Blog with Springboard

The Springboard blog highlights the experiences of Jewish teens and Jewish teen professionals participating in community programs across Chicagoland and beyond. Dive into blogs about different Jewish teen events, leadership programs, trip opportunities, and more! Join us in celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of Jewish teens and professionals in the Jewish community. To post a blog, please email

Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Registration for Camp TOV Now Open

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Registration for this summer’s Mini Camp TOV and Camp TOV programs are now open and available here

Mini Camp TOV 2017

Camp TOV is Teens@JUF's day camp “on wheels” where teens use their time and energy to volunteer in a fun, engaging and hands-on way. Campers learn about a variety of issues facing our society with an emphasis on Jewish values and the importance of gemilut chassidim -- acts of loving kindness and tikkun olam -- repairing the world. Each day brings a new hands-on volunteering project for them to participate in with campers earning about 25 volunteer hours in just one week! Program dates are below and additional information for both programs can be found on the TOV Teens webpage.

  • Mini Camp TOV is on Wednesday, June 14th and Thursday, June 15th.
  • Camp TOV session 1 is Monday, July 31st  through Friday, August 4th.
  • Camp TOV session 2 is Monday, August 14th through Friday, August 18th.  

Below, Hallie Shapiro Devir, Associate Vice-President of Community Outreach and Engagement, shares her experience with Camp TOV. 

As a parent, one of the best things you can see is your child doing good and enjoying it. Raising kids who are excited about making the world a better place is all the more important to me as a Jewish Communal Professional whose work is engaging teens in the Jewish community. So it was especially exciting to me to hear a conversation between my oldest and middle children the other day. Eli, a 9th grader in a Chicago Public School, had spent the morning of his “teacher furlough day” volunteering with TOV Teens, and was telling his brother, Noah, a 6th grader, about the experience. He paused and said, “I saw the Camp TOV flyers in mom’s office after we came back downtown. Guess what? You’ll be old enough to go this year!”

Eli is a several-year veteran of Camp TOV and Mini Camp TOV. Although he started because I signed him up, he now asks every year if he’s doing Camp TOV again or if only Mini Camp will fit into his summer schedule. He’s a menschy kid in general who likes volunteering, but what he likes about Camp TOV is getting to work on many different projects while meeting other teens. He enjoys being a part of something bigger, whether its being a piece of an assembly line that labels 1000 bags for The ARK’s High Holiday Food Drive, repackaging two tons of corn at the Northern Illinois Food Bank for distribution to a dozen food pantries, collecting 60 bags of trash off a Chicago beach, or painting an entire fence at a shelter for battered women. He also relishes knocking out a big chunk of his annual required service hours in a few short days. But most important to me is that the experience is one he wants to share, even with his siblings, because at the end of every day, he feels good—about himself, about the power of teens to make a difference, about the possibility of the world being better because of something he did. This summer, I’m excited to hear about my two sons having fun while doing good. I hope your kids will join them!

Springboard Staff Spotlights

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We are so excited about this year’s one-of-a-kind school break programs. Today we are highlighting some of the incredible staff working behind the scenes to make this year’s program a success. Read the staff spotlight’s below and sign up for your own school break adventure today! 

Program: SciLab

Staff Spotlight: Albert Marks

Albert Marks

As the Senior Assistant Director of OSRUI, the reform Jewish summer camp in Oconomwoc, WI, Albert works year round supporting OSRUI. He is responsible for social media, contracts, staff hiring, camper and staff recruitment, and alumni development as well as overseeing the running of the summer camp and over 1000 people on a daily basis.  Growing up, Albert always wanted to work at a place where he could have a significant impact on the lives of others. Being able to be a role model to reform Jewish teens while simultaneously being surrounded with amazing people makes OSRUI the perfect place for Albert. 

Spending time with staff and campers is his favorite part of working at OSRUI, and he can’t wait to hang out with you this Spring Break! Too often in school, we are taught to learn the simplest of objectives, but never explore them, and often those of us who are passionate and curious stand on the sidelines. At SciLab, being an interested and curious scientist is the perfect starting point. You have the chance to use camp to explore sciences such as biology and astronomy, while still getting to do fun camp activities like night hikes and sports. Sign up today, hands on, out of this world activities are waiting for you at SciLab!

Program: Chicago Teens for Change

Staff Spotlight: Orit Sacker

Orit Sacker

Orit was born in Israel, but is in Chicago on Shlichut, through the Jewish Agency for Israel. She is an architect by profession, but has been involved in Young Judaea for many years. She loves the impact that Young Judea has on all who are involved and she is excited to see the impact Chicago Teens for Change is able to create on this committed group of teenagers - both those who are running the peer-led program and those who are participating.

Chicago Teens for Change is designed to leave a lasting impression and have a meaningful impact on those who are looking to spend their spring break giving back to the community, making new friends and connecting with different aspects of the community they live in. Participants will have the opportunity to do lots of social action combined with a healthy dose of fun! In addition to spending time volunteering in different locations, participants will also enjoy group building and leadership development activities. All of this will take place at a summer camp - the location already oozes with fun. Chicago Teens for Change is going to be amazing!   

Program: Breakaway Programs (Tree House Building, Ta’am Ivrit, Studio Chi, Cooking Workshop, and Wilderness Survival)

Staff Spotlight: Kyle Kolling

Kyle Kolling

Kyle Kolling is one of the amazing leaders that will be running the Camp Chi Breakaway Programs. Kyle is so excited to be a part of Springboard School Breaks this year. He works at Camp Chi as a Program Coordinator and Teen Camp Director. He loves theater, soccer, and baseball. However, his favorite thing is going to Camp Chi for Summer Break.

When Kyle first heard the idea of being at camp over spring break last year he was very intrigued. He assisted with the 2016 StudioChi pilot and from that point on knew he wanted to always be a part of Springboard programs. He even took some film classes at the University of Liverpool that he thought might come in handy. This year he thought they should expand the programs at Camp Chi. “The BreakAway programs are five different unique programs, each led by professionals in their field. Knowing how much everyone learned and had a blast last year, I cannot wait to see how incredible of an experience these five programs turn out to be. From StudioChi, Wilderness Survival, Tree House Building, Cooking Workshop, and Ta’am Ivrit, each of these five programs will be a blast!” says Kyle.

Program: Farm to Table: Chef’s Immersion

Staff Spotlight: Trisha Margulies

Trisha Margulies

Farm to Table: Chef’s Immersion is an awesome program that will take place at Pushing the Envelope Farm. Trisha and her husband, Rabbi Fred, started Pushing the Envelope Farm 8 years ago because of how much they believed in Jewish Environmental Education. Trisha has lived all around the country and eventually settled back in Chicago to open this farm up. Trisha loves make an impact on other people. She says, “I think it's always exciting to work young people because they ‘push the envelope.’ Young people want to be challenged and I think they want to change peoples’ lives.” 

As somebody who very much cares about our environment and Judaism, she was able to create Farm to Table: Chef’s Immersion, a program that does both. Participants will learn about cooking and have a true farm to table experience. The participants will be making enough food to eat, as well as give back to those in need. There are so many different types of food in different cultures that people often don't know about it, and on this program, participants will get to taste some of those new foods and create some of their own new memories.

Program: School of Rock

Staff Spotlight: Russell Wiener

Russell Wiener

Russell Wiener, is a musician, producer, and engineer in Los Angeles, California. He also is one of the staff members for School of Rock, taking place at Beber Camp. He has been involved in music at camp for 15 years, ever since the Executive Director, Stefan Teodosic, asked Russell if he would put together a music program.

At School of Rock teens will be able to play, collaborate, learn songs, play together, write music, perform, find a new passion, and make friends. No skill level or instruments are required! According to Russell, he got involved in School of Rock because, “It gives me a chance to build on the music programs we have!” He is excited to watch the program grow and create meaningful experiences for Jewish teens in the area. 

Program: Big Apple Adventure

Staff Spotlight: Levi Zeffren

Levi Zeffren

Levi Zeffren is the City Director of Chicagoland NCSY. NCSY has spent months putting together an incredible experience full of fun and adventure. They could not be more excited to meet everyone signed up and spend 5 days together in NY!