Introducing Nate Strauss, Camp Director

Dear Capital Camps Community,

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Nate Strauss to the role of Camp Director for Capital Camps. Nate brings a profound dedication to a bright Jewish future, a hands-on approach, and deep professional experience within the Jewish community to this role. He will be joining the team beginning on March 4, 2024. 

Nate is a firm believer that strong Jewish experiences lead to unique and inspired Jewish identities. He served in multiple roles at the Michigan State University Hillel including Director of Jewish Student Life and Assistant Director, and understands the nuances of being a young adult in today’s Jewish and secular societies. His leadership style is heavily influenced by a passion for team-building and guiding teams towards achieving collective goals and fostering a collaborative atmosphere.

He is passionate about working with teens and addressing their needs as it relates to mental health, social dynamics, and engaging in creative Jewish and Israel-focused experiences. He is excited to work with our younger campers and help them explore what it means to build community and embrace independence apart from their home life. A core mission for Nate is to cultivate an environment where campers can develop their own Jewish identity and competence, autonomous of their secondary or Jewish day schooling. 

An outdoor enthusiast, Nate can’t wait to leverage every acre of camp for camp programming, self- and group-discovery, and appreciation of nature. Fun fact: he is a certified yoga instructor! 

Recognizing the significant step it is for a child to attend camp and for a family to invest and reinvest in Capital Camps, Nate is committed to parent partnerships, and guiding the growth of our campers and staff. He is excited to partner with the year-round team in each of these areas including Adina Golob (Community Care Manager), Melissa Grossman (Family + Community Engagement Director), and Ilana Kornblatt (Assistant Camp Director) as well as Max Nozick (Program Associate) and Penny Hartzman (Camp Registrar and Office Administrator).

Please join us in welcoming Nate to the Capital Camps family. We are excited for the future and are confident that under his leadership, camp will continue to be a place where children, teens and staff can grow in a fun, safe, and inclusive environment anchored in Jewish values.  


Havi Goldscher Sarah Barnett
CEO Board Chair

Thankful for My Experiences as an Atzma’im Counselor

Ben Weiner, Atzma’im Counselor and Capital Camps Intern

I became aware of the Atzma’im/inclusion program’s existence at Capital Camps only in my 10th grade summer. I believe that that speaks volumes to the incredible job that Atzma’im counselors have done and will continue doing to allow their campers the ability to gain independence and help support them, all while ensuring they never feel singled out.

For the past two years on staff, I have been an Atzma’im counselor for several campers requiring vastly differing ranges of support. There is no better feeling than seeing your camper be accepted, included, and appreciated by their cabinmates no matter their physical, emotional, or intellectual disability. Through my work as an Atzma’im counselor, my camp view has completely shifted. Not all campers love dancing in a loud Habimah/central area or can handle silent prayer on Saturday mornings. Although these were staples throughout my camp experience, the Atzma’im program is about providing campers with equitable accommodations to best support their needs while also supplying them with a meaningful and enjoyable Jewish experience.

There is no one-size-fits-all model for Capital Camps and the Atzma’im program is the perfect image of that. All campers gain a better understanding of how to support those different from themselves and gain inclusion skills that can be found nowhere else. Since my involvement in the program, I have volunteered with several disability inclusion programs at Clemson University. Inclusion starts with Capital Camps but it most definitely does not end there. I’m forever thankful for my involvement in the program and I can’t wait to see what camp experiences are forever impacted this summer as a result.

The Transformative Impact of the Atzma’im Program

Hannah Stoller, Director of Inclusion

While I love countless aspects of Capital Camps, what has kept me here for 16 years and continues to fuel my love for this place is the Atzma’im program, our fully integrative inclusion component. Through various support structures, we ensure that campers with a wide range of disabilities and neurodiverse identities can experience the magic of camp.

The “what” and the “who” of the Atzma’im program are pretty simple. Campers who need some extra help in order to have their needs met at camp are assigned a “go-to” counselor who provides 1:1 support. What’s a little more nuanced and commonly misunderstood is the “why” of Atzma’im. Inclusion is a longstanding Jewish value, and we have the Torah texts to back that up. B’tzelem Elohim is the idea that all people are created in God’s image, and it is introduced at the very beginning of the Torah. This value guides our understanding of why we continue to cherish and nurture our Atzma’im program.

The concept of B’tzelem Elohim teaches us that every single person has inherent value and beauty to bring to the world. We know that every child has their own strengths and gifts to contribute; accessibility limitations should not prevent campers from being able to share their gifts with us and experience others’ gifts. When we keep our doors open to campers of all abilities, we can all experience each other’s different strengths and subsequently become more independent, more empathetic, more justice-oriented. There is no one party that benefits the most from the Atzma’im Program. It simply enhances our entire community, and its impact is woven into all aspects of camp life. We are committed to inclusion because it’s right and just, but also because it’s the best