Here at Camp Tawonga, we embrace being a part of a global Jewish family. Our staff team includes people from all over the world — from Israel and the UK to Canada and Costa Rica — who each add so much value to our community. Also, every summer Tawonga is proud to bring shlichim (delegates) from Israel to work on staff, connecting Camp to Israel in an authentic and meaningful way for campers and staff alike.
Today we are thrilled to spotlight four staff members from our international community. Read on to learn about their unique experiences at Tawonga.
As an international staff member, what is something unique you bring to Tawonga?
Maiyan: I feel that I bring campers more knowledge about Israel and our culture. When kids have questions, I have a deep authentic understanding about the culture, society and politics which I think is important for campers to know.
Ashger: Because I come from a different culture- socially, politically, locally etc.- I believe I have an inside understanding on the different ways people behave and think around the world. As a result, it’s a different teaching approach than campers are used to which I think can be enlightening for kids and helps them interact with different people and cultures.
Leah: I feel I bring a different perspective to campers. When campers notice accents that aren’t American or Israeli, they have so many questions. They’re so interested and curious about your way of life and they’re excited to find someone with a different point of view. For example, if I say I speak Spanish they immediately show interest by starting a conversation with me in Spanish and are really eager to learn about my culture.
Hadar: It’s really important to bring Jews from all over the world into this space. It brings more diversity which is better for both staff and campers because they get someone with a different Jewish background and different perspective from their own. I’ve noticed that when campers find out you’re international, they ask a lot of questions, trying to learn new words or different kinds of things.
What inspires you to work at Camp Tawonga?
Maiyan: I’m in the army service when I go back to Israel, and Camp Tawonga is just such an incredibly different and special experience. Also, I love working with kids and it was always my dream to go to summer camp which is not common where I’m from. So I feel really lucky to be here everyday.
Ashger: The kids definitely inspire me. It’s crazy because campers steal your heart and then they leave and it’s so bittersweet. The connection we have for each other is really amazing because I know how much I affect them and they know how much they affect me.
Leah: After being a camper at Tawonga, I came back as a staff members after six years by asking myself ‘what makes me feel better’ and I immediately thought of Camp. And I was right. It also prepared me for college because everyone is so open here and accepting of everyone. So it’s really a life experience that teaches you so much about being kind and welcoming, which was really helpful when starting my journey in college.
Hadar: Tawonga is such a diverse place– so many people learn to respect everyone here. Also, I think Israel is such a modern country– there are so many things going on and it’s good to have a space where we can discuss what is happening and people who have personally experienced it. Camp grows with Israel which is really important and special.
What are some Tawonga values that you will take back with you to your community?
Maiyan: I’ve learned to be 100% myself wherever I am and I want to make others feel that way around me. Here, everyone accepts you for exactly who you are and I’m absolutely in love with it. I want to take that accepting attitude home with me.
Ashger: I will definitely take home the love and respect for nature, the importance of hugs and smiles all around us and the human connection we get living in this tight-knit community. I’ve also learned how important it is to leave a positive footprint on the world, not just ecologically but socially as well.
Leah: Coming from a small country where everyone is Catholic and isn’t always welcoming and accepting of other religions, it’s really refreshing coming to Tawonga where everyone is accepting. I will always carry that with me inside and outside of Camp.
Hadar: I’ve learned that there are so many different aspects and types of Judaism, and people at Tawonga are here to explore and respect everyone for their beliefs. In Israel, I find that many interpret Judaism in very specific ways so I would love to take back home with me that non-judgemental acceptance. Freedom plus Judaism is a really nice thing.
Thank you to Maiyan, Ashger, Leah and Hadar for sharing with us and bringing so much love and passion into everything you do at Tawonga.
Below, check out some photos of our international family and our lovely Session III campers.