Today’s staff spotlight highlights Tawonga song leader, Shiloh Atkinson. As a camper, Shiloh looked up to the song leaders of her time and admired their passion for sharing the gift of music at Camp. Now as a song leader herself in her third summer on staff, Shiloh strives to pass on her love of singing to all who are listening – no matter their musical talent.
Shiloh helped start the #loveyourvoice movement at Camp this summer as well as the new “Forest Wizards” singing activity block. In addition, she created a Livnot (elective) for campers called Gender in the Songbook. In a small, often single gender group, she opens up a dynamic conversation about gender stereotypes in the music sung at Camp.
Shiloh is currently a student at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts studying sociology and social change. She is about to embark on a year-long study abroad program and will spend time in Lisbon, Portugal and Costa Rica.
Read on for more about Shiloh’s Tawonga experience:
Tell me about your time at Tawonga.
This is my seventh year at Camp, third year on staff, and I absolutely love being here and contributing to the Tawonga community because I benefited from it so much as a camper. A lot of my passions and values align with Tawonga’s. This place is so special to me. As a camper, I think Tawonga really helped me find self confidence whether I knew it or not. I felt like I could be whoever I wanted, without judgement. Going to the river for a mikveh and being in the schvitz really helped me with body confidence in ways I couldn’t fully appreciate as a camper, but think back to now as formative moments. I also looked up to all of my super silly counselors, and that encouraged me to be silly too!
What kept you coming back?
I think I just really felt like myself here, and I still feel that way. Because I started at Tawonga at such a young age, I absorbed the lessons I just spoke about really early on so I don’t feel like I struggled as much with feeling confident in my adult life. I was here from when I was 10 to 14; those are some of the most formative years of your life. It’s so impactful to see it come full circle. Now that I’m on staff as a confident adult, I can pass these lessons along to campers.
What makes you love your job?
I’ve really been enjoying my time as a song leader and being able to share my passions for gender equality and music generally. It has been super surreal and beautiful for me. I’ve been connecting with a lot of young, intelligent campers who are really in touch with themselves. I like to think that I’m inspiring them as they inspire me.
Being a woman leader is really important to me right now. I think it’s crucial to see women in leadership roles and for younger girls to see that. Campers see me lead song sessions with other male song leaders, and it has an impact. It leaves a window open for them – just knowing it’s available to them if they are interested.
I just love music, kids and Camp. It’s a combination of my three loves, and it feels so fulfilling.
Favorite Tawonga or Jewish activity
I think by far, song session – even as a camper! It was just a chance to get weird and jump around the Dining Hall with your friends. Now it’s slightly more stressful as a staff member, but it’s still fun. It makes me really happy to bring the same sense of joy and space for self-expression that I felt as a camper.
What do you recommend? (A favorite question at Tawonga)
I recommend long baths…bubble baths…ones with salts, flower petals and candles. That’s something I miss when I’m at Camp!
Any closing thoughts?
This place is just hard to get away from. This is my third year on staff, and I can’t help but think, how can I not keep coming back? What would that life be like? I think it’s hard to imagine my life without Tawonga right now.
We feel so lucky to have Shiloh back for yet another summer!
Enjoyed this staff spotlight? Check out our past spotlight posts here.
Session III Gallery
Enjoy photos taken by office staff member Hazel O.D. during Livnot this morning. Look forward to photos from tonight’s banquet dinner and closing campfire.