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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between JCC Maccabi Sports Camp and the JCC Maccabi Games? +-

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is the newest addition to the JCC Movement’s immensely successful community and character-building programs for teens and youth — JCC Maccabi Games®, JCC Maccabi ArtsFest®, and JCC Maccabi Israel®.

Now your young athlete, grades 3 – 11, can enjoy all the excitement of the Games (a five-day event) in a two-week summer camp where they get serious, individual instruction in their core sport plus all the fun and friendship they love about overnight camp.

Rather than staying with a host family like athletes do at the Games, campers live in dorms with roommates and alongside counselors. Instead of a tournament-style program, our camp program is more focused on instruction (rather than competition) and on developing individual athletic skills and improving as teammates.

Like the Games, the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp includes Opening and Closing Ceremonies and a vibrant Jewish community for young athletes!

What makes JCC Maccabi Sports Camp a Jewish camp? +-

What makes ours a Jewish camp is the deeply rooted connection to Jewish culture and values that you’ll find woven throughout our environment—on the field, in the dining hall, and ’round the campfire. In this way, Jewish teachings remain at the center of the camp experience in a way that can resonate with campers of any age or background.

Shabbat is a central part of life at camp. We take time to step away from the rigors of training to celebrate Shabbat, engage in ritual, and come together as a community. Our campers and staff come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds, ranging from highly observant to not observant at all.

You do not have to be Jewish to attend JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. We want our camp to be a welcoming, comfortable place and positive experience for everyone.

How do you observe Shabbat? +-

Shabbat is a fun, celebratory, and important part of JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. At its core, Shabbat at camp is a break from routine and competition, a chance for athletes to rest their bodies and minds and come together as a community. Learn more about Shabbat at camp.

How do I know if this camp is right for my child? +-

The JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is for any kid who loves to play sports. Some campers come from competitive leagues with teams that travel and some prefer to play on recreational teams with friends. Others, for a variety of reasons, do not play on any team but, instead, practice on their own, shooting hoops or throwing the ball around until the sun goes down. What they all have in common is their passion for the game.

Most important is a child’s interest in sports, basic knowledge of the game, desire for personal improvement, and attitude towards being coached. A child’s skill level should not be the determining factor as whether a child should attend the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. We welcome athletes who seek to learn the game and improving their individual and team skills.

Who is not right for JCC Maccabi Sports Camp? Our camp is not for the child looking to try a sport for the first time. The daily schedule includes several hours of intensive instruction so it’s important that children come to camp with a certain level of knowledge and experience in their chosen sport.

For younger athletes, it may be difficult for you to determine if this camp is right for your child. We encourage you to call and speak with the camp director to learn more. We are happy to consult with you to determine if camp is appropriate, set proper expectations, and ensure your child is set up for success.

Can my child come back year after year? +-

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is indeed a camp for athletes to experience year after year. After all, athletic development is a continuous process, and every athlete can continue get better and learn more about playing their game. Each summer that a camper returns is an opportunity to learn from different coaches and focus on new challenges.

Camp is also a place to make new friendships and reconnect with coaches and campmates from around the country—A much deeper connection than saying hello on Facebook.

And, of course, there are always new opportunities. As campers get older, they are afforded greater choice in their schedule and gain access to different programs, such as becoming a mentor to younger athletes or a coach-in-training.

What does it mean that this is a new camp? +-

We are a new camp (our inaugural summer was 2014) but founded on deep experience by veteran camp and youth sports professionals.  With the support of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Specialty Camps Incubator and the resources of the FJC and the JCC Association, the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is a reputable, thoughtfully planned camp experience carefully structured to shape the lives of thousands of campers in the coming years. Read press release.

As a new camp, your child will have the unique opportunity to shape the culture and rituals that will last for generations of campers to come. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to set the path that others will travel.

How does JCC Maccabi Sports Camp approach the idea of competition? +-

We feel competition can be a critical part of character development and that in the right environment, it can be an effective way to build self-confidence and community. We don’t tone down the competitive element, but instead fine-tune it in order for our campers to benefit from all the positive things that come from competition.

That said, camp is not all about winning. Our young athletes learn from both the thrills and the woes of competition. We place great emphasis on effort, fully applying oneself, facing adversity, playing and practicing hard, and making your teammates better. Giving young people the skills to compete with the right attitude and right perspective is our chief intent.

Nor is camp about handing out empty, feel-good prizes, trophies, or ribbons. There is an intrinsic satisfaction in striving, achieving, and competing—it’s a powerful motivator and something we want to awaken in each camper.

Why have you chosen to limit the program to four core sports? +-

We expect to offer more sports in the future, but, for now, limiting camp to the four most popular sports ensures we have the critical mass necessary for drills, games, and scrimmages, and a successful learning environment. Our hope is to offer softball, volleyball, lacrosse and swimming in coming summers. If you have an interest in a sport that is not currently offered, please let us know.

Who are the coaches? How do you select and train staff? +-

There are two types of coaches at the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp—Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches.

Head Coaches—responsible for leading the core sports, have extensive experience coaching at a high level, high school to college. Equally important is a coach’s attitude toward a positive, learning environment. We hire coaches that embrace our athlete-first approach to personal growth on and off the field.

Assistant Coaches—similar to a “counselor” at traditional summer camps, guide campers through their day, attending all meals and programming from wake-up to lights out. Assistant Coaches are assigned to a specific cabin groups and are responsible for the wellbeing of each camper in their cabin. We hire Assistant Coaches that have significant experience playing sports at a high level and a background working with kids in a structured environment (beyond babysitting).

Each member of the camp coaching staff will go through rigorous training, including a week-long orientation that covers topics such as positive coaching techniques, collaborative group management, CPR and other safety procedures and relationship building skills. Additionally, all staff are thoroughly vetted via the application process, interviews, reference checks, and must pass a criminal background check.

Other than sports, what else can my child expect to do during the day? +-

To see a sample day and session schedule, please take a look at our Daily Schedule and Program pages.

A camper’s Core Sport is the focus of their day, and they can expect to spend a considerable amount of time on the athletic field or court. That said, there are opportunities for campers can enjoy other sports and activities such as ga-ga, Ultimate Frisbee, flag football, lawn games, kickball, and more.  Ours is a sports camp but it is also modeled after traditional summer camp. Campers participate electives each day as well as enjoy free time for swimming and fun evening programs each evening. On Shabbat, campers also have the opportunity to take a break from sports instruction and competition and celebrate Shabbat as a community, participating in camp fires, cabin time, song sessions, tie-dye and other crafts, and more.

How long is each session? +-

All sessions are two weeks long, beginning on a Tuesday and ending on a Sunday. We offer three two-week sessions each summer.

Campers are welcome to enroll for more than one session. If campers decide to stay for additional sessions, their parents must call to register before the next session begins.

Where will my child live? How are dorm assignments determined? +-

All campers live in dorms of 2 – 4 campers of appropriate age and from a mix of core sports. Dorm assignments are made at random, except in the event of a specific bunk request. Boys dorms and living areas are separate from the girls. Dorms are supervised by counselors (a.k.a. assistant coaches) who also live in dorms.

What’s the difference between a dorm and a cabin? +-

The term “cabin” refers to several dorms that are grouped together. Each dorm houses 2 – 4 campers. Each cabin is made up of 10 – 12 campers of appropriate age and from a variety of sports. Cabins have 2 – 3 dedicated Assistant Coaches assigned to them. Campers spend significant time with their cabin mates and Assistant Coaches—eating as a group and enjoy other programing together throughout the day.

Can my child request to be with his/her friend? +-

Yes. We encourage you to submit a request during registration. We make our best effort to meet your bunk requests, however nothing is guaranteed and we may not be able to honor all requests.

How are campers grouped during sports activities? +-

In order to ensure safety and the best learning environment for all participants, campers are grouped by grade level with a close eye on skill level.

Will my child be safe and taken care of? +-

Your child’s safety is our number one priority. We take safety and security very seriously. All of the coaches  and staff participate in extensive professional training to handle minor and major safety and security situations.

What happens if a camper gets sick? What medical care is available? +-

The JCC Maccabi Sports Camp has a dedicated Health Center located on campus with a full-time nurse. Any health issues (allergies, cold, athletic injury) are first directed to the Health Center. If necessary, a camper may be taken to a local hospital or urgent care facility.

Parents are immediately notified if their child is in the infirmary for more than 24 hours, needs to be placed on prescription medication, or has been taken to an out-of-camp doctor, emergency room, or hospital.

Parents are not generally notified if their child visits the infirmary and receives a routine diagnosis and treatment, which could include cuts, colds, bug bites, stomach aches, sore throats, or headaches.

How can I help my child avoid feeling homesick? +-

The best thing to do is talk with your child about going to camp. It’s completely natural for campers and parents to be nervous about a child’s first overnight camp experience. Ask your child how they feel about going to camp. Find out what they’re excited about and what makes them nervous. It’s extremely important to stay very positive about the camp experience and avoid transferring your own nervousness to your child.

Being away from home can be fun, feel liberating, and build character. Conveying confidence and enthusiasm can do a great deal to set your child up for a successful first-camp experience.

If, as a parent, you’re nervous about sending your child to overnight camp, we encourage you to call and talk with our director.

What’s the weather like at camp? What should I pack for my camper? +-

Summers in Atherton are beautiful, with an average temperature of 80° and virtually no rain or humidity. Campers should pack plenty of shorts and t-shirts to wear on and off the athletic field. We provide athletic equipment such as bats, balls, and other major sporting goods. See our complete packing list. (As part of registration, you will receive information on how to pack and fully prepare for camp.)

How’s the food? Is it kosher? Special dietary needs? Food allergies? +-

The food at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is amazing and designed for young athletes. Guarding the Body is one of our core values, so we want to make sure all campers get proper nutrition and fuel for their active camp day. Salad bar, breads, and a variety of meat, vegetarian, and vegan options are available at every meal. The food service provider at Menlo College always seeks to use locally farmed and organic foods whenever possible.

We are able to provide kosher food upon request, though we do not offer a kosher kitchen. We are sensitive to all dietary needs and food allergies such as gluten free, lactose intolerant, and nut allergies. You’ll be asked these questions upon registration, so please be sure to give us the necessary information to properly care for your child.

If you forget to inform us of special dietary needs at the time of registration, please email us immediately at josh@maccabisportscamp.org

How do campers get to and from camp? +-

Local families are welcome to drop off and pick up their camper at camp. For those flying in, you’re encouraged to fly into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or San Jose International Airport (SNS). The JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is happy to provide transportation to and from the airport for all campers that need it.

What’s the best way to stay in touch with my camper? +-

We encourage parents to send letters to their children during camp. Many parents write a letter beforehand so it’s here when their child arrives. You can also use the CampInTouch feature on our website to send an email. We ensure your child gets your letters and emails and encourage them to write back. We make time for campers to write home at least twice during their stay.

What to write? We recommend you keep letters upbeat and ask about favorite camp activities, cabin life, and friends. It’s generally a good idea to keep letters focused on camp so that campers don’t feel like they’re missing out on something back home. Also, letters or emails are not an appropriate means of informing your child of bad news, such as a sick relative or pet. If a difficult situations arises while your child is at camp, we ask that you please call and speak with the director so that we can offer our help and support.

Can I drop in and say hello to my camper? Is there a visiting day? +-

While parents and other family members are welcome and encouraged to bring campers to camp and to pick them up at the end of the session, we do not allow parents or any other visitors to come by during camp sessions. We do not have a visiting day.

We do encourage parents to send letters or emails.

Phone calls? We do not allow parents to call their campers and likewise, campers may not call home, except in the case of an emergency. Calls and visits can be disruptive of our program and the away-from-home camp experience. You’ll find that most camps have the same policy.

Campers are allowed to call home on their birthday.

Can my child leave camp? +-

Campers may not leave camp at any time without the permission of the Camp Director. Arrangements are made at the discretion of the Director for special circumstances such as family weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and family emergencies. It is preferred that planned events are discussed and approved prior to the start of the session.

Can I send packages? +-

As a general rule, campers are not permitted to receive packages while at camp. Campers get three meals and two snacks per day, so they do not need to receive additional food from home. Further, we believe that receiving gifts and/or food causes an unnecessary division and disruption among cabin mates.

All packages that do not conform to the exceptions below will be returned to the sender.

  • Mail must be sent in a flat envelope; no boxes will be accepted
  • If your child forgets a necessary camp item, address the package to “Camp Office – Forgotten Item” and clearly mark the item inside the package with your child’s name. Our office staff will open all such packages and ensure your child receives the item.
  • All such packages must be sent pre-paid
What if my child has a birthday during camp? +-

Birthdays during camp sessions are not only a treat for the camper, but a lot of fun for their cabin mates and the entire camp community. However, please do not send food of any kind. Your child will be able to call home the evening of their birthday.

Will my child need money at camp? +-

No. Campers do not need to bring money and we strongly discourage money be brought to camp. Camp takes no responsibility for money that is lost or stolen at camp.

We’re concerned we may not be able to afford camp. What are our options? +-

There are several answers to this question. First, we’re happy to offer a payment plan to help families ease the cost of camp. Additionally, there are several ways to augment your family’s contribution to camp tuition.

  • JCC Maccabi Sports Camp offers several discounts during the year. Email us today to find out how you can register and save.
  • We are proud members of the One Happy Camper program which gives a $700 discount to first-time campers. This is not a scholarship but rather an incentive to help families decide to send their children to Jewish camp for the first time.
  • We also offer financial assistance. If interested, please contact our camp director for more information.
  • Additionally, we encourage you to look within your community. There are many local synagogues, Federations, and Jewish organizations that offer help with camp tuition.

What if I need to reach camp after hours? +-

In the case of an emergency, please call our camp hotline at (415) 997-8844. We are available to help and support should the need arise. However, we ask that parents reserve using this number for situations that truly cannot wait until regular business hours.

How do I get more information about JCC Maccabi Sports Camp? +-

You can fill out a quick form or call Camp Director Josh Steinharter at (415) 997-8844. You can also email questions to josh@maccabisportscamp.org.