She was doing it before it even became a phrase. Or a career. And it all started when she was 7 years old, as a Tamarack camper.
Camp brings people together, and just like so many others, Jessica made lifelong friends. Even though she didn’t realize it at the time, she was also learning life skills that have stayed with her. Helped her. And allowed her to help others.
Jessica spent 12 summers at Tamarack—a camper for nine years, then a TSS, and a counselor in Berman and Specialty. She thinks of summers like “dog years”—the summers felt more like years, in a good way. Lots of water balloon fights, laughing all night long and even a counselor who could stick a noodle up her nose and pull it out her mouth (okay, gross, but very entertaining)! Jessica has a great expression for all of this: “Unadulterated Fun.” She believes “Camp is the one place you can be completely free from real life. No computers, no distractions, just fun with friends.”
Along the way, Jessica’s camp experiences prepared her to handle different situations.
When, as a counselor, she was challenged with a bunk of “rebel” girls, her supervisor told her, “we wouldn’t give you anything you couldn’t handle.” Jessica not only handled it, she still stays in touch with some of those campers today. Another summer, on a white water rafting trip, Jessica manned a boat with campers and no guide. It was just her with seven young girls. But, like with most camp situations, she figured it out. She learned that camp teaches you to do things you’re not sure you can do. And when you realize you can, you have greater sense of self-confidence.
Jessica grew up with a strong Jewish background, as a Hillel graduate and Tamarack alumnus, she always felt a very strong sense of community. This has fueled her to build communities as an entrepreneur. She has spent her career building social platforms and connecting entrepreneurs. Her first company, FounderDating known as the LinkedIn for entrepreneurs, was built to connect people (advisors, cofounders and fellow entrepreneurs) and information they need to succeed. FounderDating was acquired by OneVest. Jessica led Business Development and was GM of Platforms at Bebo (acquired by AOL for $850M). Last year, she started a non-profit called Tech for Campaigns, using technology to build a better world. Today, Jessica is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Social Capital, where she focuses on the future of work. She has been a mentor and an advisor to people and companies.
When asked about her favorite camp song, Jessica didn’t hesitate—Taps. She loved the sense of peace that came with camp’s Havdalah ceremony. “It’s such a strong sense of community, literally holding hands with peers, washing away the week before and starting another week anew. I wish that existed in the real world,” said Jessica.
Her advice to campers and staff? “Go to camp for as long as you can! You can always have real world experience, but you can’t always have camp experience. And in some ways, camp prepares you more for the real world and gives you more connections than any internship ever could. Don’t do what others expect of you. Do what feels right for you.”
Keeping us all connected, while having fun. That’s what camp does best.
And in life, that’s what Jessica Alter continues to do.
Tamarack Camps was honored to have Jessica as the featured speaker at our annual Send a Kid to Tamarack Event.