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group photo of JCC camp counselors
Left to right, back row: Simon, Clint, Brooke, Sterling, Nataly and Kenna || Bottom row: Anna Lee, Zoe, Rivkah, Bella and Sara || Missing from the photo: Hailey Brady and Michelle Moe

JCC Campers Now Camp Counselors

Some campers have so much fun at Camp JCC that they never want to leave. And when they age out? They become camp counselors! Many of them have been counselors multiple years.

And the Award Goes To …

A huge shout out to Sterling Zweigel who has been in camp leadership at the JCC for 11 years, including the two years he was a Counselor in Training! This year, he is using his summer off from the school system to staff Camp JCC’s new mental support program. A graduate of Ball State University, Sterling taught fourth and fifth grade for a few years before becoming a behavior specialist.

Many of our campers turned camp counselors had Sterling as their counselor. That’s what we call inspiring the next generation!

The Tried-and-True Crew

Meet the almost dozen counselors who previously had been campers.

Anna Lee Hensel

# of years as a camp counselor: 5

Favorite part of camp when a camper: Leon Mordoh Lip Sync and color wars

Her camp counselors when she was a camper: Hamilton, Sterling and Frank

What she likes about being a counselor: Seeing/leading things from the counselor point of view (POV) instead of the camper POV

Favorite part of CampJCC: Shabbat

What she’s listening to: “I listen to a lot, it depends on how I’m feeling that day.”

Favorite meal: “I don’t have a favorite restaurant, but any place with some chicken tenders and good fries.”

A little more about Anna Lee: She’s a junior at IU Bloomington majoring in exercise science. She plans on getting a masters in athletic training. She plays rugby at IU and will be dancing in the African American Dance Company as well. The youngest of four, her sister and she went to CampJCC as kids. Later, her brothers were camp counselors. Her mom used to work at the JCC as well. Now it’s just her brother and she working at the J. She has two “crazy dogs” named Atlas and Vinny.

 

 

Bella Birany

# of years as a camp counselor: 3

Favorite part of camp when a camper: Traveling to different states with our friends. We got to experience so many random and fun things that we still talk about to this day. As a camper, I loved the trips but I really enjoyed the freedom to be ourselves.

What she likes about being a counselor: Loves getting to make so many connections with her campers and see them become friends with each other. And being able to play games from her childhood with them.

Her counselors when she was a camper: Hamilton and Sterling

What she’s listening to: Frank Ocean, Elton John, Jack Johnson and the Glee Cast

A little more about Bella: A sophomore at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she majors in sociology and political science. She hopes to become a constitutional or criminal lawyer and live in New York City and Italy for a few years. She eats salmon all the time and her hobbies are long boarding, painting, watching the sunset and singing. She has a 6-year-old shiba iny and chihuahua mix dog named Bailey. Her brother also attends Camp JCC and they were in Gesher together before she aged out.

Brooke Eshleman

# of years as a camp counselor: This is Brooke’s second year as a camp counselor. Previously, she was a Counselor in Training

Favorite part of camp when a camper: practicing for Leon Mordoh Lip Sync and playing on the playground

What she likes about being a counselor:

Favorite part of CampJCC: likes making the campers laugh, smile, get super excited, and be silly.

Favorite part of camp: constantly being busy with tons of fun and engaging activities to participate in that are unique to the JCC.

What she’s listening to: favorite band is Toto!

Favorite meal: either hibachi or a Texas chimichanga

A little more about Brooke: She’s going to be a senior at Ball State University majoring in elementary education with a concentration in psychology. Some of her hobbies include camping, hiking, kayaking and backpacking. She specifically loves to hike through Red River Gorge. “I hope to eventually travel the world someday and continue exploring.”

Clint Odom

# of years as a camp counselor: this is Clint’s first year as a counselor

Favorite part of camp when a camper: the trips in Gesher

Camp counselor when he was a camper: Sterling

What he likes about being a counselor: The kids are really funny.

Favorite part of CampJCC (as a camper and a counselor): the cookouts

What he’s listening to: The Wrecks

A little more about Clint: He’s a sophomore at North Central High School. He plays the drums and percussion. He has a dog named Linda and a cat named Maisey who just lie around the house all day.  His dad is a lawyer and mom works at Eli Lilly. His little brother, Carter, goes to CampJCC.

Photo coming

Hailey Brady

# of years as a camp counselor: This is Hailey’s first year as a counselor

Favorite part of camp when a camper: Leon Mordoh Lip Sync, making new friends and swimming

Her camp counselors when she was a camper: Hamilton when she was in Gesher. She also has known Michelle, Sterling and Myranda even though they weren’t her direct counselors

What she likes about being a counselor: “As a float counselor for majority of the summer, I love getting to know all of the campers. I also love participating in activities with them.”

Favorite part of CampJCC: “I have many favorite parts of camp as a camper and now counselor. Before Covid we were able to go on trips in 4th/5th grade as well as Gesher, which I loved. But my favorite part overall is getting to know people. Especially the people I saw as a camper grow up and be a counselor before I did. Now I know them. Being a counselor now is also nostalgic even though I’m seeing a different side of camp. I was also a camper at Camp Chi in Wisconsin. It’s a Jewish sleep away camp through the JCC in Chicago that I found out about through the trips we did here.”

Favorite books: by author Colleen Hoover

Favorite meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup (although if she has a food too much, she gets tired of it)

A little more about Hailey: she’s a senior at Carmel High School. She plans on staying in state for college and studying speech pathology and audiology. “I would love to help deaf people learn how to talk and communicate.” She loves dance and did competition team for 12 years. She also taught her own classes for four years until the studio closed in early 2021. She assists her coach from that studio in leading dance fundraisers to raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital. Her little brother went to CampJCC also and her dad is a retired Army veteran.

“I loved being a camper here. I, of course, looked up to the Gesher kids, and I saw some of them become counselors. That made me want to be one even more. Some of my best friends came from this camp, and we’re still super close years after being campers.

“Camp is an amazing way to get outside, make new friends, explore a new and amazing environment, as well as have fun every day. I’m happy I came back as a counselor. It’s one of the best decisions I have made. It’s one of the best places to come back to.”

Kenna Sondhelm

# of years as a camp counselor: It’s Kenna’s first year as a counselor

Favorite part of camp when a camper: she liked swimming and yom sport the most

Her camp counselor when she was a camper: Hamilton

What she likes about being a counselor: “I like to find ways to keep them active and play games that keep them engaged and happy.”

Favorite part of CampJCC: eating lunch with my campers and Shabbat

What she’s reading: The Street by Ann Petry

Favorite meal: Loves Thai food

A little more about Kenna: A junior at North Central High School, she had three chickens when she was nine. She loves cooking for her family and staking out the best TV shows on Netflix. She has three older siblings, a 2-year-old shih tzu poodle and belongs to Congregation Etz Chaim.

 

Michelle Moe

# of years as a camp counselor: 11

Favorite part of camp when a camper: loved swimming, hanging out with her counselors who were the coolest, and special days like color wars, carnival and Israeli Day! She also always loved dancing and singing at Shabbat.

Her counselor when she was a camper: Kenny, her counselor in Gesher. He truly loved everything camp and had the most positive spirit and was loved by all at camp! When I became a counselor and got to learn from and work alongside him, he inspired me to show love to everyone and look for the joy in life!

What she likes about being a Unit Head: same as when she was a camper – spirit days, color wars, etc. The days where you see the spirit of camp and get to just have fun all together as one camp.

Currently listening to: a lot of Kacey Musgraves, Norah Jones, and Troye Sivan

Favorite foods: sushi, breakfast bagel sandwiches, mozzarella sticks, and Carmel m&ms 😁 I’m not very picky

A little more about Michelle: She currently work as a 4th grade teacher in Washington Township Schools and has been fortunate to have campers from the JCC in her class at school. “It is such a joy to get to know them and their families more.” She has been inside the Oval Office at the White House, loves Starbucks, Target, and a good sunset! Random hobby: plane spotting! ✈️

“I am an only child and have grown up at the JCC (ECE, after school care, camp, etc.) What I always loved and my parents always loved was the quality of care here at the J and the family atmosphere; there is always a familiar face around! It has been an honor to continue that community as a staff member. To all camp and JCC families – thank you for entrusting us with your children and for being the most awesome community of people!”

 

Nataly David-Smith

# of years as a camp counselor: 4

Favorite part of camp when a camper: playing basketball

His camp counselors when he was a camper: Sterling and Skeeter

What he likes about being a counselor: Getting to know the kids more throughout the summer and see them grow

Favorite part of CampJCC: doing fun activities with all the kids where everyone is participating

Who he’s listening to: a lot of Mac DeMarco lately

Favorite meal: Frisco Melt from Steak ‘n Shake

A little more about Nataly: He’s a junior at IUPUI majoring in sports management. He’s really into sports, playing basketball or football, fashion and hanging with friends. His mom is from Israel and his dad was born in Germany and is black. “So I have a cool ethnic diverse background.”

 

Rivkah Bunes

# of years as a camp counselor: 3

Favorite part of camp when a camper: Gesher camp trips. And she loved playing sports all day.

Her counselors when she was a camper: Sterling and Hamilton

What she likes about being a counselor: the conversations she has with her campers.

Favorite part of CampJCC: loves getting to know all the kids and see them grow throughout the summer.

Favorite book: Animal Farm

What she’s listening to: Marina and the Diamonds and The 1975

Favorite meal: anything sushi

A little more about Rivkah: She is a rising sophomore at IU majoring in political science, Jewish studies and history. Her hobbies are playing softball and being on the mock trial at IU. She has a dog named Bernie.

Sara Cooler

# of years as a camp counselor: This is Sara’s first year as a counselor

Favorite part of camp when a camper: making friendship bracelets with her camp counselor.

Her camp counselor: Caitlyn

What she likes about being a counselor: Getting to meet so many different personalities. “The kids are able to be their most authentic selves at Camp JCC and I love to see them try new things and grow.”

Favorite part of campJCC: the playground.

Favorite meal: Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich with extra pickles.

A little more about Sara: She goes to IU Bloomington and her major is human development, family studies and psychology. She just recently studies abroad in Florence, Italy. She loves to play tennis and hang out with friends. Her hobbies are painting, walking, going to Starbucks with her dog and playing tennis.

“I grew up coming to the JCC and the former Bureau of Jewish Education (now CJEL) for preschool and Hebrew school. I love this building and community!”

Simon

Favorite part of camp when a camper: swimming

His camp counselors when he was a camper: Hamilton, Sterling and Jeff

What he likes about being a counselor: playing with the campers

Favorite part of CampJCC: Shabbat

Favorite restaurant: Applebee’s

A little more about Simon: He’s a junior at Bishop Chatard High School and plays the trombone in the band. He likes playing video games and volleyball. He has a brother and sister who are twins. They also went to CampJCC. He has a dog and two cats.

“Hi, Mom! I’m in a blog on the JCC’s website!”

Sterling Zweigel

# of years as a camp counselor: 11 years, including being a Counselor in Training

Favorite part of camp when a camper: The trips were always the most memorable and he enjoyed playing basketball, capture the flag and of course, Yom Sport.

His counselors when he was a camper: Kenny, Vikas, Doron and Joe Kinney are the counselors he remembers most.

Favorite part of CampJCC: “As a counselor I loved the trips and seeing kids in a different environment than school. As a kid I remember how fun campsites used to be.”

Currently reading: basketball and coaching books

Favorite meal: he loves Puccini’s Pizza, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A

A little more about Sterling: He works at Fox Hill Elementary and has been married for a year. He and his wife Jenny have a Golden Retriever named Boomer. His hobbies are playing basketball and golf and walking Boomer with his wife.

Zoe Carlson

# of years as a camp counselor: 6 (counting 2 years as a counselor in training)

Favorite part of camp when a camper: playing with her friends every day and going on field trips

Her counselors when she was a camper: Sterling and Hamilton

What she likes about being a counselor: Making connections with the kids and seeing them grow throughout the summer.

Favorite part of CampJCC: Shabbat every Friday with the whole camp.

What she’s listening to: Ben Platt

A little more about Zoe: She will be a junior at IU and her major is pre-physician’s assistant. Her favorite meal is sushi from Ami. She loves to bake cookies and she and her family are members at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. She has a dog named Bentley.

Committed in Camp and in Life

For those who may not know, Myranda Tetzlaff, Camp JCC’s Director and Hamilton Hensel, Assistant Director met while camp counselors at Camp JCC. He proposed, fittingly, at camp in 2021.

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