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Building Resilience at Camp


There’s no doubt that most of the teens I work with are academically challenged. In fact, the pressure is often so intense that I never meet them, because their busy academic and sports schedules don’t allow room for a single weekend away, or there is so much pressure to succeed that I get phone calls at 2:00am because they’re starting to crack under the pressure of it all.

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At the same time, we allow little space for them to build any resilience to withstand the pressure put on them (and that they put on themselves) to succeed, let alone the difficulties thrown at them as they get older and step out into a world with less-secure safety nets.



That’s where Moshavah, and camp in general, come in. For a few weeks every summer, I see teens live in a world that is built to make them feel safe, challenge them to push the boundaries of what they think they are physically capable of, asks deep questions about their Jewish identities and responsibilities to bring justice and equality to the world, and gives them a space to try something new, fail, dust themselves off, learn from it, and try again, all with the support and encouragement of staff and faculty who are living as their authentic selves.


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Sometimes we talk about camp as a summer “away.” But really it’s a summer of being “here” – of being totally present, devoid of technology, in the moment with people our own age, experiencing the same challenges. Not only that, but a summer here comes with the benefit of stellar staff and mentors who serve as models for how to fail forward and live and learn as terrific humans and Jews. A summer here means growing as a whole person – not just your resume and test scores, but as a resilient person ready to face the stress and challenges a year away from camp brings. You can’t get that anywhere but here.



Logan Zinman is the Senior Regional Director of Youth Engagement for NFTY Chicago, and the best two weeks of her year are spent with Mosh at OSRUI and on tiyyul. Check out the NFTY Chicago website to see how you can make camp last all year long like Logan.