Oh the places you’ll go…being a staff member at J Camp!
Wendy Singer, Director, BHJCC Day Camp and Chavayah Overnight Camp
Being a camp counselor is one of the most “real” jobs a young person can get. What other summer job gives you the opportunity to experience the following career fields: education, psychology, emergency care, conflict resolution, operations, food service and so much more. Camp gives young people the chance to hone in on critical skills that will allow them to be more marketable in the work force., especially when it comes to 21st century skills:
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Creativity and imagination
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
This happens at camp every single day, every single moment.
One of my favorite staff success stories is about Sammy. When Sammy was in middle school, he would attend different programs at the at the JCC. He was a cool kid; I liked him from the start. When I met him for the first time, he introduced himself to me by handing me his business card. On the card it said “Photographer and Window Washer.” I loved it.
Four years later, when his staff application came across my desk, I knew I had to interview him. We had a good interview, but I did not have a position that was the right fit for Sammy. I liked Sammy so much, but thought he needed some time to grow and mature before I could offer him a spot. Instead I presented him with an opportunity to volunteer at camp. I told him that if he worked hard and followed the lead of other experienced veteran staff, I would maybe offer him a position for next summer. Sammy accepted the volunteer position. I was so impressed that I offered him a position for the next summer before the current summer was even over.
Over the following summers, he rose up the ranks from Junior to Senior Counselor. Sammy made mistakes, but he learned from them and always strived to grow and to be the best counselor he could be. Then one early morning before the camp day started, Sammy walked into the JCC and passed the Director of Information Services who was doing some work. Sammy overheard him muttering about some computer hardware he could not find. Sammy quickly looked around and, within a moment, found what the IS Director was looking for. The IS Director was so impressed he approached me later in the day and asked me to tell him about Sammy. I told him that over the years, Sammy had learned many valuable skills and was one of kind!
Sammy always had the “raw skills” to be a good employee, but camp taught him how to make his enthusiasm and work ethic into an asset for our camp staff team. He learned to be a quick problem solver, go above and beyond his responsibilities and learn from his peers and supervisors. He also discovered possibly the most valuable lesson of all – being in the right place at the right time. By noticing a need of the IS Director and taking it upon himself to help, Sammy left a lasting impression. So much so that he was offered a full-time, paid internship in the JCC Chicago IS Department this past summer. He is a college student studying information services….and will no doubt graduate and start a solid career. I am proud that the skills he learned at J Camp helped him get to where he is today.