and Young Adults Coping Through this Pandemic?
7. The Jewish Camp world was able to pivot, pirouette, collaborate, and when given lemons, make bug juice (that’s how the saying goes, right?). Some of the best parts of camp are being outside in nature, cheering with everyone in the hadar ohel, singing and dancing and playing sports together, partaking in Shabbat activities, and more, and it’s okay to miss those things. How summer camp has become an American Jewish institution
8. For camp communities, having to cancel the summer as it’s always been was extremely painful. Rabbi Joel Seltzer, executive director of Ramah in the Poconos wrote, The Things We Will Lose, and gave many of us the much needed space to mourn all that which would be lost.
9. But… while summer 2020 didn’t run as originally planned, it certainly wasn’t canceled. FJC’s Day Camp Fellow, Rebecca Hersch, wrote this article in response to her camp director, pointing out that for all that we lost, we gained so much. An Open Letter to My Camp Director: “The Things We Have Gained”
10. And finally, Jeremy and Marina, FJC’s executive leadership, tried to capture the strength and resiliency of field professionals and focus attention on the future. After the storm has passed, looking forward to camp — Summer 2021