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Extending a radical welcome to our new camp director

Gillian May is passionate about camps. You don’t have to spend much time with her to realize that all the years she’s spent attending and working at the LJCC’s venerable Camp J have had an effect – a good effect that will make her a great camp director.

Two smiling women stand next to each other in front of a glass wall
LJCC Program Director Elizabeth Patton (left) and newly appointed Camp Director Gillian May aim to increase campers’ life awareness through fun learning and development.

“I am so excited and happy to be back at camp!” exclaims Gillian. “It’s going to be so much fun bringing the old traditions and mixing them in with the new.” 

Gillian was first introduced to Camp J 17 years ago as a young camper. Since then she’s moved up the ladder in various counselor positions, including being named assistant camp director two years ago. Even with the demands of her full-time third-grade teaching gig, it hasn’t taken her long to settle back in at The J as camp director – probably because camp culture is in her DNA.

“‘Camp people’ are a different breed for sure,” chuckles Program Director Elizabeth Patton. A recent conference in Atlanta devoted to Jewish summer camps was Elizabeth’s first introduction to the personality type. “They definitely run on a vibration that’s set to a higher pitch than everyone else’s. But while the joy they bring to the smallest things can be very evident, there’s also a reason for pretty much everything they do related to camps. Knowing how and why all the different camp pieces fit together is definitely a unique – and valuable – skill set.” 

Instilling Jewish values

Camp J has always aimed to increase campers’ life awareness through fun learning and development. This year’s theme of “You’ve got a friend at camp” will capitalize on the Jewish value of hachnasat orchim, or radical welcoming. 

“Gillian’s deep experience will bring new meaning and value to our camp,” Elizabeth says. “She will not simply run the same old generic camp activities just for the sake of it. She’s going to deliberately plan the curriculum based on her knowledge of what the kids need and want.”

Registration for Camp J’s 2023 summer sessions will open on January 4. And stay tuned for more camp stories on this website…