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Aug 20 2014

Camp Director Stefan Teodosic Left Finance for Jewish Camping & Never Looked Back

By at 11:23 am

stefan-camper-pic

Stefan Teodosic is the executive director of Beber Camp, Perlman Camp, and the Perlman Retreat Center. Stefan started his career in finance, but decided to change paths on September 11, 2001 after witnessing the World Trade Center collapse. Stefan agreed to sit down with us and tell us why his camps are different from all other camps.

1. Before becoming a camp director, you worked for American Express and were blocks away from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Can you talk about how that day ultimately helped you decide to change paths?

Since I was 16, I knew that I wanted to be a camp director, as it was the single most impactful experience I had growing up. Through college, business school, and my career, I couldn’t shake the idea of being in Jewish camping full time. It bubbled to the surface at times–thoughts about going back to school to get another degree, taking vacation time to work with teens at my old camp, and even thinking about quitting–but it was never more than that to be honest. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 18 2014

Why Are Temples So Empty Over the Summer?

By at 11:53 am

Pews

The temple I recently joined offers fabulous Tot Shabbat programs throughout the year, but none during the summer. And recently, over lunch with a local mom friend and fellow member, I casually mentioned that since we hadn’t been to services in a while, we were thinking about going before the summer ended. Her response: “Oh, nobody goes to temple during the summer. The place is empty.”

I’ve heard this of other temples too and wonder why it is that come summertime, so many people tend to put temple-going on hold. Granted, some families do go away, but most don’t have the luxury of taking a two-month-long summer vacation, which means they’re probably in town for a good part of the summer but either making other Saturday morning plans or simply choosing to stay away.

Now, as a once-a-month temple-goer at best, trust me, I’m not judging. But I do find it odd. Children are generally encouraged to keep up with reading and certain skills over the summer so that they’re not rusty come the start of the school year. Why doesn’t the same hold true for Judaism? Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 22 2014

Kid, It’s Time You Got a Job

By at 2:03 pm

boy using saw at woodshop

Exactly two years ago, I wrote a post about how my kids would be doing nothing all summer long. Our laissez-faire experiment went so well in 2012, that I repeated the lack of structured activity in 2013. I’m a big believer in the notion that boredom is good for children. And if they dare whine about it, I tell them to clean the house.

However, 2014 is shaping up to be a horse of a different color. While my 7-year-old daughter continues to be footloose and fancy-free (though we are systematically working our way thorough the “Disney Princess Cookbook”), my almost 11-year-old son won a grant earlier in the year that allowed him to attend two weeks of computer camp and then a coding conference in England. I’ve already made it clear to him that this is a one-shot deal and he should enjoy every single moment of it.

But then, there is the issue of my oldest son. He just turned 15, finishing his freshman year of high school. Previously, my husband left the dispensation of our kids’ summer schedule to me. This year, he informed our older son that he expected him to get a job. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 3 2014

I Wasn’t Cool at Camp, But I’m Sending My Son There Anyway

By at 11:19 am

I wasn't cool at camp, but I'm sending my son there anyway

I’m holding my breath for 11 more days.

My 9-year-old, Noah, left yesterday for 12 days of sleepaway camp.

This morning the cat didn’t get fed until 7. Noah’s 6-year-old brother, Sam, was the first one up and put on music to stave off the quiet. I found myself, after the breakfast dishes were done, listening to the washing machine on spin.

It’s going to be a long two weeks. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2014

Drag Your Kids To Summer Camp

By at 11:20 am

archery

I recently read a New York Times article about one woman’s unfavorable experiences in summer camp and laughed out loud.

Like the author, I was not much of a joiner and hated sports. I also disliked getting dressed and undressed in a roomful of strangers. My first summer, I was the only girl still wearing undershirts so I’d change clothes in the bathroom. (Not that I fooled anyone. And most of those gals didn’t really need bras, either.)

I sucked at anything involving a softball, volleyball, golf ball, basketball, fencing foil, or bow and arrow. And unlike some other kids who might have also been less than stellar athletes, but who discovered at camp that they enjoyed drama, music, dance or even carpentry, I didn’t. My favorite “activity” was shiur during which we learned Jewish subjects. Unlike most kids (but also like the writer of the New York Times piece), I actually liked school. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 2 2014

Top 12 Summer Reads of 2014

By at 10:33 am

Welcome to the Third Annual Jordana Horn Summer Reading List! This list is by no means conclusive, but it’s a list of books I’ve read in the past six months that I thought were particularly terrific. Please put your own ideas and suggestions for great reads in the comments, and friend me on GoodReads (I’m “Jordana Horn Gordon” there) so we can keep talking books, which I love passionately. Without further ado, here are some great reads that should sit on your shelf or device this summer, in no particular order.

to-rise2

1. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris 

This one is demanding and intellectually ambitious, but well worth your time. It’s the story of dentist Paul O’Rourke, who is bored with his life, dental practice, and his relationship to the world at large–until his online identity begins to be recreated by strangers. These strangers claim to be the descendants of Amalekites, the ancient enemy of the Jewish people–which is interesting enough without including the fact that they claim that Paul is one of them, and he just might believe them. This is a book about identity–what it means to be part of a people and a person. It’s jaw-droppingly good. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 24 2014

When I Finally Developed My Daughter’s Camera, Her Photos Took My Breath Away

By at 1:53 pm

ORLI7

It began, as so many things do these days, with a nudge that turned into a whine. Ima. Eeeeeemmmmaaaaa. When are you going to charge my camera for me?

Orli, my older daughter, has her own camera, a small Fisher Price deal that takes relatively fuzzy pictures–especially given how crisp digital images are these days–unless the light is absolutely perfect. I thought buying it was a mistake.“Why are we giving her a camera that doesn’t even work well?” I wondered, at the time.

It was late last spring, and Orli was in that strange space pre-school age children get into when they are anticipating a sibling they desperately want, and yet, on some level, understand will upend their lives. She wanted a camera. Very, very much. And so we got her this guy, with its sturdy, drop-me-I’ll-be-fine thick plastic walls. It is pink and white. I hated it. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 12 2013

My 7-Year-Old Won’t Ride His Bike

By at 1:34 pm

boy's bikeMy kid won’t ride a bike.

A 7-year-old boy, he’s had a summer full of baseball and sports camp and swimming and neighborhood adventures. He’s been to the park (two blocks), to a sleepover party (five blocks), and out for pizza (six blocks). And not once did he get there by putting his tushie on the seat of a 2-wheel, training wheel-less bike. It’s just not happening.

When he turned 7 in late spring, my husband and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of the training wheels. We took the boy to the store, let him pick an awesome orange and black 20-inch bike and thought we’d be off and biking within days.

The bike sat on our front porch. And sat. And sat. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 1 2013

Life as a Summertime Stay-at-Home Mom

By at 11:53 am

stay at home summertime momBeing a teacher is one of those jobs that is SUPER-challenging from September to May, and then SUPER-easy from June through August–because having the summer off is a huge perk! In the past, I haven’t been the biggest fan of this unpaid vacation, because I like to keep busy and this two and a half month break tends to lag after the first few weeks. In the past, I’ve taught summer school or gotten a summer job doing something full time, anything I could do to make money during the break.

However, this is my first summer off being a mommy; it’s super-busy, super-fun, and it’s a whole new world! Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 31 2013

When My Daughter is More Than Her Autism

By at 9:56 am

merry-go-roundWhen you are raising a child with special needs, it often feels like the diagnosis takes over your whole life.  My daughter has autism and there isn’t a day and often not an hour or a minute where autism doesn’t occupy center stage in our lives.

It’s there, everywhere you go,  throwing up hurdles and roadblocks, preventing joy, happiness, and discovery and sending your senses into overdrive at the drop of a hat.  In those brief moments that you are not dealing with it, you are likely talking someone’s ear off about it or blogging about it.

For myself I find that any given day with my daughter involves a lot of strategizing on my part.  I spend my day anticipating her day, trying to foresee where the trouble spots might be, what might be difficult for her and what might send her into sensory and/or emotional overload.  It involves thinking ahead a lot about where we are going, anticipating where the hurdles might be, and trying to find a way to avoid them or at least anticipate them so I can prepare her for it and try to minimize the chance that she will be overstimulated enough to lose control of her emotions and behavior and sink into meltdown territory.    Read the rest of this entry →

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