During this summer’s staff training week, in addition to our regular seminars on camper care, health and safety, we engaged the help of two outside experts to best inform our staff as to how they can help model and foster healthy interpersonal relationships.   The goal of these training programs was to ensure a safe environment for our campers, while at Ramah, and learn how we can empower campers throughout the year to recognize and form healthy interpersonal relationships.

Three educators from the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA) engaged our entire staff in a highly informative program, aimed to highlight the foundation of healthy relationships, and root causes of abusive relationships.   JCADA is committed to raising awareness that domestic abuse is in fact a problem in the Jewish community – just as it is in every other community.  By helping bring this issue to the forefront, JCADA aims to prevent the cycle of violence from continuing in future generations.   The focus of JCADA’s program was two-fold: how people can both seek to avoid abusive relationships; and what people can do to help and support their peers and friends who might have entered such a relationship.

The entire staff also attended an inspiring and very enlightening presentation on bullying by Andrew Zitoli, the Director of No Sticks and Stones.   Mr. Zitoli has been the principal at Millis Middle School, in Millis, Mass. for 12 years. He regularly speaks to schools, camps and other youth organizations on the topic of bullying.   Mr. Zitoli spoke about the importance of quickly identifying and interrupting the cycle of bullying, and the imperative to teach youth to inform their counselors, or other care providers, when they see another child being bullied.

Each of these sessions helped further our knowledge and awareness about the best manners in which we can provide enhanced camper care.  They also helped convey the message to our staff that at Camp Ramah we are seeking to impact our campers for more than just the summer, but for the rest of their lives.