Monthly Archives:December 2013

We’re Hiring!

Posted by December 27, 2013 • Share:

Our staff application is online and we’re excited to start hiring staff for camp this summer!

We’re in need of Counselor-Coaches, a Program Manager, and Head Coaches.  Our ideal candidates are highly motivated, creative, passionate, and hardworking… and of course excited about being part of our inaugural summer team.

Thinking about getting an unpaid internship this summer instead of spending the summer outside, playing sports, and hanging out with kids?  Working at camp can give you  more real-world experience, is a paid position with free lodging and food, and can be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs summer jobs.   Don’t believe me? Read this article that was recently posted on the American Camp Association blog entitled “10 Reasons Why Businesses Should Hire Former Camp Counselors” by Anne Archer Yetsko.  It explains why former camp counselors make great employees — we couldn’t agree more!   (Read full article  below.)

Know anyone who might be interested in joining our team?   For more information, visit this page of our website and use the links at the left to view job descriptions and apply to work at camp.  If you have questions, email our Assistant Director Mara Berde at or call us at 415-997-8844.


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10 Reasons Why Businesses Should Hire Former Camp Counselors  by Anne Archer Yetsko

When I speak with friends who work in other industries, I always tell them that if you have an applicant who has been a camp counselor and has a positive reference from that camp, they should move to the top of that pile of applications that are overflowing on their desk. A camp counselor is one of the hardest jobs out there. It is not all fun and games. Here is my list of the top 10 qualities you get when you hire someone who has been a camp counselor.

1. A good communicator: Camp counselors have to be able to communicate well with children, parents, coworkers, and superiors. This is different from any other job because parents leave the most valuable thing in their lives with us, their child. At our camp they have about 10 minutes to speak to the counselors and feel confident in them before they leave their perfect child with them for two weeks. That 10-minute conversation is one that will have a lasting impact on that parent. THEY WILL CLING TO EVERY WORD! If a child is sick or homesick, that same counselor is the one to call the parent to update them on the situation and ensure them that their baby is safe and being well cared for.

2. A life-long learner: When someone works in a camp setting, they learn that to be successful in camp and in life they have to realize they have a lot to learn not only about camp and their campers but also about themselves. Once they make that transition they are able to approach every situation in life with an “I want to learn more” attitude.

3. A self-starter: Most camps have between 25-150 cabin counselors. While they are given very good supervision, no one is holding their hand every step of the way. They very quickly learn that as far as their campers are concerned, THEY are the “go-to” person. If one of their children forgets a toothbrush it is their responsibility to get them one from the infirmary.

4. A resilient individual: Camp counselors can handle anything. Just ask the counselor who has been helping a camper overcome homesickness while teaching their activity in the rain for 4 days straight, only to learn that there is a child in their cabin with lice. When they hear this, instead of curling up in a ball and hiding (the way any normal person would), they grab their gloves, strip all the beds in the cabin, get all of the laundry to the cleaners, and get all the campers lined up outside to check each one for nits. I repeat, camp counselors can, and do, handle anything!

5. A problem solver: At camp we try to keep things very scheduled and organized, but at the drop of a hat, plans can change. Imagine walking out of the dining hall with 250 campers and staff to play sock war (like capture the flag but you get to throw socks at each other!) when you hear a loud burst of thunder and have to come up with a new plan in an instant.

6. A creative thinker: When you need a new plan immediately, leave it to a camp counselor to come up with the most brilliant and fun game that anyone has ever heard of. If you think a boardroom of 10 lawyers is intimidating try standing in front of 200 children who are expecting to have the most fun they have ever had and your plan that you have been working on all week just got rained out.

7. A detail-oriented worker: Remember, camp counselors are responsible for THE most important thing in a parent’s life. Each and every detail is unbelievably important! Did a child have enough to eat at breakfast, drink enough water, make a new friend, skin their knee, play soccer, miss their mom, have wet shoes, lose their sweatshirt . . . ? Now multiply this by a whole cabin of campers!

8. A leader: It does not matter if you consider yourself a leader or not, the moment children arrive on property their counselor is their leader and their biggest role model. They watch their counselor’s every move. It is amazing how quickly camp counselors learn how to take on this role and own it. The way these children talk about their counselors when they leave is a testament to what great leaders they are.

9. A team player: Camp counselors are some of the best team players you will ever meet. They have learned that they cannot do it all on their own and that the best product is produced when you have a team working on it. In a camp setting, you need all different personality types to be able to meet each and every child where they are. To come up with the most fun game, camp counselors know it won’t come from one person but an army of people working toward the same goal. Most people come into this job thinking they can do it all, but it does not take long for them to realize that this job is physically impossible alone.

10. A solid work ethic: It is very difficult to explain to someone who has never been a camp counselor how hard this job really is. These college students work 24 hours a day for 3 months with very little time off and they do all the things mentioned in 1–9 with a smile on their face.
Employers who themselves have been camp counselors understand the qualities required to successfully do this job and, consequently, often seek these individuals out when filling positions. But now the secret is getting out and having “Summer Camp Counselor” on a resume can make a potential employee much more desirable!

Anne Archer  Yetsko is the associate director of Camp Merri-Mac in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She has worked for Merri-Mac for 12 years and is also a recent graduate of Touro University’s Camp Administration and Leadership master’s program. This blog was originally posted on the Merri-Mac blog.


Remembering Nelson Mandela

Posted by December 20, 2013 • Share:

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.” (Nelson Mandela)

Nelson Mandela died earlier this month on December 5, 2013.  He will be remembered for many things such as his role as a world leader, peace maker, and anti-apartheid hero, but he will also be remembered as an advocate for sport and an athlete himself.  An amateur boxer in the 1950s, Mandela spent hours each day running and exercising, even during his 27 years in prison.   In 1995 when South Africa’s rugby team won the Rugby World Cup, Mandela presented the trophy to the Afrikaner captain, a gesture that showed South Africa and the world that equality is possible and that sport has a unique power to unite people, in South Africa and beyond.

(This post originally appeared in our newsletter, which you can find here.  If you wish to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, visit this page of our website.)


180 Days Until Camp!

Posted by December 18, 2013 • Share:

Josh Steinharter, Camp Director and Founder of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, reflects on how far we’ve come in the past year.

Today marks 180 days until the first day of camp…the very first day of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp! It also happens to be December 18th.

Now, I don’t want to overstate the significance of the number “18” showing up twice, but I just can’t ignore it either as the number 18 is an important number in Judaism signifying the Hebrew word “Chai” meaning “life”. As the last year, or 15 months, has been dedicated to bringing life to a new Jewish overnight sports camp, let’s take a moment to reflect on the year and acknowledge some of our accomplishments.

In the past year, we:

  • Created a new brand and designed a beautiful marketing presence
  • Found a home for camp at Menlo College in Atherton, CA
  • Set up a new business, including securing not-for-profit tax exempt status and all the other fun aspects of setting up a business
  • Hired Mara Berde, an experienced and creative Assistant Director
  • Opened a new office in San Francisco (moved out of my apartment!)
  • Met hundreds of families, educators, rabbis and other exciting people in the Jewish community around the country
  • Launched registration and signed up our first campers!

In the spirit of these accomplishments and the numerical significance of the day, I searched for a famous Jewish athlete who wore the number 18.

The best I could find was Gabe Kapler who wore #18 while playing for the Texas Rangers in 2002.

Though, if you really understand the symbolic nature of Chai, you know that it’s the numerical representation of two Hebrew letters that when combined add up to 18. The letter Chet is the 8th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the letter Yud is the 10th. So, in the absence of uncovering a player who sported the #18, I instead turned to a more genuine representation of Chai, players who wore #8 and #10.

This brings us to a modern and historical connection of Ryan Braun (#8) and Moe Berg (#10 while with the Washington Senators in 1933)

Ryan Braun, now a controversial player, was at one time on his way to becoming arguably the greatest Jewish baseball player of all time. He’s fallen out of favor with the masses due to his use and subsequent denial of said usage of performance enhancing drugs. He has recently admitted to his missteps and has been seeking to regain the confidence of his teammates, fans and community, something which takes great humility and courage. These are markings of strong character, an important value of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. Like him or hate him, it’s hard to deny the difficult road he faces and for that we support Ryan Braun.

Now for a different kind of Jewish baseball player, one who is better known, if at all, for his achievements off the field. Referred to as one of the best educated, intellectually accomplished and patriotic Jewish athletes in history, Moe Berg is less known for his time in the bigs and more remembered for his time as a US spy in World War II.  So, while he didn’t have the most glorious career on the baseball field, his achievements in the classroom and contributions on the battlefield, risking his life to battle the Nazis in WWII, are to be celebrated.  Prior to defending our country in the War, Berg graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and then attended Columbia Law School, finishing second in his class, all while playing major league baseball!

Can you name a famous Jewish athlete who wore #18?  Maybe you know of a different 8 & 10 combination to help us say “L’Chaim” to JCC Maccabi Sports Camp!

Why Camp? And, Is My Child Ready?

Posted by December 17, 2013 • Share:

Written by Josh Steinharter, Camp Director

Overnight camp, also commonly referred to as “sleep away” or “residential” camp, can be an empowering and transformative experience for a child. Sending a child to overnight camp, sometimes as young as 7 years old, is a very common American experience and there are thousands of camp programs nationwide to choose from.

Before deciding which camp to send your child, there are often two hurdles parents face 1) What does my child have to gain from the experience and 2) is my child ready?

What makes camp so special?

In the simplest terms, camp is a place where kids get to be themselves, make new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.  The opportunity to live away from home, outside the norms of everyday life, opens children up to explore different sides of their personality, learn new skills and take safe chances they may not have the opportunity to take during the school year.

Here are some words and ideas often associated with kids who go to camp…

  • Independent
  • Fun-loving
  • Social
  • Willing to try new things
  • Open minded
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased maturity
  • Decision making skills
  • Caring for others
  • People other than parents as role models
  • Responsible

Questions to help decide if your child is ready

  • Has your child spent time away from his/her immediate family?
  • How easily does your child make friends with other kids?
  • Is your child comfortable telling adults about his/her needs?
  • Would your child be attending camp with at least one kid he/she already knows (and likes)?
  • How independent and responsible is your child?
  • What are your child’s eating habits like?
  • Has your child participated in group activities like day camp programs, team sports, or youth organizations?
  • Does your child want to go to camp?

Once you’ve decided camp is right for you child, next is choosing the right camp.

Is JCC Maccabi Sports Camp the right camp for my child?

If your child loves sports and has a dedicated interest in developing their skills in their core sport and wants to do it in a welcoming, supportive Jewish environment, then this camp is right for you.

Your child’s “coachability” or their desire to be coached is significantly more important than their skill level. Our camp caters to camper of a wide variety of skill level from recreational to competitive, with the common thread that each child is there to improve their skills and be a better teammate and member of a larger community. Bottom line, if your child is passionate about sports with an interest in getting better, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is the perfect community for them!

We are available to help you navigate all these questions. If you’d like to talk further about camp in general, your child’s readiness, or their specific sports level and needs, please contact Camp Director Josh Steinharter, (415) 997-8844 or

Camp Water Bottles are Here!

Posted by December 12, 2013 • Share:

water bottles

Our new water bottles have arrived!  

Everyone at camp this summer will be able to stay hydrated with these  awesome 32oz bottles.  We have 2 different versions of  our camp water bottles, one for staff and one for campers.  In order to get one, sign up for camp now!  Staff applications are also available, and more information (job descriptions, FAQs, applications) can be found here.

As you can see in the photo, one side of the bottle has our logo while the other side has “Community, Character, Culture” — the three main pillars of our camp.

We ordered camp water bottles because at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp one of our core values is Shmirat HaGuf (protecting the body, in Hebrew).  Protecting the body means leading a healthy lifestyle by remaining active (by playing sports!), eating nutritious food, and staying hydrated.    We’re excited that we have these new water bottles to help all of us stay hydrated during our active lives!