Normally, one does not associate the words “Summer Camp” with computer screens and keyboards. But unusual times call for unusual measures and the global COVID19 pandemic is a perfect example of just such unusual circumstances.
The obvious fact that the pandemic showed no signs of abating as the summer season came around, meant that either the annual EnerJew summer camp for Jewish teenagers from across the FSU would have to be canceled or that a creative and unique solution for dealing with the threats posed by the virus, would have to be found. Clearly, EnerJew’s innovative and tech-savvy staff was not going to give up that easily and naturally went for the latter option. As a result of all their efforts, the summer camp was able to go off without a hitch on July 12th and successfully conclude on July 16th.
Not only did EnerJew’s efforts pay off in a big way—allowing more than seventy youths from no less than seven different countries and dozens of cities to participate in a fun and fascinating program, despite the gloom of the pandemic—but also the entire event was organized and conducted in a way that guaranteed that no participant stands even the remotest chance of being exposed to the virus.
How did EnerJew manage this? Very simple—by leveraging their vast technical knowledge and planning the entire summer camp program to take place via an electronic format. As such, all camp activities like lectures, group discussions, and other similar events were conducted exclusively online. EnerJew’s creative staff even managed to conduct a virtual organized tour of places of Jewish cultural significance. Thus, young people participating in the camp were able to get a tour of Jerusalem as well as Jewish sections of New York, without ever having to leave their home and take the risk of being exposed to the virus.
EnerJew’s director of the camps program—Mr. Vitaliy Tihiy—said that while he and his colleagues had some initial reservations about conducting this year’s camp online, the success of the event far exceeded anyone’s expectations.
“I would be hard-pressed to say which aspect of the program was a bigger success than the other ones. Both—camp participants, as well as our staff—had nothing but great reviews to offer. The high level of enthusiasm shown by the participants regarding virtually every part of the program, was an extremely pleasant surprise,” commented Mr. Tihiy during a phone interview.
Mr. Tihiy added that consequently, the motto of the camp program became; “Online CAN and MUST be interesting.”
A good deal of the summer camp program focused on educational and cultural activities, as well as individual empowerment. Participants were treated to scholarly lectures by rabbis, as well as other interesting speakers. The main theme of this year’s lectures, according to Mr. Tihiy, revolved around the Temple of Jerusalem, as the camp was held during the ‘Three Weeks’.
The main focus of the rabbinical lectures was on subjects of spirituality and Jewish thought. Attendants were also treated to a wide variety of other engrossing (as well as light-hearted) lecture topics, such as art, health, and cooking. Additional lectures and discussions about leadership and self-empowerment added further to the complement of fascinating activities the camp participants were able to partake in. Other fun activities included interactive games, knowledge contests, and quizzes.
Mr. Tihiy elaborated further on this point; “We really tried our best to make sure we had something for everyone. Those more interested in activism—could partake in lectures and discussions on leadership, those that are more artistically inclined—had arts and crafts workshops, as well as culinary lessons. Finally, for those youngsters that do not fall into the prior-mentioned categories, we offered yoga for girls and self-defense classes for boys.”