S’more Camp News – October 2017 | Tishrei 5778

Hello and welcome to the October 2017 edition of S’more Camp News!

Even You Can Be Mindful: A Series for Busy Camp Directors

Have you noticed—mindfulness is EVERYWHERE!  So what’s the deal?  Is it hard? Do you have to sit in the lotus position on a silent retreat to experience the benefits of a mindfulness practice?  (No, but you may want to some time!)

Mindfulness is…a practice, an approach and perspective to living that helps us be more present to each moment and situation. And mindfulness techniques can be simple to learn, powerful and fun to do. During this program we will learn about and play with various mindfulness actions.

Join us to experience how becoming more Mindful can contribute to becoming a healthier happier human.

Program Details:

Three weekly sessions Nov. 3, 10, 17 @ 12:00-12:45 pm EST via ZOOM

Space is limited, so sign up soon!

Questions: Contact Natalie Goldfein, instructor at

About our instructor:

Natalie Goldfein is passionate about personal development and growth. As president of and Natalie Goldfein Consulting, Natalie is a teacher, consultant and coach with more than 30 years’ experience helping people make changes in order do things better, interact more effectively and feel good. Her work with companies, organizations and summer camps! include strategic consulting, leadership training, group facilitation, as well as instruction in the ancient practice of Qigong and Tai Chi. Natalie created the Culture of Kindness Challenge and is the author of Inspiring Energy: Improving Your Life through Simple Changes.

Grant Opportunities

Check out the below grants to consider for your camp!

Hazon’s Higher Welfare Eggs and Poultry

Interested in setting a precedent for food justice at your camp? Hazon is offering mini grants to get you started by committing to buy higher-welfare eggs and poultry, becoming part of a movement to improve the lives of farmers, farmworkers, and animals worldwide.

Charles Lafitte Foundation

The Charles Lafitte Foundation supports four primary causes: children’s advocacy, education, medical research and initiatives, and the arts.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports equal opportunity communities, and awards grants to organizations creating innovative projects or programs that align with this mission.

Job Openings

Day Camps
Camp Director

  1. JCC of Greater Buffalo: Director of Day Camping Services, Getzville, NY
  2. East Valley JCC: Director of Camping Services, Chandler, AZ
  3. JCC of Southern Nevada: Family, Youth & Camp Director, Las Vegas, NV
  4. Mayerson JCC: Camp Director, Cincinnati, OH
  5. Sidney Albert Albany JCC: Camp Director, Albany, NY
  6. JCA of Southern Maine: Camp Director, Portland, ME. Please direct resumes to
  7. Michael-Ann Russell JCC: Camp Director, North Miami Beach, FL
  8. JCC of Greater Ann Arbor: Camp Director, Ann Arbor, MI. Please direct resumes to
  9. Peninsula JCC: Camp Director, Foster City, CA
  10. Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton Manhattan Beach: Director of Day Camp and Teen Services, Brooklyn, NY
  11. Camp in the City, B’nai B’rith Camp: Camp Director, Beaverton, OR
  12. Tamarack Camps: Managing Director, JCC Day Camps, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Assistant Director

  1. Bender JCC of Greater Washington: Assistant Camp Director, Rockville, MD
  2. JCC of Greater Pittsburgh: Assistant Director of Operations, Children, Youth, Family, Day Camps, Pittsburgh, PA


Overnight Camps
Associate Director

  1. Camp Chi: Associate Director, Chicago, IL

Assistant Director

  1. JCC Maccabi Sports Camp: Assistant Director, San Francisco, CA

Program Director

  1. Camp Wise: Program Director, Beachwood, OH


If you have other JCC camp openings to share, please email

Reminder: Call to Action

Help save the camp cultural exchange program! Last month, we asked you to take action to let the White House know how important the J-1 Visa program is to you and your camp. We know how essential the international staff is at many of your camps, and we want to protect the program. It’s not too late to make your voice heard! Take action here through the American Camp Association.

Campfire Story

Chizuk Summer
By Beth Garfinkle-Hancock
Shabbat is here. I know because the air is softer; quieter.

Gently, mixed groups of campers and staff walk around camp to their Shabbat electives, or “Shabboptions.” The Chizuk fellow, in an effort to “strengthen” the Shabbat experience at camp, designs activities  to connect every person Jewishly. Some great Shabboptions I witnessed this summer included a nature walk, as we used our senses to be in the moment. As my tour continued, I heard a hearty drum circle in the background beating with intention. To my surprise, I also witnessed a provocative Big Questions conversation about God. These activities engage every camper and staff member with Shabbat in some way—just  by doing something different or relaxing or thought provoking.

Shabboptions are just one example of the grace of Chizuk fellows across North America as they foster the individualized and intentional relationship between Shabbat, Judaism and its people.


If you have any campfire stories you would like included in our next newsletter, please send them over to!

Engagement Idea of the Month

Idea:  Camp Hilbert’s Fall Festival at camp.

By Leslie McGuigan
Weinstein JCC, Richmond, Virginia

Anyone who thinks Camp is just for summer hasn’t been to the Fall Festival at Camp Hilbert, the Weinstein JCC’s off-site day camp.  For the past 3 years, the Weinstein JCC has given the Richmond Jewish community a reason to go to camp – in October!

The fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, and what better place than a rustic camp setting complete with live music, boating activities on the lake, guided nature walks, a petting zoo and pony rides, field games, and a musical hayride?  These are just a few of the activities that await our families who join us for what has become our annual fall tradition.  In the years when Sukkot falls during our festival, the teens involved in our community service youth group, Tikkun Olam Super Stars (TOSS), build a sukkah for all to enjoy.

Our Fall Festival began from a simple idea of having a community event during the month of October.  One idea led to another and soon the plan to host the event at our day camp site was born.  While there were some challenges in hosting a big off-season event at camp, the benefits of doing so were quickly realized.  First, families whose children had attended camp that summer were able to reconnect with fellow campers and experience camp during another season of the year.  Second, this event brought back adults who attended camp when they were kids and hadn’t been back since.  Oh, the changes and improvements they saw, especially since camp had just gone through major renovations the year before!  Last, families who had never seen Camp Hilbert were able to tour the grounds, have some fun, and consider enrolling in our summer camp.

If you have an engagement idea you’d like to share with the field, please email

Welcome to New JCC Camp Staff

Congratulations to everyone on your new roles in the JCC Camps family!

Day Camps

Overnight Camps

Mazel Tov!

Welcome to the world, two new future campers!

  • Jackson Levi Steinharter, born on Aug. 7, the newest son of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp Executive Director Josh Steinharter and his wife, Meghan.
  • Nadav Eitan Broms, born Sept. 2, the first child of Capital Camps Director Adam Broms and his wife Carrie.

Congratulations to Tucson JCC Day Camp Director Josh Shenker on his marriage to Mallory Moore.

Have a simcha to share? Email to include it in our next newsletter.

Keeping Up to Date and in Touch

Connect with us and with each other on the JCC Camps Facebook page! Like our page to catch our updates on events, new programs, and pieces to share on your own pages.

Many of you have had staff changes this year, and some of your camp’s pages are not updated on our website, We try our best to stay current, but the best way is for each camp to update your own page with any necessary changes. Please use this form to let us know what changes to make.

Upcoming Events

  • The Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp 180 Conference (for Day and Overnight Camps), Oct. 22-24, 2017
  • JCC Overnight Camps Fall Directors’ Meetings, Oct. 24-25, 2017
  • Deadline for JCC Camps Rock! at Songleader Boot Camp grant applications, Friday Oct. 27, 2017
  • Lechu Lachem IV Seminar for Overnight Camps, Nov. 6-9, 2017
  • Webinar: ACA: Easy as 1-2-3, Dec. 5, 2017, 12pm EST
  • Webinar: Putting a Jewish Lens on Your JCC Day Camp, Jan. 9, 2018, 12pm EST
  • JCC Association Shlichim Interviews, Jan. 14-18, 2018
  • Executive Leadership Seminar, Jan. 28-30, 2018
  • Songleader Boot Camp Conference, 18-20, 2018
  • Foundation for Jewish Camp Leaders Assembly, March 18-20, 2018
  • ACA NY/NJ Tri-State Camp Conference, March 20-22, 2018
  • Day Camp Shlichim Training Seminar, April 22-26, 2018
  • Overnight Camp Shlichim Training Seminar, April 25-29, 2018

Congratulations on completing another great summer at camp!

Sign Up Today: JCC Camp Staff Trip to Israel!


Spend New Year’s Eve in Israel!

Experience Israel on an amazing Taglit-Birthright Israel trip this winter with other JCC camp staff, age 18-22. Travel with your tribe—those who love camp—and be exposed to the diversity and excitement of Israel, from its ancient past to the “start-up nation” it is today. Spend time with Israelis who have been JCC Camps shlichim, and learn from the incredible full-time JCC camp professionals and experienced Birthright leaders guiding the trip. Return to camp next summer with a greater love for and understanding of everything that is Israel! Through your personal experiences you will learn new and meaningful ways to bring Israel back to your camp and community. Anyone who has participated on a peer trip to Israel before the age of 18 is now eligible for a second chance to see Israel through a different lens.

Dates: Dec. 24, 2017 – Jan. 4, 2018

Early sign up is now open at


Next steps: registration officially opens on Tuesday September 5, 2017 at 10AM EST. You will receive information from the AMAZING Israel staff before registration, detailing the process and what to expect.

What last year’s participants have to say:

Each person had something to offer to the trip, and each camp provided the others with something to bring back to our own camps for the upcoming summer. I wouldn’t have wanted my birthright experience to be any different, and would recommend the JCC Camp trip to anyone considering it. Thanks for the memories RT-31-179! – Brian Chessin

Camp people are the best kind of people—they’re fun to be around, often times goofy just like me, and there’s no one in the world that I’m more comfortable around. This is why being in the greatest country on earth with the greatest people on earth was just about the best experience I could have ever asked for. I’m so thankful for the incredible opportunity I had to relive my camper days, reunite with old friends, make new ones, and create “One Camp” all the while being in Israel. – Sydney Ungar

Tips from JCC Camp Directors

1. Don’t tell your children horror stories about camp!
Sharing your negative experiences with your child only increases their anxiety. Instead of horror stories, share the great times you at the lake, playing sports, or making lots of new friends. Remember to advise relatives and friends to share their positive stories as well.

2. Night Time Rituals
If your child has a bedtime ritual that involves you, now is a great time to begin to create a routine they can do by themselves. Not only will this help your child at camp, but it will show your child that he/she can be independent and in control.

3. Communicate Wisely
Be sure to write letters/emails often. Ask lots of questions. Stay clear of telling them all the fun you’re having (without them), how miserable you are without them, or other news that may upset them.

4. Personal Hygiene
Basic daily living skills and good personal hygiene are critical at camp. We at camp will help strengthen and reinforce these skills, but you can help them by practicing beforehand.

5. No Deals!
Because we love our children and want to ease their (and our own) anxiety, we may be tempted to make ‘deals’ that might have a negative impact on their success at camp. The truth is that most children have a tough day or so when they first come to camp (returning campers can also experience this), but settle in once they get used to the camp routine. Your children will hold you (and us) to these ‘deals’ and we may be powerless to help!

6. Be a Role Model!
Help your child be successful by encouraging them (and relatives/friends) to follow the camp rules. Please leave cell phones at home. Also, please send mail and packages without food. We will find it and donate it locally. Parents who break camp rules reinforce to campers that breaking rules is okay.

7. Help us help your child to be successful!
Finally, you trust us with your wonderful children. Please also trust us with important information that may affect their time at camp (sick relative, death of a pet, relocation, divorce, etc.). We will treat this information with respect, and it will ensure a successful camp experience for your child. We have excellent camp professionals that include a Social Work Intern who are trained and skilled in helping children cope with challenges.

Toni Davison Levenberg, Camp Director | Camp Interlaken JCC

Toni joined the Interlaken team in January 2006. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she has actively been involved in camping and informal Jewish education since she was a camper at JCC Camp Arthur-Reeta.

Growing up in the JCC Camps

At a young age our lives revolved around what was happening at the St. Louis JCC. It didn’t matter if it was attending Camp Baer or Sports Camp during the summer or joining the basketball league or playing pool in the game room — we wanted to be at “The J.” We started attending Camp Sabra in 1988 (Mitch) and 1990 (Sean) and never looked back.

After our camper years ended, it was an easy decision to start working at camp so we could give the same experience to our campers that we got from our counselors. Those years as campers and then as staff molded us into the people we are today. Most importantly, it put us both on a path to become educators, and to eventually become full-time camp professionals. As camp directors for Pinemere Camp in Philadelphia and Camp Wise in Cleveland, we take pride in providing an exceptional Jewish experience to hundreds of campers and staff each summer that fosters individual growth, a sense of community, and a connection to their own Judaism.

Mitch and Sean Morgan, Executive Director, Pinemere Camp | Camp Director, Camp Wise

Mitch: Mitch is a dynamic leader and comes to Pinemere Camp with over 20 summers of Jewish overnight camp experience! Originally from St. Louis, MO, he is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Columbia (MIZZOU). Mitch grew up at Camp Sabra of the St. Louis JCC, where he rose to the position of Assistant Director, and was most recently Director of Camp Kingswood of the Boston JCC.

Sean: Since the fall 2008, Sean has been calling Camp Wise his home. He has been involved in Jewish overnight camping for over 20 years and has played a significant role in the growth and success of Camp Wise. His camping career started at Camp Sabra, the St. Louis JCC’s overnight camp.

Growing up in the JCC Camps

Ever since I can remember, all of my summer memories took place at the Toronto JCCs. I started attending The Jack and Pat Kay Centre Camp at the age of three, and as I grew older, I began working as a seasonal camp staff member, gaining valuable life skills along the way. I immediately knew that I wanted to give other children the same opportunity that I had, which is why my transition into a full-time JCC camp director was a natural fit. Providing other children with a meaningful Jewish camp experience and further developing strong and confident future leaders in our community has been an incredibly fulfilling experience.

Over the years, camp has not only given me the opportunity to create lasting friendships and meaningful relationships, but also it has led me to my bashert, Danielle, who I now call my wife. JCC day camp has shaped who I am and who I want to become, and it will continue to always hold a special place in my heart.

Phil Faibish, Camp Director | The Jack and Pat Kay Centre Camp, Prosserman JCC

Phil Faibish is the Director of The Jack and Pat Kay Centre Camp and has been affiliated with the camp for 20+ years as a camper, C.I.T. and staff. Phil brings a contagious positive attitude and a wealth of knowledge, experience and skill to camp and the camping industry.

What I Love About Being a Camp Director

I love being a part of a community where so many people are determined to make something better. Sometimes it’s the really big events, sometimes it’s the incredibly small moments. Through music, humor, a few words of wisdom, an act of kindness, pursuing a new adventure or simply being included.

I’ve always been impressed by the power of our opportunity to enrich a child’s life in a JCC overnight camp. We are uniquely positioned to create an array of exhilarating adventures amidst exceptional facilities, supervised by extraordinary young adult leaders who innately care for & nurture each child while weaving culturally Jewish values into every experience. Infusing k’vod (respect) into the way kids relate to one another during an intense basketball game or when watching a bunkmate perform on stage, ruach (spirit & enthusiasm) into a medley of songs on Shabbat, or initiating mitzvot (a good deed or act of kindness) in between water skiing or ascending a ropes course is not contrived but rather a very natural expression of who we choose to be.

Jim Mittenthal, Camp Director | Camp Barney Medintz

Jim Mittenthal is the director at Camp Barney Medintz in Atlanta, Georgia. His summer camping experience has spanned over 30 years as camper, counselor, waterfront director, unit head (at Camp Barney!), program director, and for six years as the director of another JCC summer camp in Colorado.

What I Love About Being a Camp Director

I am a camp director because it fills me with pride and lets me serve the community with honor and love. My job is to enrich the lives of our campers and their families. I am constantly inspired to deliver positive experiences for kids. My favorite parts of the camp day include greeting campers as they arrive at camp, watching their progress in the pool, and hearing them sing songs every morning. I can measure the impact of our work when campers return as camp counselors, taking the opportunity to make an impact of the next generation of campers.

I have a great job in a wonderful community, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Andrea Goldstein, Camp Director | JCC Apachi Chicago Day Camp

Andrea Goldstein, Director of JCC Apachi Chicago Day Camp, has been a driving force behind the growth and success of our wonderful camp since it opened in 2003.