Tawonga News

Guiding Principles: How Tawonga’s “Canon of Ethics” Shapes Our Camp Community

Camp Tawonga’s team is deep in hiring mode this winter to build our phenomenal team of over 200 summer staff for the coming season. As we select the most dedicated, caring and compassionate individuals to take care of campers this summer, we thought we’d peel back the curtain a little bit on the shared values and expectations of our summer staff.

It all starts with our Canon of Ethics, a set of values crafted by Ken Kramarz z”l and Deborah Newbrun in the 80s. While rules are made to be followed, ethics are something to live up to. Grounded by these ethics, staff are inspired to be the best they can be. It’s a guide for our entire team to follow – from maintenance workers, kitchen staff, health techs and year-round directors, to counselors and educators working directly with campers. Taught during staff training before campers arrive and reinforced throughout the summer, the Canon of Ethics serves as the cornerstone of Tawonga’s commitment to excellence and professionalism, ensuring that every interaction, decision and action reflects our dedication to the well-being of our campers and community. 

Setting the tone for the full Canon is the first principle, “I am a professional.” For Tawonga summer staff, embodying this ethic entails maintaining a high standard of competence and integrity in their roles. It involves prioritizing the well-being and safety of campers while upholding professional boundaries and responsibilities. By embracing this ethic, Tawonga staff members commit to fostering a positive and enriching environment for all participants, rooted in professionalism and dedication to their duties.

Also central to our shared blueprint for working at Tawonga, “The children always come first.” When you notice a Tawonga counselor waiting patiently while campers put food on their plates – that’s because of this ethic. It means prioritizing their safety, well-being and growth above all else. Whether it’s leading a backpacking trip or facilitating an arts and crafts activity, our staff is committed to creating a nurturing and supportive environment where every child feels valued and respected.

“I respect my colleagues” is another foundational part of our canon. We understand that teamwork and collaboration are essential for a successful camp experience. By treating each other with kindness, empathy and respect at all times we foster a positive work culture where everyone can thrive.

The depth of Canon wisdom continues: If a camper seems nervous to give that high ropes element on the Challenge Course a try, a counselor notices and checks in with the child, because “I am always aware.” When campers inquire with their counselors about their political beliefs, or ask if they are dating anyone on staff, the response is always, “My private life stays private,” placing the focus squarely back on the camper. When you see directors picking up pieces of trash around Camp – that’s because “shared space means shared responsibility.” 

By upholding these principles, we professionalize the role of summer camp staff members and set high standards for our team by which to work and live. Through our commitment to the Canon of Ethics, we ensure that every member of our team is equipped to deliver on our mission of fostering self-esteem, Jewish identity and connections to nature within a loving and accepting community.

Below, enjoy photos of summer staff putting the “Canon of Ethics” into action at Camp.