Michal Ben-Dov is the Founder and Co-Director of Kesher-Cham/Camp USA, a unique nonprofit organization that sends Israeli youth to experience meaningful encounters in Jewish camps across North America.
“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Jim Morrison
It was a warm evening in Jerusalem, and as I entered the lab there was an energy that could only come from several months of built-up anticipation. Jewish people from all over the world started entering the room, and there was excitement in the air. The ROI Summit was starting. From my perspective the conference only got more and more energized. On the second day, in a two-minute pitch, I had the opportunity to speak about Camp USA – and how we create meaningful mifgashim (meetings) between Israeli and North American youth at summer camps. The amount of responses, questions, discussions and ideas that resulted from this pitch far surpassed my expectations. I was only starting to understand what this community is all about.
Education deals with the development of the human, and what makes it happen is a real meeting between educator and student, love that is a crucial part of every educational process, curiosity that is aroused when one is learning from passion. At Camp USA, we deal with informal education, and this is what we hope to achieve in the mifgash between Israeli youth and their North American peers: to engage the participants in an educational experience that involves a meaningful, loving, passionate meeting. And on this level, the ROI Summit was an exceptional educational experience for me.
Participating in the ROI Summit was also inspiring, provoking, and challenging. I have participated in many conferences in the past, but this one had something very special about it, due to several components:
The preparation for the conference – to tell the truth – was both engaging yet intimidating for me. I was not used to so much prior communication (and homework) and I was continuously challenged to try to meet the requirements and expectations of the managers. But all the communication and work simultaneously created a sense of excitement and build-up, which translated into intense anticipation for the event.
Many parts of the conference contributed to making it a different, refreshing experience. The crowd – young Jewish professionals from almost every walk of life brought together for the purpose of coming together and to create connections and encourage cooperation and growth – in a supportive environment, could only result in something extraordinary. I was pleased to see that even the Israeli participants left their naturally cynical outlook on the world outside, and entered the "lab" ready to experience something else, and I am sure every one of us left the conference feeling enthused and motivated to make a change.
And now I come to the post-conference part of my experience. I had the honor of receiving a micro grant to be used in media training with Headline Media. For someone who has spent the past 7 years saying how I must learn how to work with the media – and never knowing exactly where to start – this experience was very valuable for me. From the first point of contact with Mira Marcus, I was given professional, personalized training and gained some important insights and skills to enable me to work with the world of media and communications. Daphne Algom and the rest of the staff at the office were helpful and personable as well as professional and knowledgeable. Camp USA, the organization which I founded with the goal of creating meaningful mifgash experiences between Israeli and North American youth at Jewish summer camps in North America, received some much needed attention as we focused together on the messages that can attract the media and consequently, potential interest from leaders in the Jewish community of North America.
We travel on a lifelong journey of personal and professional development. My ROI experience has been a station that has enriched and inspired me. I look forward to continuing my journey as a member of the ROI Community.