The bond between a camper and their counselor is one of the most beautiful relationships that develops here at Camp Tawonga. A bunk counselor spends up to twenty hours a day with their campers, designing and leading activities, living and eating with them and looking after their physical and emotional well-being.
Eli Chanoff, currently a bunk counselor for B-5, has spent eleven years at Tawonga – first as a camper and now a counselor. As a third-year counselor this summer, he is also one of our Cornerstone Fellows – a small group of counselors dedicated to bringing leadership, mentorship and Jewish programming to Camp.
When talking to Eli, you can feel his genuine love and gratitude for the experiences he’s had at Camp and how special it is to pass on the same amazing experiences to current campers. Check out what Eli has to say about his time at Tawonga:
Was there a moment that inspired you to become a camp counselor?
I always knew I wanted to be a counselor at Tawonga. I was a camper for seven years and the impact my counselors had on me is something I’ll never forget. When we were campers, many of us talked about growing up and becoming counselors ourselves– most of us are working here together now, impacting kids the same way we were impacted.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I love when I see bunks connect and build relationships for the first time. Whether it’s an inside joke or an activity that everyone gets involved in, I love seeing it play out. This happens so often here at Tawonga.
What’s the most inspiring or gratifying part of being a counselor?
Some of my most gratifying moments as a counselor have come from connecting to campers and supporting them through tough times. For example, I had a camper last year who had experienced some bullying back home and was really sensitive to everything going on around him. By building a deep and genuine friendship with him he ended up having such an amazing experience at Camp. He’s a camper here this session and we still hang out even though he’s not in my bunk.
Is there a Camp moment that changed you?
Last year, I went backpacking with a bunk and we were ecstatic when we summited a really challenging peak. When we were at the top, we did an exercise where we chose people we wished could share this special moment with us and everyone, including myself, decided it was the two campers who weren’t there. It was really heart-warming to know how much we all loved each other and wanted to share these new and exciting experiences together.
Why is Camp Tawonga special?
Tawonga is really great at finding a place for everyone who comes through. Not just to fit in, but for people to really feel important and that they belong in this community. Being on staff at Camp Tawonga has prepared me for life more than anything else I’ve ever done by teaching me things like patience, empathy and so much more. I’ve realized Tawonga made me exercise these traits not just because I need to, but because I want to.
Check out pictures from Floats and this evening’s activities!