Meet Megan Brumer. Megan spent several summers as a Kalsman camper before joining the Kalsman staff 2 summers ago. Saying that Megan loves Jewish camp and Jewish music is probably an understatement. She’s obsessed, in a good way! This year, Megan joined the Kalsman team as a URJ Camps Service Corps Fellow. She works with Kalsman and with Temple Beth Am in Seattle to bring camp programming into the synagogue. We are so lucky to have her!
We asked Megan a few questions about her recent experience at the URJ Camps Service Corps Retreat. Check out her answers below.
What did you expect heading into the Service Corps Retreat? I did not know what to expect. I am the only Camp Fellow from Kalsman and I only knew a few people who were going to be there. There are no other Camp Fellows who work in the Pacific Northwest area. This retreat was the first time that all of the Camp Fellows were going to meet in person as I had only spoken with them through our interactions via the internet.
So—what was it like?! Once I met the first Camp Fellows in person, we immediately started playing Jewish geography figuring out all of our mutual friends and within the first hour, I already knew that I was in a special community. All of the URJ Camps and Ramah Fellows are so dedicated to their own Jewish communities and they all have a great love of their own Jewish identity. I could tell that they all loved their camps just as much as I love mine.
This was a joint retreat with Ramah; how did that go? The joint retreat introduced us to customs and traditions happening within the Ramah camps and vice versa. As a song leader, I love learning about the music and customs that Ramah camps do, my favorite being the song session during the Third Meal (Seudah Shlishit) which Ramah Wisconsin lead. I find it fascinating how at times our music and services are so similar, but also so different. We have a lot of music in common, but the way we express it is different. Ramah song leaders are able to command the room with no guitar and no sound system which is amazing and a lot can be learned from that.
Can you tell us what other things you learned from the Service Corps Retreat? During the retreat, we had many learning sessions about all the aspects of Jewish education and experiential learning, including leadership, programming, social action and music. There were faculty from both the URJ and Ramah and each of them had different things to share with us.
This retreat showed me how all of the other URJ Camps work in their own way, with each camp having their own identity, but work together and are similar in a Reform Movement way of teaching. I loved learning about other camp’s traditions and how they relate to our own. Every camp has different types of sessions and different ways of doing programs, such as Macabbiah, arts, sports and educational programming, but what makes each camp is their unique programs and/or adventures. I learned new ideas to bring back to Camp Kalsman with me this summer to help with expanding our existing programs and creating new programs.
Any last words? Being with the Ramah Fellows allowed us to network and make relationships with Camp Fellows, not only in the URJ, but in the Conservative world as well. I met people with all different backgrounds and engagement in the Jewish community and learned from multiple points of view. Because the Camp Fellow participants are from all over the United States and Canada, we may not be together as a whole anymore, but I know that our relationships and bonds that we made will last for our whole lives.