Camp In The Classroom
By: Jodi Fish (featured left in picture)
Each of us carries the ruach (spirit) of Camp Wise wherever we go throughout the year. As a young camper, my summers spent at the Home of Happiness provided me with the fuel to get through the school year. The memories spent basking in summer’s heat, laughing with my friends, exploring my creativity, and growing as a young adult continued to impact me long after singing “Leaving on A JCC Bus” during CW night. Those precious moments as a camper at my home away from home have left a deep imprint on who I am today.
As my first year of teaching was ending last year, Camp Wise popped into my life again. I even surprised myself when I decided to return to Chardon, Ohio and spend summer 2017 supervising the mighty village of Ohalim. I could not have picked a more perfect way to spend my summer. CW worked its magic, yet again, and my experience as a supervisor has continued to influence me, and the way I teach in my second year of teaching.
Like most people, I wanted to make the “camp” feeling linger when the trees start to turn reddish-orange this fall and even more recently as the ground is covered in snow. Throughout this year, I have taken my experiences from Camp Wise and embedded them into our classroom environment and my teaching. Whether my students are reading from the comfort of a Crazy Creek, engaging in self-expression through art projects that represent who they are and who they hope to be, or participating in fun and meaningful community-building activities between classes, our classroom has changed for the better since I started seeing the opportunities to bring camp into our classroom. One of the greatest benefits of this has been that my students are growing not only as readers and writers, but more importantly, as leaders in the school.
Being at Camp Wise during its 110th summer truly made me a better teacher this year. The leadership and professional growth opportunities it offered me during the summer have enabled me to design a more thoughtful, creative, and engaging classroom experience for my 6th grade students. For example, last summer during staff training, I learned about Drew Dudley’s “Everyday Leadership” TEDTalk which talks about “lollipop moments” (those minute moments in your life that redefine your outlook) and have encouraged my students to think of those very moments that have shaped their lives thus far. And most importantly, my students have helped create a community that supports, encourages, and uplifts each other. While my classroom has four walls, instead of two green Ohalim tent flaps, I am excited to continue expanding our everyday classroom experiences to include a little more of that CW magic.