[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
The Jewish Community of Louisville has hired Michael Steklof to serve the Jewish Community Center as teen director/assistant camp director. He began work on August 27, and brings a lot of experience working with children and teens and enthusiasm for his new job.
“I really want to form relationships with all the teens and their families and do innovative programming with them,” Steklof said, “and for camp, I want to build upon all the strengths this camp has.” What would he add? “I’m really into silly songs and silly things kids don’t get to do at school to have fun.”
Although he’s from Rochester, NY, and has never been to Louisville before, Steklof already has met several Louisville teens because for the last three summers, he has worked at Camp Livingston in Bennington, IN, as program director/cornerstone liaison and unit head. A number of youngsters from Louisville attend Camp Livingston and Steklof has already built positive relationships with them.
“I’m glad I know a lot of kids and families from Camp Livingston,” he said, and I’m excited that I get to build deeper relationships with them.”
Steklof has a B.A., cum laude, from the University at Albany, State University of New York, with a major in world history and minors in Judaic studies, education studies and sociology; and in May, he completed his M.A. from the same school in women’s studies.
How does women’s studies prepare someone to work with teens and summer camp programs? “When you hang out with teens,” he said, “there is a lot of talk about relationships. Having a degree in women’s studies gives me the key to educating teens about friendships and relationships.
“In addition,” he continued, “women’s studies is really about social action and volunteering and making the world a better place. And,” he added, “I really like doing programs with teens about those things.”
Camp and youth groups have been a big part of Steklof’s life. He spent five summers at URJ Camp George in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada in a wide range of staff positions from counselor to assistant program director. He also advised a NFTY chapter (North American Federation of Temple Youth) for five years and a USY chapter (United Synagogue Youth) for a year.
He’s also taught in religious school and done some web site development work.
He grew up in a household where public service was the norm. His mother, Amy Steklof, is the town clerk for Penfield, NY; and his father, Kevin Steklof, works for Monroe County, NY.
He also has a brother, Jason, who lives in Brooklyn and works for Keren Or, a Jewish nonprofit agency for the blind; and a 16-year-old sister, Jessica, who lives with their parents.