Summer camp is about so much more than waterslides and canoeing. At CYJ, we spend our summers teaching our campers core values about life and Judaism that they’ll rely on well into adulthood.
This week, we’ll look at how CYJ expertly nurtures strong, lasting friendships built on mutual respect and admiration. When children leave CYJ for the last time, they have learned and practiced dozens of times how to build strong friendships on a foundation of cooperation, compromise, and care.
Long-time CYJ families will know that it all starts with the bunk. Our bunks are groups of 12-16 campers and 2-4 staffers who experience all that camp has to offer together, as a small family. Just like in real life, living in a single space with so many people can lead to conflict. CYJ counselors are trained to resolve these conflicts with fairness and compromise, teaching campers to see both sides of an argument and to respect where the other one is coming from. Learning how to resolve conflict respectfully is critical to the foundation of any lasting friendship.
Bunks also work together to accomplish tasks, teaching campers the collective power of teamwork. During their daily “Nikayon” (cleaning time), it would take any individual camper all afternoon to clean up the whole cabin alone, but as a team, they make quick work of sweeping floors, making beds, and wiping down the sinks which leaves a lot more time for fun! Learning how to cooperate with others to reach a common goal isn’t just necessary for strong friendships, it’s a life skill that everyone needs in order to successfully navigate adulthood.
The bunk also collaborates to choose how they want to spend their morning “Chaverut” (friendship) period for Shabbat. Spending extra time at the pool or on the zip-lines is a lot more fun with friends! From this, campers learn to value one another beyond the utility of teamwork. They learn to value the joy and silliness and creativity that comes from spending quality time together, a key ingredient to any happy friendship.
It’s no accident that our campers’ bunkmates are their friends for life. At CYJ, we take the opportunity of a nice long summer together and use it to model how to build strong, lasting friendships, and it works! We hope to see your children at CYJ-Texas next summer, we promise it will be the summer of a lifetime!