Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Assistant Head of Wilderness, Maria Lipkina

Department: Assistant Head of Wilderness

Specialty: Quest, Teva (Nature) Program, Garden

Years at Tawonga: Five

Favorite plant in Tawonga garden: Basil

Favorite plant in nature: Harlequin Lupin

For this week’s Staff Spotlight, we are excited to feature one of our Assistant Heads of Wilderness, Maria Lipkina. Maria oversees the Garden and Farm staff at camp, the Teva program staff, and the Teen Adventure Quest trips.

For the past five years, Maria has been committed to spending her summers at Tawonga as part of the Wilderness Staff. Although she was not a camper at Tawonga, when she heard about the Tawonga wilderness program, she knew it was the right place for her. Maria has been a true asset and inspiration to our camp community, and her determined and approachable nature make her a fantastic role model for campers.

“I’ve worked for a lot of other places, and I think Tawonga is very well run and supportive. I love the supervision system, and I love the feedback process here,” Maria shared. “There are a lot of places out there where I could be doing this job, and I am thrilled to be doing it here because Tawonga is such a positive work environment.”

This summer there has been growth in all of the programs Maria oversees. One of the most notable is the Garden and Farm. Along with our 18 chickens, we have two goats, Rocket (our dairy goat), and Becky Bonanza Jellybean.

The garden itself has undergone some major structural improvements in the last year. Our year-round Building & Grounds team built a beautiful new gazebo from the ground up with wood from the Tawonga property. The structure serves as an outdoor education space. In addition to the structure, the garden is now equipped with a portable stove and refrigerator for activities such as cheese-making from the goat milk we produce on-site and cooking eggs from our chickens.

“Exposing campers to the animals and the garden really relates to the third part of the Tawonga mission of building a partnership with nature. I believe the hands-on experience really lets children learn the benefits of working for your food and having a greater appreciation for the natural world around us,” Maria said.

At Camp Tawonga, we strive to instill in campers a respect and understanding for the hard work and energy that goes into the food we eat.

Through the work of Maria’s department, she hopes that we “inspire in them a stewardship of the natural world, and an understanding of ethical farming, Jewish values, and humanitarian values.”

Thanks Maria for your dedication to Tawonga! More Staff Spotlights coming soon.

Below, enjoy photos of the evening here at camp. The unit of Chalutzim returned to Tawonga from their backpacking trips in time for dinner, bunks B-9 and G-9 ventured out again with their counselors to watch the sunset at Inspiration Point, a beautiful lookout just minutes outside of camp.

Lilah tov!