Session 2

Specialist and Counselor-in-Training Spotlight

Session 2 + 2b Update

Greetings from Session 2 and 2b! Since recuperating with a more relaxed schedule throughout Shabbat, campers approached the new week with gusto. Highlights on Sunday included the energetic all-Camp talent show, “The Rainbow Olympics,” which other Camps might refer to as “Color Wars,” but not us! The afternoon made its way into Floats, where campers flexed their independence, choosing what activities to explore outside of their typical bunk grouping. Of course, Sunday’s ultimate highlight was welcoming Session 2b! These young Nitzanim campers arrived with so much ruach (spirit) — they infused the rest of Camp with extra excitement!

Sunday night, we celebrated the beautiful diversity of our Tawonga community with a beloved tradition known as International Dinner. For this special meal, the Kitchen prepares a variety of dishes from other countries. The result is a colorful all-Camp buffet with flavors that span the globe! Campers walk through the Dining Hall as staff members share fun facts about the foods they are serving as well as their origin.

In wilderness news, the unit of Haifa is the last to complete their backcountry backpacking trips, returning back to Camp on Wednesday. Meanwhile, our Session 2b campers will head out on their day hikes tomorrow. Hopefully they’ll come back to Tawonga next year for a longer session to experience an overnight trip! Everyone is getting excited for the all-Camp production tomorrow night to see campers’ share their dramatic sides. Read on below to learn about this summer’s fabulous Specialists and Counselors-In-Training:

SCIT Spotlight!

Our Session 2, 2a, and 2b campers are so lucky – in addition to the phenomenal Tawonga staff, our SCITs (Specialists and Counselors-in-Training) have been here all summer so far to support the campers! The SCIT program is a uniquely transformative experience for rising 12th graders who are looking to develop leadership and skill-building in a Tawonga context, and work with children at camp. 

This year’s crop of 51 SCITs interviewed with Camp prior to the summer and were selected from an applicant pool; they then arrived during Taste of Camp for a week of specifically tailored training, followed by spending Session 2/2a/2b honing their skills through direct work with campers.

Among the offerings of the SCIT program, the Specialist-In-Training (SIT) program is a great option for teens who have a specialized interest, and runs parallel to the counselor training program. While Counselors in Training (CITs) join bunk and unit counselors to lead activities and facilitate cabin groupings, the SIT program is designed for those who are budding specialists in their chosen areas of interest. Usually fewer than 10 teens are accepted as SITs each summer, which varies each year based on teen interest. Austin, a returning Tawongan and SIT shared: “I chose to be an SIT to further my skills in specialty areas and to find what I’d like to do at camp in the future.” 

These teens are able to gain specific insights into the inner workings of different speciality areas at Camp, and typically spend their days working with one Tawonga Specialist department. This summer, our SITs have been trained to help facilitate groups, lead blocks with campers, and support as: Arts & Crafts Specialists, Programming/Drama Specialists, Songleaders, Naturalists, Maintenance Crew, and Camp Photographer.

What Sets SIT Apart?

The SIT program is crafted to provide hands-on, immersive learning experiences for teens. Participants spend approximately two-thirds of their day actively engaged with younger campers through their work with specialist/support staff at Camp, co-facilitating creative activities in their specialty areas. 

This isn’t just about learning skills; our SITs are applying their skills in real-time, and receive mentorship both from SCIT Program Staff and their area specific staff in their Specialist department. At the same time, they foster personal growth in themselves through active self-reflection as well as the campers with whom they work. One songleading SIT has spent their evening blocks playing guitar and singing camper favorites from our Camp Tawonga songbook to set the tone for a relaxing bedtime. At Tawonga, SITs not only develop proficiency in their department-specific skills but also gain confidence in leadership and interpersonal skills—essential qualities that extend far beyond the Camp community.

Here’s what the SITs are saying about the program:

Artemis: “I love community, nature, music, and camp. SCIT combines all of that.”

Lucy: “I really love being an SIT for Arts & Crafts because I am so much more immersed in art than I normally am, and I have the chance to bond and get to know more than just one bunk of kids”

Ace: “I was very enthusiastic about being an SIT for the Programming/Drama department. I had been planning to apply as an SIT for some time. Working closely with a group of people who are passionate about the same things as me, and introducing those things to kids, is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”

The Overlapping Experience of SCITs

While SITs focus on becoming specialists, they also share much of their journey with their peers in the Counselor In Training (CIT) program. This overlap ensures a holistic understanding of camp dynamics, where SITs learn the ropes of counselor responsibilities alongside honing their chosen specialties. It’s a balanced blend of personal growth and communal contribution that defines the SCIT experience. 

This unity is particularly highlighted in all-camp interactions. SCITs shared their love for goofiness and Tawonga with all of camp during an all-camp campfire, performing many classic and some new campfire skits. SCITs also have a strong presence at Kabbalat Shabbat services around camp. On Friday nights, these services are led by unit, and while CITs are with their bunk’s unit, SITs also join these meaningful community moments.

Why Choose the SCIT Program?

For many teens, Camp Tawonga’s SCIT program is more than just a summer commitment—it’s a pivotal stepping stone towards future endeavors. As SIT Ace shared, “It’s gotten me very excited to be on staff.”

Whether exploring career interests, building lifelong friendships, or simply embracing the joy of helping others discover their passions, the SCIT program nurtures a sense of purpose and belonging that lasts far beyond the summer months. To all of our wonderful SCITs this summer, thank you for all you are doing to support Tawonga and our amazing campers. We look forward to seeing many familiar SCIT faces back on staff next summer!

Below, enjoy photos from the last few days of Session 2, featuring some SITs in action (as well as CITs), and taken by one of our very own SITs, who has spent time expanding their blogger/photographer skill set at camp.