And just like that, kids are heading back to school and we’re bidding “adieu” to summer.

In order to celebrate the wonderful summer we’ve had at the J, we sat down with Courtney Jacobson, the Director of Camp Shai, and Emily MacIntyre, the Director of Education for the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. Unfortunately, Noah Gallagher was still at Ranch Camp, so we were unable to reach out to him (but GO NOAH! We’re so proud of you and your ambitious team!).

These two women, along with their extraordinary co-workers, were able to bring a fun-filled summer to hundreds of children throughout the Denver area, and we couldn’t be more proud of their admirable efforts and accomplishments.

What made Summer 2018 unique compared to past summers?

Courtney Jacobson: We had such a great summer this summer! Our campers who come to Shai are amazing, our counselors are the best, and we love the community we get to serve! Also––we were so fortunate to have our partnership with Graland again this summer. Having access to the classroom space, outdoor spaces, and that incredible campus is such a great opportunity for us.

As a Director of camp, what do you miss most when summer camp ends and school goes back in session?

CJ: I will miss having all of the campers and staff around, of course. I love walking the hallways at camp seeing the campers having an awesome time at camp and the counselors being generally goofy to engage them! Another thing that I really miss during the school year is Morning Circle, specifically Counselor Survivor. I live for Survivor! Making up goofy and messy challenges for Survivor and watching the counselors go nuts to win the challenge is a huge highlight of my day.

Was there a particular moment this summer where you witnessed a camper overcome a huge fear?

CJ: I think the beautiful thing about camp is how much growth can take place! It’s hard to pick out just one thing because so many campers grow as the summer goes on. We saw our Rishonim (entering Kindergarten) campers become so much more independent and ready for Kindergarten as a result of being at Camp Shai. We also saw so many campers learn new things in art, sports, specialty camps, overnights, adventure activities, and more. I like to think that because campers came to Camp Shai and got the opportunity to challenge themselves and grow in a safe space, they finish up the week (or weeks) with us standing a little taller!

What’s your proudest accomplishment as Summer 2018 comes to an end?

CJ: We had so great moments, but a major highlight of the summer was having so many musicians join us at Camp Shai this summer. We loved our “jam session” with Rick Recht and it was an absolute treat to have Nefesh Mountain for the “Bluegrass on the Green” concert.

Summer 2018


What specific staff member(s) made this camp year better? How did they help out?

Emily MacIntyre: I have a huge team of summer interns, but my full summer interns bring consistency, develop deep relationships with our students, become our up-standers, and artistic encouragers. A special shout out to my full-time Art/Theatre Counselor, Olivia Poole, who supported teachers, campers, and helped me manage massive amounts of supplies.

As a Director of camp, what do you miss most when summer camp ends?

EM: I miss the creative energy, non-stop singing, and shouts of laughter that fill all of our spaces.

Can you name a specific instance this summer where you noticed a camper/campers overcome a personal obstacle?

EM: I feel like these are weekly, sometimes daily triumphs. Some days it’s the student who yesterday asked a million questions afraid to make a mistake but today boldly shared with me the creative decisions he made on his own. Most weeks it’s the parent who stops by my office to tell me their shy kiddo has discovered a passion for the theatre and it’s turned their entire world around.

What’s your proudest accomplishment as Summer 2018 comes to an end?

EM: I had a lot of goals up on my board at the end of last summer. I am excited to see I made progress in all of them. Most important were: To build community in the art department, we added Friday Art Walks; to move the art/theatre classes back to the J creating a one campus focus and artistic synergy across disciplines. I had more students trying both experiences than any other year.

I’m sure we can all agree that these ladies, along with their stellar teams, have done a fantastic job at curating and running a successful summer. Congrats to all––enjoy the last week of camp!

We can’t wait to see what Camp Shai and the Mizel Arts and Culture Center have in store for Summer 2019!