The RootOne-FJC Israel Fellowship, launched in April 2023, enables camps in the FJC network to retain excellent staff members for two summers, build on the staff member’s existing relationship with campers, and serve part-time as part of the year-round camp team. These fellows spend a year recruiting campers they know well to go on the camp’s Israel trip, then staff the Israel trip, then recruit those same campers to return to camp as CITs or first year staff, working with them the following summer as well. During each year, they also experience professional development in the form of two retreats and one to two webinars with their fellowship cohort as well as quarterly one-on-one meetings with the Program Manager. Here’s what one of our first fellows, Ian Linder Sheldon, has to say about his experience so far:
Though I wanted to return to Camp Coleman, I didn’t think that I would be able to go back. When Justin, our Assistant Camp Director contacted me about the fellowship, I was immediately excited. The job description matched my own interests and, honestly, the stipend made it financially feasible for me to participate.
So far, I have attended a retreat and webinar, and they’ve both been great experiences. At the first retreat in New York, I realized for the first time that there was a whole world beyond Camp Coleman working behind the scenes to make a difference and help the Israel experience be as great as possible. The leaders and other Fellows have been super supportive and have been open to helping us whenever we need it. So far, I’ve already used what I learned with the iCenter and accessed resources from The Jewish Education Project’s Educator Portal several times.
Coleman has a full trip of 36 kids going to Israel this summer, and I’ve reached out to all of them. I also reached out to many who aren’t going on the trip but have done other programs, such as Alexander Muss High School in Israel. My goal is to help keep these teens connected to each other, even if they aren’t in Israel at the same time, so that next summer they each can bring their personal connection to Israel (and to each other) back to Coleman as Machon (Staff-in-Training)
Without the fellowship award, I would not have been able to commit two more summers of my life to doing something I love. As someone who will be experiencing Israel for the first time with my campers, I feel the enhanced training combined with the support network of Wendy, Bobby, and the rest of the fellows has helped me to feel more comfortable. I really feel better prepared going into this summer, and I’m confident that a significant number of the campers in this age group will be back at camp in 2024–one cohesive group with a strong connection to Israel.