Interpersonal Skills: The Power of Community

As part of our summer blog series on 21st Century Skills, we are featuring personal stories from camp alumni and professionals across the field exemplifying how Jewish camp provided the ideal environment to become the best version of themselves.

Working at summer camps can be as impactful as or even more impactful than internships in the “professional world.”   I know from my own experiences, that my Jewish summer camp experience has provided me with a number of skills, most prominently those necessary to navigate in a world built on relationships.

As a fifth year staff member at URJ Crane Lake Camp in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, I have spent years fine tuning my interpersonal skills.  Camp was my first real job where I was truly accountable to a supervisor and, more importantly, a bunch of young campers’ parents.  Seven days after stepping onto camp property, I was thrown into opening day with children and parents around every corner.  This sink or swim moment forced me to snap into a role in a way I had not yet experienced at the age of 18.

My first summer was a challenging rollercoaster of experiences, but that foundational year paved the path for many opportunities that occurred during my undergraduate career.  From working as a College Ambassador at the URJ Biennial to working events like Foundation for Jewish Camp‘s Leaders Assembly, those initial interpersonal skills learned throughout my camp career enabled me to flourish into the person that I am today.  I have been able to hone my customer service skills, and have transferred these skills to my work in the Mount Holyoke College Office of Admission as well as when I teach indoor cycling classes, among other pursuits.

Handling other people in public has been an exciting challenge in recent years.  Skills such as sympathy, empathy, patience, and understanding have come to the forefront of my interpersonal skills toolbox.  What I have come to realize is that institutions such as camp are unique in that they specifically exist to further the skills of their campers and staff.  In the training that I have been doing both as a participant and as a facilitator in the last two weeks, I have seen the power of working in a community of people that exist solely to build others up.

How did Jewish camp impact your personal growth?  Tell us your story in the comments, on Facebook or tweet @JewishCamp using the hashtag #JCampSkills.