Kadima 2023 | Finding One's Shine



Each week the Cohen Camps Kadima Teen Leadership curriculum—our redesigned CIT program which develops future Jewish community leaders—explores 21st Century leadership and social emotional themes along with camper care skills.

Finding one’s shine. How beautiful and seemingly simple. Something I keep thinking about is how our Kadima Coordinators and Leaders are creating a culture of helping each Kadima CIT find their shine.

According to Dr. Edward Hallowell, the 5 steps to finding one’s shine are:

  1. Being selected/placed in areas that fire you up (passion-based interests),
  2. Finding positive connection with people and mission (relationships and belonging!),
  3. Being able to engage in imaginative and joyful play (all things camp!),
  4. Wrestling/grappling/goal setting and making progress (Kadima and Camp Life and Leadership workshops), and
  5. Being recognized and noticed when things are happening with positive movement (genuine feedback, daily cheerleading and mentoring, and “stand out shout outs”).
As I walked through each camp this week, various people from campers to counselors to senior staff kept coming up to me to share how impactful the Kadima CITs have been in camp. Running past me dribbling a basketball, one camper yelled, “I love my CIT!” Another camper felt the need to rush her conversation with a Unit Head saying, “I have to get back to the bunk because I want to hang out with my CIT!” Kadima’s presence is felt deeply in all parts of camp from bunks and departments to the dining hall and day trips from evening activities to OD, and everything in between, which is absolutely what we want!

This is very, very exciting, and of course, it’s no surprise. Already, the CITs are a beloved part of camp – integrated in every way at camp in bunks and departments. Their high energy and ability to connect with campers and staff alike bring an added element to the spirit of camp.

What a week we have had in Kadima this week!

This week the CITs received their new assignment for bunking. For many, it was really hard to say goodbye to their first rotation bunks, and in a day’s time (in camp time, one day is like a week!), our CITs have learned that they can say to their campers, I will always be your CIT, and that they have lots of love in their heart for all of their campers, in their new bunk and in their former bunk.

Our “It takes a village” theme of week 3 in Camp Life and Leadership (CLL) workshops incorporated the salient aspects of camper care and leadership skills – engagement, communication, social awareness along with empathy, mentoring and being mentored – all incredibly important skills in camp and for certain, outside the camp bubble.

In week 3 of camp, social dynamics in bunks and departments are prominent. The focus on learning strategies to manage various behaviors, both expected and unexpected, and learning responsibility in the area of problem solving have been at the forefront of the CLL workshops.

We began the first of seven modules in our Cohen Camps Bully Prevention certification, based on the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center Bully Prevention program, founded by Dr. Elizabeth Englander. In addition, our Kadima CITs have been wrapping up their certification in Teen Mental Health First Aid.

Each day is packed with learning what’s possible and with many opportunities to learn, reflect, and find one’s shine. Thinking about those 5 steps to finding one’s shine, the culture that we foster in Kadima is just that – to help our community members find their shining moments and ultimately, their shine.

We have seen quiet leaders find their strong voice, loud leaders stop to listen, and knowledgeable leaders show less confident friends the way with strategies. When we feel less confident, our CITs feel empowered by asking the very important question: how? While it does take a village to make the machine of camp run, each community member brings their unique strengths, supports each other in times of celebration and challenge, and brought together, the sum of those unique strengths and skills builds a strong and engaged community.

In these and many more ways, our Kadima CITs are on that positive path to finding and sharing their shine.

Shavua tov,


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