The Gesher Program is a summer leadership opportunity for rising high school seniors that bridges the gap from being a camper to being a staff member. Over the course of the summer, CITs (Counselors-in-Training) will learn valuable life skills, including conflict resolution, teaching, developmental stages, program writing, team building, and communication. Gesher participants will be assigned to various age groups and specialty departments throughout the summer, where they will learn to be successful camp leaders through observation, active participation, seminars, and group programs. There are opportunities for Gesher participants to add to their resume and give back to the camp community, while bonding as a group with Gesher-only activities.
A select group is accepted into this program based on their applications, personal interviews, essays, and recommendations.
If you have any questions about the Gesher program, please contact Alyssa Kress, Assistant Director, at AKress@URJ.org.
The Gesher program begins on Sunday, June 21st and concludes on Sunday, August 16th (please note that CIT pick-up on August 16th will be in the afternoon and not in the morning with the rest of camp pick-up). The CITs do have an intersession time where they must leave camp between the end of First Session and the beginning of training for Second Session from Sunday, July 19th (when the First Session campers are picked up) until the morning of Tuesday, July 21st.
Tuition for the Gesher Program is $5,200 for members of a URJ congregation and $5,500 for non-members. Applicants will be invited to officially register for camp using our online registration system only after they have been accepted into the Gesher Program. More information will be made available about the registration and payment process at the time of acceptance into the program.
2020 Application Requirements and Timeline
The Gesher application process will start with a required virtual information session for every applicant and at least one parent/guardian. This is an opportunity for us to share our expectations and answer questions about the program so that applicants are better prepared to complete the other application requirements. This webinar will take place on Sunday, November 3rd from 8:00-9:00 PM EST. You must sign up for the webinar in advance using our online registration form. Once you register, you will receive an email with details on how to access the webinar. If you are unable to attend live, the webinar will be recorded. Please email Alyssa Kress at AKress@URJ.org if you will need access to the recording.
Once a candidate has viewed the webinar, they must complete an application and gather two references that reflect: strength of character, group skills, an authentic interest in working with children, and a connection to Judaism. The application and reference forms will be shared via email after the webinar. The final step in the application process is a 20-30 minute video interview to further discuss their candidacy. Interview information will be sent after the application and both references are received.
Please be aware that this is a selective program and acceptance is not guaranteed, so please make sure to take each part of the application process seriously.
Please read this document for additional details about the program and the timeline for the application process.
Gesher L’Taken Weekend
Gesher applicants who are accepted to the CIT program are invited to join us for the Gesher L’Taken experience at the Religious Action Center (RAC) in Washington, DC from Friday, February 28-Monday, March 2. L’Taken is a transformational 4-day weekend focused on Jewish values, tikkun olam, and public policy. The L’Taken program will expose participants to a variety of public policy issues, guide them to explore the Jewish values surrounding these issues, and teach them how to be an effective social justice advocate. Our CIT participants will cultivate leadership skills that will translate to their role at camp, such as public speaking, negotiation, collaboration, and community organizing. The weekend culminates with meetings on Capitol Hill, where they will have the opportunity to share views on social justice topics with members of Congress. CITs who have already participated in L’Taken with their congregation will participate in the returning students program to ensure a deeper level of learning and engagement.
The RAC is generously subsidizing the program at a cost of $199 per participant, which includes hotel accommodations and most meals. Participants will be responsible for arranging their own travel. The L’Taken program is not a required part of the Gesher experience. Additional details will be shared during the webinar, but please hold the date on your calendar if you are interested in participating if accepted to the Gesher program
The most valuable way to hear about the CIT program is from former CITs. Here is what some CITs had to say about their experience:
“Spending time with my campers always made my day, knowing that they are looking up to me like I looked up to my CITs when I was their age.”
“Being a CIT requires you to be okay with making mistakes, accepting them, and learning quickly from them and moving on.”
“I really loved this summer. I think it gave the participants so many opportunities to learn how to grow as future leaders not only at camp.”
“I had the summer of my life. I grew in ways that I did not predict, and I had an incredibly meaningful experience.”
“I became more outgoing and was given many chances to go out of my comfort zone.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to have an unforgettable summer. I really enjoyed my time at camp and would redo it all in a heartbeat. I wish the summer never came to a close but I am happy where and how I left my mark and I couldn’t ask for a better summer.”
“I had such a positive experience this summer. I really thought that we had a lot of direction and purpose for being at camp.”
“My favorite part of the Gesher program was the fact that we were given trust and freedom to be independent with our own kids.”
“My favorite part of the Gesher program was the balance it provided between camper and counselor. We had our responsibilities and made the most of our opportunities working with campers, as well as hanging out within Gesher and our fellow CITs.”
“I had many experiences that made my Gesher summer so amazing. One part was simply living in the Bayit. Getting to live with all my friends under one roof really made me appreciate everyone. I loved being able to walk into the center room at night and always have something new to do with someone new. I also loved the aspect of the summer that gave us the freedom to do what we liked. I’ve always been very anxious and I like to do things on my own time, very independently. At camp, it can be difficult to find time to yourself. But the off periods, and the ability to pick what you want as a CIT made the summer so awesome.”
“I really didn’t expect to change at all when the summer began, but at the end of the summer I realized just how much I had changed. Last year, I cared so much about how others viewed me. And as the course of the summer went on, I stared to recognize that I was so much happier when I was unapologetically me. And I’ve carried this into the beginning of this senior year of high school and I couldn’t be happier not caring about what others think of me.”
“My favorite part of the Gesher Program was making bonds with not only my campers, but my fellow Gesher participants, too. Living in such tight quarters taught me how to deal with everyone better and learn to be flexible.”