In our continuation of our CRS Program Highlight series, which aims to improve undersanding of how donations to LAJF/CRS are used at Camp, this week we hear from Ritam Mehta (‘11, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16) about the Instructions program, which is one of the core areas of the Rising Sun program.
Instructions are vital to both learning and leadership at CRS. Instructions are daily presentations and workshops offered by staff and fellow campers on subjects of their choice. Topics can include world affairs, personal growth, leadership, philosophy, ethics, music, art, cultural differences, drama, nutrition and fitness, nature and individual interests.
Each day, campers choose to attend or give instructions. Through giving an instruction, campers practice leading and teaching their peers. Through attending a variety of diverse instructions, campers expand their artistic and intellectual horizons and brainstorm ideas for how to apply these new skills after camp ends.
As a counselor for three years ('14 - '16), I've been in charge of Projects, Journalism, and Instructions time. Out of all those, I enjoyed being the Instructions counselor the most -- Instructions were always my favorite part of camp back in 2011.
I consider Instructions period to be a pretty vital part of the camp program, as they really touch on our goal of providing some educational value to campers. As Instructions Coordinator, I encouraged campers to really think about the value of the instructions they were giving. Was that friendship bracelet making instruction more suited for Self-Structured Time? How can you cater your Piano 101 instruction to people with different learning styles? I saw my role as a guide and mentor, and watching these young people teach each other was really exciting.
Instructions period was a time where students could discover and hone their natural strengths, explore new avenues of thought, and expand their intellectual horizons. And while it's not particularly resource-intensive, there are basic and specialized supplies that are impossible to obtain without an instructions budget. These could include anything from whiteboards to lacrosse sticks to poi balls. Students should never feel financially restricted at camp to give an instruction on anything they want.
In the past, instructions included philosophical and political debates, cultural presentations, calligraphy, improv drama, yoga, foreign languages, songwriting, and poetry, to name a few. Many of these Instructions are taught by CRS alumni and friends, who donate their time and knowledge.
For instance, Adam Sickler (’11, ’12) led the 2016 songwriting instruction, where campers wrote the song Rising of a Flame, which was later performed at a Variety Show that season. This season, we had the honor of hosting Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate. She gave an instruction on international women’s rights, and peacebuilding to campers during the first-session.
In conjunction with donated time and knowledge, financial donations are equally important, and they cover the cost of the materials and supplies. Generous donations made it possible to purchase new computers, microphones, and sound equipment this year for use during Instructions as well as in the music, journalism and other program areas as well. As a result, Campers created the blog series CRS Times, where they, with the help of counselors, created multimedia pieces for the LAJF blog, proving readers a glimpse into their daily life at Camp.
While some materials for Instructions are purchased and others are donated, all are equally valuable. Each instruction requires a different budget and resources, but all instructions add to the learning atmosphere of the Rising Sun program. These instructions would not be possible without the help of our alumni and friends.