Spotlight on… Simcha Day Camp
Name and Position: Rabbi Avi Taub, Director
Location: 257 Beach 17th Street, Far Rockaway, NY 11691
Number of Employees: Over 100
Years in Business: 50
How early do you start preparing for the summer?
I know it sounds cliché, but we honestly begin preparing for the summer DURING the previous summer! Our head staff meets and discusses how we can continue to improve, which trips to return to, and how to tweak events, taking notes from our campers, parents, and counselors every day.
Can you tell us a bit about your staff?
We start our day off with more than 30 professional rebbeim who teach our boys Torah with seriousness and geshmak. After learning, our 60-plus counselors and junior counselors take over, ready to give our campers the best day ever! Simcha Juniors, our preschool division, has over 40 hand-picked, caring, and dedicated morahs. Over 15 certified lifeguards train our campers in how to swim and advance from level to level in our Olympic-size swimming pool. Close to a dozen kitchen staff and waiters prepare fresh breakfast and lunch every day on site, energizing the boys for an unforgettable day of sports and swimming. Let’s not forget our incredible medical director who is on campus at all times, as well as four security guards ensuring our campers’ safety and well-being. This is all headed by an incredible head staff of directors, head counselors, and division heads.
Sounds impressive! How do you choose your staff?
Our head counselors meet each and every potential staff member and truly hand pick from the best teens and young adults in the world. Once selected, our staff undergoes extensive training on how to be a mentor, a role model and a responsible, safe, staff member of our team. We also groom our future staff members in our one-of-a-kind CIT program, where young teens receive hands-on training and guidance in how to be the best counselors for their campers.
Can you walk us through a typical day at camp?
The day begins with davening and learning with professional rebbeim, whose goal is to create a smooth transition from one school year to the next, with no learning gaps.
The rest of the day is jam-packed with instructional and free swim, bunk games and competitive leagues, fantastic special division activities, and ruach pumping division challenges. The boys also have a blast at their late nights throughout the summer.
Simcha Juniors also fill their day with various specialties like karate, creative movement, arts and crafts, and fun with food, just to name a few.
What is the most stressful part of your job?
Waiting to hear from the last bus counselor that every camper was dropped off safely at home for the night.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing our former campers grow into the most amazing, dedicated counselors and give back to the SDC family to raise the next generation of campers.
What was the most memorable trip to date?
The main draw of SDC is really our massive all-inclusive grounds with eight basketball courts, an air-conditioned gym, four baseball fields, two outdoor playgrounds, one indoor playground, an Olympic size swimming pool, soccer field, volleyball court, football field, and gaga pit. Nonetheless, our campers still enjoy the most amazing trips throughout the summer.
It’s really hard to pick one that stands out above the rest. Some of our favorite spots include Adventureland, Luna Park, Q-Zar, Dave and Buster’s, Adventurers, Launch, Bounce, Country Fair Amusement Center, Fishing, Area 53 Adventure Park, Rye Playland, and Active Kidz. Our Senior Division and CITs also go on two incredible overnights to places like Dreamworks waterpark, Kalahari, Aquatopia, Camelbeach, Six Flags New England, and Mountain Creek.
One trip that is dear to my heart is our annual Nine Days Bowl-a-Thon for Chai Lifeline. Our campers bowl their hearts out to raise money for the children of Chai Lifeline, so that they can enjoy a much-needed camp experience. We raise over $40,000 each summer.
We also bring in lots of entertainment so the kids don’t have to travel much. Events like our massive carnival, annual concert, interactive game shows, karate, sports clinics, and a hands-on petting zoo give our campers a change of pace from the regular amazing day in SDC.
Why would a boy from Brooklyn go to a camp in Far Rockaway?
The biggest factor is that once a camper arrives at camp in the morning, he’s here to stay! There is no need for busing to a pool, no need for busing to a baseball field, and no need for busing to a gym! We’ve got it all on site on our beautiful, nine acre, indoor and outdoor facility.