Camp Chai Director
I’m absolutely thrilled for another incredible summer at Camp Chai and I sincerely look forward to connecting with you all! It’s my intention to work collaboratively with all the amazing counselors to make this program the best that it can be and I hope to see you all this summer at Camp Chai!
For those of you who may not know me, my name is Emmy Wagner and I’m both excited and humbled to be the new Director of Camp Chai. This opportunity means a lot to me since I grew up in beautiful Sonoma County and eagerly attended Camp Chai with my siblings. I was raised with a strong sense of Jewish community and support through my early childhood education years at Congregation Beth Ami Nursery School which is where the blossoming of my Jewish identity first took root. As a young adult, I proudly stood amongst my family, friends and community at Congregation Ner Shalom, and celebrated my B’nai Mitzvah with my twin brother. While growing up, my parents raised us with strong Jewish ideals and we were encouraged to practice Tikkun Olam (making the world a better place), G’milut Chasadim (loving acts of kindness) and Mitzvot (good deeds) and these values have greatly impacted my life.
After a wonderful Birthright trip, I continued to yearn for a strong Jewish community and wanted to explore my Jewish identity. Thus, after graduating from the Santa Rosa Junior College with an AA and certificate to teach Early Childhood Education, I joined the Israel Pathways Corps and moved to Kiryat Sh’mona, Israel. There, I joined forces with many service oriented Jewish individuals from all over the world and taught English to elementary, middle and high school students with learning and behavioral issues. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in two other cross-global volunteer service trips in India and Jamaica. These experiences have all been extremely humbling and helped me to understand the importance of empathy, compassion, building a strong community base, and connecting with others to manifest the highest ethical and service oriented principles within Judaism.
My strong desire for Jewish community and meaningful work with children and young adults has fortunately led me to connect with Rick Concoff M.A. Director of the JCC Teen Program, Chaverim. For the last four years I’ve had the privilege of assisting him in his amazing work with teens from all over Sonoma County. Additionally, I worked with Congregation Shomrei Torah’s Sunday School Program for three years and got to work with many of my previous students over the last few years at Camp Chai. Currently, I’m attending Sonoma State University and studying Human Development with a focus in Early Childhood Education through the Hutchins Program. I will be entering the credential program next fall. I have hopes of teaching primary education with an emphasis on early childhood studies, soon.