Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah Camp Gilboa! We are so excited to announce our Rosh (youth Camp Director) for 2024....keep reading for the reveal and stay tuned for more updates from tzevet next week!
I’m excited to be introducing myself, Isaiah Beenhouwer, to you all as Rosh Gilboa for the 2024 Summer!
I first came to Gilboa as a camper in 2012. Initially against my will, my parents made me go each summer. But slowly, I started to enjoy myself at machaneh (camp). I made some friends and started to feel the community. In my Madatz (Counselor in Training) year I figured out what the camp was really about - social justice nonsense! I am only kidding about the nonsense part... But I began to look forward to my time at camp spent thinking (and laughing!) with my best friends and sitting in the quiet meadow for hours. My first year as a madrich (counselor) was ruled by romance, so of course I came back for my second. My next try (online Covid summer) I was more focused on the chanichimot (campers) and I steadily figured out what I was supposed to be doing at camp, now being on the other side of the social justice “nonsense.” I began working throughout the year in our Tzedek (teen social justice) program and for the L.A. ken (local community). Then, I returned to camp the next year with some new ideas on how to educate and relate with chanichimot as Mazkirut’s Meloveh (director of camper wellbeing) and truly stuck myself into Gilboa values.
Throughout my years with Gilboa I got to participate in loads of hands-on social justice reform like phone banking for bail reform (which we partially achieved! wooohooo!), but what really brings me back to Gilboa each year is our unique form of youth empowerment. It's not neatly packaged in some policy like in Model U.N., but rather it's in our intangible everyday interactions, it’s in the uniquely serious way we treat our chanichimot and each other. With this personally profound new realization I spent this past summer on the leadership team as a Madatz madrich, attempting to fashion these camp values into tangible skills. After all this practice I felt I had cultivated a competitive skill set and deep care for this community, so I applied to be Rosh!
Looking forward, I see we’ve got an important summer ahead of us. Most importantly, we have got to deliver intensive and thoughtful Israel/Palestine education for our chanichimot. For a few years, Gilboa has shied away from confronting our relationship to Zionism, Israel, and the Occupation, but this year we must consider our political history and Jewish identities to imagine our futures as lefty American Jews. I am confident that through patient discussion, we can engage in this difficult moment together and make room for the various perspectives within our community. Recently, tzevet (staff) has also been meeting to discuss the best ways to bring our voices together, whether that be through sichot (discussions) for our entire community, online peulot (educational activities) for chanichimot, or local action by kenim. But as much as it’s my dream to debate politics all day, I know it doesn't make for everyone’s ideal summer. We’re also working on new programming and trying new creative projects to reconnect chanichimot with the land and beauty of our site. Particularly relevant now (and always), we must remember that Machaneh thrives most when our community is having fun - so I figure we’ll be spending most of our summer being silly together.
Until then, Shabbat Shalom