Meet the Staff

 
Michael Garcia; Camp Director

Michael Garcia; Camp Director

Michael Garcia; Camp Centerland Director

Education: Bachelor Degree in Humans Services from Springfield College (MA) 

Started at JCC: November 2017

Relevant Background Experiences: Michael has been working in camping for the past 28 years.  He has run small city camps all the way up to large outdoor day camps.  I volunteer with the American Camp Association (ACA) as a visitor and instructor.  I have a consulting business that focuses on youth development with an expertise in camping and before/ after school programs. 

Interesting Tidbit About You: My wife and I have been married over 20 years and we have a 17 year old son.  We love to go on hikes and enjoy being outside.  I am high energy and I am passionate about working with children.

Basic Philosophy or Outlook on Life: I am a camp guy through & through.  I have been working with children my entire life.  I believe it is important when working with children that you have a focus.  I have three areas I like to focus on when working with children.  1. Belonging: I believe that children need to create a sense of belonging in their community.  Every child this summer should say “this is MY CAMP”.  This will allow them to own their actions and be committed to creating a better world around them. 2. Achievement – Children need to have a sense of real achievement in their lives.  Not the everybody gets a trophy philosophy but a true sense of being a success.  We need to redefine success for them.  Allowing them to set their own goals and helping them to achieve them.  3. Relationships – I believe that children need to work on building relationships. Not just with other campers but with the staff.  If we can put a positive role model in the life of every child we will be better off.

Feel Free to email: mgarcia@jccbuffalo.org


Christie Dusher; Assistant Camp Director

Christie Dusher; Assistant Camp Director

Christine Dusher; Assistant Camp Director

Education: BS Elementary Education, SUNY College at Oneonta and MS Literacy Education (birth-grade 6), Medaille College

Started at JCC: September 2009

Relevant Background Experiences: Worked for 7 years as a counselor and then assistant director with the Amherst Youth Board Summer Camp program. Moved to Rochester in 2007 and then Pittsburgh in 2008, and worked a number of day care settings with children from infants through school age during that time. Returned to Buffalo in 2009 and began working part time with the JCC at Kids Place, and soon took over role of Afterschool Director. Assistant Director of Camp Centerland from summer 2010-present.

Interesting Tidbit About You: My husband and I have one son, Gavin, born in April 2013, and one daughter, Victoria, born in July 2014. My (Scottish) family holds a big reunion every August (complete with bagpipes!), which is a tradition started by my grandmother almost 50 years ago. I am a big fan of stand-up comedy, mostly because I love to laugh!

Basic Philosophy or Outlook on Life: I believe in the power of positive thinking. People can bring all good things into their life by living and thinking positively.

Feel Free to email: cdusher@jccbuffalo.org


Shea Akers; Program Director

Shea Akers; Program Director

Jonathan Palma; Camp Aquatic Director

Jonathan Palma; Camp Aquatic Director

Shea Akers; Program Director

Education: Studied Religion at the University of Vermont, Certifications in TCI through Cornell University and PMCS through Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital through OMH.

Started at JCC: September 2010

Relevant Background Experiences: Worked as a After School Counselor at Elmwood Franklin Schools; Lead Teacher of the Junior Room at the JCC Holland Family Building; and Team Leader, Program and Staff Development at Child & Family Services.

Interesting Tidbit About You: I live in a housing cooperative (with 14 people). I am also a thrill seeker and once went down an Olympic bobsled run on an official Olympic Bobsled in Salt Lake City, UT.

Basic Philosophy or Outlook on Life: Try something new every day.

Feel Free to email: sakers@jccbuffalo.org



Jonathan Palma; Camp Aquatic Director

Education: Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from Huntington University (IN) 

Started at JCC: January 2017

Relevant Background Experiences: I come from a family involved in athletics. My father and mother are missionaries for UW Sports ministries. My love for the pool began from before I could really remember. My mother was a water safety instructor and brought me to the pool with her as she taught. As I grew I started helping my mother teach and at 16 was able to get my life guarding certificate and another year later I went on to get my water safety instructor certificate. My love and passion for teaching from there kept growing. You can currently find me teaching, coaching and leading aerobics classes at the JCC of Amherst.

Interesting Tidbit About You: I am a very active person and love playing sports. I play the piano and live with my three legged yorkie (ZOEY). In college I was given the opportunity to go to Botswana and work with 3 schools using soccer to minister to the children. It changed my life and helped foster a burning desire to see children succeed and be able to experience a positive life.

Basic Philosophy or Outlook on Life:

Life is not guaranteed. Each day is a gift that we need to embrace and remember that we are an example to others. I am focused on making each campers experience in aquatics a safe and fun environment. My hope is that each child is able to remember each of the rules that we have and are able to take them outside of camp and remember them wherever life may take them.

Feel Free to email: jpalma@jccbuffalo.org

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Meet the 2018 Staff

Camp Centerland has over 75 summer staff. With 40 hours of staff training before camp starts we pride ourselves on only hiring the best of the best.