From the Camp Clipboard: The Specialness of Being a Specialist

Lev Gringauz, Rosh (Head) Specialist


Every week, during Shabbat services, there’s a prayer we do called “Ma Rabu”. The main words of the prayer — ma rabu maasecha Adonai (how great are your deeds, Adonai) — refer to a sense of joy and wonder at the world we live in. And right before we sing this prayer, some campers are invited to tell all of camp one of their moments of joy and wonder (a “Ma Rabu” moment) from the past week.

This past Shabbat, many of the “Ma Rabu” moments that were shared revolved around the part of camp I supervise: Specialty areas. One camper spoke about how amazing it was to learn new skills and try new things during chugim (daily activities), like facing a fear of heights while climbing on our new high ropes course. Another camper simply said “tubing” on the lake was their big moment of joy for the week.

Truly, the work of our specialists speaks for itself. Being a specialist can be a tough job sometimes, as prospective Herzl staff most often dream of being bunk staff and giving campers the experiences that their counselors gave to them. Specialists, many without campers of their own, sometimes feel disconnected from “normal” camp and worry that they aren’t creating deep and meaningful bonds with campers.

But I like to think of it in a different way. Being a specialist means that we can form meaningful connections with all of Herzl and every age group of campers, rather than being pegged to one age group, as bunk staff are. As our “Ma Rabu” moments show, we do make an impact on campers — increasing the many layers of joy found at Herzl, from the community of tight-knit cabins to the exploration of a variety of chugim.

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