Discovering a Passion
At the end of his second summer working as a counselor at Camp Isidore Alterman (CIA) in 2008, Mackenzie Sherman announced to his mom that he wanted “to run that place someday.” Today, he is. Heading into his fourth summer as CIA’s Director, Mackenzie spent the previous three years as its assistant director. “I don’t feel like I’m going to work,” he admits. “I will be here until they kick me out.”
Mackenzie’s first CIA camper experience, which occurred the summer prior to third grade, left indelible marks. His memory is peppered with fond recollections of lake monster folklore and coming home so dirty that his mom instructed him to undress in the garage before entering their house. He remembers meeting new friends, sharing special moments with his brother, and being happy and tired – and that was enough for him to crave more. “I was that guy who was always talking about summer camp,” Mackenzie confesses. “When it came time to get my first job as a teen, my knee-jerk reaction was, ‘Duh, of course I’m going to work at camp!’ It was the perfect marriage of interest and fun.” He then spent six unforgettable years as a CIA counselor and unit head.
“Camp is the ultimate tool – it meets you where you are, no matter where you are. Camp met me at a time when I was ready to have my own identity,” Mackenzie explains. “Camp can be a world-changing, life-altering experience.” That applies for campers and staff alike, he says. Because of CIA, Mackenzie met one of his lifelong best friends, who came to Atlanta through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Emissary Program. The two worked together for five consecutive summers at CIA and remain close today despite living on opposite sides of the world. Because of camp, Mackenzie was also able to travel to Israel for the first time.
The job has provided him with the ultimate professional development he desired, with an attainable path and progression. “The leadership has given me the platform to make strides,” he says, adding that “the most valuable part of my job is the support system at the MJCCA. My colleagues are my friends. There’s no community like this one. I wouldn’t recognize my life without the MJCCA.”
It’s a community life no other – I wouldn’t recognize my life without the MJCCA.Mackenzie Sherman