Our Pioneer program, the first year of our acceptance-based two-year Teen Leadership Program, has become one of the highlights of the Beber experience for many of our campers. This is likely familiar to those of you who came to Beber after 1997!

Every year, dozens of entering 11th graders (our “Pios”) participate in the Pioneer program, which focuses on three areas of growth for Beber’s Jewish teens:

  • Intensive leadership training
  • Deep exploration of team building
  • A sense of self and Jewish identity

The program takes place at camp during First Session.  All Pios then have the option to attend a three week trip to Poland and Israel that runs during Second Session.

The nature of the Pioneer program has grown tremendously since its inception almost 20 years ago.  The curriculum and programming have expanded both in breadth and depth. The Pios now plan programs for all of camp, participate in community service, discover the kinds of leaders they are, and explore the kinds leaders they strive to become.

For the last several years, the popularity of the Pioneer program has grown in popularity, too.  Applications have increased significantly, which is wonderful! Due to capacity issues at camp, though, this wonderful growth has placed us in the unfortunate position of having to consider turning away amazing kids from the Pioneer program. As you may imagine, turning away potential Jewish leaders and kids who are part of our Beber family is completely at odds with our core mission and values.

To avoid this result, over the past few years we have made a series of gradual adjustments to the program’s curriculum and physical accommodations.  Constant evaluations and feedback from camp families have guided these adjustments, allowing us to advance the program while ensuring that its growth fits our strategic goals. We are thrilled to let you know that the Pio class this year is our largest ever and that none of our extended Beber family of teens were turned away due to space restrictions.

We know, however, that the short-term physical adjustments made to increase capacity are not sustainable in the long-term.  Our goal is to build a Pioneer Village on our site.  This facility would provide the Pioneer program with dedicated space, including housing, its own kitchen and dining area, and dedicated bathroom and shower facilities. Once complete, it will ensure a sustainable approach to incredible Pio summers for generations of teens to come.

Our board and leadership team are working diligently behind the scenes to make that goal a reality.  Board members, staff, contractors, designers, donors, alumni, and community members are working hard to create a plan that will facilitate building the Pioneer Village.  We look forward to sharing more details with you as the plans unfold.

And for those of you who participated in our Pioneer program over the years, please know that your participation is part of the heritage of the program.  Your experiences have helped shape the Pioneer summer into the program it has become.  We are so proud of the scores of staff who have gone through this program, and absolutely love seeing the amazing adults they (you) have become!