Noah Hoch, 17, loves working with children. He works in his mother’s preschool classroom at Congregation Har Shalom. He said kids challenge him. That’s what led the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School student to become a counselor at Ramah Day Camp in Germantown in 2019. This summer, he leads the kindergarteners in morning prayers, and runs some of the sports programs, as well.
What led you to become a counselor?
I’ve always loved working with kids. I think it comes from my mom, because I’ve been around kids within her preschool my whole entire life. So I was like, “I want a new challenge.” I’m really happy that I applied to Camp Ramah. I’m really enjoying it.
What do you love about being a counselor?
I love being able to teach the kids and make an impact on them. Because I’m with the Shorashim, the incoming kindergarteners, and this is like their first authority. So I think I can make the biggest difference in their lives positively and have the most fun with them because they’re coming right out of preschool.
How is camp in 2021 different from camp in 2019?
There are more restrictions, like masks. You have to social distance all the time inside and outside. We can’t physically touch the campers anymore. But other than that, we have all the team activities and we have all of our dancing still and all our singing. So it’s not monumentally different, just a couple restrictions, here and there.
What makes being a counselor special?
I think it gives me a little bit of a challenge because you get to deal with all different types of situations on the fly. And I also love running the sports there. I absolutely love sports and doing it with the kids and teaching them and playing with them, you see a whole new perspective. So we see aspects of them playing from the beginning until they advance.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened this summer?
We have some pretty crazy dance parties with our whole entire group. We have a lot of fun in the pool. That’s some crazy stuff sometimes. We just love running around and dancing. I think that’s the craziest part.
What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened?
Every morning, I lead tefillah, davening at the camp for the Shorashimers, the incoming kindergarteners, and we start with “Modeh Ani.” We start with them repeating after me. We go like “Mo Mo Mo Mo, Mo, Mo.” I finally got all the campers to say the prayer passionately and loudly and they all enjoy singing it. So we repeated “Modeh Ani” two or three times, just because everyone loves singing it.
How does being a counselor connect to your Jewish identity?
Throughout the day, we say a lot of brachot [blessings], because the theme of this summer is brachot. So using my knowledge from [Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School], I can teach them all about all the different types of brachot. I can teach them a lot of Hebrew words. We sing a lot of Hebrew songs and that’s how I think I connect my Jewish identity, more through the community aspect when we’re all together singing, dancing and celebrating.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the summer?
Every day is a new day. I like that every day brings new opportunities. There’s nothing specifically I’m looking forward to, I’m just looking forward to having more fun with the campers and making an impact on them.
Is there anything else that you want to share about your experience as a counselor?
I’ve met so many new people, so many teenage Jewish people that I’m friends with and that I’m going to continue being friends with outside of camp.
Know someone who would make a great You Should Know interview? Someone 40 or younger with a great story to tell? Contact David Holzel at [email protected]