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Story of Camp

As a kid who hoped to one day play shortstop for the Yankees, I faced a dilemma every summer. “Why do I have to choose between sports camp and Jewish overnight camp?”

So, with that question, though I didn’t know it, the course of my life had been set.

Childhood camp days were replaced by summers as a camp counselor and then college, but the idea that I might one day start a camp of my own began to take practice swings somewhere in the on-deck circle of my mind. Then came, I suppose, the breakthrough moment—a staff position and eventual promotion to Youth Athletic Program Manager at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Life began to feel like a baseball metaphor as I found myself rounding first and waved on by opportunity. While in Israel as part of the 2012 JCC Association Merrin Teen Professional Fellowship, I had a chance conversation with Jodi Sperling (Merrin Teen Center Director and VP of JCC Camping) who introduced me to the Foundation for Jewish Camp Specialty Camp Incubator.

Before I knew it, I was writing a proposal  and my idea was quickly moving threw a highly competitive selection process. Soon, I was rounding third base as I flew off to New York to interview and pitch my Jewish sports camp idea. Winning the support of Jim Joseph Foundation, Avi Chai Foundation, and the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Specialty Camp Incubator felt like sliding safely into home.

Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

I guess good ol’ Teddy was right, because, looking back, everything since that first day at camp has pointed toward this day, where I can proudly announce the 2014 opening of the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp—the first ever (on the West Coast) overnight Jewish camp for kids who love sports.

I hope that our camp, too, might inspire dreams and ambitions for generations to come.


Josh Steinharter
Camp Director

Learn more about the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Specialty Camp Incubator.