"You are leading by example"

June 4, 2021

Today was the final day of preparation and training for our JEA Summer Camp programs which begin on Monday. The Facilities staff has been stripping and waxing floors, the Finance department is furiously working to make sure all the enrollment arrangements are in place, Aquatics has been teaching First Aid/CPR and Water Safety to Preschool and Camp staff and the counselors have been decorating their rooms with different themes.
A great group of counselors have been training all week. In addition to their First Aid/CPR training, Michelle Allan from the Rape Crisis Center did a presentation on sexual harassment, bullying, appropriate workplace relationship(s), and mandated reporting. Jackie Laban put together a workshop on working with children with ADHD and Autism. Adam Hogue a professional mental health counselor at Georgia Southern University, did a very meaningful presentation on LGBTQ sensitivity. Today's camp counselor training is quite different than in the past.
The week also had trainings in Judaism and Kashrut, JEA Policies and Procedures, Behavior Management, and Team Building and Spirit. What a great group of young professionals.
17 former campers are now counselors
It is especially gratifying to note that 17 of this year's counselors are former JEA campers. What were once young children are now young leaders of others.
I shared this photo with the JEA Board and online noting the diversity of the group and a friend, former Mayor Otis Johnson emailed me,
"You are right to be proud. This is the Savannah that we are working to achieve. You are leading by example."
Yes, they are, Mr. Mayor!
This morning at 10am I was honored to share a few words with the staff. After a raucous group song I walked up to the front to look out at the four dozen faces waiting to hear what I had to say. I thanked them for the opportunity to say a few words and asked them, "How many of you know the names, Howie Stilson, Spike Roxenberg, and Cary Popkin?
Four dozen sets of eyes looked at me quizzically in total silence. There was a little shuffling of feet, a few coughs to cover the discomfort, and then one offered, "Some old guys?" (That answer was technically correct).
Not wanting it to go on too long, I told them that they were my camp counselors at Camp Pontiac in 1967 and that for 300+ children
They are going to be Howie Stilson, Spike Roxenberg and Cary Popkin to a generation of children;
They are the inspiration and role models;
They will be remembered for a lifetime.
It is a daunting opportunity and responsibility to make camp the greatest time of their lives.
Shabbat Shalom,
Adam Sign