Director helps camp grow



Sandy Siperstein Rafner began preparation for this year’s Camp Jaycee before last year’s camp even ended. Now, less than two weeks before the first camp begins, Rafner is excited and ready for the camp to begin.

She has watched thousands of campers come and go during her 28 years working at the camp. “It’s neat to see the kids grow up and see what they become,” Rafner said.

Camp Jaycee takes place each summer at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center of San Diego County, Jacobs Family Campus. The camp is open to the entire community and is designed for children between 9 months and 12th grade. Camp Jaycee has nearly 40 programs to choose from, including art and science camps, a Spanish immersion camp, a college admissions crash course and theater and sports camps for children of all ages.

Watching growth

Rafner has been the youth and camp director for the last 18 years, and the program has expanded under her direction to offer a more diverse range of camps.

“At the end of the day, we want the campers to be happy and have a great experience,” Rafner said.

She first became involved in the camp when she was still a student at San Diego State University. She found a posting for the job at SDSU’s career center.

Family affair

Camp Jaycee is also where Rafner met her husband in 1989, when she was a camp counselor and he was a unit leader. The Carmel Valley residents have been married for more than 17 years and have three children, all of whom attend Camp Jaycee each summer.

Rafner has seen many of her campers go on to become counselors at Camp Jaycee. She estimates that about half of the current 100 camp counselors were once campers themselves. Many of the campers want to give back to the program by becoming counselors, Rafner said.

Raquel Mor, 17, had been a camper since she was in third grade until she became a counselor three years ago.

All about fun

“When I was a camper, (Rafner) made me feel welcome and made sure I was having fun,” Raquel said. “I’ve always had a very good relationship with her. She is more of a mom than a boss.”

Rafner says she loves her job because of the people she works with.

“I love what I do,” Rafner said. “It’s a rewarding job, and it’s a joy to see what the kids get out of it.”

The Camp Jaycee pre-camp begins June 15 and post-camps end Aug. 28. The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus is at 4126 Executive Drive in La Jolla.

For more information about the camp, go to