Why I Love Leaders Assembly

In March 2012 I was working in my first post-university job as a full-time Jewish community professional.  While I spent September to June working as part of Montreal’s Taglit-Birthright Israel team, I had stealthily negotiated my contract to ensure that I had my summers “off” to work at Camp Kinneret-Biluim, where I had spent my previous 12 summers.

I had climbed up the ladder at camp as a staff member, from cabin staff to unit head, and eventually the Program Director. I returned the following two years as the camp Office Manager, not quite ready to leave the wonderful world of camp just yet. At the time, Camp Kinneret-Biluim had only one full-time employee working year round, the Camp Director.  I wanted very badly to be involved in camp on a higher level, but had no idea how to make that happen. And then I attended Leaders’ Assembly.

At this point in my camping career, I had a very limited understanding of what Foundation for Jewish Camp did, what sort of things happened at Leaders’ Assembly, or how big the world of Jewish camping really was.  But my camp director could not attend this year, so he asked me to go instead.

That first year at Leaders’ Assembly, I walked around with wide eyes and a mouth hanging half-open, in complete awe of the number of attendees; people clearly committed to the success of Jewish camp, the never-ending learning opportunities, and all of the inspirational people I was too nervous to introduce myself to. I took in as much as I possibly could, cramming in as many sessions as the schedule would allow. I watched in admiration (and a little bit of envy) as various cohorts of FJC programs got up to lead the group in Ha’amotzi, gave presentations, or even just excitedly ran to meet each other at social events. The world of Jewish camping had grown exponentially right in front of my eyes.  All of a sudden I was surrounded by a world full of learning, programs, and people dedicated exclusively to Jewish camping…and I wanted nothing more to be apart of it.

In the years that followed, I was hired as the full-time Associate Director of Camp Kinneret-Biluim. I travelled to Israel on two amazing trips with FJC’s Goodman Initiative for Modern Israel Education, acted as our camp’s Cornerstone Liaison, and was a proud member of the Yitro III Cohort. I developed my confidence and knowledge as a Jewish educator, attended many inspiring talks and professional development sessions, and built true friendships with people from all over North America and Israel. Looking back on these years, I know that it was my experience at the 2012 Leaders’ Assembly that started this journey.

With Leaders’ Assembly 2018 just around the corner, I want to take this opportunity to encourage Jewish camp professionals to not just attend the conference themselves, but to bring a younger member of their camping community with them.  Whether this person is a newly hired year-round staff member, or a veteran summer Program Director, take some time to think about what a few days at Leaders’ Assembly could do for their own professional development, and their connection to the greater world of Jewish camping. Allow them the chance to see just how big the world of Jewish camping is, and watch as they return home inspired, motivated, and dedicated to the betterment of their own respective camps and Jewish communities.


Will we see you in Baltimore March 18-20, 2018? Register now!