Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Max Coven Reflects on his Pio Summer

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This summer Tamara Stein, had the incredible opportunity to lead Beber Camp’s Pioneer Trip to Poland and Israel. Below, Max Coven reflects on his love for Beber Camp and what it meant to go to Israel with 35 of his Beber friends.  

The eight summers I've had at Beber Camp have been a spectacular way to spend my off time from school. Year after year, I keep coming back because of the community that is built every summer. There is not enough time in the world to spend with the people I care for most. Everyone meets you with open arms and always wants to know more about you. It is a great feeling to have, especially when everyone only wants to be your friend. My experience gets better and better each summer and I can't stop dreaming of what summer 2018 has to bring. 

Going to Israel strengthened my Jewish identity tremendously this summer. I mostly have to thank my Pioneer (or Pio, as we call it) leaders and my amazing tour guides in the land of Israel.  This new feeling began after a team building program where we had a profound discussion about whether Jewish identity was about religion or just our friendly community. For me, my identity was strengthened every moment that I became a deeper part of my Pio community and brought others along with me. After touring Israel for close to three weeks, I found something inside of me that I don't often show. Every time we had a moment of silence or time to pray I was able to share a new side of myself with my camp friends. 

All in all, both my Jewish identity and my bond with my camp have grown stronger and I can't wait to go back next summer!

Meet our Newest Teen Engagement Specialist: Daniel Warshawsky

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Daniel Warshawsky

The Springboard team is so excited to share that we have added a new member to our team! Daniel Warshawsky is our newest Teen Engagement Specialist and will be out and about in the community, along with Tamara and Brittany.  We interviewed Daniel to learn more about his personal Jewish journey, interests and what he loves about life in Chicago.

Why are you excited to be a Teen Engagement Specialist at Springboard?
I grew up in the Chicago Jewish community. I spent almost all of my weekends at USY and Kadima events , winter breaks at nine straight USY International Conventions, two summers at Beber Camp and 12 summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. I’m so excited to return to all of these programs, as well as to learn about and participate in so many new ones. There's nothing that I love more than getting to know people in a Jewish environment, and I want to bring that love of Jewish communal life to teens all over Chicago.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
New Zealand. I love the wilderness and hiking, and I grew up watching my favorite movie characters walking through the mountains there. I've always wanted to take a hiking trip out there on my own and to walk and sleep under the stars for days at a time.

How many languages do you speak?
I’m fluent in both English and Hebrew. I spent a year after high school studying and volunteering in Israel, as well as serving in the Israeli Army after college. Learning Hebrew allowed me to connect to my Israeli friends and to Judaism on a much deeper level, so I’m really happy I spent so much time learning it as a kid. Other than that, I took Spanish for a few years in high school and I traveled to Prague, Germany and Poland on a high school summer trip with USY and picked up a few words here and there.
Can you share a favorite memory from your time as a teen in Chicago? 
Playing guitar and piano at the USY open mic nights every year. It was the first time I was able to perform music in front of other people that I felt comfortable with. Because of those nights, I'm able to stand up in front of bigger crowds today to lead singing and play music.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Talking to animals. I grew up with dogs and it would have been much easier to interact with them if I knew what they were thinking. It would also be really cool to see animals on hikes and know what they're thinking.
What is one thing you're passionate about that you've gotten to do within the context of "being Jewish"?
One of the things that I'm most passionate about is music. Through my time at camp and in Jewish youth groups, I've been able to play and learn so much more Jewish music than I ever would have thought even existed. I've also gotten to play popular American songs with my friends and campers in a Jewish setting. I've even been able to make "music friends" by playing music at Jewish events all over the country.