Session 2 campers are also a lucky bunch because our SCITs (Specialist and Counselor in Training) are here all session! Tawonga’s SCIT program is a summer gem for rising 12th graders who are looking to develop leadership skills and work with campers. Selected from an application pool, SCITs arrive during our Taste of Camp session for training, and they spend Session 2 honing their skills through direct work with campers.
This summer, 30 teens are learning the ropes of staff life at Camp. Many SCITs are returning campers, and the program marks the beginning of a key transition in the Tawonga experience – between the camper and staff years. Having aged out of traditional camper years, being an SCIT is a blend of quintessential summer camp fun and professional growth. SCITs often join our staff in the years after the program, and they come on board the team extra prepared!
Over the past few weeks, SCITs have put in tremendous effort to support younger campers and make lasting connections to Camp and each other. Tawonga has been positively influential in many of the returners’ lives, and now they have the opportunity to pass the torch to the next generation of campers (and possibly some future SCITs!).
Here’s what the SCITs are saying about the program:
Ava: “It’s been a super fun experience, and I’ve learned a lot more than I originally thought I would. I love working with the kids and getting to know all the kids – and also experiencing Camp from a different perspective than I usually do.”
Maisy: “Bonding with the children who we get to spend the session with is one of the most magical experiences, and I’m so grateful for that. Knowing that you have an impact on the child’s life is such a rewarding feeling.”
Essie: “I’m like a completely different person than I was at the beginning of SCIT, and I think it’s almost exclusively due to the really strong, powerful women in this program and the interesting discussions we’ve had. They’ve truly changed me so much and made me so much stronger and so much more assertive.”
Max: “Being an SCIT is pretty fun. It’s a very unique experience being on the line between being a camper and being on staff. I have learned to facilitate and be with the counselors while also on somewhat of the same level as the campers. It’s been an overall great experience, because while we’re with the bunks, we also have time to be with each other.”
New for teens this season is our capital campaign funded Tawonga Village, which made it to the finish line for the start of summer! Made up of five new cabins, a bathhouse and a communal programming area situated apart from our younger campers (by the Manzanitas), Tawonga Village is a special area for our teens. “I love how the village is a subset of Camp where we can come to rejuvenate after a long day with kids,” one teen shared.
Tawonga Village is advancing the agency’s vision to serve more people all year long. Thank you to our generous donors for making this special space possible!
We’re all looking forward to the rest of the session with our incredible campers and SCITs, as well as the many Tawonga end-of-session traditions coming up – closing campfire, banquet dinner, carnival and more. Thanks for tuning in!
Session 2 Update
It’s hard to believe we’re already in the last week of Session 2. Campers have now enjoyed two Shabbats, plenty of silent disco and epic activities all day. Classic all-Camp events, including Earth Day and International Dinner, have been huge hits too – the party just keeps going!
At this point in the session, most bunks have ventured into the backcountry of Yosemite or Stanislaus National Forest for backpacking or car camping adventures, and bunks have participated in both Tikkun (giving back) blocks around Camp as well as Jewish programming (Ruach Hour). Through these core Camp experiences, campers have connected to our mission – fostering connections to our cooperative community, to their Jewish identities and to nature.
During longer sessions like this one, campers also have the opportunity to individually choose some of their activities through electives known as “Livnot” and “Chugim.” These are fun, often skill-building electives led by counselors and specialists. Over the course of several activity blocks during the session, campers have the chance to break out of their normal cabin groups and participate in these electives with kids from other bunks. During Session 2, the younger units participate in Chugim, while the older units participate in Livnot.
Chugim, which translates to “lessons” and livnot, which means “to build,” can focus on anything; from watercolors to guitar, to learning some basic lifeguarding skills to even just good old fashioned soccer. Staff make sure campers have a wide array of options to choose from, catered to their own personalities and interests.
During Session 2, some of the chugim and livnot include friendship bracelet making, “Legends of Camp Tawonga,” fermentation (they made sourdough yesterday!) and pickling in the garden. Building new skills in this way helps campers build resilience and independence and grow their self esteem – also central to Tawonga’s mission.
Now, campers are looking forward to the end-of-session Carnival and making the most of their last week here. Three weeks at Camp is the perfect immersive Tawonga experience – campers are really getting to do it all!
Check out today’s Tawonga Tidbit:
Below, enjoy photos from the last few days of Session 2 and of our 2023 SCITs!