Spotlight on: Rachel Petrylka, JCC Day Camps
Every year, as the ground thaws and buds begin to sprout on the tall, quiet trees that sprawl across our northern campus, anticipation begins to build for another unforgettable summer at JCC Day Camps. This year, the second since our Powered by Tamarack program revamp, is gearing up to be a tremendous one. (Let us be pesky for a minute and say – have you signed up yet?!)
As we count down the weeks to camp, we’ll be releasing a series of short stories highlighting the faces of our exceptional staff, campers, parents, and friends that make the JCC Day Camps family so vibrant and strong.
This week, we turn to Rachel Petrylka, our new Chaverim (pronounced “ha-vey-reem”, or friends) Unit Head. She’ll be overseeing our Kindergartners as they explore, learn and enjoy their way through the summer months. We sat down with her recently to ask her about the new role ahead of her.
You’ll be stepping into the role of Chaverim Unit Head this summer. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to this role?
I have been working at the Sarah & Irving Pitt Child Development Center (CDC) for 4 years and this is my second year teaching kindergarten. Before kindergarten, I was a preK teacher and a toddler teacher. My time before the JCC was spent in first grade and subbing in public school. I also spent 5 summers as a supervisor at the summer camp for South Redford Schools.
How has your current role as a Kindergarten Teacher in the Sarah & Irving Pitt CDC helped prepare you for this new responsibility?
As the kindergarten teacher, my whole life is kindergarten! I know how these children think and what they need to have a successful day. I know that transitions can be scary or overwhelming for this age group. My goal is to make the big transition from preschool to camp as smooth as possible.
What can people expect at JCC Day Camps this year that’s new or different from the past?
I think the biggest change for the Chaverim group will be going from a K-1 group to a fully kindergarten group. This makes it easier for us to slow the campers’ day down to kindergarten speed with kindergarten friendly transitions and free play activities. These kids are only 5 and the typical jam-packed camp day may not be the best experience for them. It’s our goal this year to transition them to the camp experience without completely overwhelming children AND parents.
What’s your favorite memory of summer as a child growing up?
My favorite summer memory would be camping with my family in the Upper Peninsula. Nothing beats a day of swimming in Lake Superior and then warming up around a campfire!
Can you share something goofy or unique about yourself that most people don’t know?
Oh man, this is hard! I feel like I’m always goofy, so people already know that. Well I can wiggle my ears, which is kinda cool. And I love singing and putting on silly voices.
Start your adventure into a summer of endless possibilities with JCC Day Camps Powered by Tamarack.
Visit camp.jccdet.org for more information and to sign up!