Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

What It’s Like to Be a Camp Director

Rachel Bachrach

She’s got ruach! She’s got spunk! She’s the one who decides your bunk! And trips. And activities. And basically everything else about your summer. The camp director may make it look easy, but, as these three women can attest, it takes a lot more than a clipboard and a whistle to run a camp

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


“The day could have been a disaster, but with counselors who know how create a good time even when things don’t go as planned, the girls had a blast!”

SWhen I was a camper, my favorite activity was…

The cheering — we’d cheer nonstop the entire day. Now I don’t particularly love it, I can’t see what thrill I had in singing all those wacky songs, but I love seeing my campers and supervisors having a good time, and occasionally I’ll join in. And my partner — my sister-in-law Osnas Bajnon — runs the camp with me, and she loves cheering, so it balances things out. 

When I was in camp things were simpler — we made our own fun. The standards are much higher now — it seems like a lot of kids don’t know how to create a good time, and we have to provide it for them. It’s nonstop action, and sometimes I wonder if we’re handicapping them by providing all the fun. I try to stick activities into my program that make the girls use their own creativity and spirit, and they thrive on it.

The three things I look for in a counselor are…

Most important is that she’s someone who’s a good role model for pre-teens. She needs to be geshmak and have the ruach to run the camp — counselors in a teen camp really run it, they work directly with me and my sister-in-law, because we don’t have head counselors. Thirdly, I’d like her to connect to the campers. I try to have some counselors who are artistic, talented in acting, creative with breakouts, and so on, but those aren’t a must, they’re a plus. 

A few years ago, we booked a boating trip well in advance, but when we got to the place with the whole camp, it was still boarded up and closed because of Hurricane Sandy. There’d clearly been a misunderstanding. The buses had already left, but my staff kept the girls busy while we found a great jet skiing place down the road. It took time to arrange the backup trip, and the day could have been a disaster, but with counselors who know how to take charge and create a good time even when things don’t go as planned, the girls had a blast!

Photo: Shutterstock

If parents want a not-so-social child to have an amazing summer, they should…

Be in touch. Parents call to ask me to place their daughters with certain girls, or to not place their daughters with someone who will impede their experience. A mother might tell me about a specific need so we can look out for her daughter and give her a social standing. 

Some mothers don’t call — they think we’ll think their daughter is a neb — but that’s silly. We love working with parents to give their daughters a memorable and successful summer. And who are they kidding? I can see who’s popular, confident, or quieter as they walk through the door on the first day! 

We structure camp with different outlets for everyone. There’s sports, crafts, trips, and workshop options: voice recording, fondant cookies, jewelry making. Also, we don’t have bunks, it’s one big group. The girls keep getting divided in different ways for different activities, and they get to know more girls this way.

Related Stories

Creating Camp Mommy

Riki Goldstein

Some creative moms turn their homes into camp — and say that the experience is worth every ounce of ...

The Accidental Camp Mommy

R.C. Steif

The Camp Mommy idea grows on me. Maybe I really should keep her home?

Take and Give

As told to Rochel Burstyn

When four frum women in Detroit were touched by trial or tragedy, they used the experience as an imp...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you