Baltimore resident Jackie Gordon, 34, knew in high school that she wanted to work with kids and sports. As an adult, the Franklin Middle School teacher realized her dream in the “It’s Game Time” summer camp.
The Silver Spring native holds a Reading Teacher Certification from Goucher College and graduated from Towson with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2003. The JT sat down with Gordon to learn about how working at her synagogue led her to start her own camp.
Why physical education?
My mom has always taught at my synagogue, Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase. In high school, I started helping her out with her kindergarten class, and at that point, I knew I liked working with kids. I also played soccer, basketball, lacrosse and hockey in high school, so I knew I wanted to do something with sports. When I went to college, it was a no brainer, I wanted to put together the kids and the sports.
How did creating your own camp come about?
I went to college with my partner, Chad Marshall. We studied the same thing, he works in Baltimore County as well, but we’ve always been at different schools. We always joked back in college how amazing would it be to be at the same school and teaching together. I had always done summer camps, so I said why not start our own. We set up the whole business, we came up with “It’s Game Time,” our name. We had one week that first year, about 40 to 50 kids. Now we’re in our sixth year. We have three weeks. The first week just finished and we had 100 kids. Our second week has 135 signed up and our third week will probably be the biggest. We have a really great program because we go out and we find people who know how to coach and know how to teach P.E. You aren’t going to find another sports camp around that’s going to have as many qualified people and is not sport-specific.
What does the day-to-day of the camp look like?
Every day, the kids rotate through a variety of spaces. We do two major sports each day: basketball, soccer, football, etc. You also do two rotations into some spaces for rec games like cup stacking or four square. We’ll have a big tournament or a bit of instruction. Thursdays and Fridays we have electives. We have three or four coaches who played lacrosse in college and they lead that elective, we have a high school football coach who runs football. Third session, we are going to have guys doing rugby and wrestling. We want to give the kids the chance to try something new. We do something cool every week called Punt, Pass and Kick, which is sponsored by the NFL. Kids earn a combined score, there is a winner for each of the age groups. If they go the distance, they can end up on the field at a Ravens game.
Tell me about Six Point Sports Academy.
It is a Jewish camp associated with the Reform movement. It’s located in Greensboro, N.C. on the campus of the American Hebrew Academy, which happens to be the only Jewish boarding school in the United States. It is the best facility I have ever played on, coached at or had access to.
I have been there since the first day it opened in 2010 as a lacrosse coach. This year, I also worked with the Jewish life team; Jewish life there really stems from the coaches. The kids will come for a specific sport major and spend four hours a day training. This camp is for the kids who want to get better at a specific sport. We have coaches that have coached numerous colleges. The tennis guy coaches handball in the Olympics and tennis at Adelphi. We’re talking high level athletics, high level coaches. We also have Shabbat, prayers, song sessions, your typical Jewish summer camp. There’s Maccabiah, the fun bonding stuff, it’s where you meet your best friends. The motto is “training jewish athletes for life.” You can read Torah, play lacrosse and hang out with your best friends all at the same time.