Nancy Spielberg may be Steven Spielberg’s little sister, but she and her daughter, Melissa, are in a league of their own.
Known for her impeccable talent as a film producer and writer (she was the Executive Producer for Above and Beyond and On the Map), Nancy has nothing but nice things to say about her 24-year-old daughter, Melissa’s, time at JCC Ranch Camp. Unfortunately we were unable to connect with Melissa, but we were lucky enough to grab a few moments with Ms. Nancy.
How long did Melissa attend Ranch Camp?
Nancy: She attended for three or four years. She was a camper twice and then a counselor for one year. She did a lot of different things, in fact, I thought she’d want to move there and run the camp, if she could! It was such an incredible experience.
How did Ranch Camp influence Melissa growing up?
NS: One of her college essays was written from an experience at Ranch Camp. It was a tragic experience in some ways, but a life lesson. Gina (who’s now a new mom and the Director of Rentals at Ranch Camp!)–my daughter loved Gina, everyone loved Gina and her horse. Melissa loved her horse and loved taking care of it. But then Gina’s horse got very sick and all the kids were trying to save the horse and, in the end, it didn’t make it through and the horse died. It was an experience for all of them, because they had to bury it…and then Melissa made Gina a movie about her horse, because Melissa was interested in filmmaking at the time.
How did your family find out about Ranch Camp?
NS: You know my struggle was my daughter was completely consumed with everything “horsey”–and it was so important to me that she had the Jewish camp experience because, of course, we’re kosher and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, available for those families. Somebody mentioned that they’d heard of this place in Colorado–it was on New York radar, and when I checked into it, I was just blown away. I was so happy to find not just Jews and horsies, but kosher Jews and horsies! Because that was what we needed. There were great kids and great energy–it was the perfect experience for her.
Do you know what sort of Jewish qualities she got out of her time at Ranch Camp?
NS: My kids were in Orthodox day schools and I actually think what Ranch did for her was open her up to an inclusive environment instead of the excluding where your skirt’s not long enough or, you know, it was probably the first time that she was in an open-minded environment. She developed some really wonderful, warm relationships and it opened her up to diversity in being Jewish and that’s one of the most important things–including everybody.
What is Melissa up to now?
NS: She’s living in California now, but she went to Rutgers University in New Jersey. She’s all about animals. She’s very in to nature, which is something that she was able to develop at Ranch Camp. She’s working in Production for a few documentaries–she’s loving it, she’s doing all kinds of stuff.