Camp Leadership


Sophie Samuels
Youth and Camp Director

Sophie’s love of camp began right here at the MJCC as a camper then as staff. She has been the Camp and Youth Director at the MJCC since 2013, and in total, Sophie has spent 27 summers involved with MJCC Day Camp in some capacity! Her experiences at camp inspired her to get a Bachelor of Science in Child Studies from Vanderbilt University. Sophie loves that camp is the perfect place for kids to be kids and learn valuable life skills while having so much fun! One of her favorite parts of her job is coming up with creative programming for camp. Some of her all time best programs include the gigantic bubble parties, wild and crazy kid color war, glow parties, dance contests, and baby pools full of shaving cream! 

Favorite Camp Activity:  Arts & Crafts
Favorite Camp Song:  The Lima Bean Song
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 


Jonathan Gowan
Assistant Youth and Camp Director

We are excited to welcome Jonathan who joined the day camp team this past summer from an overnight sleep away camp in northern Alabama. He brings with him a passion for camp and an understanding that camp brings out the best in people. He believes that attending camp instills many important values and creates a lifelong community of friends. His goal is to create an environment where all campers feel welcome and a part of the “camp family”!

Favorite Camp Activity:  Gaga
Favorite Camp Song:  The Ronald McDonald Chicken Nugget Song  
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies & Cream 


LaWanda Johnson
Camp Office Manager

This is LaWanda’s 4th summer at MJCC Day Camp! Prior to camp, LaWanda spent 1 year working as the Administrative Assistant at Jewish Family Service. She works closely year round with the Camp Director & Assistant Camp Director planning exciting adventures for the Youth & Camp Department. Two of her three children are regulars at camp. LaWanda looks forward to enhancing the lives of each and every camper and providing every family the best possible experience who attends MJCC Day Camp…The BEST Camp EVER!

Favorite Camp Activity:  Fun Fridays!
Favorite Camp Song:  Baby Bumblebee
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Vanilla

Sharon Kaplan
Camp Program Director

Sharon has deep roots at MJCC Day camp dating back to being a camper, CIT, Jr and Sr counselor, Unit Head, Assistant Director and now Camp Program Director. Not only do her camp roots run strong for Day Camp but Sleep-away camp as well. Her favorite part of camp is watching the children always smiling, laughing and having a great time. She loves getting to watch the children learn how to swim and see how proud of themselves they become with their new confidence. Sharon looks forward to the next summer the second camp ends. 

Camp Activity: Petting Zoo
Camp song: Little Green Frog
Ice Cream: Vanilla with Reese Peanut Butter Cups

Lindsey Chase
Assistant Director of the MJCC & Director of ECC

Lindsey’s excitement for MJCC Day Camp began when she was a camp counselor as an 8th grader and every summer after, until her junior year of college. Ms. Sharon Kaplan was actually one of her campers (there is a picture to prove it)! Being the ECC Camp Director was a part of her special job responsibilities when she was the ECC Assistant Director, and now she gets to oversee both ECC Camp and MJCC Day Camp. Lindsey loves swimming in the MJCC Water Park and seeing the smiles on all of the campers’ faces all through the summer. 

Camp Activity: Swimming (even instructional swim)
Camp song: Boom Chicka Boom
Ice Cream: Gold Medal Ribbon


Judy Frisch
Early Childhood Administrative Assistant

Judy has been a member of the Early Childhood Department at the Memphis Jewish Community Center for 30 plus years. She looks forward to new campers each year. One of her favorite times of the year is Summer Camp at the MJCC because she enjoys all of the laughter and smiling faces of our staff and campers through our halls. She is always available to help campers and parents with anything they need.

Favorite Camp Activity:  Shabbat
Favorite Camp Song:  Boom Chicka Boom 
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Chocolate

Chaya Steiner
Day Camp Inclusion Coordinator

Chaya came to Memphis almost five years ago where she joined the MJCC as an early childhood teacher. She enjoyed spending her summers as a camper and counselor in day camp and sleep away camp. Before moving to Memphis, she spent her summers in New York as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher, where she worked on creating inclusive environments for children with special needs. She enjoys watching children become more comfortable in their environments and taking on new challenges.

Favorite Camp Activity:  Music
Favorite Camp Song:  Once I ate an elephant
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Butter Pecan

Meitav Menachem
MJCC Community Shlicha

Meitav, our Israeli Shlicha, has been dreaming of going back to camp since she was a counselor in a summer camp program in Seattle four summers ago. Her favorite part as a camper in the "Keytana"- the Israeli version of summer camp - was going on field trips. She enjoys watching new friendships form during camp and seeing how much fun campers have while they learn so many new things. 

Favorite Camp Activity:  Field trips
Favorite Camp Song:  Boom Chicka Boom
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Snickerdoodle (but also all flavors!)

Rashki Osina
Mah Ani Camp Director

This is Rashki’s 1st summer at MJCC Day Camp! You may recognize Rashki, as she is also the Program Manager and Therapist at the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the MJCC. Rashki’s son, Sammy, is a regular at camp every year. She is a Chicago native but considers Memphis home! Rashki is very excited to join the camp team and cannot wait to spend time volunteering throughout Memphis with the Mah Ani campers this summer.

Favorite Camp Activity:  Swimming
Favorite Camp Song:  Baby Shark
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Oreo Cookies n’ Cream