Are you podcasting yet? Rabbi Ethan Linden of Camp Ramah New England uses Podcasting to better inform camper parents of their children's experiences during the summer. They also provide a separate podcast of weekly Torah Readings to continue the Jewish education component of the summer all year round. These podcasts also provide incredible personal stories from the campers and staff that resonate with alumni and donors as well.
What are podcasts? A podcast is simply an audio or video file that can be distributed over the internet as a syndicated download. In other words, people can subscribe to a podcast so that new content is automatically downloaded to a free "podcatching" service like iTunes. Then the podcasts can either be enjoyed directly online or via a portable music device like an iPod.
What is required to podcast? According to Rabbi Ethan, the effort is minimal. He had to learn the tools that they use to record, edit, and upload the podcasts, but he found them to be user friendly. Once you learn the tools, creating and editing new content is the only major effort required. The content is easy, since there are so many great stories at camp. The editing may take up to 2 hours for a long podcast of camp interviews.
Camp Ramah New England uses a simple microphone that plugs into a computer to record the Torah readings. For camp interviews, they purchased a ~$50 Belkin Tune Talk add-on to turn a regular iPod into a digital recorder. To edit the podcasts, they use a free program called Audacity. To share the podcasts, they use www.podomatic.com. It's free, although they upgraded to the $15/month Pro account for additional stats and bandwidth. Finally, they signed up the podcasts for free on iTunes so people could easily subscribe.
What's next? Camp Ramah New England is going to offer an elective course for learning digital recording, podcasting, and editing. The campers will be in charge of creating the podcasts next year.