Pictured above: The Danish Alumni Association 2018 application-reading
Through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers spread across our more than 40 selection regions, 120 campers are selected to receive a full scholarship to attend Camp Rising sun each summer. These local alumni and friends of Camp Rising Sun (CRS), who we call selectors, invest their time and energy into performing outreach in their areas, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and supporting accepted campers and their families.
The selection process officially begins each November, with the launch of camper applications. Once the camper deadline for applications ends, volunteers begin the long process of reviewing and nominating candidates to the Louis August Jonas Foundation (LAJF), which makes all final scholarship decisions and notifies candidates of their acceptance.
Without the time and dedication of our local selectors, LAJF would not be able to invite such outstanding candidates to our program.
Many regions have perfected their own local selection process over the years with a process suited to their cultural and associational practice. Today we hear from three Selectors who explain how their own region - Norway, USA (Minnesota), and Hungary - conducts Camper Selection.
Steve Domine ('79), Minnesota, USA
Camper Selection in Minnesota involves the cumulative effort of many local alumni over a period of four months: November to February.
In November, we reach out to our local school contacts who are invaluable in identifying the individuals we hope will apply. We confirm they are available and willing to assist us again this year and walk through our process timeline.
December is the month of identifying potential candidates. Each year, our school contacts have been providing us the names of about 120 individuals who they feel exhibit the qualities we’re looking for. We generate an informational packet for each of these individuals, which is given to them personally by the school contact or local alum. This packet includes letters to both the candidate and their parents, instructions for the application process, a list of alumni contact information, a camp brochure, and an invitation to an upcoming informational meeting.
January is for informational meetings. We have found that giving prospective candidates and their parents the opportunity to hear about Camp in person directly correlates to an increased number of applications. This is also a great opportunity for alumni to be involved in spreading the word about the CRS opportunity. Our high school alumni often hold their own informal meetings during the school day as well. We also stay connected to our school contacts in order to remind people that applications must be submitted by the end of the month.
February is all about applications and interviews. We average 20-30 applications each year and use a team of alumni to review and narrow this number down to about a dozen. These candidates are granted interviews, which involves 15-20 alumni conducting two 30 minute sessions with each candidate – one interactive and one panel based. After the interviews are completed, every alum has the opportunity to share their thoughts, and decisions are made on which candidates to recommend.
Liza Franke (‘90), Norway
Finding potential candidates for CRS has become more difficult these past years. In Norway, we have an active Facebook group for our alumni. Via that group, we stimulate regularly all our alumni to approach potential candidates and tell them about CRS. This year, we have also tried a new approach by creating a sponsored ad on Facebook to approach our group (teenagers) directly. We still do not know the results of that, but it looks promising.
When we have received all the applications, we invite all interested alumni to gather one night to read and select candidates for interviews. We look for people who are not just engaged in what they do and who they are themselves, but also show interest in other issues, such as political, environmental, social, etc. We want people who are aware of the world.
We try to invite two candidates for interviews (if needed, via Skype), and any alumni who are interested in attending the interview process is welcome to join. We try to have the same focus as in selecting letters, looking for candidates that show an interest in political, environmental and/or social issues and preferably good school results (although the last is not a must). At the end of the interviews, we select and let them know that they will be nominated to the Foundation for Camp Rising Sun.
Gabor Fazekas (‘01), Hungary
Over the past few years, we have been executing the same format for our selection interviews. We invite the candidates for a whole day event. We ask them to choose a nickname as we do not wish to know their real names throughout our interviews. We organize the event in a high school in Budapest in two classrooms.
Candidates arrive by 10 AM and we start the selection at 10 AM. We start off by playing games with the candidates. The first game is an icebreaker, where we lay out various objects on a table and we ask them to act using these subjects as if they were something completely else. These are short scenes that often become funny as the candidates try to use the objects creatively.
Next up, we have them create a short play in small groups- 5 people maximum. We give them a set of words and sometimes objects that they have to use in their play and they have some time to prepare their own play. They present the play to each other. Only at this point, we ask them to tell about their nickname. However, we do not ask them directly. We ask them to pair up and explain the nickname of their partner instead of their own.
Then, we have a large discussion, where we ask them one or two questions and have a discussion about those topics. Up until this point, we only speak English. To conclude the first half of the selection we play another game in larger groups, maximum 10 people. They are given some clues about the mystery in the form of single sentences on separate pieces of paper-- sort of like a puzzle. They have to reconstruct the events that have happened to solve the mystery as a group. Here, as well as in the group exercises before, we observe how they behave in a group setting. This is the end of the first half of the selection process. We discuss our observations about the candidates and select some that we want to further interview, the rest we send home. Those who stay, eat with us.
In the second part, we have large group discussions in one room. In the other room, a single candidate is interviewed. All candidates who stay for the second part are interviewed.
To lighten the mood we play some games in the group discussions in the afternoon. The second part usually ends by 5 PM at which point we send home all candidates and we stay to deliberate who to select for Camp Rising Sun.
The Louis August Jonas Foundation Selection Policy Committee develops important guidelines each year, and local selectors are encouraged to facilitate a selection process based on these criteria that is conducive to the needs of their region. We would like to thank all of our selectors around the world for making the Camp Rising Sun experience a reality for our scholarship recipients each year.
Should you have any questions about the selection process or are interested in getting involved with Camper Selection in your region, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.