Zach is no stranger to Schechter. He spent a total of 15 summers at camp – 7 as a camper, 1 as an Oded, and 7 as summer staff ranging from counselor to the Assistant Summer Director. Zach has definitely kept busy since those lazy, hazy days of summer. He spent the past 17 years at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, beginning as a youth counselor in the after-school program and rising to his current position as Director of Data Insights and Security Management. His leadership of the JCC’s summer day camp program increased attendance from 300 to over 1,200 campers this summer. As Director of Programs and Services he engaged over 3,000 community members per year through innovative and creative programming and helped transform their dormant health and fitness program into a thriving business center.
Zach, when asked why he wanted to come back to Schechter, enthusiastically responded, “Schechter is the most magical place on earth! Gaga, Shabbat, jumping off the high dive, double dare, endless shira (singing) sessions, Maccabiah (color wars), Yom Israel (Israel Day), the bullfrog croaking at night, the big dipper shining bright over the lake, toranut skits, degel (flag ceremony), friendships formed, and the counselors make this camp unique, special, and magical. I want every child to experience the MAGIC that I experienced at camp.”
When you see Zach at camp this summer, he will be joined by his wife of ten years, Jessica, and his two great kids, Charley (6) and Bayley (3). In addition to being a positive role model who loves working with today’s youth, he loves to play sports, work out, travel, eat sushi, play with his kids (hiking, swimming, biking, soccer, and art projects, to name a few), watch NETFLIX, and be a diehard Husky, Seahawks, M’s, and anything sports fan.
Jef comes to Camp with over 20 years of non-profit experience. While working on his BS in Math & Computer Education at Purdue University, he spent four summers working at the Flatrock River YMCA Camp in southern Indiana. He continued his studies at Purdue, receiving a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. Upon graduation, he moved to Seattle and worked directly with street-involved youth at YouthCare for five years before moving into fundraising and volunteer management. In 2001, he left YouthCare to become the Development Director of the Washington Poison Center, where he started the Mr. Yuk Fundraising Luncheon, increased federal funding to the center tenfold and worked diligently to increase public awareness of Mr. Yuk, the Poison Center services and the need for funding. In 2008, Jef was provided the opportunity to join the staff of Creative Activities/VSA Washington as their Associate Director. Creative Activities/VSA Washington provided art opportunities to people with disabilities across Washington State until it closed its doors due to the economic downturn.
Now part of the Camp Solomon Schechter team for over six years, Jef has seen, first hand, the transformative power of camp and how those experiences and memories positively impact campers and counselors alike years into the future. "I'll never forget how it was okay to sing off key at the top of your lungs at a campfire with everyone merrily joining in simply because you were trying your best, or witnessing how engaged a camper would become when given some words of encouragement."
Zach began his Jewish journey at Portland Jewish Academy, which he attended for nine years. In 4th grade, Zach was introduced to Camp Solomon Schechter, and after his first Aleph session as a camper, his love of camp bloomed! From Bet session through Oded year, Camp Solomon Schechter was what he looked forward to most all year long.
After PJA, Zach attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Southwest Portland. He was very active in the Jewish Student Union and Track and Field - he even became captain his senior year! During this period, Zach received the Rabbi Joshua Stampfer Youth Community Enrichment Award. He also participated in the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation.
Ready for an adventure after high school, Zach spent a gap year in Israel. Zach recounts, “Some of my favorite and impactful times in Israel happened in nontraditional manners, such as working very hard in the kitchen of Kibbutz K’tuara and hiking in the Negev Desert for three weeks.”
After his time in Israel, Zach realized that he wished to pursue a career in developmental psychology, and what better place to get experience than at Schechter? Zach then spent quite a few summers running around as a counselor and, later, as head staff. For Zach, working at Schechter “felt like I was making the most positive impact, in the most productive way I possibly could. I felt like Schechter was the place where I had the platform and could reach my utmost as a human being.”
Zach graduated with Honors with a BA in Psychology and Business from Portland State University while becoming very involved in university life, including Hillel. He also worked at a variety of fascinating jobs during his time in college (which he is happy to explain in person). No job, however, matched his passion for camp. Zach is excited to bring his enthusiasm for Jewish development and knowledge of camp back to Schechter.
Chris is the newest member of our team at Camp Solomon Schechter. He was born and raised in the South and spent most of his youth exploring, camping, and backpacking. He spent every summer with the Boy Scouts at Camp Crooked Creek in Kentucky where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Throughout his life Chris has had the opportunity to work with multiple non-profit and youth organizations to help encourage and to promote individual growth, strength, leadership, and responsibility.
At 19, he decided to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. Chris attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he studied Global Supply Chain Management. During this time he took a 2-year break to serve a voluntary service mission in Lima, Peru. He loved his time there and spent every day in the service of others. After Peru, Chris finished his degree and moved to Seattle, WA.
For the last 2 ½ years he worked as an operations manager for a transportation company that provided transportation for children with special needs. Chris is excited to be at Camp Solomon Schechter filling the business manager role. His experience in operations and business management, combined with his camp and youth experience, will make him a great asset to our growing team!
In his free time he loves anything outdoors -- cycling, motorcycles, rock climbing, sports -- and spending time with his fiancée.
Carolyn came to CSS the long way. A practicing attorney for 10 years, Carolyn quit the active pratice of law the day her first child was born. For the next 15 years, she did legal research, worked as an American Sign Langage Interpreter at several local community colleges, and together with her husband Mike, raised their two children. Carolyn grew up on the South Side of Chicago and attended Camp Chi in Wisconsin, where she formed her love for camp and her belief in its importance for Jewish children.
Originally from a small town in Ohio, Joshua moved to Washington state in 2008 where he served in the Army as a Technical Engineer. No stranger to the summer camp experience, Joshua spent every summer of his youth at the Boy Scout camp Oyo and, with over a decade of experience in property maintenance, joining the team here at Schechter is a dream come true. Joining him here at camp is his wife, Talia, and two daughters. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys playing guitar, mountain biking, wood working, kayaking, and reading science fiction novels.