S’more JCC Camp News


camp dept

Shana Tova to the camp folks! We hope it was a great summer and that you have had a chance to recharge your batteries a bit. Below are pieces of what has been going on since our last newsletter. Enjoy!

Shara, Jodi, and Aaron


We are happy to welcome three camps back to our camp community this summer as re-affiliated camps. Find out more about these camps by visiting their websites, or seek out their directors at an upcoming conference.


We are happy to welcome new JCC camp professionals who have recently joined us. If we accidentally missed you, sorry! Email Aaron at aaron@jcca.org with your photo so we can include you in our next newsletter and make sure you are in the know with all things JCC camps.

Ari Baum Aaron-sq greg
Ari Baum Aaron Cantor Greg Feitel
Camp Seneca Lake Camp Seneca Lake DCJCC
Associate Director Director Director of Camp Programs
Email Ari Email Aaron Email Greg
Rhonda Korn phil Casey
Rhonda Korn Phil Liebson Casey Owens
Camp Seneca Lake Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington JCC of Greater Dayton
Assistant Director Camp JCC Director Youth, teen and family director
Email Rhonda Email Phil Email Casey
Jason Palevsky jason perun2 ryan and corey
Jason Palevsky Jason Perun Ryan and Corey Peters
Buffalo JCC & Camp Centerland Shorefront Y Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village
Program Dir of Children’s & Camping Services Camp & Teen Director Director of Camp
Email Jason Email Jason Email Ryan,Email Corey
Brandon Yarborough
Stamford JCC
Youth & Teen Program Coordinator / Assistant Olami Director
Email Brandon


We are seeking awesome individuals to fill the following positions. Do you know anyone who could be a fantastic camp professional? Please share these open positions with anyone you know who would be great!

1. Director of Camping and Youth Programming, Levite JCC, Birmingham, AL
2. Director of Camps, Y Country Camp, Montreal, QB
3. Assistant Camp Director, Camp Livingston, Cincinatti, OH
4. Assistant Director, Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, Samuel Field Y, Bayside, NY
5. Camp Director, Ranch Camp, Denver JCC, Denver, CO
6. Anisfield Day Camp Director/Assistant Director of Day Camps, Mandel JCC of Cleveland, Beachwood, OH
7. Day Camp Director, JCC of Metro Detroit, Detroit, MI
8. Assistant Director, Camp Chi, JCC Chicago, Chicago, IL
9. Assistant Director of Wilderness, Camp Tawonga, San Francisco, CA
10. Day Camp Director, JCC of Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
11. Day Camp Director, JCC MetroWest, West Orange, NJ
12. Day Camp Director, Valley of the Sun JCC, Scottsdale, AZ
13. Assistant Director, Tamarack Camps, Detroit, MI


Camp Sabra with Rick Recht

Camp Sabra with Rick Recht

Music is the key to great ruach (spirit) and community in camp. Still, we often hear from you how challenging it can be to find the right songleader to lead this critical piece of camp. In response, we partner with Rick Recht’s Songleader Boot Camp to help camps develop a culture of music that stands strong from summer to summer. In 2015, three day camps and two overnight camps were part of this partnership and we’ve asked their directors to share a key takeaway that has helped makes their camps culture of music stronger.

“Bring song sessions into staff training. Teach staff your songs so they can teach campers throughout the summer and bring excitement towards these times.”
Rachel Fox, Camp Shalom, Mandel JCC of Palm Beaches

“Dynamic song leaders who are invested in camp are critical. Have your song leader record audio for each song, so that these can be led in the same way for future summers. Create song posters and songbooks for campers and staff to follow. Have your song leader create an end of the summer report.”
Amy Bram, Camp Milldale, JCC of Greater Baltimore

“Archive your music, create a songbook, have a clear playlist and clear preparation. Bring in a consultant to give you feedback on your music and song-leading program every summer.”
Ian Israel, Camp Keff, Peninsula JCC

“Invest in amplification and a strong song leader. Be thoughtful in your selection of songs; frame the songs, share why you are singing that song, why then, and use this as you introduce it to the camp community.”
Mara Berde, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp

“Be intentional at song sessions and create a written history of your songs.”
Terri Grossman, Camp Sabra, JCC of St. Louis


Camp Tawonga: Bringing Tawonga Down the Mountain

750 people joined together at Joaquin Miller Park to celebrate the Jewish New Year with Camp Tawonga this fall. People from all over the Bay Area and from all walks of life sang, prayed and celebrated one of the holiest days of the year, with the event taking place on Sunday afternoon so people could also go to synagogue. According to associate camp director Rebecca Meyer, the event was created three years ago with fifteen people, with the goal of bringing the Jewish celebration to people who may not regularly go to synagogue and also to get to the heart and soul of the day. Camp Tawonga provides year-round camp-style Jewish programming by “bringing Tawonga down the mountain,” through creating opportunities for Jewish engagement in their community beyond the summer.

Turning Lemons (etrogs) Into Lemonade at the JCC Camps at Medford

Last Fall, the JCC Camps at Medford hosted an annual open house at camp and only 10 families showed up (resulting in eight new camp families). Rather than abandon the event, camp decided instead to reach higher and replace its fall open house with a community-wide fall festival, similar to the Halloween festivals being offered locally throughout the area, but using Sukkot as the holiday of choice. The goal was to show off camp to a greater number of prospective camp families. Little did Camp Assistant Director and Fall Festival Organizer, Sara Sideman, know that they could receive grant money for the event, that other community organizations and synagogues would join the efforts and that over 1000 people would show up for a day of hayrides, ropes course, pumpkin picking, arts and crafts, boating, petting zoo, and much more! They achieved their goal of exposing its program and facilities to many prospective families, and managed to pull off an unbelievable community-wide Jewish program in the process!


Israel Up Close Photo from Tuscon

Since 2013, over thirty JCC day camp directors have been selected to travel to Israel for an educational seminar and to participate in the summer shlichim training to strengthen the connection between day camps and Israel through Israel Up Close. Find out more from participants in 2015!

L. Scott Zorn, M.A.
Director of children, youth and family engagement, Tucson JCC

For the past 10 years, the Tucson Camp J Day Camp has brought two shlichim (Israel emissaries) each year, who bring a taste of Israel to our camp. They were always active members of our camp family, but only after attending the summer shlichim training this year did I realize how much more we could be using the shlichim to enhance the programming of Israeli culture beyond just our traditional camp day. With a new perspective into the program, there was a closer connection and interest to have a strong meaningful presence of Israel at Camp J.

In the past, our structure for the shlichim was for one to be an Israeli cultural specialist and the other to be a general camp counselor. Midway through summer, they would switch roles. This format still took place at Camp J this summer, only we added additional responsibilities that ensured we would put Israeli culture at the forefront of our entire Tucson community. Not only did the shlichim provide programming for Camp J, but they also spent time with our early childhood education and special needs departments. Beyond the walls of the Tucson J building, the shlichim had dedicated time each week in which they visited other Jewish agencies within our city. There they made connections with key influential community members. The result of the outside weekly visits allowed Jewish Tucson to get to know them, and all summer long, they were greeted with warmth as they became beloved members of our community.

The training was truly inspiring. Getting to know the staff before arriving in Tucson made a huge difference. I am certain the shlichim felt very prepared and at ease when they arrived for camp, more so than what I’ve seen in the past.

san diego shlichim 2015 seminar in Israel

Sandy Siperstein Rafner
Youth & camp director, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center

This last spring, I was lucky enough to participate in “Israel Up Close” where I met the shlichim who would be working at our camp during the summer. Being in Israel and meeting them—along with other shlichim and camp directors—before camp began gave me a whole different experience and assisted in our pre-camp training. For those who have brought over shlichim in the past, you likely already know the manner by which it will benefit your programs. For those that are unsure, I strongly recommend this experience as the program will enhance both day and resident camps alike. Further, if it is feasible, I recommend attending the seminar in Israel since it can make a huge difference in your program and the experience you have with your shlichim.

I’ve been fortunate; the shlichim program has enhanced our summer day camp program for many years. It has made a tremendous impact on our camp, on our campers, and our community, as well. Since many of the campers and staff have not been to Israel before, our shlichim enrich our program and teach about Israel: from culture to customs, language, people, and even food! They infuse the entire experience with their enthusiasm and spirit beyond camp — bringing it into lives of the many host families who graciously open their homes to these young men and women. I know this for certain, as my own family has hosted shlichim every summer. My family has gained “adopted” family members and extended family on an international scale through the experience. We truly consider them part of the family and we have visited them when in Israel. When they come back to the United States, they also feel as though they have family. For these shlichim and for my own family, the experience has been life changing

Israel Up Close participants from 2015:

  • Andrew Katz, Albany JCC, Albany, NY
  • Sandy Siperstein Rafner, Lawrence Family JCC of San Diego County, La Jolla, CA
  • Lauren Klenosky, JCC of Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
  • Halle Schwartz, JCC of Greater Columbus, Columbus, OH
  • Fernando Munoz, Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto, CA
  • Abby Kaufman, Robert E. Loup JCC, Denver, CO
  • Meryl Rindsberg, Marcus JCC of Atlanta, Dunwoody, GA
  • Madeline Seltman, Charlotte & Dick Levin JCC, Durham, NC
  • Scott Zorn, Tucson JCC, Tucson, AZ
  • Lori Zeligman, Marcus JCC of Atlanta, Dunwoody, GA
  • Lauren Fredman, I J & Jeanne Wanger JCC, Salt Lake City, UT


“Twelve kindergartners and first graders who didn’t speak or understand Hebrew on day one of camp were speaking in full sentences in Hebrew by week seven. Amazing! New relationships with day schools and synagogues in the community. New partners! Staff and campers around camp hearing Hebrew in almost every activity area. Camp culture Change!”

This is what Ari Golub, director of children and day camping services at the Mandel JCC of Cleveland, shared happened at Anisfield Day Camp in 2015 as a result of the Hebrew Immersion Specialty Camp they offered for the first time.

Through this program, working with Foundation for Jewish Camp and Arevim Philanthropic Group, four JCC day camps ran Hebrew Immersion Specialty Camps this summer at Prosserman JCC of Toronto, JCC of Metro Detroit, Marcus Atlanta JCC and Mandel JCC of Cleveland. If your JCC is interested in creating a Hebrew Immersion Speciality camp through this program in future years, contact Aaron.

Check out the video about Cleveland’s program and learn more.


For the second summer, PJ Library and JCC Association partnered to bring over 55 JCC day camps Jewish books to enhance Jewish programming and literacy and literacy. This summer we highlight BB Oregon, where the books were incorporated into their day and overnight camps in 2015!

See the list of 2015 JCC Camps recipients.

BB Reads: An Innovative Reading Program at B’nai B’rith Camp, Beaverton, OR

BB reads photo

During the summer of 2015, B’nai B’rith Camp introduced the new and innovative BB Reads program. This program provided an opportunity to enrich campers’ experiences by offering them access to books and time to read during rest time and on Shabbat for their overnight campers and daily reading time periods for their day campers. In addition, campers had the opportunity to participate in book clubs where they shared their love of reading with friends. In partnership with JCCA and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library program, PJ Library books were offered to younger campers, giving them the opportunity to read (or be read to) Judaic themed books, which enabled the Judaic themes to be carried into cabin conversations. At the end of every session, campers had the opportunity to choose a book and take it home.

Studies show that children who do not read during the summer demonstrate a significant loss in reading skills, and start school behind where they left off. The summer reading program at BB Camp was designed to help prevent what is called the “summer slide” for kids who lack access to books or time spent reading over the summer. Camp is a powerful environment for kids to make emotional connections — in friendships with peers and counselors, through support for trying new things, and by being in a place of beauty and wonder. By including reading in camp programming, campers had the opportunities to make powerful emotional connections: being read to at bedtime, getting lost in a book out in the woods, and having books to take home and treasure. Like all of BB Camp’s programs, the summer reading program reflects BB Camp values by being fun, inclusive and accessible, exist in a sacred, safe space, build and strengthen community, foster self-discovery and build friendships for life. This program is aimed to provide fun opportunities for campers to discover books and the gift of reading at camp.



Fall is time for camp planning! Look out for an email from your regional coordinator about a meeting in October or November for a gathering for your JCC camps region! Thanks to the efforts of our 15 JCC Camp regional coordinators. Why attend your next virtual or in-person meeting?

1. Meet new colleagues in the field
2. Share best practices
3. Work together to save money and share resources
4. Strengthen the field of JCC camps and your camp


Oct 2015 JCC Camps Regional Hubs Meetings Kick Off
Nov 1-2, 2015 JCamp 180 Conference in Springfield, MA
Nov 2-3, 2015 JCC Overnight Camps’ Director Meetings in Springfield, MA
Jan 24-28, 2016 Interviews for shlichim in Jerusalem, Israel
Jan 31-Feb 3, 2016 Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix, AZ
Feb 9-12, 2016 ACA National Conference in Atlanta, GA
March 6-8, 2016 FJC’s Leaders Assembly in New Brunswick, NJ
March 7-10, 2016 ACA Tri-State Camp Conference in Atlantic City, NJ
March 10-11, 2016 JCC Day Camp Leadership Forum in Atlantic City, NJ
April 4-10, 2016 JAFI Shlichim Training in Israel (exact dates to follow)

Find local camp events and conferences led by ACA at http://www.acacamps.org/events.

Schedule of upcoming JCC Camps webinars


The Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps (JSC) is a year-long, paid, professional opportunity for Jewish young professionals to directly engage with the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian aid organization through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). JSC fellows play a hands-on role by creating or implementing innovative programs that respond to specific Jewish community needs and/or humanitarian challenges around the world.

JDC is now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 JSC and this may be exciting opportunities for your [students, alumni, networks, contacts, etc.] that are passionate about global service. Find out more about JSC here.


The JCC Camps website is the place where every JCC Association affiliated camp is listed. Here’s where current and prospective campers, parents, staff, alumni, and donors can learn about your camp and the JCC Camps movement. While we know that you may already have a strong web presence, this additional resource benefits your camp when it has all of your most up-to-date information included.

  1. Check out your page and have someone in your office complete your profile form to make any necessary updates! (It should take less than 10 minutes – once you begin it. You need to complete it in one sitting, since it will not save unless submitted).
  2. Now that summer is over, share your testimonials with us! There is an easy-to-use form to submit testimonials from your camp community.