Staff Spotlight: Elena Lev
Our third staff spotlight features one of our amazing staff members from the Greater Department of Programming, Elena Lev. Elena calls herself a loosely moraled vegan, is currently in her third year at Scripps College in Southern California and majors in Spanish. She is studying abroad in Madrid this upcoming semester. We know Elena’s mom checks the blog often, so Elena is especially excited to have a staff spotlight on The Pipeline!
Check out the interview below to learn more about this long-time Tawongan.
Tell me about your time at Tawonga.
I was a camper for eight years, as well as a ninth as a Counselor-In-Training. I returned last summer on staff as a counselor after I had just finished my first year of college. This year, I decided to become a Programmer so that I could do fun and creative programs all over Camp, not just with one cabin. I’m so happy to be back as a programmer! I love working with kids and the freedom to create new and exciting programs from scratch.
Overall, Camp has had a huge impact on me as a person. It’s one of the reasons I’m as compassionate and communicative as I am– which I consider to be two of my strongest traits. Existing as a whole in an intentional community and maintaining that community and those connections after the summer has ended has impacted my life tremendously.
What kept you coming back?
I think a large part of it is the staff and the intentions we’re taught to bring to our work during In-Service (staff training week). The staff works hard to not only create unforgettable experiences for the kids but also help them bond and form deep connections. The kids continue to come back because those connections are so powerful. From my experience as a camper and as a staff member, each year at Camp we have the opportunity to grow as individuals and take that growth home with us when Camp is over.
This year, I was super excited to try a new job! There wasn’t anything else I wanted to do with my summer besides be here. A lot of my friends were working again, many of whom I only get to see during my summers at Tawonga. I had a very spiritual semester – living alone and finding ways to connect with people who were on a similar path as me. Camp provides an environment to continue exploring the growth I made at school. I was looking forward to having a more independent summer, of course giving back to the campers as a GDP staff member, but also nourishing myself. Tawonga gives you the space to be the most authentic you. Often we don’t know what that version of ourselves looks like, simply because we haven’t explored it yet. This can be a very nourishing place.
What makes you love your job?
I really like being able to bring my own ideas to the programs I run. Recently, I led a “Knarchery” (nighttime archery) block where they were declared knights at the end. Shoutout to counselor Hannah S. for that block idea! I get to take whatever campers want the most, the wackiest stuff, and make it happen for them. Often times it’s not that crazy, just simple activities that facilitate bonding. For example, campers get so hyped for personal story telling blocks, which is literally just sitting in a circle sharing stories. It provides a comfortable space for campers to be vulnerable and open with their bunkmates. They just need the structure of a block to encourage that bonding to happen.
Favorite Tawonga or Jewish activity
My favorite Camp activity is definitely going in the Lake. When I was a camper, I never jumped in the Lake at the end of Gnarly blocks. The Lake was always this desirable mystery. …and now I get to lead gnarly blocks with kids and jump in the Lake at the end!
What do you recommend? (A favorite question at Tawonga)
I recommend listening to your soul. Try to make decisions from a soulful place as much as you can. Get to know the deepest part of yourself as best you can and make decisions for yourself. A part of that is trusting yourself more than anyone else to make those decisions. Every decision is very personal, meaning it should come from you and you alone.
Enjoy photos from today’s Session IV activities all around Camp!