It may be winter, but summer will be here before we know it. Luckily, the hardworking professionals behind Jewish Summer Camps don’t hibernate til spring. Last week, hundreds of them met in Atlanta for the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) Leaders Assembly—the largest one ever!
Leaders Assembly is for professionals at Jewish day and overnight camps and everyone who works with those people—including representatives from the camps, other Federations, funders, Jewish Foundations, lay leaders, and board members. It’s a chance for camp pros to swap ideas, hear from experienced colleagues, and build relationships.
Due to COVID, it was the first in-person Leaders Assembly in four years, and the first for Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez, Federation’s Director of Family Education and Engagement. “My favorite thing was meeting so many other camp and Federation partners. It was amazing to be in the same room as so many of my colleagues, many of whom I’ve only met online,” Melissa says.
The biannual gathering began at the Westin Peachtree Plaza on Sunday, December 4 and finished on Tuesday, December 6. It was the largest-ever Leaders Assembly, with approximately 850 people in attendance. Melissa says, “The energy was beyond amazing, it was palpable.”
Sunday night, Federation had the honor of co-hosting an event with the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) celebrating the 10th anniversary of Atlanta’s Jewish Camp Initiative and honoring Mark Silberman’s contributions to the field. In a video which was played during the event, FJC’s CEO Jeremy Fingerman said “FJC relies on camps and communities working together to help advance the field, and the Atlanta Jewish Camp Initiative, along with Mark’s relentless efforts, truly serve as an example for all.”
Melissa was on the host committee, as well as the One Happy Camper and Federation planning committee. She also gave a talk during the closing plenary that touched on Chanukah and the opportunity to “celebrate the miracle of Jewish camp.”
It was very meaningful for the attendees to meet again after a tumultuous two years. Melissa says she’s spoken to several other attendees, and they already greatly anticipating Leaders 2024. Just like campers, these professionals are energized and ready to collaborate once again.