Leadership changes just announced for Camp Tawonga herald a new era for the 90-year-old Jewish camp in the Yosemite foothills.
Longtime executive director Ken Kramarz is stepping aside after 30 years at the helm, to be replaced by Jamie Simon-Harris, currently the camp director. The two have worked closely for the past decade, and will continue to do so until the transition is complete in 2017. Rebecca Meyer, who has served as the camp’s associate director for the past nine years, will replace Simon-Harris as camp director.
Kramarz will still be heavily involved, as he will head up the camp’s master site plan, including the camp’s ongoing expansion, a bar and bat mitzvah program launching next fall and “Kibbutz Tawonga,” an environmental and farming fellowship for young adults scheduled to launch in the spring of 2017.
Kramarz is particularly excited about the kibbutz program, which will be a six- to 10-week residency for ages 21 to 35. “We believe there’s a hunger in that age group for the kind of spiritual experience we offer,” he said, “and it’s also a fact that the Rim Fire [of August 2013] radically changed the environment around camp, so there’s real tikkun olam work to do, a lot of reforestation.” Fellows in the program will also tend the camp’s organic garden, which has been growing exponentially in recent years, he added.
“There is a tremendous amount of work ahead as Tawonga evolves in its 90th year to become a year-round and lifelong community resource for our kids and families,” said Simon-Harris. “Ken and I will continue to work closely together and with the board over the next year plus to ensure a seamless continuity of leadership.”seamless continuity of leadership.”