S’more JCC Camp News




Michael Ann Russell JCC in North Miami Beach celebrates through Red, White and Blue day.

This summer July Fourth coincides with Shabbat. This raises questions about how to honor both holidays at the same time.

In partnership with JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, a program of JCC Association, and the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Jewish Education, we’ve prepared some resources to get you started thinking about how your camp can pay respect to both holidays. Stay tuned for some new resources coming your way before summer begins!


PJ Library Logo
Through the JCC/Grinspoon Day Camp Project started in 2010, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) became our first North American partner in our work to strengthen the field of Jewish day camp. Last summer, as part of our new “PJ Library® Goes to JCC Day Camp!” initiative, 50 JCC day camps each received a box of 24 PJ Library books as a grant from JCC Association and HGF. Applications are open for summer 2015 and the package includes tzedakah boxes, CDs and posters!

This exciting new programming initiative creates additional opportunities to connect campers with Jewish life, holidays, and values. Reach out to your local PJ Library representative to get started this year; or continue your year-round activities with campers and area families. Integrate Jewish literacy into your camp program and work with community partners year round! Send in your application to Nicole by April 29th!



Every summer our JCC camps find great entertainers and programs to enhance day and overnight camp throughout North America. If you are still looking for special event programming, learn about some of the great programs recommended by your colleagues for summer 2015!



More than 45 day camp directors sing in the closing circle at JCC’s of North American Professional Conference Camp Track.

In March, JCCs of North America Professional Conference brought together more than 45 day camp directors, and an additional 35 youth and teen directors from JCCs throughout North America in Orlando, Florida to learn and connect. Highlights from our learning included presentations from outside speakers, including Deborah Grayson Rigel. The same week, more than 70 JCC overnight and day camp professionals gathered in Atlantic City, N.J. at the ACA Tri-State Conference.

Later in March, more than 20 JCC day camp directors and 10 JCC overnight camp professionals convened in Israel at the shlichim seminar of the Jewish Agency for Israel, welcoming over 500 shlichim, or emissaries from Israel, to our camps for the summer of 2015. Israel Up Close brought 11 day camp directors to Israel to participate in the seminar this year.

“I had the privilege of being a part of JCC Camp’s Israel Up Close program at the end of March… I really benefited from meeting and learning from other camp directors at the seminar and in our smaller Israel Up Close cohort. It was helpful to talk through issues, brainstorm, and learn from so many awesome and experienced camp directors from across the country. I loved the time with the Israel Up Close cohort to process and frame what Israel means to us as JCC professionals. We took walking tours of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and reflected on our own relationships with Israel as well as the role that we want Israel to play in our camp programs.”
— Lauren Fredman, Salt Lake City JCC

“I now understand the importance of coming to the seminar to build the connection between us and our shlichim. I got to spend four days with the shlichim we are bringing over, learning all about who they are, what strengths they are going to bring to our camps and to start easing their anxiety about American summer camps. … . With the shlichim coming to our day camps, we started talking about what type of camp we run, how we incorporate Israel into our camps as well as what type of Jewish environment our camp provides… so our shlichim can bring new pieces of Israel and Hebrew into camp this summer.” — Ari Golub, Mandel JCC of Cleveland

Read about Camp Shelanu’s experience at the Shlichim Seminar.



More than 500 shlichim prepare to for their American summer in JCC camps at this year’s seminar with JCC day and overnight camp directors.

By Dena Sokol, associate program manager, JCC Maccabi

After many years, working in camps and at the Jewish Agency for Israel, I am very familiar with this time of year. Before you know it your camp gates will be opening and you will be welcoming families, campers, staff, and shlichim alike to summer 2015 and of course it will be the best summer yet!

While you have tirelessly trained and prepared your staff about the ins and outs of working with campers, speaking with parents/guardians, and behaving with other staff and peers, have you spoken about your shlichim? Have you taken a moment to think about the unique experience that they not only offer to your program but in fact go through themselves before and during their summer? For those of you who have, fantastic; for those of you who just may not have found a free moment to do so, not to worry, we have complied the top ten 10 best ways to engage and work with your summer shlichim!

Remember that for many of them this is their first time in North America, first time at camp, first time living in a non-Hebrew speaking country.

  1. Engage Before Camp– This can be as simple as a bi-weekly e-mail filled with camp information, personalized questions, and simple small talk. Use this as you opportunity to set expectations for their work during the summer. By creating a standard of communication before they arrive at camp you will find it significantly easier to work together all summer long!
  2. Rules and Expectations– Establish clear expectations and review all rules before camp and during camp. Remember that each camp has its own unique culture and that sometimes the rules and regulations that govern and seem like “common sense” may not be for your shlichim.
  3. Be Prepared– Have conversations with your local staff before the shlichim arrive. Discuss what roles the shlichim will have at camp, what your expectations are from the local staff, and be ready to hit the ground running when their plane hits the tarmac.
  4. Method of Communication– Remember that they are Israeli and there is a cultural difference. Shlichim don’t always read social cues the way your local staff do, it’s just not a part of their culture. Make sure that information is communicated in a way that makes sense to them and that they clearly understand what you are addressing.
  5. Explore Their Hidden Talents– We all have them, things we love to do but don’t list as a skill set on our resumes. Explore with your shlichim what interests- aside from their role at camp- they may have. You never know the things you will learn and/or the added value they can bring to camp and your community!
  6. Tour Guide– It is important to make sure your shlichim feel comfortable with the lay of camp and the community they will be living in. Take the time to show them what the area looks like, what is unique about it, what’s exciting and worth seeing before the summer is over. If you are unable to do this yourself we encourage you to identify someone in your community you feel comfortable giving this role to.
  7. Something Fun– Being on shlichut can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. Make sure to set time aside for your shlichim to do something carefree, a trip to the coolest restaurant in town, a waterpark, a baseball game, something that allows for a more casual environment.
  8. Home, is Where the Heart is– Allowing time to check in at home, sometime a quick call with a familiar voice can be exactly what a shaliach needs. Let them share what they need and help them to connect to home.
  9. Ask More Than “How’s it Going?”– Ask intentional questions; remember that it is not a guarantee that you’re shlichim “know what this experience is supposed to look like.” Make sure to ask specific questions, “Has your host family taken you to the super market and purchased food items for you?”, “Are you comfortable with your bunk?”, “Do you have all the tools you need?”
  10. Fellow Shlichim– Are there other camps that are close to yours taking shlichim? If there are, let your shlichim know, and if possible, put them in contact with one another. Encourage them to meet up on days off or visit a camp for a Shabbat experience.

Hosting shlichim this summer? Learn with your host families:

Welcoming Shlichim Into Your Home (for day camp directors and leadership and host families)

Thursday, May 7, 2015 1-2pm EST led by Shara Perlman, Assistant Director of Camping

This webinar is focused on informing families and day camp directors on how to welcome Israelis (specifically shlichim) into the community and their homes. This is a critical part of the success of the shlichim program. If your camp is bringing shlichim to day camp this summer, join the conversation and discover strategies to welcome these guests into your homes and learn ways to have a meaningful experience for everyone. Camp directors and host families are encouraged to join the session.

Register here.


In Atlantic City, we had a very competitive game of Human Bingo and the winners got their camps highlighted here in our very own JCC camps newsletter! Congrats NJY Camps and Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Hear from Hylton Wener, director of Cedar Lake Camp (CLC), New Jersey Y Camps and Seth Finkle, director of Camp Haverim, Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, as they share about their camps and camp experiences as they gear up for summer 2015.


What was your best camp memory?
Hylton: It was actually last year at camp. With all the turmoil in Israel, we joined many of the camps in the United States to show our support for Israel. We painted banners of support and after Saturday services, we brought them out and the entire camp sang “Salaam” in full voice. We took pictures and recorded it to share on social media; but what we didn’t expect was the outpouring of support from our alumni and parents. The video was viewed over 40,000 times and shared by many people. It just reminded me that what we do at camp can make an impact not just on our campers during the summer but also on the greater community.

Seth: My first experience was as a camper in color wars (Maccabiah). We were woken up very early in the morning by the oldest group that was in charge. My bunk was very confused and had no idea what was happening, in fact we were quite scared. Once we were divided into teams and the week began, it was one of the best experiences of my time at camp. I took part in everything and have fond memories of doing Israeli dancing as a competition. The cheers we came up with, along with the competition, made for a great week. I am a theatrical person, so all the songs and dances really made me feel a part of something big. My team, the red team, won the competition and I remember the pride and excitement that I had helped my team succeed. I still remember some of the cheers and songs we did that year!

What are you most proud of at your camp?
Hylton: Our diverse program. At Cedar Lake Camp, we offer over 75 different activities giving our campers a diverse program, but also the opportunity to try new things to improve their skills in the activities they love.

Seth: I am most proud of infusing Jewish values into everyday activities. I grew up in a non-Jewish area so working at a camp that embraces and values the J in camp is something I am excited about. I am also proud that many of my counselors were former campers.

What do you look forward to this summer?
Hylton: Welcoming back returning campers and staff but even more so, helping our new campers and staff make CLC their new home away from home.

Seth: Working with our summer shaliach, Nave, as our music leader. I am so excited to have her here for this. I think her enthusiasm for music, working with children and teaching will really add something awesome to camp this summer!

What camp activity do you make sure to never miss, and why?
Hylton: The final night of color war (Maccabiah). It reinforces how creative and talented our campers and staff are. This is highlighted by each team song. They each create an original song, highlighting the theme of their team and all the campers and staff learn it in one day including harmonizing and actions.

Seth: I am super excited for my first summer at Haverim and I plan to never miss our morning circle. I love starting the camp day with the feeling of camaraderie and fun, including our camp song and Hebrew word of the day!


JCCA.me, our online resource bank, was just re-launched with a sleek new design that is faster and easier than ever to use! JCCA.me has all sorts of awesome resources to help you with whatever you need during the summer and beyond. We’ve got resources on programming, operations, marketing, and more…check it out!

And as we approach summer 2015, make sure to check out these new and relevant pieces on JCCA.me

Camp Safety and Security
Jewish Programming
Maccabiah/Color War


We are excited to share that we are working with the NY Yankees, a preferred vendor, for discounted tickets again this season. Stay tuned for more details about dates and rates in the coming month!

You may already know The Redwoods Group, either through direct partnerships or ​in ​accessing their library of free content online​ in past years​. Last summer, we were excited to provide all JCCs access to their online training course Child Safety Abuse Prevention at Camp, at no cost, regardless of whether you were a ​Redwoods ​partner or not. This year, we are thrilled to take that partnership a step further! Shortly, Redwoods will be launching a brand new Camp Safety Training DVD. The DVD contains 60 minutes of inspiring guidance designed specifically for the Camp counselors on a variety of topics:

Supervision/Abuse Prevention
Bullying Prevention
Aquatic Safety
Many more!

Perhaps best of all, the DVD content is entirely modular – you choose the piece(s) that best supplement the training you already provide, or you can use the entire training!

Redwoods will, once again, graciously make this new, updated training DVD available to all of our JCCs at no cost. All you have to do is request a DVD from Redwoods or go to redwoodsgroup.com! On behalf of the Redwoods Group and JCC Association,​ we wish you a safe and fantastic summer.


Mandel JCC Day Camps JCC Pittsburgh Emma Kaufmann Camp

The JCC Camps website is a space where every JCC Association affiliated camp is listed for current and prospective campers, parents, staff, alumni, and donors to learn about your camp and the JCC camps movement. While we know that you may already have a strong web presence, this additional resource would benefit 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. Did you get any great feedback from this summer? Share it with us! There is a new easy-to-use form to submit testimonials from your camp community.
  3. Check out a new post from … on our camp blog. We will be periodically updating the blog and camp testimonials, so stay tuned!
  4. Make sure you are keeping up with trends and updating your website! Two camps that are doing great work are Mandel JCC Day Camps and Emma Kaufmann Camp.


We are happy to welcome new JCC camp professionals who have joined us just in time for summer 2015! If we accidentally missed you, sorry! Email Shara 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.

Adam-Cook Nikki-Downey Jeff-Hast
Adam Cook Nikki Downey Jeff Hast
Email Adam Email Nikki Email Jeff
Siegel JCC of Delaware Mayerson JCC East Valley JCC
Wilmington, DE Cincinnati, OH Chandler, AZ
Brandon-Hudson Gabe-Miner Rachel-Shyloski
Brandon Hudson Gabe Miner Rachel Shyloski
Email Brandon Email Gabe Email Rachel
Valley of the Sun JCC Pinemere Camp Camp Mountain Chai
Scottsdale, AZ Philadelphia, PA San Diego, CA
Rachel-Singer Rachael-Speck Jessica-Spiegel
Rachel Singer Rachael Speck Jessica Spiegel
Email Rachel Email Rachael Email Jessica
Kaiserman JCC Emma Kaufmann Camp Kaplen JCC on the Palisades
Wynnewood, PA Pittsburgh, PA Tenafly, NJ