This past May, Kyra Schechter, counselor and Israeli Dance Specialist at Maccabi Sports Camp, had the opportunity to attend Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Cornerstone Fellowship 2023 at Capital Camps in Waynesboro, PA. See below to enjoy Kyra’s thoughts on this transformative experience and to learn more about this amazing program. Summer 2023 marks Kyra’s 3rd year on staff and her 9th overall as a member of the Maccabi Sports Camp family.
Maccabi’s Cornerstone cohort pictured above, left to right, Maya Barak (program supervisor), Kyra Schechter, Asher Grinberg, Noah Rosen, and Gabe Friedman.
Written by Kyra Schechter
Growing up at camp, I always considered myself to be one of the shyer campers. I got nervous speaking or doing things by myself in front of large crowds. As I became a counselor, I grew to be more confident in these and other situations. This summer, I have the unique leadership opportunity of being the Israeli Dance Specialist, a position for which I am extremely excited yet also very nervous.
I am so proud to have been chosen to represent Maccabi Sports Camp as a Cornerstone Fellow. It’s an amazing opportunity that will truly help me become a leader at camp this summer and beyond. Over the course of a four-day leadership retreat, I was able to collaborate with my peers on new ideas and programs to bring back to our beloved camp. One area of particular interest to me, and related to my role at camp this summer, is Israeli Dancing. While at Cornerstone, I got the chance to dance with and learn from one of the country’s preeminent Israeli dance specialists, Erica Goldman. Participating in her educational specialty track helped me to break out of my comfort zone, taking on my feelings of nervousness and uncertainty head-on. I learned tons of new dances to bring back to camp, how to teach them to beginners, and even had the opportunity to practice teaching and leading dances in front of my peers, all within the safe and supportive space of the Cornerstone program.
Leading a large crowd in a new dance can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but these exercises make me feel prepared and confident for my new role at camp. Having had the opportunity to attend Cornerstone Seminar 2023, I am ready to plan and facilitate camp-wide programs and lead Israeli dancing in front of 150 campers and staff members, and even more ready to once again take on the responsibility of being a camp counselor, role model, and mentor for our campers. Camp has been an incredibly important part of my life and I am eager to deliver the same impactful experience to others this summer.
WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR JEWISH CAMP’S CORNERSTONE FELLOWSHIP?
- A gathering of the strongest counselors nominated from 60+ camps in North America
- Four days of exchanging ideas, attending workshops, trainings & immersive experiences
- An opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about Jewish camp
Returning counselors are the “cornerstones” of their camp. Over the last 20 years, 5,300+ Fellows have participated in this transformative leadership experience.
Being a part of the Cornerstone Fellowship includes attending a 4-day seminar in the spring, and bringing new ideas, programs and initiatives back to camp. At the Cornerstone Seminar, 400 staff members from Jewish camps across North America come together for workshops, song sessions, and campfires, learning from seasoned faculty and from each other. Fellows share “magic” and ideas among their camps, creating a new type of camp community.
Cornerstone offers an important professional development opportunity for senior camp staff, who supervise counselors’ progress throughout the Cornerstone program. Both Fellows and senior camp staff are supported by a faculty Advisor, who provides coaching throughout the summer so goals, visions, and action plans can be implemented successfully.