At True North Sports Camps, we believe the most important aspect of camp is the people. That’s why our primary focus is assembling an incredible staff team, from Camp Director to Counsellor-In-Training. To do so, we have developed a unique hiring process which includes a practical assessment where we get a chance to observe candidates in action. While having playing experience is certainly important, our main priority is finding counsellors who are a high quality fit with our campers, parents, and other staff.
Over the next few months, we will be featuring “Q & A’s” with our head staff to give parents and campers a chance to get to know them better. To kick things off, here’s our interview with our Camp Director, Jonathan Isaac.
1. Hi Jonathan. Tell us about yourself. Give us your 60-second elevator pitch….
I am a 26 year old Physical Education and Science teacher working in the TDSB. I graduated from the Kinesiology and Education programs at the University of Toronto where I played varsity baseball. This is my 5th summer with NTBC (now True North Camps). I enjoy early mornings, a good cup of coffee, fresh sushi, afternoon naps and a well-executed prank.
2. Why do you like working at summer camps?
Summer camps were a staple of my childhood, and I have been working at summer camps for 10 years now. I could not imagine spending my summers any other way. Summer camps provide a place where kids can explore their passions and make life-long friends. You also get to work with people who truly enjoy what they are doing and who want to help bring out the best in others.
3. What are the similarities between being a teacher and being a camp director?
Both jobs are about helping people find their best versions of themselves. Whether a student, camper or counsellor, everyone has a reason for coming to school or to camp. It is my job to help them realize and achieve that goal. Both jobs require that perfect mix of excitement, patience and understanding, and both jobs are incredibly rewarding.
4. What was it like winning a gold medal with the Israeli National Team at the European Baseball Championships?
Playing for Israel at the national level was an incredible experience. I got a chance to meet people from all over the world, I got to see countries and experience cultures I might not have been exposed to if not for baseball. Though winning gold was amazing, the best part of the experience was seeing how sport could bring so many different people together.
5. You’ve often said that you “continuously strive to teach valuable life lessons through sport”. Can you elaborate on this?
To me, sport provides this amazing opportunity to take risks in a safe environment. There is no life-changing consequence in missing a game winning shot, but the courage it takes to attempt that shot stays with you forever. Just by participating in sports youth learn so many important lessons, such as the importance of hard work, time management, and teamwork, all of which will help them succeed later on in life. The biggest lesson I have been trying to impart lately is learning how to fail. Once someone learns that that failure is not fatal, the sky is the limit for that individual.
6. What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a teacher?
Be relentless, know who you are as a teacher, stay true to yourself, and be ready to work harder than anyone else. At the end of the day however, remember it is all about building a good relationship with your students. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
7. What is your most memorable accomplishment as a player?
In 2012, the U of T Varsity Baseball Team won our second OUA championship in a row. Being a part of that team was an honour and a privilege. It was an amazing group of guys who all knew and accepted their roles on the team. Everyone came out every day ready to work and contribute to one goal. If someone was struggling, they knew their teammate would be there to pick up the slack. There are very few feelings better than hoisting that trophy in October.
8. Who is your favourite athlete?
Growing up Carlos Delgado was the Blue Jay for me. What he was able to do when he got into the batter’s box was just amazing to watch. As I got older I really started to admire athletes like Roy Halladay and Kobe Bryant. I loved reading about their insane work ethic and dedication to mastering not only the physical side of the game, but also the mental side.
9. What is your favourite sports movie?
No exaggeration, I think I have watched “Remember the Titans” over 100 times. That is a sports movie that has it all: conflict, team building, strong leadership, adversity, triumph, humour and good music.
10. What are your favourite three books?
a) The Sports Gene – Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance: David Epstein
b) Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
c) The Charisma Myth: Olivia Fox Cabane
11. If you could order any lunch to camp, what would it be?
We are lucky enough to get the occasional Burger Shack and Chipotle at camp every now and then. I think the team would appreciate an order of Chick-fil-a for lunch one day.
12. Who’s your favourite super hero?
No brainer, the Man of Steel, Superman.
13. When you put keptchup on your fries: on top or on the side?
On the side. Gotta keep things organized and avoid soggy fries.
14. Is a hotdog a sandwich?
If you went to a hotdog stand and asked for a sandwich they would tell you to leave. A hotdog is not a sandwich.
15. Why is summer 2016 going to be so amazing at True North Sports Camps?
Because we have the best staff. Everyone who puts on that True North Sports Camps Coach shirt is 100% dedicated to creating the best possible summer for each and every camper. When you have that many awesome people in the same space, you can’t help but have fun.