Meet Our Executive Directors: Michael and Sandi Friedman
Sandi and Michael Friedman have been the Directors of Vacamas Programs for Youth since 1980. They met in 1967 when they both joined Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) during the political turmoil of the mid 1960’s. They were assigned to work on the same project with share croppers and underserved youth in Atlanta, Georgia and the rural counties below Nashville, Tennessee. Both are natives of New Jersey who had to migrate to Tennessee to meet. What is meant to be, will be!
Today Michael and Sandi have four children and eight grandchildren, who have spent many summers attending Camp Vacamas.
Prior to joining the Vacamas staff in 1980, Michael served as Executive Director of the Paterson, New Jersey Silver Lake YMCA Camp & Conference Center; Executive Director for 7 years at Camp Madison-Felicia, run by the New York City Ethical Culture Society; Executive Director of the Bellport Area Community Action Agency; and was a middle school teacher in Newark, New Jersey. Michael attended Wagner College and graduated with a degree in Psychology. He also took graduate courses in social work and education at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Michael has been a Standards Visitor for the American Camping Association (ACA) for many years. He serves as a board member of the New York State Camp Directors Association (NYSCDA), serves on the American Camping Association Executive Board, and is a frequent speaker at the National and Tri-State Regional ACA Conferences. He has been an avid leader in lobbying for New York and New Jersey legislation that involves camping and programs to benefit low-income, underserved youth in Out of School Time and Extended Learning Time Programs. His responsibilities include budgets, fundraising, grant and proposal submissions and overall administration of all facets of Vacamas Programs for Youth.
Sandi has extensive experience in the camping field, having served in supervisory positions for over 42 years. Her camping experience began as a camper and continued through college, when she spent her summers from 1963 through 1967 working with the B’nai B’rith organization summer camp, graduating to a supervisory position. Sandi’s full time experience prior to coming to Vacamas included working with at-risk youth in a year-round setting. After completing her BA in Sociology/Psychology at Ohio University, she pursued graduate courses at William Paterson University.
During her tenure at Vacamas, Sandi has served as Camp Director, Registrar, Agency Coordinator, Program Director and Teen Camp Director before taking on the position of Director of Camping Services in 1990 with the addition of Top of The Pines. In 1997 she became Associate Executive Director and Executive Director in 2010. Sandi currently oversees all agency and union collaborations for our summer camping programs, and supervises the many year-round programs held at the Vacamas rural campus in West Milford.
Meet Our Top of the Pines Camp Director: Kristin Short
Camp Top of the Pines is gearing up for an excellent Summer 2013! My name is Kristin Short and I am excited to share with you that I am the new Camp Director for Top of the Pines. This will be my 7th summer working at a various residential camps where I’ve held positions such as Counselor, Lifeguard, Division Head and most recently Program Director.
During these years I fell in love with the magic of camp: it’s challenging but safe environment which enables one to increase their self-esteem, social skills and make lasting friendships. I am excited to join the camping industry full time and become part of the Vacamas family. I look forward to getting to know you and your camper!
Meet the Director of Vacamas Day Camp: Gail Gailbraith
Gail has been the Town of Bloomingdale Recreation Director for 8 years and has had extensive experience running their Summer Recreation Day Camp Program. She has worked with children at daycare centers and as a substitute teacher for a total of 15 years. She attended William Paterson University with a major in Sociology and Education and a minor in Literature.