I'm in a hotel at קיבוץ שפיים (on the coast, about halfway between נתניה and תל אביב) at a training seminar for שליחים organized by the (somehow still alive-and-kicking) סוכנות.
I haven't yet had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with camp director (of Ramah or other camps), and some of you know my thoughts on those colleagues I know well.
Here's what's on my mind tonight, after a few sessions of orientations for the directors (many of whom arrived in the last day or two from the US) and before I actually experience the programming over the next few days:
I like everyone I'm meeting, and most of them seem like they'd be fun people to have at camp. But it's not clear to me if any of them, save two or three, are people I would consider educational colleagues. We just look at our jobs differently, and I am more than prepared to acknowledge that there are definitely people here who do their jobs amazingly well. But do those jobs have them fulfill the role of educator, at least as I imagine it?
We might expand the question a bit. If I were at a conference of high school teachers, would I feel any differently? Academics? The professionalization of a field (and few fields, I imagine, are going through a process of professionalization today faster than that of camp directors) is not necessarily the creation of an intellectual or professional elite of the field. For most of these people, fund-raising, working with children, site maintenance, recruitment, and risk management are the major issues on their plate. So what does that say of the field? My professional dreams?
The clarity on this question, however, is that, perhaps (and a big perhaps here), my challenge in thinking about becoming a camp director is the same challenge I'd face anywhere else. Like in being a principal, or an academic. But - and this is important - I imagine that I'd like being an academic in the top 40% or so of academics. I enjoy the work. I cannot imagine enjoying a job as a camp director outside of the intellectual playground I call Ramah Wisconsin or a similar environment. And it is clear to me that the opportunity to do the type of work we do at Wisconsin is, relatively, quite unique. And ... it might not really be the work of the director.
I'll keep thinking about this. Might write more in the near future.