We’re Ready for Summer Camp!
We’re excited for another amazing season of Summer on the Hill camps here at the JCC! We have lots of new additions and enhancements, including Travel Camp, Swim Camp and exciting new Simchah Specialties. Look for a new Classic Camp now based at the Outdoor Pool! Our Special Needs Inclusion Program is coming back, too. More good news — camp rates are staying the same as 2014!
Travel Camp is for kids entering 7-8 grade. Experienced teachers Eric Burke and Stephanie Noel will lead campers on exciting day & overnight adventures around New England. Learn more about Travel Camp HERE.
With our crazy snowy winter, we’re re-working our Week One of camp, June 22-26. We’re running a special Snow Camp those days, 9:00am-3:00pm with exciting day trips. Learn more about Snow Camp HERE.
Meet our new Camp Director Mark Schwartz! Mark is a teacher, coach and longtime JCC camp leader. Scroll down to read a cool interview with Mark and learn more about his connections to the JCC and the community.
Download the Summer on the Hill Camp Guide and register TODAY by mailing us your forms — or drop them off at the Welcome Center!
INTERVIEW WITH CAMP DIRECTOR MARK SCHWARTZ
- What is your day job during the school year?
I’m an 8th grade history teacher at Marshall Middle School in Lynn. Our curriculum is World History, with an emphasis on the development of world cultures, including religion, government, and language. This is my 4th year at Marshall. In addition to history, I’ve taught English and Writing. Prior to working at Marshall, I taught US History at Swampscott High (’02-’11). While at Swampscott, I was an advisor to the Political Action Club, the International Relations Club, Student Council, and the Class of 2006.
- Any other related experience you’d like to share?
Prior to beginning my career in Swampscott, I was the Youth Director at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, where I was responsible for our informal Jewish education program and taught the 7th grade Hebrew School class. While in Swampscott, I coached golf and softball, and am excited to get back into coaching this spring as part of the Lynn Classical varsity softball staff. I have also been involved with the Maccabi Games, as an athlete representing our JCC, a coach, and a delegation head for both the Games and ArtsFest.
- You’ve been affiliated with JCC camps a long time, right?
Yup. I started in the summer of 1991 as a CIT at Camp Simchah in Middleton. I was recruited to join that summer by Susan Duncan, who was my freshman government teacher and the camp director at the time. The examples she set as a teacher, a professional, and certainly as a camp director continue to inspire me today. After that year I was hooked on Simchah. As a kid, I attended Children’s Island, Camp Christopher, Mike Andrew’s Baseball Camp, Camp Tel Noar, and probably 10 others that I can’t remember. In fact, that first CIT year at Simchah I actually split 4 weeks there and 4 weeks at the Island as a junior counselor. But the whole time I was on the Island, I missed my friends and the staff at Simchah.
The next summer I was a grade 2 counselor (some of my campers from that summer now have children of their own!), the following summer I was the assistant CIT director, following that I was the Outdoor Adventure coordinator, and then for a few summers I ran the CIT program. I am particularly proud of those first few groups of CITs I had, as nearly all of them returned as Camp Simchah staff at some point. Since those first few summers of running the CIT program, I have returned to do so or at least help out whenever I could. Last summer, I was asked to come on board to assist with the JTI program. Being around camp in that capacity reignited my passion for this work, and when the opportunity to become director presented itself I knew I had to take it. In many ways, I feel like I’ve been preparing for this job 20 years!
- What do you like best about Summer on the Hill camps?
I love how we are able to create our own, unique world within the JCC. Although many of our campers (and parents!) utilize the J throughout the year, there is undoubtedly a different atmosphere in the building and on the grounds when camp is in session. And for those campers who are here during the year, for basketball, swimming, J Adventure, or any other program, camp presents an opportunity to see the J in a different, exciting, and fun way!
I love the excitement on the faces of the campers when they get dropped off in the morning, and when they get picked up! They’re just as excited to come to camp in the morning as they are to tell mom and dad what they did at camp that day. That is so cool. And, I think, a great tribute to the awesome staff we’ve put together year after year. Many of our staff are former students or CITs (or JTIs) of mine, and seeing that is particularly satisfying.
The energy of our staff and campers is contagious. From Heather and the incredible KinderCamp people right through camp and JCC administration, Summer on the Hill is an awesome place to be.
- What sets us apart from other camps?
Besides the actual buildings and awesome facilities we are able to utilize, I love how we have so many different camps in one place. From infants to high schoolers, we offer high quality programs for everybody. The key words in there are “high quality.” No matter what your interests are as a camper, from sports to chess to computers, we offer you an extraordinary level of expertise to teach you new skills, and refine the ones you already know. We recruit staff that are not only experts in their fields, but are expert teachers in their field, and I think that gives us an incredible advantage over many other camps. As a team, we put an emphasis on making sure that when our campers leave at the end of the day, they have acquired a skill that they did not possess in the morning when they got dropped off – and I think our staff has done a fantastic job at making sure that happens. The best part of that is that half the time our kids don’t even know they’re learning…they think they’re just having an awesome time at camp! That’s the perfect convergence that we are constantly striving for.
- What are you looking forward to the most this summer?
First, I am looking forward to the challenge of ensuring that each camper and staff member has the safest, most fun, most exciting, most rewarding, and most memorable summer they’ve ever had! Beyond that, I’m looking forward to integrating the new travel camp for 7th and 8th graders. I think the leadership and planning that has already gone into that will make that program the envy of summer programming on the North Shore, and I’m really excited to see that in action. And finally, I’m looking forward to watching our campers and staff form the bonds and friendships that last long after the final sunset of the camp season.