The Camp Akiba Diaspora: The Next Generation

Camp Akiba, (the best camp in the world) located in Reeders Pennsylvania, closed in 1997. The grounds are still maintained and as beautiful as ever, and it is now home to the Pocono Picnic Company. But for those of us who were campers at Camp Akiba, we miss it dearly. Fortunately there is a Facebook Group that helps connect many of us who were campers and staff at Camp Akiba.

Those of us who were campers in the 1970’s & 80’s and have children of our own are now faced with a question…

Where do we send our kids to overnight camp now that Akiba is closed?!!

Last summer I had the opportunity to visit and work with many summer camps on a tour with my Path To Rhythm Group Drumming Program. I learned many things, and the most apparent thing that I saw was camp spirit. The campers at all of these camps feel the same way about their camp; that it’s the best camp in the world.

In addition to getting to drum with over 3,500 campers at 12 different camps, I had the chance to meet some unexpected special people. These were the children of my friends from Camp Akiba. Imagine that…the children of Akibaites!

Below is a list and some photos of the next generation of campers that I met in the summer of 2011.

At Pine Forest Camp :

I drummed with:

  • Jared Diamond, son of Rick Diamond.
  • Jordan Sheppard, daughter of Jennifer (Meyers) Sheppard
  • Daniel Weiss, son of my former counselor, Hank Weiss
  • Jordan and Justin Shapiro,  the sons of Alison Brodnick Shapiro

And I met:

  • Chelsea Gordon, the daughter of Howard and the grand daughter of Uncle Lenny & Aunt Harriet
  • Rachel & Carly Garazi, daughters of Carrie (Meyers) Garazi
  • Hannah & Jordyn Kieserman, daughters of Amy (Dratch) Kieserman
with Jordan Sheppard, daughter of Jennifer (Meyers) Sheppard

with Jordan Sheppard, daughter of Jennifer (Meyers) Sheppard

with Jordan Shapiro and Daniel Weiss

with Jordan Shapiro and Daniel Wiess

with Chelses Gordon, daughter of Howard Gordon

with Chelsea Gordon, daughter of Howard Gordon

At Camp Kweebec:

  • I drummed with Zack and Alex Jacobs, the sons Cory Jacobs
  • I drummed with Ethan Berg, the son of Cami (Fruchter) Berg

At Camp Canadensis:

  • I drummed with Carly Sukonik, the daughter of Neil Sukonik

At Camp Chipinaw:

  • I drummed with Dylan Dansky, the daughter of Tracy (Eisler) Dansky

At Diamond Ridge Camp:

  • I drummed with Nicky Kelly, son of Sam & Mary Ann Kelly
  • I met Brooke Oxenhandler, daughter of Brian Oxenhandler

At Sesame/ Rockwood Camp

  • I met Avery & Jacob Ominsky, the children of Tara Dickerman Ominsky

and socially:

The summer began with a visit from Melissa (Storch) Epstein and her daughter Haley. Next was a visit with Jillian (Altchek) Smath and her two daughters, Marlee and Emily. I also saw Erica (Skala) Napach and her three children, Charlie, Mason, and Lily.

I enjoy meeting the families of former Camp Akiba campers and staff, I consider them my extended family, we are part of the same Tribe.

The Camp Akiba Diaspora Project:

If you want to participate: add the following info to the comment section below…

  • Your name
  • The years you went to Akiba
  • The names of your children
  • Where they have attended camp, or where they will be attending camp

This information will be visible here on this page publicly as a way to document where the next generation of campers are attending camp.

I will start it off:

  • Adam Issadore
  • I attended Camp Akiba as a camper from 1976-1988.
  • My son is Jackson Issadore, and he was born in 2010. He is still too young to go to camp!
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    21 comments… add one

    • Judy Abbott June 1, 2014, 11:11 am

      I attended Akiba around 1962 and/or 1963. I have great memories from my time there.

    • Raphael Geva June 2, 2014, 5:26 am

      שלום לכל יוצאי מחנה עקיבא.
      החלטתי לכתוב מספר מילים בעברית בתקוה שאולי חלק מכם יצליח לקרוא וגם להבין. אחרי הכל כולכם שייכים לעם העברי הקדום ולבטח למדתם ב
      ואני מקווה שהכיתוב לא יהיה ג’יבריש עבורכם.
      now we move to english:
      I was very happy to learn about the long history of Camp Akiba and to be part of it. I came to the US in 1968 and i attended University of Penn, and graduate in 1972.
      During this period I have taught at the Hebrew School at Adat Israel and in Beith David in Philladelphia. During these years I have met a wonderful community in Phiily and met with Len Gordon and his wife and children, and he offered me a job at a capm that he owned.
      I was a supervisor at the camp in the summer of 71′.
      I remember very well Dick Brown, even the Irish guy Paul Acheson, Mark Cohen, Chuck Geffen, Harold Grinberg, Mark Levin, Stu Resnick, Sid Stumacher who was a cunsler, also Slavo and Steve Yellin and many more..
      Well after my graduation i attend law school at the Hebrew University and i became a lawyer in 1977. Since then i practice law, I have 2 children , my boy Nimrod just finished 4 .5 years in the IDF he was an officer and my daughter Yuval she’s still serving in the IDF and this coming summer infacr on june 18th shes planning to visit the US. She will be in NYC and North Carolina. Yuval is a member of “seeds of peace” organization and she attended a camp in Maine with an Israeli deligation which met with Palastinians, Jordanians, Egyptians and Americans to the discuss the way to bring peace into the region.
      Last year she also led a group of Jewish-American youth “Taglit” program, and this is one of her aims in visiting the states. in NYC she’s going to meet our friend Joy Sardinsky from Philly a freind of mine from Penn.
      If you hae young kids in there 20’s , we’ll be more then happy to contact Yuval and exchange ideas. all of you, you got a friend in Tel aviv Israel incase you plan to visit Israel, dont hesitate to give a call. I will be more then happy to host you and keep Avrahama Avinu tradition.
      Love you all and Hag Shavuot Sameach.
      Raphael Geva, TLV. Israel

    • Chuck Isen June 27, 2014, 4:35 pm

      I was a camper at Akiba in 1959 (Sunk 5) and 1960 (Dunk ?). I was a CIT in 1963. Loved the lake. Loved Color War. Nothing but fond memories.
      I moved to California in 1971 and never looked back, but would love to spend one more week at Camp Akiba!

    • Missy Jaron Schilling July 24, 2014, 7:35 pm

      I attended camp Akiba at 1977-1986.
      I have two daughters , sami 10 and
      Lexi almost 9 both at camp starlight for
      The past two years.

    • Seth Turk August 9, 2014, 1:08 am

      I went to Camp Akiba from 1984, 1987, 1988 as a camper. 1994-1996 Counselor and finally 1997 as the AD for the I division. I spent the best summers of my life at Akiba. Its good to have formers camper and former counselor on my FB and be able to keep in touch with them in some way. I am hoping to make the next reunion in 2015…

    • Gary Zlotnick August 21, 2014, 3:48 am

      I attended C.A. from 1965-1971 as a camper, and in 1977 as a counselor. Will there be an attempt to reach campers/counselors from that era/ Let me know what is happening. Thanks, Gary Z.

    • Larry gever October 31, 2014, 5:16 pm

      I went to the camp as a waiter during the summer of 1966. Had wonderful summer. Remember the owner Lou Sherr riding around on his golf cart. My kids went to camp lohican

    • Jessica Barash January 4, 2015, 6:27 pm

      My great grandparents were Rose and Morry Edelson (part of the group of original owners). My grandfather and mother both went to Akiba. But my mom, uncles, siblings, and I all went to Saginaw. Saginaw was also founded by the same original owners as Akiba. You should keep it in mind with your search. You may find some similar attitudes there.

    • Fred Kaplan April 23, 2015, 10:38 am

      I attended Camp Akiba from 1966-1976, as camper, counselor, soccer specialist, and division leader. My son, Jeff Kaplan, attended Pine Forest Camp from 2005-2015. My daughter, Erica (Kaplan) Krepp, attended day camps and week-long cheerleading camps (several at Pine Forest). I loved my camp summers, which led me to volunteer and become President of Golden Slipper Camp in 2010-2012, a non-profit Jewish camp only a mile from Akiba.

    • Taryn Fogg (Sklenar) April 27, 2015, 8:28 am

      So glad to find this. I attended camp Akiba for what seems before birth. My dad was the boys direct Bob Sklenar and I was in the youngest bunk. After he left Camp Akiba he left with Howard Batterman when he bought Sesame/Rockwood Day Camp. I am unsure of my age back then. So glad to connect and see familiar names.

    • Barbara (Cohen) Taub May 2, 2015, 3:35 pm

      i was a camper at Akiba in 1942-3 when we lived in Philadelphia, before moving to Minnesota in 1944. Years later I passed through the Poconos with my family and was delighted to find that the camp was still there. I have great early memories and am sad to know that the era is over.

    • Rich Dunn May 12, 2015, 11:18 am

      I was a counselor between 1981 through 1987. Started with the sunks (Ricky
      Diamond, Heath, Matt were a couple of my first kids) and went to the dunks then the last 2 years worked with Izzy(Adam’s father) as assistant athletics. JP was head of boy’s camp till Bob Sklenar came aboard. I remember Hank Weiss very well, just a young guy back then. Sam Kelly and I were I believe the only Irish in camp. Howard Gordon and I are the same age and a good friend, and so remember Uncle Lenny riding around in the convertible red Mercedes that I wanted so bad( my dream car). Howard Batterman was a great friend who made me feel at home from the start(I was away from home, Kentucky, for my first time). Remember basketball on dunk court, refereeing basketball games against other camps with Howard Batterman, Rob Richland’s sunk and dunk speeches, Mike Goldberg and the now famous Greg Jbara putting together the camp plays. Oh and bug juice. Max Weinberg from the E Street Band, playing during color war with his own band. Akiba was a great experience for me that I will remember for all my life.

    • Randee Seligsohn Kaplan June 26, 2015, 5:42 am

      I attended Akiba from 1985-91! My daughter is 10 and is at French Woods Festival of the Arts for the first time this summer! My son is almost 8 and didn’t want to go to camp yet! I miss Akiba!!! My maiden name is Seligsohn!

    • Fran Arsht Tiger May 22, 2016, 5:05 pm

      I am so happy to find this and see other camp crazy Akibaites and camp souls who will always love camp. I owe most of my childhood to Camp Akiba and certainly my favorite experiences and friends. Although no one has kept up, and I moved West to California, I was actually a supervisor on this coast at a Camp Akiba West and remember how funny they thought it was that I was from Camp Akiba East. I still seek camp experiences, went into education and bring the best of what is a no brainer about camp, calling it experiential and immersive education. Educators are verbose. Just put the camp in school and we will be brilliant! That’s why I also love being a Jewish educator plus I integrate the arts into everything. I took a super supervisor job at the camp on the Oregon a few years ago and loved it. Jews in the West are actually more observant than the East and put more Jewish ed into their camps; definitely Ramah which is alot.
      Through Jewish Federation and the Jim Joseph Foundation, One Happy Camper, I was able to raise my own daughters in Jewish summer camp. We chose one closer to us in the Los Angeles area so they’d have a chance of seeing friends outside of camp. JCA Shalom at Shalom Institute in Malibu has been a light in my daughter’s life and she will be a counselor there in a few weeks, loving every minute there. They also provide the opportunity in this year round facility for them to work retreat weekends and have winter and spring camp as well as holiday events, so she is so at home there. They do not offer parents much of anything but dropping off and picking up. Although camp sessions are so much shorter than the 2 months we went! so no visiting day. Camp will always be the BEST till I die, so tell me where you are, where we might camp together, and how old your kids are to hang, meet, camp.
      Best years of my life were at Akiba (true, not necessarily sad) from 1971-1977. I also worked at Camp Saginaw in Oxford, PA. Thanks for the memories Lenny and Harriet, and keeping it alive, Howard & Lisa; personal memory thanks to Abby Meiselman, Bobby Rothfield, with a tribute also to the memory of Mark Etskovitz who married my “cousin” Jayne, and we were friends at age 12 at Akiba, to reconnect through her in later life. Love to all Akibaites. Please feel free to write me at I am taking my daughter back East after her graduation after 18 years. Maybe a trip to the Poconos?? OH grow up! Never.

    • Jessica (Herling) Shoemaker October 13, 2016, 9:53 am

      I attended Akiba from 1990-1994 and again in the summer of 1996. I might be the youngest person on this list by a mile! My maiden name was Herling. My son is only 21 months old but I definitely want him to head to camp when he is old enough!

    • Mitchel February 19, 2017, 9:32 pm

      Hi Adam–

      I attended Akiba 1983 – 1985, along with my sister Alisa. Remember you (and Girl, You Really Got Me Now just popped into my head)!

      My kids are 8 and 12. They attend Camp Blue…in Dee Why, Australia!

    • Stacy (Kanlastein) Nockowitz March 20, 2017, 12:30 pm

      My brother Eric and I attended from the mid-70s through the 80s. Memories of Akiba are still the strongest memories of my childhood. I just turned 50, and sights and smells still bring me back to those days forty years ago. I live in Ohio now, and my kids are 19 and 22. They were not really campers; overnight camp is not a big thing out here in the Midwest like it is back East. That has always made me sad. Eric’s kids are 5 and 2, but they live in Europe, so their childhoods will be far different than their dad’s was. If I started to list all of the wonderful memories I have of Akiba, this post would be as long as a book.

    • Robert pollack August 12, 2017, 8:18 pm

      I attended camp Akiba from 1964-1967.

    • Meredith Sigel Chassen August 26, 2017, 10:03 pm

      I was a High Hill counselor for three summers (89-91). When I read your story above I knew many of the names bc we were all counselors together in those years. They truly were the best summers. I always thought that my own kids would go to Akiba down the road in life. And I was sad when Howard closed the camp in 97′. Now 20 years later, My son Cameron attends Camp Winaukee in New Hampshire. He loves it and I’m thrilled he loves camp. Maybe you will make it up that way to drum!

    • noah finkel September 2, 2017, 5:23 am

      Hi..I attended camp Akiba from 1953-1959. I so remember Herm Solar, the director of the mens camp and his son Larry, both of whom saved my from home sickness m,y first year. My counselor in 1954 was Mark Ridenback or Reidneback who became a cardiologist somewhere in Penn..He was also a wonderfull role model..I also continue to remain friendly with my best friend from camp from Fort Worth, Tx and speak weakly…all in all, Akiba was a wonderfull experience..thanks for the site. Noah

    • Julian Yudelson March 18, 2018, 1:05 pm

      Attended Akiba from Atlanta Ga 1948 to 1952. My children ( Miriam and Ruth) attended Camp Ramah Canada

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