Business-in-residence Spotlight: Camp Tavor

 

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What does your business do?

Camp Tavor, a nonprofit Jewish youth camp located in Three Rivers, MI (but headquartered at the Green Garage), cultivates self-confidence and community in Jewish youth through activities that focus on sustainability, creativity, and collaboration.

Camp Activities:

Camp Tavor’s enriching programs include daily “popular education” seminars based on the summer’s theme (e.g., a few years ago, the theme was compost). Campers also take part in kibbutz-style dorming where youth of all ages take responsibility for different aspects of their camping experience. For example, campers will be assigned special jobs to perform every morning such as cleaning or preparing meals. Furthermore, Camp Tavor offers employment opportunities for teenagers and young adults interested in pursuing the cultivation of Jewish children.

Who:

The Camp Tavor camp site in Three Rivers, MI was originally owned by Detroit-area members of the Habonim Dror youth movement. However, it has since passed into the hands of a small staff and board of directors composed of alumni, friends, and supporters of the Camp Tavor project. Moreover, recently Amit Weitzer has become the Executive Director at Camp Tavor, relocating their headquarters from Wisconsin to Detroit. She is one of two year-round employees (the other being Max Jensen, Camp Tavor’s Outreach Manager).

Background of the Camp Tavor Property

The 68-acre campsite formerly known as Cooper’s Retreat, a Jewish summer resort was purchased in 1956 by Detroit-area members of the Habonim Dror Youth movement and has operated as a youth camp ever since. The year 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of Camp Tavor.Outreach-e1472575468598

What goals are you trying to achieve and have you made headway on achieving them?

Amit’s three primary goals are:

  • To maintain Camp Tavor’s youth-led programs
  • To support youth leaders while they facilitate programming and build work to shape the culture and creativity of the camp.
  • To shape policies that will support the health, wellness, creativity and development of youth participants

Amit’s background:

Amit Weitzer

Amit Weitzer, interviewee ‘

While attending the University of Michigan and following graduation, Amit worked in a variety of roles dealing with the Michigan prison system, such as the Prison Creative Arts Program, where she facilitated creative arts workshops in prisons and juvenile detention facilities. Through these activities and other odd jobs, she discovered a passion for working as an organizer and pleasure in working with young people who had been impacted by the justice system.

Furthermore, Amit also worked as a camp counselor at a wilderness youth leadership program. After a number of years working in youth development, she pursued her Masters of Social Work degree at the University of Michigan.

It was not until 2009 that she heard of Camp Tavor through word of mouth from a variety of friends and associates who were Camp Tavor alumni. Once the executive director of 17 years shared her news of retirement, friends encouraged Amit to apply for the position. As a result, she jumped at the opportunity, considering she wanted to be a part of the camp that so many close friends and colleagues credit with their political and cultural development.

Advice:

“Be really strategic about cost/benefit!” For instance, pursue cheap “dabbling” courses whether in college or high school. They allow you to become educated in certain topics and experiences without busting the bank. “Seek out the classes where you’ll be the most uncomfortable,” she says, because those are the places where you will have the most transformative process.

Want to learn more about Camp Tavor and how to get involved? Contact Amit at [email protected] or 269.215.1399

Green Garage business-in-residence spotlights are written by Nehe-Miah Scarborough, a student at Detroit Cristo Rey High School who’s interning with the Green Garage.

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