A Taste of Camp

A Peek Into 2023 Staff Training

In just two days and at long last, our first batch of campers of the season will descend down those country roads for a taste of Camp Tawonga! In total this summer, 1,411 children will experience the magic of our summer programs – from summer camp and adventure quests to our teen leadership programs. The key to the magic of Tawonga is our amazing summer staff, and we’re excited to give you a peek into this past week of staff training.

Since last Sunday, our 2023 summer staff have immersed in activities and trainings with one core purpose: preparing to provide the campers with safe, meaningful and fun experiences where they feel the Tawonga mission. In other words, campers will leave Tawonga feeling more self-confident, connected to our cooperative community, nature and their Jewish identities – and ultimately, inspired to heal our world (Tikkun Olam). 

With a near-even split of new and returning staff, staff training is a mix of learning and setting the foundation for a summer of collaboration and inclusive community.  

Check out our Summer Staff by the Numbers:

  • 252 staffers
  • 49% of staffers are returning
  • 49% of staffers are camper alumni
  • 32 Lifeguard Certified staffers
  • 134 CPR/First Aid Certified staffers
  • 5 EMT Certified staffers
  • 2 Nurses

Over the past year, our year-round team has worked to update and improve our trainings, policies and programming to better support the community. This week – which followed additional training weeks for our wilderness and supervisor teams – summer staff working directly with campers learned how to work with kids, how to create meaningful, creative and fun programs, how to guide and support cooperative community building and so much more.

Other staff honed their specific roles across departments – from waterfront, kitchen and maintenance to arts & crafts, music and Jewish programming. Other all-staff training topics, led by our highly experienced director team, included workshops on preventing bullying, safety practices and more. 

At Camp Tawonga, we also get a little silly. Counselors relished the paint-smothering, mud-splattering tradition of gnarly, and staff had opportunities throughout the week to let loose with improv exercises and skits.

Staffers enjoyed delicious meals between training blocks, and even more scrumptious song sessions. A Camp staple, song leaders are already in tune, leading song sessions after breakfast and dinner. Music is a pillar of the Camp Tawonga experience, and a new songbook is set to soundtrack this summer. The last songbook came together in 2009, and the new edition aims to highlight Camp Tawonga classics and include more tracks by women and people of color. 

For all the fun had, staff also prioritized important conversations surrounding gender, intersecting identities and diversity and inclusion. Staff also had opportunities to participate in gender campfires, a people of color lunch, a queer campfire and a neurodivergent dinner. Camp Tawonga invites and fosters affinity spaces for both staff and campers.

Tonight, staff will join voices and pace for a Shabbat Stroll before Shabbat dinner and Kabbalat Shabbat. Our staff is bursting with excitement to welcome the campers! Here’s to a beautiful summer season – Shabbat Shalom. 

P.S. We hope you will tune into the magic this summer! Parents of campers can follow along in the Campanion app, and everyone is welcome to catch a glimpse by subscribing to our blog.  


Below, enjoy photos from 2023 Staff Training.