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Helayne Shaw: A Tamarack Legend

By: Rachel Fine

The Alumni Spotlight gives us the opportunity to catch up with a Tamarack alum, hear about where they are now, and learn how Tamarack Camps has shaped them. Helayne Shaw is a Tamarack legend and we are thrilled to be honoring her many incredible years with Tamarack Camps at the Send a Kid to Tamarack annual event on May 26!

When did you attend Tamarack Camps? What villages or programs were you part of?

I was a camper from 1972-1979. I was a part of Dorm 2 through Specialty.

I worked from 1980-present with some years at other JCCA camps (not too many though). I was a counselor, supervisor, Program Director at Brighton, Family Camp staff, Senior Staff, Program Director, and Director of Family Camping.

What lessons did you learn from camp?

Probably too many to count! I know I am my best self when I am at camp. Valuing friendships, Judaism, love for the outdoors, and how to adapt when things don’t go as planned are lessons I learned. As well as finding the good and sharing your love and passion!❤

What are you up to now personally and/or professionally?

Camp gave me my passion for Judaism. I came from a culturally Jewish home with camp and self teaching. I now teach at Hillel Day School sharing my love of Judaism with my “little friends”. I direct and plan Jewish programs and weekends as Tamarack’s Director of Family Camp. One of my favorite things to do is write and implement creative Jewish programs for families that attend.


How did camp impact how you live your life today?

So many life lessons but mostly to care for others and the world around you and you belong to an amazing community.

Why is Tamarack Camps “The Greatest Place On Earth?”

It brings people from all over the world to care and respect each other. If only the entire world could create such a loving, caring community – what a wonderful world it would be!

Was there a staff member that made a lasting impact on you and why?

Oh so many people. I probably learned the most from Jeff Metz, Lenny Newman, Warren Cohen, and Harlene Appelman.

What’s your favorite camp memory?

Way too many to list. I do have a night that I laughed the hardest. 1987 night out with GP Staff and a white jumpsuit.

Favorite camp meal: Shabbat dinner

Favorite trip: Au Sable canoe trip

Favorite program/theme day: Circus Day

Dream Tamarack reunion idea: Staff camp reunion from my mid-late 80’s Brighton years

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