Enhancing nature activities
Inbal Len Nenner holds the attention of campers on Cypress Mountain during JCC Camp Shalom’s winter session last month. (photo from JCC Camp Shalom)
When Inbal Len Nenner arrived in Vancouver last year from Israel, she fell in love with the natural environment, as well as its people. “I met the nicest people in the world,” she said.
When JCC Camp Shalom met Nenner by chance at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, she spoke about her work with Israeli children, where she created a special program called Children’s Tribe. Inspired by ancient tribal traditions, it focuses on group-building activities for children and youth and connects them to nature.
This type of programming was of interest to Camp Shalom, as it has always focused on nature education and teaching values that foster appreciation and respect for the environment. So, during the two weeks of JCC Camp Shalom’s 2016 winter session, Nenner volunteered to work with all age groups.
During the winter camp, Nenner created many activities, including a quest for Big Foot at Cypress Mountain, where campers learned to follow tracks in the snow, and a “tribe day,” where the youth campers (grades 4-7) became the Spirit Eagle Tribe – each child had a role to fulfil, learned a job and shared with others. Meanwhile, with the younger campers (preschoolers), Nenner ran a Chanukah storytelling session, during which the children had the chance to dress up and play some of the roles in the story. The highlight of the week was a camp-wide celebration of Chanukah as in biblical times, which included booths and activities such as ceramics, dance and Olympic games.
Nenner’s goal in her work is to develop creative thinking in children and to show them the positive effect of making social connections in a group. This aligns exactly with JCC Camp Shalom’s values, so the camp could not have been more excited to give Nenner a chance to demonstrate her craft. During her time as a volunteer, the campers laughed and played, and created an environment that fostered positive self-image and growth.
“Inbal quickly became part of our Camp Shalom team and was loved by the campers and staff alike,” said Ben Horev, JCC Camp Shalom director.
Nenner has since returned to Israel, but JCC Camp Shalom is taking the necessary steps to ensure that she will return to the JCC in the spring. Not only did she enjoy her experience with the camp, but she was an amazing asset to the camp program, translating the camp’s values into meaningful activities from which the children grew and learned in an experiential way.
For more information about JCC Camp Shalom and its programming, contact Horev at [email protected].