“Such a Time as This”:
Responding to Challenges

Screenshot: Ramah Day Camp.

FJC Leaders Assembly to Convene Virtually Monday
Conference is Free and Open to Everyone!

By Jeremy Fingerman

In our celebration of Purim this week, a certain moment in the Megillah seemed particularly relevant. Mordecai tells Queen Esther of Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews and asks her to intervene on their behalf, but she initially expresses understandable fear to reveal her heritage. Mordecai convinces her by saying, “Who knows, but perhaps you have attained your royal position for such a time as this?”

Considering the events of the past few weeks, the idea of “such a time as this” – a time of difficulty and uncertainty – resonated with me deeply. The coronavirus has interrupted and impacted the lives of so many people, communities, and institutions – FJC included. Like Esther, we face a difficult challenge. Like Esther, camp people know how to respond because they have attained the ideal set of skills to overcome any crisis.

On Monday, after nearly two years of planning and in the home stretch of putting on our 8th biennial conference for a record audience of 800+ camp professionals, lay leaders, Federations partners, funders and other lovers of camp, the FJC board of directors and professional team made the difficult decision to cancel our in-person convening beginning this Sunday.

But camp professionals can’t stay down. The qualities they model and develop at camp – resilience, open-mindedness, flexibility, and innovation among many others – enable them to face adversity with grit and determination. The mindset of a camp leader is to get the job done, no matter what. The clarity of our mission to provide extraordinary experiences for our campers drives us forward.

And so, within 48 hours of making the decision to cancel our conference, our talented Leaders Assembly team – working with focus and intentionality, and under the leadership of Julie Finkelstein – fully pivoted to create a meaningful and information-packed convening in a brand-new format.

We’re excited to announce FJC’s very first virtual conference, Leaders Assembly 202.0! We will convene the field online on Monday, March 16, 2020 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM EDT. The conference will include plenaries, breakout sessions, a virtual campfire, and more! We invite you to join us for as much time as your schedule will allow. The conference is free and open to everyone! Please visit our website to explore our session schedule and learn more.

While nothing can compare to meeting in person (as camp people, we know this better than anyone), we’re so pleased to provide an important gathering for learning, networking, and sharing key information with one another, especially as we prepare this summer in light of the potential implications caused by coronavirus. In addition, holding Leaders Assembly virtually gives as an unexpected opportunity; while our in-person conference was limited to registrants, the online format enables anyone and everyone to participate.

The resilience, adaptability, and determination of our staff – and the entire Jewish camp field – reaffirms that the skills we develop at camp are absolutely essential in preparing us to navigate this complex and ever-changing world. Camp professionals are perhaps the most well-equipped to face times of uncertainty. After all, camp is all about having a “rainy day” plan, just in case.

I am so proud of the way our community has come together to bring our mandate to “innovate, adapt, and lead” to life with the creation of Leaders Assembly 202.0. We are so moved by the outpouring of support from the field, from presenters, from funders, and friends of camp, who have offered their help without hesitation.

This is what camp people do – responding to “such a time as this” with our characteristic resilience.

Hope to see you (virtually!) on Monday,

Jeremy Fingerman is the CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp.