S’more Camp News – January 2018 | Shevat 5778 Edition

January 2018

Welcome Camp Avoda!

We welcome our newest affiliated overnight camp, Camp Avoda, Executive Director Ken Shifman, and Camp Director Ronni Saltzman Guttin to the JCC camps family! Camp Avoda is an all-boys sports camp started in 1927 and located in Middleboro, Massachusetts. You can read more about Camp Avoda here.

LEV (Lift Every Voice) Songleader Training

Training opportunity for current and future day and overnight songleaders and music staff


JCC Association, in collaboration with our partners BBYO and the Association for Independent Jewish Camps (AIJC), is excited to offer a song leader training, now in its second year:  LEV (Lift Every Voice, or “heart” in Hebrew).

This year, LEV will be hosted at Capital Camps & Retreat Center, May 11-13, about an hour and a half from Washington DC. All JCC day and overnight camps are invited and encouraged to send their 2018 song leaders or anyone interested in learning song leading skills! We’re also inviting current 10th and 11th graders from our camps to join LEV, so that you can be investing in the future of your camp’s song leading team now.

Campfire Story

The Shlichim Interview Experience

Last week, our camping team was in Israel with a group of our day and overnight camp directors to interview Israeli shlichim (emissaries) who will be working at our camps this summer. The Israeli shlichim come into the interviews nervous and excited about going to an American summer camp. They can’t wait to fulfill this dream and have this experience, one that they have only ever heard about. Often just having finished their time in the army, the shlichim enter these interviews eager to learn more about their next adventure.
Starting a relationship with your shlichim at the interview process keeps them engaged and motivated about their role at camp. Human resources firm Paycor has found that “a proven way to engage applicants from the beginning is to keep them informed of where they are in the process, making them feel important and cared for.” The research also states that driving engagement before a new hire’s first day can be as simple a gesture as sending an email or giving them a call to welcome them, sharing an interesting article or piece of information about your camp, or creating a short, personalized video to welcome them to the team.

The JCC Association camping team happily interviews on your behalf when you are unable to attend, but the directors who have attended say that it is invaluable. Camp Mountain Chai Director Dan Baer says, “being at the shlichim interviews for the first time was incredibly valuable.  It allows us to get a better sense of character and assess the way they will integrate into our staff culture.“ For those of you hiring shlichim who did not attend the interviews, please make sure to reach out to them so you can begin the relationship with your Israeli staff now, and they can begin to feel a part of your camp community. The earlier you engage with your staff, the more you will both get out of the shlichim program this summer.

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

Engagement Idea of the Month

Idea:  Sherut L’Olam: The Shalom Institute’s year round teen leadership program

Outside of their summer camp, Camp JCA Shalom, Shalom Institute has found a number of ways to keep their campers engaged all year. One of the most notable programs has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Sherut L’Olam, Service to the World, is a values-based fellowship in which teens can explore social and environmental issues, learn the power of their voices, and become engaged with the world around them. Created in partnership with the local Jewish Federation, the fellowship teaches participants about activism, public speaking, team building, and communication. Graduates of the program have become connected to each other, their local Jewish community, and the causes about which they are so passionate. A parent of two past participants explains the impact the fellowship had on her sons: “My boys have taken full advantage of the leadership skills and social justice education they had the opportunity to take part in. [One son] is now almost 25 and continues to be involved in the Jewish social justice world. He just ran a food insecurity weekend in Detroit. He’s in his first year of law school and hoping to specialize in community housing. [My other son], 21, is in his fourth year of university and deeply involved in the leadership of a peer to peer mental health support club on campus. Thank you for giving my teens, and the hundreds of lucky others, the opportunity to learn, find their inner leader, and introduce them to a bit of the real world they are being handed.” For more information on Sherut L’Olam, contact Arthur Pinchev at

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

STEM Programming at Camp

STEM education refers to science, technology, engineering, and math, and is at the forefront of the education world. Many camps have found that bringing STEM educational opportunities into their camp is a way to stay current and bring new program areas that encourage creativity, innovative thinking, and problem solving. Three of ours camps tell us about their exciting STEM programs.

By Sam Aboudara

In 2008, NJY Camps opened the Dr. Lynne B Harrison Science Center with the mission of providing high quality STEM programming within a Jewish overnight camp setting. Since its inauguration, the program has grown to now include coding, robotics, physiology, astronomy, physics, biology and chemistry. Each program is offered as both an elective for every camper and a specialty camp for those individuals who want to delve deeper into specific areas of focus. Each summer, the Dr. Lynne B Harrison Science Center hosts a science fair, providing a platform for all STEM programs to showcase their hands on projects and experiments to the whole camp.

JCC Camps at Medford
By Beth Segal

JCC Camps at Medford in New Jersey offers STEM programming at camp in two office trailers as well as an Open Hearts Open Doors shed. For summer 2018, the trailers can be reconfigured to accommodate two classrooms each and the OHOD shed can accommodate one; for a total of 5 new STEM programming spaces. With the creation of the STEM Village, we will be able to offer 3-d printing, robotics, drones, a maker space, and “JCC TV.”

Bender JCC Day Camp’s STEM Mobile!
By Phil Liebson

In Montgomery County, Maryland, we are fortunate to have a nonprofit that has a mobile STEM lab (a tractor trailer/RV bus) that tours the county bringing high tech science to high schools. Through some channels we were able to strike a deal to have their mobile lab park in our JCC lot, train our specialists, and provide us with more than enough supplies and experiments to keep kids wanting more from week to week.

For summer 2018 we are excited that MD Bio Foundation will provide a larger vehicle that will give us an opportunity for new experiments, more space and even more fun. The ability to provide a “specialty camp” that gives our older campers a morning of STEM and an afternoon of swim, sports, arts, music and more has been a great addition to our summer offerings. The ability to couple that specialty camp with an afternoon STEM specialist for our younger campers has given all of our families a fun and exciting addition for Camp JCC.

Grant Opportunities

Check out the below grants to consider for your camp!

Kiwanis Club Grant Program

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund awards grants for projects that provide long-term benefits for children. The areas of focus are health, education, and leadership development.

Westinghouse Electric Company

One of the Westinghouse Charitable Giving Program’s strategic areas of giving is education with a focus on STEM. Grants are awarded for programs aimed at improving knowledge and literacy with a focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Verizon Foundation

One of the Verizon Foundation’s funding priorities is STEM education for youth.

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, new future campers!

  • Jacob Samuel, the first child of Stamford JCC Camp Director Jason Samuel and his wife Katie.
  • Dylan Zachary Speck, son to Emma Kaufmann Camp Assistant Director Rachael Speck and her husband Alex.
  • Nava Bay Allen, the newest addition to Camp Tawonga Director of Wilderness Programs Myla Marks, her husband Wes, and their daughter Ariela.
  • Matilda Jane Bernstein, the first daughter of Camp Tawonga Associate Director Katie Quinn and her husband Jason.
  • Ryleigh Miriam Stern, daughter to Baltimore JCC Camp Director Emily Pesach Stern and her husband Steve.
  • Twins Noah Abraham and Jonah Solomon, the newest additions to the Sideman family: JCC Camps at Medford Assistant Director Sara Sideman, her husband David, and big brother Benny.

Congratulations on your special day!

  • Mandel JCC of Cleveland Day Camp Assistant Director Abbey Henkin on her marriage to Rob Phillips.
  • Camp Mountain Chai Assistant Director Rachel Shyloski on her marriage to Beth Caplan-Matlow.

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

Job Openings

Day Camps
Camp Director

Assistant Director

Overnight Camps
Camp Director

Associate Director

  • Camp Chi: Associate Director, Chicago, IL. Please send resumes or inquiries to Brad Finkel at

Assistant Director

Program Director

Office Manager

Retreat Center Director

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

Where in the World is the Lekhu Lakhem IV Cohort?

The Lekhu Lakhem IV fellows and faculty are traveling through Israel as part of our two-year fellowship for overnight camp directors.

Upcoming Events

  • Executive Leadership Seminar, Jan. 28-30
  • New JCC Day Camp Professionals Conference, Feb. 12-13
  • Songleader Boot Camp Conference, Feb. 18-20
  • Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Leaders Assembly, March 18-20
  • American Camp Association of NY & NJ’s Tri-State Camp Conference, March 20-22
  • Jewish Agency for Israel’s Day Camp Shlichim Seminar, April 22-26
  • Jewish Agency for Israel’s Overnight Camp Shlichim Seminar, April 25-29
  • Jewish Camps USA Staff Training, April 22
  • LEV (Lift Every Voice) Songleader Training, May 11-13
Happy planning for summer 2018!



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!