Schechter Spotlight

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February 12, 2019
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Kevin joins the Camp Solomon Schechter/Stampfer Retreat Center family with over a decade of experience in public engagement, brand development, marketing, and customer service. Since 2010, when he began an internship at California Wolf Center (a wolf education, conservation, and research facility located in the mountains east of San Diego, California), Kevin has been passionate about protecting and promoting natural beauty and outdoor experiences.

After his internship and three years as Education & Outreach Coordinator for California Wolf Center, Kevin was lured to western Washington by its natural splendor and purchased 5 acres on the Arcadia Peninsula, near Shelton. Since arriving in Washington in 2013, he has served as Campaign Coordinator for Murrelet Survival Project, a collaborative campaign created to protect critical nesting habitat for the endangered marbled murrelet, and as Community Engagement Coordinator for Mason Conservation District. In addition to his professional work, Kevin founded and led a grassroots movement called Shelton To The Top in 2016 and 2017, which worked with Shelton community members, groups, businesses, and local government to remove over 250,000 pounds of trash from illegal dump sites, abandoned homeless camps, and derelict properties in the greater Shelton area.

“People have a certain expectation of what it means to visit or live in the Pacific Northwest- bountiful forests, clean water, and an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities- and I’m committed to matching the reality to those expectations. I’m thrilled to be able to spend my days at Camp Solomon Schechter/Stampfer Retreat Center and help spread the word about all it has to offer!”


February 11, 2019
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This week we honor an individual who has done so much for our camp community, despite never having attended Schechter as a camper or counselor. Rabbi Jonathan Infeld is the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver, BC. Rabbi Infeld is married to Lissa Weinberger, who serves as camp’s Maschgicha (kosher authority) during the summer. Rabbi and Lissa send their three children Avishai, Yair and Naomi to camp as well! During the summer Rabbi Infeld can be found telling Shabbat stories, teaching Jewish values, playing with campers… He even won a dance-off in the chadar ochel (dining hall)! Rabbi Infeld truly embodies the camp ruach (spirit).

In addition to being a great advocate for CSS in Vancouver, Rabbi Infeld makes time every week to skype with camp leadership and review Jewish texts and liturgy. Rabbi Infeld is an inspiring storyteller, a committed Jewish educator, and a true friend of Camp Solomon Schechter. Without further ado, here is our spotlight on Rabbi Infeld!

CSS: How long have you been involved with Schechter?

Rabbi Infeld: Lissa and I, along with our two boys (Naomi had not yet been born), came to camp a few weeks after we arrived in Vancouver in 2006 for a USY Kinnus convention. Then of course we were at CSS the following summer.  We have tried to make it to camp almost every summer since then.  Some summers we have been at camp for just a few days. Other summers we have had the blessing of spending a number of weeks at camp.

We have come as parents of our children Avishai, Yair, and Naomi.  Lissa has worked as the Maschgicha.  I have come as both the Rabbi of Beth Israel in Vancouver and served as a Rabbi-in-residence at camp.

CSS: What do you love about spending time at camp?

Rabbi Infeld: I love having an opportunity to spend meaningful time with my family, congregants, and Jewish children from around the Pacific Northwest in a Jewish utopia. I love seeing Jewish children excited to be in such a wonderful environment that enriches their Jewish knowledge and identity. I love working with great staff who are dedicated to our children!

CSS: What is your favorite memory from your time at camp?

Rabbi Infeld: Playing Gaga on Shabbat.

CSS: We recently announced our 2019 summer theme, Jewish Superheroes! Can you tell us about a hero of yours, and why they mean so much to you?

Rabbi Infeld: Solomon Schechter is my favourite Jewish hero. We named our camp after him for a good reason. He was an adventurer, risk taker, organizer, innovator and scholar. These are great attributes for a person to have.

CSS: What is your favorite camp meal?

Rabbi Infeld: I love camp breakfast. There is nothing like eggs, potatoes, and cottage cheese to get one through the day.

CSS: Tell us a fun fact that people might not know about you.

Rabbi Infeld: I met my wife Lissa in a parking lot at the University of Pennsylvania. We were both leaving an orientation program for students from the East Coast who were about to spend their junior year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


November 29, 2018
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Few people have dedicated as much of their time, energy, heart, blood, sweat, and tears, to Camp Solomon Schechter as Mike Schiller. Mike first arrived on the Schechter scene back in 1973 and he continues to be an integral part of the CSS community. Mike has dabbled in just about every aspect of camp life, first as a camper and Oded, and later as a kitchen staff, board member, Open House Chair, 60th Gala Chair, and camp parent. Mike’s two children, Karli and Marcus, worked at CSS last summer, and his family sponsored a cabin in honor of Mike’s mother, Babette Schiller, a longtime supporter of CSS (look for Bubbe’s Bunk on the boys side!). As if all that wasn’t enough, Mike just donated a new electric boat to camp last week, so we can get around our new aqua park more quickly. We sat down with Mike to find out why he has dedicated so much of his energy to supporting CSS.

CSS: How did your Schechter journey begin?

Mike: I started out as an Aleph camper back in 1973. Back then, there were certain age crossovers that made it possible to go for two sessions in one summer. I always went to two sessions when I could, as I had friends from multiple age groups. In fact, I was an Oded in 1980 and oddly stayed on after the Oded program ended and attended Gimmel session as a camper. That was a bit weird as I was friends with all the staff. But I didn’t want to miss out on time at camp!

In 1982, I worked as the camp cook (I didn’t plan meals, I just cooked them).  It was a hard summer as I was up at 5:00 AM everyday, and didn’t leave the kitchen until after evening dishes were done.

CSS: Wow! That sounds like a long day. I’m surprised you still wanted to give more time to CSS after that! When did you join the board?

Mike: I joined the board in 1991, and served for fifteen consecutive years. I left the board in 2016, and today I am just happy to be a camp parent, as both of my kids now work at camp. Karli was the Mental Health Professional at camp last summer, and Marcus was the Sports Director.

CSS: Tell us about a favorite memory or two from your years as a camper.

Mike: I loved just sitting on the hill and hanging out with friends. I also loved that moment when the bus first arrived at camp, and you would run down to the office to see what cabin you were in.

CSS: How has CSS impacted your life?

Mike: I found my Jewish identity at camp. It wasn’t about learning about Judaism, it was about immersing myself into Judaism. I didn’t love services, or some of the “classes”, but I did love being surrounded by Jewish youth from all over the region. Shabbat was special and the evening ruach sessions made me love and appreciate my culture. I am still extremely close with campers I met in 1973. Camp is and will always remain an important part of my life. (And I hope, some day, my grandkids’ lives!) Today, one of the Boy’s Side cabins is dedicated to my Mom. It will forever be Bubbe’s Bunk.

Thanks Mike and we can’t wait to see you at camp next summer!

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October 25, 2018
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This week we take a look at a truly beloved member of the community and champion of CSS, Karen Twain! Karen began her CSS journey at the age of eight, and never missed a year as a camper thereafter. Karen went on to be a counselor, sports director, board member, board president and camp parent! Karen is now in her eleventh year as a CSS board member. We are so grateful for her continued support, advice and ruach (spirit). We asked Karen to share some of her favorite memories of her time at CSS.

CSS: How did your CSS journey begin?

KT: My mom and dad decided to send me to Schechter when I was eight, which was the best parenting decision ever made! I won the Bible Quiz at Neveh Shalom (I think I answered one or two questions right) and received a small scholarship to go to camp. I never looked back. I went every year I could as a camper and then I was a counselor and the sports director.

CSS: What are some of your favorite memories from your camper years?

KT:  I loved the ruach sessions. I loved hearing the bell ring and running to the canteen for ice cream. And, of course, dominating on basketball courts and in the gaga pits!

CSS: Did you have a favorite staff member?

KT: I am eternally grateful to my mentor Rabbi Stampfer for having the vision for CSS – where Judaism and joy are one!

CSS: Now, as an alumni, board member and camp parent, what do you appreciate about your CSS journey?

KT: I had many life-changing events at CSS – my first kiss, learning to read Hebrew, having an impromptu Bat Mitzvah, becoming a leader, and establishing a lifelong community. My closest friends are from camp and we have remained tight-knit for over 40 years. We attend each others life events – births, b’nai mitzvot, weddings, funerals – and even an occasional road trip together. In fact, two of my best friends from camp were the witnesses at my wedding. After they signed the ketubah (before the actual ceremony), we broke into a ruach session that sounded like Shabbat at camp! My kids, Marian and Oliver, have gone to camp since they were eight years old and have recently been on staff. They have established the same kind of community that I had, and I love their friends and treat them as family. If you ask any of us “where’s your happy place?” We all say the same thing – CAMP SOLOMON SCHECHTER!

Thank you Karen, for your ruach and dedication to CSS. With people like you guiding our community, we know that Judaism and joy will be one for many years to come!  

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October 18, 2018
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Introducing Schechter Spotlight, a new series that takes a look at individuals who have been impacted by Camp Solomon Schechter, and who, in return, have left their mark on our community.

This week we are spotlighting Dan Brown of Vancouver, BC. While this Dan is not the famous author of the Da Vinci Code, he has his own rich storied history with CSS. Dan started his Schechter journey as an Aleph camper in 1989 and was a part of the Oded class of ‘95. He went on to work as a counselor for two summers, Waterfront Supervisor, Head Staff, and, as of 2018, joined the CSS Board of Directors. We asked Dan to share some of his favorite memories of his time at CSS.

CSS: What’s your favorite memory as a camper?

DB: I have fond memories of Chef Al “The Kook” Bragga announcing that we’d be having lasagna for dinner. He would serve it on big metal trays right on the floor and the counselors would dish it up to campers from there. Right before he’d bring out the lasagna he’d shout, “It’s hot! Don’t step in it!”

CSS: We know lots of people have great memories of Al, and the famous lasagna dinners. We’d also like to add that we never serve anything off of the floor anymore! 

What’s your favorite memory as a staff member?

DB: One summer (around 1999), I painted my entire body red and rode a bike down the hill and off the end of the dock to kick off the water sports portion of Yom Sport. It’s probably still down there. Also we pulled off one of the most epic pranks one summer, where we moved Ben Sadeh’s car into the dining hall and set it up as a cabin’s table for breakfast.

CSS: Any other fun facts you’d like to share?

DB: Executive Director Zach Duitch and I were in the same cabin together in my very first year at camp, Aleph 1989. To this day, almost thirty years later, I’m still good friends with five of the ten members of that cabin. Also, I played the role of the Chehalis Rebbe for the first time this past summer. After being away from CSS for years, I found I could jump right back in!

Well Dan, we’re sure glad you jumped back in! And thanks for being the guinea pig in our new Schechter Spotlight series.

Check out the photo slideshow below! 

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Questions About Camp Solomon Schechter? Get in touch!