Posted on February 9, 2014 by Aliza Geller
Imagine that you are at summer camp. You are a rising 5th grader, and share a communal bathhouse with rising 6th and 7th graders. It so happens that whenever you go to wait in line to brush your teeth there is a 7th grader who pushes her way to the front of the line. What would you do?
This is one of the scenarios that staff members put together during a session I ran for ‘staff week’ on conflict resolution. I started with the quote from Pirkei Avot (1:12) that says “be like the disciples of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace”, and asked what they thought it could mean to “pursue peace” at summer camp. We broke up into groups to brainstorm potential conflicts that could come up at camp, recording our responses on one side of a poster board, and possible solutions on the back. Then each group created a skit about the possible conflicts and solutions. After each skit, we talked about the skills we wanted to impart to our campers when dealing with conflict, ranging from communication to seeking professional staff assistance.
Why am I sharing this? I would like to demonstrate what I have learned and internalized through application, in this particular instance, at camp. While intra-staff conflict was discussed during other sessions, this was one focused on conflicts between campers. This session sharpened our skills as educators in dealing with conflict as a part of the culture at our camp.
Today on the holiday of 9 Adar, I fondly recall planning and running this session last summer because it came of my inspiration, ignited and fueled by Daniel Roth in our Judaism and Conflict Resolution course at Pardes. I think this reborn Jewish holiday is a truly special opportunity for us to unite – around our disagreements. Happy conflicts!