Health Coaching / Life Coaching / Tutoring

Contact Naftali Schwartz (see the Contact page).


Ten Things You Should Know About Camp Hikon (June 3, 2021)

Ten Things You Should Know About Camp Hikon

Naftali Schwartz

  1. At Camp Hikon there will be certain minimum standards in religious observance. Campers are expected to keep halachos governing Shabbos, speech, davening.
  2. At Camp Hikon your safety and the safety of others around you is paramount. We will use the buddy system where campers will concern themselves with their own safety and that of a friend.
  3. At Camp Hikon there will be no canteen. Instead, we will serve plenty of yummy snacks prepared in our own kitchen.
  4. At Camp Hikon we will serve meat less often than at other camps, but those served will be of superior quality from vendors like growandbehold or kolfoods if feasible. Meats are eaten as a side dish together with a vegetarian main dish.
  5. Our campers are drawn from diverse cultural backgrounds. All campers must be treated in a dignified manner. We all need each other’s help in meeting the significant challenges which lie ahead.
  6. Campers need to respect bedtime so they can be refreshed for the next day’s activities. First wakeup is 6 a.m. but campers who need a little extra sleep can remain in bed till 7 a.m.
  7. Memory skills are acquired through stories, songs and certain writing exercises. Campers are expected to join these activities to enrich the learning experience for all.
  8. At Camp Hikon campers and junior staff may not possess smartphones. Cell phone usage is restricted and reception is limited.
  9. At Camp Hikon we will have to turn away campers and staff who have received any of the Covid-19 injections due to clotting they cause in others related to ongoing shedding of the spike protein toxin.


Ten Reasons to Support Camp Hikon (May 31, 2021)

Ten Reasons to Support Camp Hikon

Naftali Schwartz

  1. Hikon prepares campers by teaching how to navigate crises.
  2. Hikon prepares campers by teaching emotional intelligence.
  3. Hikon prepares campers by teaching social skills.
  4. Hikon prepares campers by teaching self-reliance in food, health and shelter.
  5. Hikon prepares campers by teaching language skills.
  6. Hikon prepares campers by teaching memory skills.
  7. Hikon prepares campers by teaching foundational texts of Judaism.
  8. Hikon prepares campers by teaching self-defense.
  9. Hikon prepares campers by teaching the abundance of the Briah.
  10. Hikon prepares campers by teaching the pitfalls of over-reliance on technology.


The Making of Camp Hikon (May 20, 2021)

The Making of Camp Hikon

Naftali Schwartz

I spent a good chunk of my career getting educated for and building stuff with hi-tech. After a midlife crisis, I eventually realized that what I really wanted to do is teach. I also soon realized that I wanted to teach something very specific: how to live the proper and serene life that Hahem wants for us all. As I delved more deeply into the natural ways of living, I also came to the realization that with all of the benefits we get from technology, we also pay a steep price. Looking back to my youth, I could see that while this Faustian bargain was somehow favorable in the past, those golden years of technology are long gone. Over the past decade I’ve found joy in gravitating towards a more natural way of living and eating, and separating myself from technology where reasonable. Over the course of my teaching career in the past decade, I’ve made a careful study of best teaching practices and I’m happy to report that this has yielded huge gains for both myself and my students. I’ve managed to achieve enough notoriety as a successful teacher that sometimes little boys I don’t even know will walk up to me and ask me to teach their class!

Transitioning from veteran teacher to Director of Camp Hikon was a natural next step. Most teachers in the Yeshiva system already understand the abundant contradictions between upholding Yeshiva policy and teaching the students something worthwhile in a way they can both enjoy and remember. Over time, this became especially difficult for me as I realized more and more how much best teaching practice diverges from typical Yeshiva policy. But if you open your own camp, suddenly everything is negotiable. You get to make sure your campers are finally eating the healthy food they so desperately need and not loading themselves up with anti-nutrients. You get to make sure they get enough sleep. You get to make sure they move enough, are exposed to nature enough, and are protected from the ills of screen time. You get to ensure their food, water and air are free of toxins. You get to ensure that skills are developed methodologically from the ground up. Looking back, it seems like such a no-brainer that I’m actually shocked I never thought of this before.

But Camp Hikon is actually much more than all of that. It is also a place families can send their campers to, confident that we’ll do something to fill the wide gap left by a Yeshiva system focused on practically meaningless Regents examination scores. A place where campers can acquire the emotional maturity they need to navigate the complex challenges coming their way. A place where they can re-learn the social skills they’ll surely need going forward. A place where they’ll learn in a loving environment about certain threats they will be facing which their parents never had to. Many parents wonder aloud if their little one is ready to hear about these things and aren’t some things best left unsaid. There is some truth in this, but it must be realized that at some point the cost of hiding the danger starts to exceed the cost of revealing it. In very many instances, we’re already beyond that point.

The community response to the message of Camp Hikon has been extremely gratifying. From a modest idea to cater to local Yeshiva High School boys, the concept has blossomed into an institution which attracts both younger and older campers, boasts both bay and girl divisions, and is a magnet for campers coming from all manner of Torah institutions all around the country and beyond. We are culturally diverse, but we’re all Torah Jews striving to fulfill the exhortation of the Navi to prepare ourselves for the challenges and the travails awaiting us in the late pre-Messianic era.


Uncertain Future for Camp Hikon? (May 18, 2021)

Uncertain Future for Camp Hikon?

Last week Camp Hikon achieved international notoriety through being smeared by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo for “discriminating against vaccinated individuals”. This was very gratifying for us, since it highlighted the national hypocrisy whereby it’s OK for colleges across the country to discriminate against unvaccinated students in the fall, but it’s not OK for camps to cautiously “discriminate” and keep vaccinated counselors and campers away from vulnerable unvaccinated campers. Gratifying, yes, but also terrifying. How to reconcile a non-negotiable opening day coming up in 6 weeks with the abrupt political exile of Camp Hikon from NYS?

If you think it might be a good idea to just call the whole thing off and try again next year, consider that not opening this season would send precisely the wrong message. It would tell the world that there’s not a whole lot you can do when things go badly. If we allow ourselves the luxury of becoming victims of our own circumstances, we lose all credibility to set ourselves up as teachers of the youth in navigating future crises. Let’s face it, if we can’t get through this one, we may as well just close our doors for good.

So, yes, we will be opening this summer. But how to make it work? If no more than a few dozen campers were expected, we might be able to rent a farm with a large farmhouse. But the reality is that we’ll be hosting perhaps 100 boys and 100 girls plus ample support staff. It’s improbable any campsite with sufficient housing could be found.

Obviously, we’re going to have to build a campsite from scratch. First, we’ll need a roomy parcel of partially forested land in a town with weak zoning regulations. Then we’ll have to install one or two pools. A fleet of RVs or temporary bungalows or tiny houses can serve as bunkhouses. Public buildings like a shul, dining hall and gymnasium are a little more complicated, but still manageable. What about plumbing? We’ll have washing water piped into bunkhouses, but we’ll sidestep the complexity and expense and delay of a full septic system by adopting composting toilets. (Incidentally, if you’ve never seen a Kibbutz Lotan composting toilet, you’ve never seen a composting toilet at all.) What about heat and hot water? Wood-burning stoves. Electricity? In the summer months we won’t be using a whole lot, so a little solar or wind should be sufficient.

Setting up a campsite from scratch certainly seems overwhelming, but when you break it up into manageable parts, it doesn’t seem nearly so daunting. We have to believe that Hashem challenges us because He loves us. R. Avigdor Miller used to say that although we’re obligated to cry out to Hashem in need, this is not enough. We must also think our problems through and make an effort to arrive at reasonable solutions. And then we’ll truly receive Hashem’s blessing.


Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys Announces Opening Season (April 22, 2021)

Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys Announces Opening Season

Does spending the summer months just the same as last year seem discordant with the waves of infection, climate chaos and food insecurity sweeping humanity? How about a summer camp that actually teaches kids how to survive and thrive in the coming “new normal”?

Yeshivos are practiced in teaching our youth the skills they would use in settled society. But it’s blindingly obvious that the coming years will see the emergence of a society that’s anything but settled. The skills our young people will need to tackle the systematic medical, political, economic, and environmental crises which materialize and are compounded almost daily have little in common with Regents subjects. But it’s hard to imagine the Board of Regents taking this matter seriously, and it’s equally hard to imagine Yeshivos setting aside the Regents Exams anytime soon. Fortunately, there are still a couple of months left in the year when this new skill set can get the consideration it justly deserves.

What sorts of skills should we be teaching? First, enhanced memory skills will be critical in a world in which technology suddenly ceases to operate, as recently happened in Puerto Rico and Texas.

Second, our youth must learn how to be part of a cohesive group. As nations decline, government power will fade and lawlessness will proliferate. People will have to learn to look to their local group for protection.

Third, we have to teach where food comes from. Commercial food is not always the best choice even when available, and it will most assuredly not be, thanks to the fragility or our complex global supply chains in an increasingly unstable world. Of course, stocking up on canned goods is a start, but it’s critical to know how food is prepared and preserved.

Fourth, the ongoing assault on the environment and the escalation of extreme weather events implies that it should no longer be expected that people will remain settled in their communities for decades, but must be prepared to be on the move. We must be light on our feet as well as being light on the land. This best way to accomplish this is using the natural building techniques of our ancestors and sourcing mostly local materials found onsite.

Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys is being established this summer to meet all of these goals. (A girls division is also in the works.) For more information, call 347 764 8313 or visit our website at www.hikon.org.

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