Allisa Horwitz has joined the GUCI team as the URJ Business and Operations Associate, Midwest Hub. In her role, she will be supporting our team and OSRUI, one of our sister URJ camps in Wisconsin. Read what she has to say below!
I grew up in Skokie, IL at Temple Judea Mizpah. I still vividly remember the first time I went to Jewish summer camp. It was in the fall of fourth grade, after years of watching my older brother board a bus with his Hebrew School friends and with our dad, a beloved Religious School teacher, it was finally my turn to hop on. I remember being in awe when we pulled into camp. After unpacking and getting settled, I felt as if I was meant to be there. To this day, whenever I hear the camp version of Hevenu Shalom Aleichem, I am taken back to that night in the Chadar Ohel after Shabbat dinner, where I first learned the lyrics, the silly parts and of course the dance moves to that song. Although I do not remember much else from the rest of that weekend, I know my experience was magical and transformative!
After a few years and a few more weekends at camp, I finally headed to my first summer as a camper at OSRUI. I took a deep breath, said goodbye to my parents, boarded the bus with a few friends and off I went. Although my first letters home may reflect a different impression, I truly had the most amazing experience. So much so, that I went back for four weeks the following summer and then worked as a babysitter for the following two summers.
As I entered high school, I happily followed in my brothers’ footsteps by becoming extremely involved in my temple youth group and CFTY (NFTY-Car). Not only was youth group and NFTY a way to stay connected to my Jewish friends from other schools, NFTY was also an opportunity to visit my Jewish summer camp once or twice a year. It was during this time that I gained valuable life lessons, leadership responsibilities, and religious knowledge has been skills that I have used continuously throughout my life. All this time at camp and as part of NFTY had a significant impact on me.
During high school, I also began working at the JCC in Skokie, IL. Little did I know that I would remain at the JCC for 25 years. Throughout those years, I worked as a camp counselor and unit head, an assistant Early Childhood teacher and an after school coordinator, and then for the past 14 years, at JCC Apachi Day Camp in Lake Zurich, IL as the Operations Manager. At the JCC I was also lucky enough to have met my husband, Kevin.
Kevin and I began dating in 1999 and both also began our youth group advising careers; Kevin in Milwaukee, Wi and myself in Skokie, IL. After getting married, we became co-Advisors for the Jew Crew at our synagogue, Or Shalom in Vernon Hills, IL. In 2008 and 2012 Kevin and I welcomed our daughters’ Baylee and Piper. Our girls have grown up visiting OSRUI at least twice a year as part of NFTY events and my love of camp has worn off on them as well. After waiting 8 years, Baylee was finally ready to start her camp career and Piper is looking forward to being a camper for the first time.
As a family, if we are not at a youth group or NFTY event or visiting camp, we prefer to be together either be at home playing with our two cats, Kylo Ren and Stormtrooper or on a family vacation. Our favorite places to visit is Disney World or Disneyland but if we need to stay more local, we have loved exploring Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.
After my long-time connection with the URJ, OSRUI, and NFTY, I am so excited to officially be the URJ Business and Operations Associate, Midwest Hub. In this new role, I am excited to visit GUCI and experience its’ magic. I look forward to working with families and ensuring your campers have a lifechanging summer at GUCI.