Learning to Lead
צמיחה – Growth
by Max Pivo

On their first day at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, every camper is greeted by a roaring crowd of tzevet (staff members) celebrating their arrival. Painted clipboards are taped to brooms and hoisted high in the air, brandishing cabin numbers for all to see. As consistently magical as this moment is, each of the seven summers I stepped off the bus as a camper I experienced this same greeting differently. My first summer, as a member of Solelim (7th grade), I felt awestruck and more than a little bit overwhelmed. By my Nivo (11th) summer, I felt more like a Hollywood star shining in the light of the paparazzi’s flashing cameras. So what changed?

Well, for one, I did. Personal growth is a foundational element of camp’s philosophy, and one that I experienced firsthand. One sunny day, I remember sitting as an eidah (age cohort) on the basketball courts while our counselors tried (fruitlessly) to quiet us down. A counselor walked over to me and said, “If you set an example, others will follow. Try it.” I did and, slowly but surely, everyone started to pay attention. I didn’t have to shout or wave my arms around. In that moment, camp was the first space where I — a shy and reserved kid — was a leader.

What my friends and counselors continued to teach me is that there’s no single type of person fit to lead. Camp (and the world at large) needs its artists, athletes, academics, singers, and dancers all equally. And as I learned more about camp, I learned more about myself. I could be a leader on the sports courts as a Yom Sport captain, on the Beit Am (auditorium) stage performing in the musical, and on the porch of our visual arts center drawing to my heart’s content.

What mattered most was that I was in a place where individuals are celebrated along all of the different stages of their growth. It’s also the reason why the camp’s parking lot greeting never fails to impress, but is also never the same twice. I can’t wait to return to camp this summer as Rosh Solelim (division head) and I look forward to seeing my and others’ growth throughout.

Max Pivo is a senior at Dartmouth College where he is double majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Religion with a minor in Linguistics. In the fall, he’ll begin his Middle Eastern Studies AM at Harvard University. This will be his 9th summer at camp and his first time as a Rosh Eidah.