S’more JCC Camp News


Camp 2014

Jodi Sperling and Shara Perlman visiting Camp Yachad at the JCC of Central NJ with Jennifer Mamlet, Jodi Hotra, Mallory Zipkin and Lindsay Napchen.


We visited over 50 camps this summer and have lots to share! Listen to the most recent day camp webinar where we highlighted the “Top 10 Trends” seen this summer in day camps, or review “Lessons from the Road” from last month’s overnight camp conference. Follow up with us if you want to talk in more detail about anything we saw visiting camps!



JCC Maccabi Sports Camp huddle and Camp Inc. “Shark Tank.”

What are these awesome new camps?

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is a blend of intensive sports instruction and meaningful Jewish community and friendship. High level experienced coaches provide a credible and competitive sports program for our campers woven with the daily integration of Jewish values and genuine community in a 2-week session structure.

Camp Inc. is a unique program that attracts creative and inventive 6th through 12th grade campers where 40% of campers’ time is focused on business and entrepreneurship in a Jewish camp setting. Campers develop a new product or service, and participate in activities like hiking, climbing, basketball, arts and crafts, boating, camp fires, and talent shows. At the end of each session, campers pitch their new startup to a panel of investors, “Shark Tank” style.

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp and Camp Inc. are both excellent complements to other JCC day and overnight camp programs for campers.

We interviewed our new camp directors, Josh Steinharter, Camp Director at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, and Josh Pierce, Camp Director at Camp Inc. about their first summers in action. Read below…

1. What was the best part about starting a new camp?

Steinharter: Giving camp to children who have never been to camp before and connecting them to friends and a community that they would otherwise not have was exciting. JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is going to be “my camp” for so many young Jewish athletes!

Pierce: For us, starting a new camp is incredible because the process of taking an idea and turning it into a reality is exactly what we are teaching our campers to do. We are a startup camp about startups, and that is a process we love.

2. What is one of your favorite camp traditions that was started this summer?

Steinharter: The Maccabi Cup – every camp has a color war so it was especially important for a sports camp to have a different day of team unity and competition.

Pierce: “The Dalton.” One of our business specialists, Greg, had an intern from CU working with him this summer named Dalton. Early on in the session, they took the campers on a hike into the woods and taught them about presentation skills when meeting someone for the first time, including eye contact, shaking their hand, telling them your name, giving them your one sentence pitch so they know what you’re up to, and then following up with a targeted question for the person they are meeting. This process instantly became known as “Doing the Dalton.” From that point on, every new guest that came to camp and everyone they met on tour days ended up with a line in front of them, as all of our campers waited their turn to introduce themselves and do “The Dalton.”

3. Tell us something you learned that you didn’t expect as a new camp director.

Steinharter: I learned this summer how much I would come to loathe the phrase “Hey Josh, I have a quick question.” But seriously, I don’t think I realized how much I would be involved in every single detail and decision that happens at camp. Not because our staff wasn’t capable of making decisions but because there were so many new and unanswered situations that came up each and every day.

Pierce: The unexpected will happen no matter how much you plan and you need to leave time each day, so it can be filled with all of the things that couldn’t be anticipated.

4. What is something you’d like all the JCC day and overnight camps to know about your camp?

Steinharter: I’d like other JCC camps to know that JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is a legitimate blend of intensive sports instruction and meaningful Jewish community and friendship. Our high level experienced coaches provide a credible and competitive sports program for our campers woven with the daily integration of Jewish values and genuine community. Further, given our 2-week session structure, our program is an excellent compliment to other JCC day and overnight camp programs.

Pierce: Camp Inc. is a unique program that attracts creative and inventive 6th through 12th grade campers. We focus about 40% of our time on business and entrepreneurship, making it an extremely different overnight camp program compared to other Jewish camps. We run three short sessions, so it is possible to do a session at Camp Inc. and a session at another camp in the same summer. Campers not only learn how to develop a new product or service, they also have plenty of time for activities like hiking, climbing, basketball, arts and crafts, boating, camp fires, and talent shows. At the end of each session, our campers pitch their new startup to a panel of investors, “Shark Tank” style.


JCC Elaine Rank Apachi Day Camp reading to a group

At JCC Elaine Frank Apachi Day Camp, JCC Chicago, a counselor reads a PJ Library book to a group.

Through the JCC/Grinspoon Day Camp Project started in 2010, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) became our first national 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. We hope even more camps will apply in 2015.

This exciting new programming initiative created additional opportunities to connect campers with Jewish life, holidays, and values through these great stories. Most camps also worked with their local PJ Library representative to plan year-round activities with campers and area families. Are you currently integrating Jewish literacy into your camp program and working with community partners in year round camper recruitment? Discover new ways to engage your community!

Camp activities:PJ Library Logo

  • Reading PJ Library books during the all-camp or small group Shabbat program
  • Connecting stories to challah making, arts activities and creating a camp show
  • Connecting stories to weekly values
  • Creating a swim-a-thon or camp mitzvah program
  • Incentivizing reading with rewards for reading hours at home or camp
  • Developing a reading buddies program with older campers reading to younger campers and discussing themes
  • Combining books with TAG-tivities
  • Creating murals based on Jewish values learned from books
  • Introducing books at staff meetings and have staff discussions about the books
  • Creating a camp bulletin board featuring books and letting campers put up notes on books

Thanks to some JCC day camps for great ideas around integrating PJ Library and your local PJ Library coordinator during the school year!

Year-round camper recruitment and programs:


On September 14, 2014, 50 overnight camp professionals representing 20 of our 24 overnight camps gathered at Capital Camps to learn and share together. Here’s what some of the attendees had to say about the experience:

“This is a great space to interact with our colleagues —I personally love this opportunity.” Gilad Shwartz, JCC Ranch Camp

“I was very pleased with the conference, its content, and its participants…a nice balance of social and networking opportunities with tangible, take-away training sessions.” Adam Broms, Capital Camps

“It far surpassed my expectations. I learned a TON from my colleagues and everyone was incredibly open to sharing their ideas and models to help us grow and develop our program.” Mara Berde, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp



Camp directors learning at the JCC Fall Overnight Camp Conference.

November 3-4, 2014 JCamp 180, Springfield, MA
January 20-25, 2015 Shlichim Interviews, Jerusalem, Israel
January 25-28, 2015 Executive Leadership Seminar, Westin, FL
March 15-18, 2015 JCCA Professional Conference, Orlando, FL
March 18, 2015 Introduction to TAG, Orlando, FL

TAG Regional Seminars  focusing on staff training.

  • San Francisco: Thursday, February 12, 2015
  • New York: Tuesday, February 24, 2015
  • Chicago: Thursday, February 26, 2015
  • New York: Monday, March 2, 2015

TAG is a curricular initiative to help participants explore issues of daily living through a Jewish lens through the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Jewish Education at JCC Association. TAG identifies issues (friendship, diversity, self-image, etc.) and develops interactive units using drama, music, discussion, art, and storytelling to explore what Jewish wisdom has to say on the matter.

There are also a number of ongoing webinars offered to JCC Camps.

Fall American Camp Association Conferences

November 11, 2014 Directors Roundtable, New York, NY
November 18-20, 2014 ACA Keystone Retreat Experience, Macungie, PA



Teens from Camp Livingston and Pinemere Camp traveled to Israel together this summer, making strong connections with the land and each other.

What a first summer in my role as the director of JCC Maccabi Israel! I’ll begin with a short story – one Friday afternoon I was in the Machne Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Along with a group of teens from Michael Ann Russell JCC of North Miami, we made a decision to go out and buy food, candy and supplies for soldiers and kids who are in bomb shelters in the south. We also bought fancy wrapping paper, and made our way back to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat. After dinner we all met back in the lobby, and the kids started to make care packages with all that they had purchased, decorating them and writing letters. We ended up with three huge boxes. While the kids were working, I was approached by a young man with a newborn baby in his hands. He asked me what we were doing, and I explained. He introduced himself and said that he’s an officer in the Golani Brigade, and that he had returned from Gaza for 24 hours to see his newborn daughter, and asked if he could take some of the packages back to his soldiers. Of course the staff said yes automatically, and then he asked if he could thank the group. It was Shabbat and the man was religious, so unfortunately I do not have a picture to show you the excitement and passion that the kids had in their eyes while he thanked them – but I’m sure that those kids will remember that mifgash (connection) for the rest of their lives. A few days later the ground operation began, and the Golani Brigade was the first to enter. I pray that they all made it home safe and sound.

I was excited to take this job because of my passion for Israel education. Every rock in Israel has a story to tell, every building has a history. Israel is not only a place of incredible heritage, but also has reinvented itself as a place with an inspiring future. But the war in Gaza this summer created a backdrop that had a profound impact on JCC camps across North America, for parents, staff, campers, and especially directors. In September, at the JCC Overnight Camp conference, Israel was raised again and again as one of the directors’ biggest challenges of the summer.

Support for Israel played a big role in the story that we told our campers this summer. There were some incredible projects that we saw online that were shared by Camp Chi in Chicago, among many others, that sent kids home with a better understanding of what is happening in Israel, and a true feeling of connection. In addition, many communities chose to present the story to campers focusing on the people of Israel. The choice to tell the stories of families, soldiers or children while focusing on the tikkun olam that took place in Israeli society – presented to the community the amazing solidarity among Israelis this summer. Thousands of volunteers in North America did incredible work, people took initiatives and looked at the broader community and created valuable teaching moments for us all.

Camps and JCCs that had teen groups scheduled to come to Israel this summer made communal decisions for their families. One of the beauties of JCCs is that we have healthy, individual conversations with communities, and make decisions together, based on the needs of communities. What ended up happening was that groups that made their way to Israel enjoyed a summer of a lifetime – saw all that Israel had to offer (under strict security guidelines) and got a glimpse of that solidarity I spoke about. Communities that chose not to send their teens to Israel made sure that these future leaders still had a meaningful summer experience in other ways. Both options were very legitimate.

I had numerous conversations with camps and groups that organize trips to Israel, through the JCC Israel Center or on their own before, during and after the summer. We are always here for you at the JCC Israel Center to offer our guidance, support and logistical abilities. That is the power of the JCC movement.

Ido Medan David, Program Director, JCC Maccabi Israel. Email Ido.

New Trips

JCC Maccabi Israel® is offering its March of the Living program to Poland and Israel.
We are excited to offer your community’s teenagers the opportunity of a lifetime! Together with thousands of Jewish 11th and 12th graders from around the globe, they will participate in the March of the Living (MOTL) program, traveling to Poland and then Israel this coming April.

We realize that in some of your communities there may be organizations already providing a MOTL trip, but JCC Maccabi Israel offers a travel experience that is truly unique.

Why March of the Living with JCC Association?

  • You will be offering this transformative experience for your teens, also enabling you to incorporate the program as an integrative part of your yearlong curriculum.
  • Our JMI (JCC Maccabi Israel) MOTL program focuses on community and leadership, in addition to the traditional March of the Living program.
  • Bringing teens on March of the Living through the JCC will enable you to offer a holistic approach to exploring the Holocaust and post-Holocaust communities – your teens can meet with members of your community who are survivors or with children of survivors as part of the pre- and post-program.
  • We will work with you to maximize outreach and make it as simple as possible to recruit within your community.

Where can I find more information?
JMI has set up a section on our website that offers information on the program and an online registration site easily accessible via the website.

For additional information and questions, contact Ido.


The JCC Camps website is a space where every JCC 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 link 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 new posts from Mitch and Sean Morgan (Pinemere Camp and Camp Wise) and Phil Faibish (Centre Camp) on our camp blog. We will be periodically updating the blog postings 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 Centre Camp and Camp Chi.



We are happy to welcome new JCC camp executive directors, directors, and assistant directors who have joined us since the summer! If we accidentally missed you, sorry! Email Shara with your photo so we can include you in our next newsletter and make sure you’re in the loop on all things JCC camps!

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Aaron Bock Ben Charlton Brad Chotiner Katie Dunn
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Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village B’nai Brith Camp J Day Camps Metarie Camp
Samuel Field Y Beaverton, OR St. Louis JCC New Orleans JCC
Bayside, NY St. Louis, MO New Orleans, LA


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Jason Goldstein Abby Kaufman Terrance Perkins
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Camp Shalom Camp Shai Metarie Camp
Addison-Penzak JCC Robert E. Loup JCC New Orleans JCC
Los Gatos, CA Denver, CO New Orleans, LA


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Josh Shenker Sara Sideman Aaron Slovin
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Camp Hilbert JCC Camps at Medford Camp Livingston
Weinstein JCC Katz JCC Cincinnati, OH
Richmond, VA Cherry Hill, NJ