jlink
Friday, November 15, 2019

This summer, Camp Mesorah has incorporated a unique and internationally successful leadership mountain biking program called GEERZ. The new program has never been seen before in the Jewish camping world. GEERZ mountain biking program, imported from Israel, has both boys and girls signing up for an all inclusive mountain biking workshop. Founded in Israel by Rabbi Nachum Wasosky, originally of Pittsburgh, PA, GEERZ is a program dedicated to developing youth around the world to become next generation leaders. GEERZ works to make youth confident and strong in many areas including mentally, physically emotionally, and spiritually, through the lessons of mountain biking. GEERZ utilizes the natural qualities that mountain biking elicits and has developed a curriculum to teach and strengthen leadership skills in its participants. The curriculum is customized for all ages and skill levels.

Donny Fein, a GEERZ board member and avid mountain biker who lives in Bet Shemesh, Israel, has brought the GEERZ program and curriculum to Camp Mesorah. Donny was excited to bring the program to Mesorah but never expected the masses he has attracted including husbands of staff that come up just for weekends! The camp’s large property is perfect for biking and with the permission of the camp owners, Ari Katz and Joseph Stansky, Donny guided by GEERZ, mapped out and built mountain biking trails on the camp’s grounds. More trails are being built and will continue to be built as the program grows. Camp Mesorah also invested in high end mountain bikes in different sizes each with water cages and helmets to ensure the safety of the campers. Over 300 youth will have benefitted from Geerz at Camp Mesorah by the end of this summer.

One camper said, “Mountain biking makes me feel empowered.” How does the GEERZ curriculum do this? After unplugging from all of today’s technological distractions, campers suit up with the proper safety equipment and go on an intense ride through beautiful mountains.  Then the campers are instructed to stop while they focus on only the guide. They are given a small snack and are presented with a ten minute leadership lesson. The lesson demonstrates to the campers how mountain biking skills and frame of mind while biking can be applied to one’s life.  These lessons enhance their relationships, build their sense of self worth and increase their success. An example of this is learning to climb uphill on a bike. A rider needs to be in an easy-low gear, keep a loose grip on the handlebars and scoot forward on the seat, bend the elbows and attack. While climbing, one’s mind might be filled with negative messages such as “I can’t,” “It’s too hot,” or “It’s too hard.”  That is precisely when the curriculum kicks in and teaches the riders how to persevere. The campers learn that while riding, and also in life, there are many hurdles that might seem impossible to overcome. On the trail, the riders will be helped, encouraged, and given the tools in order to succeed. Once they succeed, the guide will point out that for the rest of their lives, they will be able to look back at this moment and remember their success. Donny finds that he is often approached by campers and staff after the rides not just about the biking, but to discuss that day’s lesson as well.

Camp Mesorah is thrilled with the success of the GEERZ mountain biking program and is looking forward to expanding the program next year with more trails and more riders.

For information about bringing GEERZ to your city or how to become a partner, you can contact Geerz directly by emailing admin_geerz.org.  Be sure to visit us at www.geerz.org. Lorem ipsum

By P’nina Seplowitz