By Elise Loterman -- “Character and competence are not substitutes for each other,” was a thought provoking and inspiring quote shared by keynote speaker, Michael Soberman, during his lecture at the first annual summer Hillel Leadership Retreat at Camp George on August 24th and 25th.
Overlooking the beautiful Maple Lake, and taking full advantage of the swim docks, skiing, and paddle sports at Camp George, university and college student leaders from across campuses throughout Ontario gathered together for two days of team building, leadership development, Jewish identity workshops, and of course fun. Sessions allowed each student the opportunity to develop aspects of their character as well as hone in on specific skills which will allow them to improve their work on campus.
During one of skill sessions’ slots, students could choose between sessions facilitated by the Hillel staff focusing on relationship based engagement, using social media and marketing to enhance the Hillel brand, and thinking about the bigger picture of student retention.
One character development session challenged students to think about being “Jewish or Jew-ish” and choose from a variety of images related to Jewish life that resonated with them. Reflecting on and building their character was also a central component in a session allowing students to reflect on their degree of introversion or extroversion. Following the reflection, they were taught the benefits of each for building cohesive and productive leadership teams.
As I opened the conference, I blew the shofar and shared that we are in the middle of the month of Elul- the Hebrew month leading up to Rosh Hashanna. Traditionally, this is a month for reflection and introspection of the previous year and an opportunity to plan for the year ahead. The Hillel Summer Leadership Retreat provided the puzzle pieces such as an immersive experience, an opportunity to engage with new ideas, and build a strong network of peers to support them in their work to think about the previous year and start the upcoming year strong.
Elise Loterman is the Director of Engagement, Hillel Ontario