Be the example!
There is something inexplicably special about the bond that is created between a Channicha (Youth Camp Participant) and a Madricha (Youth Camp Councilor). It is something that nobody really tells you about while you are being trained. Perhaps it is not an opportunity that all councilors are privileged to have.
In December 2011, I attended my first Bnei Akiva Summer Camp as a Madricha. I had never done this properly before and although I had had a great amount of contact with my Channichot (Girl Campers), over 2011, I had never actually “taken care” of them as their Guardian without any adults present. It is actually an incredible thought to think that this camp is literally run by the Youth for the youth of South Africa.
As a Madricha, one is expected to put up certain boundaries and abide by specific ideals. Yet as one grows closer to ones campers, one finds that these boundaries begin to subside a little and eventually with enough care and consideration, these barriers are eventually laid to rest and something new begins… This something is called friendship.
This afternoon was proof of this special bond. I happened to invite over a friend (who also just happens to be one of my Channichot) to come and bake cupcakes with me. After a lovely time baking, chilling, chatting and frosting our creations (Cake-Boss here we come), it was time for me to walk her home. On my short walk back to my house, I realized something; it is all good and well to practice the method of being a Madricha BUT putting the method into practice is what being a Madricha is really all about. You may ask: What does this mean?
Well, there is a very wise and truthful saying that goes as follows; “the best example, is to be the example.” As you continue grow your relationship, this friendship begins to blossom and you now have the power to make or break the example that you are about to set in this relationship. You can chose to become the strict, methodological Madricha that is all about being morally correct, you can chose to become the “cool, slick” Madricha that allows the kids to run riot OR, you can chose to be honest and truthful – in other words, just be yourself. Now from experience I can tell you that the first two options can really do you more harm than good, as I learnt in my first weekend away with the Girls in March 2011. I managed to get myself into quite a pickle and after some great advice from my very wise sister, I realized that I had to find a balance and not only that, I had to show them who I really was. The next time I spent time with them, I put away my two “acts” and introduced them to the real me. The results were a roaring success and from there I have slowly become very close to this wonderful group of girls.
I know that while I interact with them, I have the responsibility to show them what a true mensch is. Although we joke around and have our good fun, I do my best to make sure that there is some sort of “Kosher” message being put across. Something memorable and practical for life that is intertwined with our action. This may be a quick Halacha (Jewish Idea/Law), Mitzvah (Good deed – like saying a blessing before food) or even just something that shows them what it means to be a good person.
What I have learnt during my time as a Madricha, is that these Channichot are just itching to find openness and honesty within their relationships, whether it be with friends, peers, teachers or even their family. And I know that as their Madricha I have been privileged to be just that. This my friends, is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.
As Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”