Camper Care & Campus Life

Posted by April 29, 2021 • Share:

Summer is just around the corner and there’s a lot of information about camp that we want to share. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sending a series of emails on the most important topics to help prepare your child (and you!) for a terrific experience at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp.   

Parent Play-by-Play 1: Camper Care & Campus Life

Our first topic is Camper Care & Campus Life because taking care of your children is our #1 priority. In this post we’ll answer questions about caring for your children, food, dorm life, and more. 

Who are the staff that will care for my child?  

The staff at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp function as a team, working together to ensure that everyone has a safe, fun, and memorable camp experience. The staff also functions in smaller teams of Leadership, Camper Care, Counselors, and Head Coaches, which you’ll be introduced to below.

  • Senior Director – Josh Steinharter
  • Assistant Director – Joel Swedlove
  • Director of Community Care – Jen Willis, LCSW
  • Program Manager – Brett Benson
  • Athletic Director – Jason Sinkoff (also Head Tennis Coach)

Working alongside the Leadership Team, our Senior Staff are seasonal staff members that are not coaches or counselors, but play key roles in our summer organization and the management of the camper experience. This group of individuals is charged with the daily care and support of your children. They oversee counselors, providing guidance and mentorship, and work directly with campers to ensure the social and emotional well-being and success of every child. It is quite possible that you will speak with a member of our Camper Care Team at some point during the summer, should there be a situation that requires your support, input, or to simply update you on a happening with your child at camp.

Counselors are the staff members whose primary responsibility is to care for our campers.  They are camp counselors in the traditional sense, responsible for the health and well being of our campers, ensuring campers are making friends, and serving as role models and leaders.

Each cabin has 2-3 dedicated counselors depending on cabin size. Counselors, like you’ll find at most Jewish overnight camps, are college-age staff with experience working with children in a structured environment (school, camp, after-school programs, coaching, etc.)  

In addition to serving as leaders of their cabins, our counselors also serve a  secondary role as a Specialist in one of our program areas, the majority working at Assistant Coaches in our Core Sports. All Assistant Coaches to camp with an extensive background playing and/or coaching sports; like our campers, they also have a deep passion for sport and the impact it has has on their lives.  

Head Coaches are all coaches by profession, employed year-round at the club, high school and/or collegiate level of their core sport. Some are local, some come from distances and all have extensive experience working with children of all ages. We seek coaches that not only possess a deep knowledge and passion for the game, but also an understanding of how to work with kids individually to ensure skill development and a love for the game. Head Coaches are responsible for planning the curriculum for their sport, leading sessions and working with Assistant Coaches to create a positive, supportive, and competitive environment for our campers to learn, thrive and have fun. 

Camper Care

Taking care of your child is our first and most important priority. This begins by hiring qualified staff through an extensive interview process that includes several conversations, reference checks and a background check.

The Camper Care team really includes everyone on staff, though there are specific individuals that lead the way, including…

  • Joel, Assistant Director
  • Jen, Director of Community Care (social worker and family therapist)
  • Division Leaders  – Kimo, Carly, Maya, and Dan
  • Camp Nurse Laura (RN, works in the SF Schools during the year)
  • Courtney, Certified Athletic Trainer

Our summer begins with 10 days of Staff Training where we dig deep into a variety of topics including relationship building, behavior management, communication, policies and procedures and more. Staff training is not limited to one week; we provide continuous feedback and training to our staff throughout the summer via formal and informal methods.

The majority of our adult staff (Head Coaches, Program Managers, Division Leaders, etc.) live in the dorm with our campers. In addition to providing constant supervision, this also affords staff and campers the opportunity to form close bonds and develop important relationships. Having adult staff other than Counselors in the dorms enables us to utilize a team approach to camper care, making more people available to support our community during the less structured times of day such as wake up, cabin clean up, shower hour and bedtime.

Dorm Life

All campers live in the Menlo College dorms and have a roommate. Cabin units are formed based on age/grade and each cabin has dedicated counselors living in the dorms alongside the campers. To build cabin unity, there are dedicated times for cabin programming, and cabin groups eat all their meals together. Just like at home, meals are a great time for campers to forge relationships and catch up on the day, helping to create a nice family atmosphere.

When will I find out my child’s roommates?

Roommate Requests

We realize many campers come to camp with friends from outside camp and desire to room together. As such, we accept requests and do our best to accommodate mutual requests. Campers will find out their roommates at check-in on the first day of camp.

All roommate groupings are made with the utmost thought and concern for all campers. There are times when, in the best interest of your child, other children, and the camp as a whole, roommate requests cannot be honored. Sometimes, the logistics of creating roommate pairings simply does not work out according to everyone’s requests. In these few cases we hope that you will trust our professional judgment.

Please note that roommate requests must be reciprocal, meaning that we must receive a matching request from another camper.

Camp can be a valuable tool in helping your child make the most of their developmental years and part of the fun of camp is the experience of meeting new people and learning to live in a group situation. A successful new friendship can be the most rewarding aspect of camp.

See the Parent Handbook for more information about our staff and dorm life. (The Parent Handbook can also be found in the CampInTouch portal under “Forms & Documents”)

What is the food like at camp?  


In one of our earliest camp videos, one of our campers described camp food as “surprisingly good.”  It always got a good laugh, but it’s also true. The food at camp is delicious with the majority of the offerings coming from local and organic sources.

Shmirat Haguf, Guarding the Body, is one of camp’s core values and as such, we encourage campers to eat to fuel their body and be prepared for a full day of activity.

Each meal includes hot entrées, vegetarian options and salad bar for lunch and dinner. Meals are kosher style with separate meat and dairy meals and no pork or shellfish. Our staff keeps a close eye on what campers are eating making sure that they have a well-balanced meal and have a variety of foods on their plate.

In the age of covid, we are working closely with Sodexo, the food service provider at Menlo College, to ensure our campers are happy and fed, as well as healthy and safe. Protocols are evolving and you can be assured that dining will be done in a way that meets current covid safety best practices.

It is our expectation that all dining will be outdoors and even with standards relaxing as we get closer to camp, we do not expect to move to indoor dining. That said, food will all be served indoors and campers will enter the dining hall to get their meal. We expect to have the same quality and variety, always offering several main courses as well as salad and fresh fruit, along with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. One thing that may take some getting used to, campers will only be permitted to go into the dining hall once, eliminating the option for seconds. We will revisit this as the situation evolves but expect it to be the standard to avoid the traffic and congestion in the dining hall that is inevitable with unstructured trips.


Upcoming Topics

  • Health & Safety – health  center, medications, immunizations and general safety
  • Transportation – how to get to and from camp, drop-off and pick-up times
  • Packing & Gear – how to pack, laundry, gear for core sports  
  • Preparing for Camp – preparing your child to be away from home
  • Summer Communication  – photos, mail, social media, and more

To view all of the topics in this series, click here.