JCC Chicago Apachi J Camps just won a Totally Awesome Award for Coolest Summer Camp for Kids in Chicago . We recently spoke to them about their experience as a business owner, the best advice they’ve ever received and more. Hear what they have to say below!
Red Tricycle: Your community recently voted you “Coolest Summer Camp for Kids” – what do your customers value most about your business?
Apachi J Camps: Families love the peace of mind they have when their children are at day camp with us. They know that at Apachi J Camps children always come first. At nine city and suburban locations and a growing list of specialty camps, Apachi J Camps feel like a warm, extended family. We are places where campers can discover new experiences in a safe environment giving them the freedom to explore who they really are, try new activities and create meaningful friendships.
RT: What do you want people to know about your business that they don’t already know?
AJC: Our camp directors are some of the most experienced in the business. Our directors typically have 20 years of professional experience at our camps. They are nurturing caregivers, creative visionaries and highly-skilled administrators. Their children attend (or have attended) Apachi J Camps too so they know what it’s like to be camp parents.
RT: How did your business get started and what was the motivation?
AJC: Across the country, Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and camps go hand-in-hand. This has been a tradition in the Chicago area for nearly 75 years. Apachi J Camps are a natural extension of why JCCs were created – to provide social, cultural and educational experiences for local communities.
RT: Tell us, what do you start your morning with: 1. coffee 2. tea 3. mimosa 4. water 5. all of the above.
AJC: In the summer, it is all about water and iced coffee. You can’t run camp if you aren’t hydrated and awake. (We even have a staff morning cheer about being “alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic.”)
RT: What is the most awesome thing a customer has ever done for you?
AJC: Our camp families are awesome! Every time a parent recommends us to one of their friends, we are thrilled. The best way for us to keep building our community is from positive referrals from our current camp families. We also love hearing from families and campers about the positive impact that camp has had on their lives. Sometimes these messages come as the summer ends, but, more often, we receive letters and emails years later. Each director cherishes these type of stories; it helps reaffirm why we do what we do.
RT: How do you keep your stress levels down?
AJC: Operating day camps can be stressful. Sometimes you need to take a deep breath and look around you to see all the happy, smiling kids to put things in perspective. Luckily, with nine day camps, we have a very supportive professional team to rely upon when things are difficult.
RT: Tell us, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (as a parent or business owner)?
AJC: Being a camp director, similar to a small business owner, is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. We all live by the mantra that we will do this for as long as we love it. When it is no longer fun or challenging, it’s time to move on to something else.
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
AJC: Two of our camps offer CampSTART, a discount program for first time campers in 2nd grade and younger. In Northbrook at ‘Z’ Frank Apachi J Camp, families can save up to $750 on camp tuition. At Elaine Frank Apachi J Camp in Lake Zurich, savings of up to $300 are available.
Check out their website here.
Photo Credit: Lynn Renee Photography