The Power of FJC’s Cornerstone

By Mark Kachuck

Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze Bazeh,” translates to “all of Israel is responsible for one another.” This spoke to the theme of Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Cornerstone Fellowship 2017: “Get Invested,” which had a big impact on me. It resonated with my feelings towards the global Jewish community; together, we have the power to achieve great strength.

This year was my fourth Cornerstone Seminar, where I’ve had the opportunity of being both a Fellow and Liaison for my camps cohort of attendees. Each year I find myself more inspired by the love and passion for Jewish programming at Jewish camp. I cannot think of another opportunity in which I would get to spend 5 days learning with and from young adults and professionals from all over North America, all with different camping experiences.

Regardless of what movement, affiliation, or ideology we believe in, it is evident that we each share the common goal of promoting the values of Jewish camp.

Cornerstone has provided me with an outlet to experience Jewish education in a different way. It has taught me that Judaism should be an experience, and we – the counselors – have the privilege of being able to facilitate that experience for our campers.

Did you know that you could make a program involving yoga, Kabbalah, ninjas and the Kedusha, which takes place in a pool? Or that something as simple as arts and crafts can allow campers to connect with Judaism through glitter and mason jars?

Year after year, I find myself wanting to come back to Cornerstone because these experiences allow me to make a big impact back at my camp. Each program has a way of making Judaism more than just a prayer before a meal. I learn to challenge my own way of programming and adapt basic themes and values to a greater Jewish experience. The power of camp comes alive during the Cornerstone Seminar. In five short days you connect with others who have a passion for Jewish Camp and Jewish learning from all over North America. And just like camp, in five short days you are able to feel as though you have known them for forever.

Every year I find the messages of Cornerstone to be meaningful. I believe strongly that many Jews from around the world have a strong connection. Whether you speak English, French, Hebrew, or Spanish, we all want to help each other. At Cornerstone, as the collective of Jewish camp counselors and staff members, we have the power to influence more than 10,000 young Jewish minds. As the representatives from more than 60 camps, we have the power to shape these young minds and allow them to grow and benefit the Jewish community at large, but also the world. We carry the responsibility to INVEST in these campers, to positively shape the future, and after Cornerstone Seminar 2017, it is very clear that the future is looking very bright.

Returning counselors are the “cornerstones” of their camp. Over the last 14 years, more than 3,000 fellows have participated in this transformative leadership experience the Cornerstone Fellowship includes attending a 5-day seminar in the spring, and bringing new ideas, programs and initiatives back to camp. At the Cornerstone Seminar, 400 staff members from Jewish camps across North America come together for workshops, song sessions, and campfires, learning from seasoned faculty and from each other.

The Cornerstone Fellowship is run by Foundation for Jewish Camp and is generously funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Marcus Foundation and The Morningstar Foundation.

Mark Kachuck is an active member and madrich of the Canadian Young Judaea movement. This summer he will spend his 15th summer in the movement as one of Camp Solelim’s Program Directors. He will graduate Concordia University next year with a BA Major in History, Minor Film Studies.