Each summer, we hire around 125 people. Most are returning staff and former campers. We usually hire 10-12 Israelis and a similar number of staff from Mexico. Though a majority of our college-aged staff attend the University of Texas, we look like the United Nations of colleges.
What motivates a young adult to give up internships, higher-paying jobs, and easier jobs to work in the 24/7 environment of Camp? I hear friendships, community, and a love of CYJ from many of our summer staff. However, that is not enough. The tipping point is making a difference in a child’s or children’s lives. They do not know it, but it also helps prepare them better for the world! Camp has stronger supervision than in almost any other entry-level job. Our staff have evaluations, daily meetings, and opportunities to go above and beyond. A graduating high school senior coming to work will learn how to advocate for themselves, how to lead their peers, and even how to work a washer and dryer.
We hire GREAT people and train them with a week of staff training and hands-on education. They learn how to be Jewish educators and how to make every moment a learning experience for our chanichim (campers). These madrichim (counselors) don’t act as shepherds who take the chanichim to activities and sit on the side. No, they lead by example (in YJ, we say Dugma Ishit) and participate with the chanichim in activities.
While many madrichim would like to think that their work with chanichim should all come naturally, the truth is, it takes skills, patience, and time. That is why returning madrichim are so valuable.
This summer, we are fortunate to have a record of 650 chanichim with waiting lists already forming. Our tsevet (staff) are heroes and role models. It is hard to find these types of people for our children, I know, but we will have 125 of them at CYJ this summer!