My wife, Lauren, wears a JCC Ranch Camp vest just about every day, and everywhere she goes, people are eager to share their connection to camp with her. Upon finding out that we just moved to Denver with our two-year-old twins, these conversations are usually followed by sincere offers of help and support. Our social calendars, as well as my work calendar, are filling.
I have spent much of my time over the past month learning as much as I can about Ranch Camp from those for whom it is most important. Campers, current and former staff, alumni, and camp parents have been willing to take time to share their experiences. Conversations planned for 15-30 minutes often go longer or end with the expectation that we will continue, soon.
With every conversation, my excitement for the coming summer grows. I am looking forward to seeing camp in action. I will spend the coming summer learning, and I will spend subsequent summers preserving what is special and unique about Ranch Camp while applying my experience in Jewish camp to taking us to the next level.
When I accepted the role of Ranch Camp director, there were things that reassured me and made me look forward to getting started. Firstly, Miriam and Gilad spent the last 8 years becoming remarkable and dedicated camp directors. Their trajectory followed my own at Camp Young Judaea Midwest, and we faced similar challenges over the past 8 summers.
My family and I spent time with Miriam, Gilad, and their daughter-who is nearly the same age as our twins, Daphne and Leo. The Shwartz family had just returned from an extended stay in Israel. When Sivan comes up in conversation, my kids say “Sivan sleeping?” We promise them she will be conscious the next time we meet (it’s one of the dates on our calendar). I am grateful to them for their pledge to stay dedicated to the future of Ranch Camp and their faith in me (and I really hope our kids get along).
Gina McReynolds, now Ranch Camp’s Associate Director, is the other reason I looked forward to arriving and am so very happy to be here. When I ask people what is important to preserve about Ranch Camp, alumni, staff, and parents are quick to say “Gina”-sometimes before anything else! It was clear when I met her that Gina is a dynamo and every day I grow more impressed with her knowledge and dedication.
Gina gave me a Ranch Camp vest to wear for the Tu B’Shevat event at the Denver J. She mistook the Youth Medium for an adult’s, which is why Lauren has it, now. This was a happy accident. After the kids are asleep, she usually has a story about people who shared their connection to Ranch Camp, which always makes us grateful and excited to become a part of this community.
What about Ranch Camp is important to preserve? How can you help us be even better? Please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!