Blog  Skill Building and Learning At Kivun and Hava Nashira

Skill Building and Learning At Kivun and Hava Nashira

Hey Camp George!

In today’s blog, I’m excited to share an inside look at our 2013 Kivun and Hava Nashira participants. The Kivun program is a specialty training program which focuses on skill building and integrating Jewish content and knowledge into everyday camp programming. This is our second year sending representatives from Camp George to the program, where camp specialists participate in specialized training in how to create innovative Jewish Programming for our summer sessions. They also learn from experienced professionals, who share specific skills and insiders tips.

Arts and Crafts Specialist Melissa Michaels (front row on the right) with fellow Kivun participants.

Arts and Crafts Specialist Melissa Michaels (front row on the right) with fellow Kivun participants.

Hava Nashira is a similar track for song leaders and musicians. At this program, music specialists learn new techniques, songs and prayers. We have been sending specialists to this program for several years.

Our 2013 Kivun participants are: Arts and Crafts Specialist Melissa Michaels, Sports Specialist Ryan Stern and Camp Craft/ Teva Specialist Rochelle Derlick.

Shanna Zell also participated in Kivun by attending Having Nashira.

To learn more about Kivun, click here! To learn more about Hava Nashira, click here!

–       Can’t wait to see our participants sharing what they learned with us at camp this summer!

Jane HK


Here is a snapshot of their experiences:

Favourite memory from Kivun?

Melissa: “On my last night of Kivun we made matzah houses and edible torahs. It was the one time when playing with our food was accepted. Sometimes in art we’re so focused on our projects that we forget to have fun, this was something that reminded me that not everything has to be serious.”

Ryan:  “Bonding with the fellow sports staff from other camp and learning new games to introduce to camp this summer.”

Shanna: “Playing the cup game/song (from the “Pitch Perfect”) at Shabbat dinner with 20 other people while everyone clapped and cheered us on.”

Rochelle: “My favourite memory from Kivun was going around the campus of Ramah Palmer with our keynote educator, Gabe Goldman, and learning about the medicinal properties of some everyday plants.  I will never look at pine trees or moss the same way again!”

Most important lesson/ skill you learned?

Melissa: “I learned to have more patience with my art. Sometimes I’m so excited to see the end result that I rush through it. I think it’s important to take your time on what you’re doing.”

Ryan:  “That every child is unique in different ways.”

Shanna: “Don’t be afraid to try something new, like a new approach to songleading, singing, guitar playing or harmonizing. Also, collaboration is a beautiful thing!”

Rochelle: “The most important skill that I learned was how to see the recyclable properties in everyday plants and objects.  For example, looking at a fibrous piece of grass and knowing how to change it into something useful, like a piece of twine or a basket.  Or looking at a piece of dead wood and thinking about ways to reuse it and make it into a usable object, like a Kiddush cup or a carving.”

Favourite new activity/ skill you’re excited to bring to camp with you to your specialty area?

Melissa: “I’m looking forward to giving our darkroom some good use this summer. I’m going to leave it at that, gotta keep the suspense kicking.”

Ryan: “I learned a lot of new ice breakers and fun games that can be applied at just about any time of the day.”

Shanna: “I cannot wait to bring new music from Alan Goodis and Dan Nichols to camp! Between song session teaches and learning from other camp songleaders, I have a whole new repertoire to share with our campers and staff.”

Rochelle: “My favourite skill from Kivun is how to make baskets from vines. We learned a really cool way to bend grape vines and thread them into a usable basket, but I’m sure we could look at different types of willow vines or ivy vines, as they have the same properties.”

Most important piece of advice you would give to campers in your specialty area?

Melissa: “The most important advice I could give to anyone for anything related to art is just because you made a “mistake” is no reason to stop what you’ve started. In a sense there’s no such thing as a mistake in art. Although your project may not have turned out how you originally intended it to doesn’t mean it won’t become something better. If you restart every time you do something you consider wrong, you might never get to see the end result. Don’t be afraid of that smudge you didn’t mean to have, because you can turn it into something else!”

Ryan. “Go out every day and keep an open mind about what you’re doing, because who knows, you may just like it more than you think.”

Shanna: “I really believe everyone can sing. It just takes the courage to open your mouth and say the words to make beautiful music.”

Rochelle: “My advice to campers, and my advice in life, is to take advantage of every opportunity.  There’s a Yiddish proverb that I live by that is incredibly applicable: if you have nothing to lose, there’s no harm in trying.”

What was the best program you attended at Kivun? Why?

Melissa: “In the art program everything was together but if I had to choose an activity within it that I like the most I’d have to say that I was a fan of sun printing. It’s a fun way to be creative and it’s more hands-on then tie dye.”

Ryan: “I can’t point out one program in specific that was my favorite during Kivun because they were all very helpful and will make me a better staff member all around not just on the sports field.”

Shanna: “One of my favorite programs was a faculty teach with Billy Jonas who is masterful at turning anything in sight into a percussion instrument. His interactive performance taught me how to engage participants in song, even when it is completely foreign, by banging on any surface around you. You don’t have to sing to be a part of the music!”

Rochelle: “The best program that I attended, aside from our nature programs and activities, was the bonfire as an entire group.  The night before the bonfire we learned about various ways of starting a fire WITHOUT matches and lighters, and literally learned ways to rub two sticks together to make a flame.  We used that knowledge the next night to build and start a fire from scratch for the whole conference.”

Best Jewish inspired experience/ lesson at Kivun?

Melissa: “At Kivun we discussed how it was possible to relate every project back to Judaism. One of the ones I really enjoyed was creating an entire service through art. I think it’s something that would work out as a Choose Your Own T’fillah.”

Ryan: “We learned a lot about the Jewish values that can be applied to sports. The value that hit home for me was the value of G’vurah or courage. Courage is more than just facing your fears it’s the ability to sort right from wrong, to try something new, to lend a helping hand to someone you might not be too close with.”

Shanna: “Kabbalat Shabbat services were absolutely awe inspiring. The harmonies we made as 250 participants were unlike anything I have ever heard and it created a holy atmosphere in which we could welcome Shabbat.”

Rochelle: “If I had to give a catch phrase to the whole Kivun experience, I’d use the phrase “This too, is Torah.”  A big theme of the entire week was to look at the beautiful god-given world around us, and see the “Torah” in the environment.  What can we learn from nature, and how can we understand the miracles around us?”

What was it like to meet and work with specialists from other camps?

Melissa: “It was a great experience being able to work with staff members from different camps. We had the chance to share the similarities and differences between our programs and the projects we’ve done in the past. With that in mind, based off of our own experiences we were able to help each other out in creating new ideas that have never been done before. Everyone’s source of creativity comes from a different place and by discussing it with other art staff there was definitely an endless amount of ideas tossed around.”

Ryan: “Meeting the specialists from other camps was really cool. It taught me a lot about how to handle a lot of the activities that go on during the summer. All of them were great people and being a sports specialist it was funny to see how each sports specialist was very similar despite the different environments.”

Shanna: “This was such an incredible opportunity for me. I loved watching other songleaders pump us up in song sessions and seeing how other URJ and Ramah camps operate musically. I learned some fun techniques in how to incorporate upbeat Hebrew into Song Sessions as well as uplifting chants to do at any time during camp.”

Rochelle: “It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Ramah Staff and URJ Staff, and I think that the most important lesson that I’ve learned from my fellow Teva specialists was this: at the end of the day, we want to be Jewish educators, and instill a sense of wonderment and value in our campers.  Everything we do should have Kavanah, a purpose, and nothing should be done without thought.” 


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