Julie Perlow, a 10-year veteran of JCC MetroWest’s Camp Deeny Riback in Flanders, was named its director, succeeding Joanne Morgenthal.
Morgenthal held the position for the last three years, following the retirement of Diana Ackerman.
Perlow, who most recently held the post of assistant director, said the new position, which she began Feb. 2, feels like a natural move forward. “Deeny is a fine-tuned machine,” she said. “And fortunately for me, the leadership staff is all returning, so I’ll be overseeing very seasoned staff. And that will make taking on a new role easier.”
Not to mention that a lot of the new job, she added, she “was already doing as assistant director, so I don’t think there will be any drastic differences.”
Ben Gilbert will become assistant director, and the pair will be joined by a new strategic camp adviser, Alan Saltz, formerly director of the 92nd Street Y Camp Program.
“Julie’s leadership and Ben’s energy and enthusiasm have proven to be a winning combination for CDR, and we are very excited for summer 2016,” said JCC MetroWest president Larry Rein in a prepared statement.
Camp Deeny Riback was established in 1969. Situated on a 35-acre campus, it offers full-day programs for campers from preschool through 10th grade.
Perlow brings to the job her background as a licensed social worker. She started at CDR when her two children, now teenagers, were campers. The family had recently moved to New Jersey from Baltimore.
“I wanted to find something the kids could do that I could be a part of,” she said. She added that it is “sweet” to be a parent on the leadership team. “Watching your kids grow up at camp is like the cherry on an ice cream sundae. You see the great things and the struggles.” Her oldest son, now 17, has begun working at camp.
Perlow’s favorite part of the day, she said, is “Boker Tov,” the all-camp “good morning” ritual. “I love having all of us together, telling jokes, singing songs, sharing the Hebrew word of the day. It’s a great way to set the tone for the day,” she said.
Perlow has begun to forge her own vision of camp — from the facilities to day-to-day activities. She hopes to be able to make one major facilities improvement each year, from enhancements — like adding elements to the ropes course — to big-ticket items, like this year’s new $1 million pool (see sidebar). She’d like to increase enrollment, now hovering around 300 or 350 per summer.
She also plans to continue to increase the Jewish content, “in a fun way,” she said, including “Jewish values and Jewish feelings.” She added, “I’d like to see our Shabbat services have more of our own traditions — it allows for some ownership.”
For now, though, she said, “I’ll take one summer at a time.”