Lessons learned from an all-boys environment
May you grow up to be Righteous
May you grow up to be True
May you always see the truth and the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous, stand upright, and be strong
And may you stay, Forever Young
The words of this song remind us of our young men at Camp Avoda. Boys learn to be righteous, true to themselves and their community, courageous and strong, as well “upright” both physically and mentally. We build strong lifetime relationships that help our Alumni feel young together! Camp Avoda’s values define the experience that Avodians have enjoyed since 1927.
- Lasting friendship. Sure, every camp can claim that. In fact, one of my colleagues says frequently that those words should never be part of an elevator speech or print materials as it does not distinguish camps from one another. I agreed with her until I came to Camp Avoda. Those alumni? They spend time together at camp, outside of camp, at ball games, bowling alleys, restaurants, and family celebrations…along with their wives, children and grandchildren!
- Tradition. Beanies (known by most campers in other camps as kippot or yarmulkes), camp shirts, bunk writing, small, close, nurturing, Jewish, knishes every Friday night, alumni raising money annually to fund scholarships so that no boy has to go without a Camp Avoda summer.
- Brotherhood. I asked some campers and staff, why should someone should choose an all-boys camp for their son? Some of the answers: “Knowing that you have a friend that is like family.” “You get to be totally yourself.” “Free from having to impress anyone, or dressing a certain way.” “Creating connections that help us understand each other.” “We connect on a deeper level.” What is trending in social media this season? Avoda brothers meeting in a variety of cities, raising money for homelessness, hungry kids and medical research, supporting one another in these endeavors.
- Leadership. Everyone is learning how to be a man. Campers can observe the qualities they admire in their counselors. Oldest campers have little brothers in Bunks 1 and 2. Counselors in Training (CIT’s) learn to manage groups of campers, plan and implement activities, develop skills and to refine them through feedback and evaluation from experienced adults. Counselors receive real-life leadership opportunity, complete with opportunities to lead all-camp and small-group activities, develop relationships with campers, and hone their skills under the leadership of mature senior staff members.
- Spirit. Healthy, good-natured competition is one strong element of the spirit that is Camp Avoda. Learning to win graciously, and lose just as graciously is an important part of the Avoda experience. Color War: complete with athletic competition, plays written by staff and campers, camaraderie and team pride is the ultimate display of spirit each summer. Jam sessions on the bunk porches, dance parties before bed, early morning ping-pong meet-ups, waterfront races, league championships, inter-camp games…. all part of a spirited Camp Avoda experience!
Campers become CIT’s. CIT’s become staff members. Staff members become alumni. Alumni become leaders, family men, volunteers, fundraisers. Lessons learned at camp help develop our campers and young men. When we talk with our alumni they time and time again articulate the lessons learned from Camp Avoda and we take pride in that!