LEAP - Leadership Engagement and Advancement Program

The Leadership Engagement and Advancement Program (LEAP) is a skill and capacity-building training program designed for Board Chairs and Vice Chairs of JCamp 180 affiliated camps. It is customized, interactive, and free of charge. Created to offer support to camp lay leaders, the program has been developed in response to clients’ requests for “additional Board and Governance support." 

Board chairs and vice chairs are uniquely positioned and empowered by their camps to lead, inspire change, and engage their Boards and camp communities. Yet, many board chairs have incomplete skills when it comes to nonprofit governance and board “chairmanship." Additionally, the rapid changes in the world of nonprofit governance and leadership make it hard to keep up. Despite every chair’s promise to make a real difference and take the camp to new heights, many chairs find themselves at the end of their term treading water, wondering what happened and where the time went.  

If that scenario resonates with you, take this LEAP to train with peers and experts who will help you identify, focus, and work on your camp’s needs, challenge your assumptions on governance and offer alternatives without judgement. Your participation in LEAP will empower you to become the agent of change you hoped to be when you took on the role of board chair.

>> Download this one-page description of LEAP to share with your peers.

Learn About the Impact of the Program from LEAP Grads:

Program Outcomes and Deliverables:

At the end of the program, the participants will:
  • be able to run a board meeting in half the time with twice the results
  • have learned the 3 steps to deal with a difficult or underperforming board member productively
  • have a board chair library of tools and templates, including a clear board chair calendar
  • have mastered top 10 facilitative skills and techniques to focus and engage fellow board members
  • have built stronger relationships with the lay and professional leaders, and donors at their camps
  • have made 1 “leap” that resolved his/her most challenging “chair” issue

Program Cost and Benefits:

Through the generosity of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, this Program is offered to board chairs (and vice chairs) of JCamp 180 participating camps free of charge.
Participants may be eligible for reimbursement for travel expenses based on the JCamp 180 policy.  
Upon successful completion of the Program, participating camp may be eligible for financial assistance to help them implement their strategic steps, goals, and plans in the area of Governance and Board Development.
"LEAP is a well-designed and organized leadership program for Camp Chairs and Vice-Chairs. It is an intensive learning experience that covers the critical challenges and issues that camp leaders confront each year. Learning with a small group of committed leaders and sharing ideas and experiences provided me with a unique and valuable perspective on how to enhance my work with our professional staff and lay leadership team. I not only enjoyed my time with the LEAP participants but made new friends and colleagues who I know will be supportive long after the program ends. Working with Natasha was clearly a highlight of the year together. I highly recommend LEAP to camp leaders looking to improve their leadership skills and gain new insights to the emerging challenges we all face in overseeing successful Jewish camp experiences for our communities." 
- Mark S. Anshan, Vice-Chair, URJ Camp George Council
What Defines "Successful Completion" of the Program?

Successful completion of LEAP requires the participant to:
  • be in good standing (attendance, engagement, homework completion)
  • reach at least one personal “leap” (stretch goal) set by them at the beginning of the program.
  • create a clear Governance and Board Development plan

Program Participation:

To be eligible to participate in LEAP, each camp participant must be:
  1. affiliated and in good standing with JCamp 180 and the HGF
  2. board chairs who still have at least one year left in their term
  3. vice chairs who are going to be chairs in the next 1-3 years
  4. willing and able to invest the required time and energy to complete the course program

Program Application Process

Applications for the 2020-2021 Cohort of LEAP are now closed.

Reach out to LEAP Director Natasha Dresner to learn more about the program and to let her know you are interested in future cohorts of LEAP.
“The program was very helpful in focusing me on the critical function of our Board of Directors and specifically my role in facilitating that. Natasha has been an expert in distilling what is most critical for each participant in the program. She has deftly balanced the skills of the participants, highlighted and supported our growth opportunities ,and matched all that with the needs of each specific camp’s lifecycle. Wow! The experience has been worthwhile, fulfilling, and provided an excellent foundation for present and future Board service.”  

- Joshua Charlat, Board Chair, Camp Ramah in Canada 

Typical LEAP Schedule (Cohort 2 2019-2020):
The training will be delivered in 3 two-day sessions with calls and video conferences in between. Below is the schedule and locations of the Cohort 2 in-person meetings.

Note: The Cohort 3 (2020-2021) schedule will be very similar to the Cohort 2 schedule; sessions may be moved online per the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's Covid-19 policies.
Date Times Location
January 26-27, 2020 Start: Sunday at 8:30 AM EST
End: Monday at 5 PM EST
New York, NY
April 26-27, 2020 Start: Sunday at 8:30 AM CST
End: Monday at 5 PM CST
Chicago, IL
October 18, 2020 8:30 AM EST - 5 PM EST Springfield, MA
The exact dates of the program are determined by the participants of each Cohort after they are accepted into the Program.

Program Curriculum:

The curriculum will be delivered by topic specialists, peers, and the LEAP program director. The sessions will utilize various learning and facilitative models and techniques.  Much of the time will be spent practicing the tools we learn and using each other to hone the skills we acquire.  Homework will be given to continue practicing between the sessions.  The program is built around the following curriculum:
  1. Welcome to the Board Chair position
    1. Nature or Nurture (Are leaders born or made?)
    2. Roles and responsibilities
    3. Personal skills, capacity, strengths and limitations
  2. Getting the job done
    1. Leadership skills and tools
    2. Communication and facilitation skills
    3. Support system
  3. Partnership with your Executive Director  
    1. Governance vs. Management       
    2. Trust and communication
    3. Boundaries and pitfalls
  4. Partnership with your Board
    1. Board management and benchmarking
    2. Roles and responsibilities
    3. Support structures 
  5. Partnership with the Chair-elect
    1. Succession planning
    2. Mentoring
  6. Transition and farewell

LEAP Testimonial

LEAP Participants

Cohort 3 Participants
Participant Camp
Carole Balin Camp Young Judaea
Barbara Baumann Camp Young Judaea Midwest
Jeff Cohen-Laurie Camp Young Judaea
Jeanne Ellinport URJ 6 Points Sports Academy
Jeffrey Green URJ Camp Harlam
Gretchen Gross Camp Centerland
Sheara Guttman HD Camp Gesher
Gary Kahn B'nai Brith Camp
Will Lennon Camp Moshava Wild Rose
Stacy Palbaum Camp Alonim
Leanna Rinzler In the City Camps
Jonathan Schwartz Camp Solomon Schechter
You can also click here for a list of all LEAP Grads.

Program FAQs:

  1. Can chairs of day camp committees or boards apply to participate in LEAP?
    • Yes.
  2. Can chairs of non-fiduciary Boards apply to participate in LEAP
    • Yes.
  3. Can both a Board Chair & a Vice Chair from a camp apply to participate in LEAP?
    • Yes. They are welcome to participate together
  4. Is LEAP geared for those with or without Board Chair/Vice Chair experience?  
    • Both. The world of nonprofit leadership and governance is changing so rapidly that even the most experienced Board Chair/Vice Chair will find a lot of new and useful information in LEAP.
  5. Do I have to commit to attending every session? 
    • Yes
  6. How is this training program different from other programs?
    • It’s designed specifically for the nonprofit Jewish camp sector
    • It’s designed to be a community of practice
    • It offers ongoing financial and mentoring support after the Program
    • It’s hands-on and focused on specific individualized deliverables
  7. Will the paid top professional(s) & other board members need to be involved?
    • Yes. They’ll be asked to contribute information. They might also be asked/invited to participate in one select session.
“Participation in LEAP gave me the opportunity to assess my strengths and areas for improvement as a leader in the camp community and beyond. I appreciated the variety of resources made available to me as a LEAP participant and the interactive info sharing and learning opportunities. By far the most valuable gain from my LEAP experience was meeting a cohort of leaders from around North America that I could count on for advice, resources, connectivity and community! These meaningful connections will most certainly last far beyond our year together in LEAP! I am grateful for the LEAP opportunity.”

- Jordana Levenick, Board Chair, Camp B'nai Brith Oregon