Suzy Sostrin – Executive Director
Suzy is thrilled to be joining the Camp Mountain Chai Team this summer. With over 25 years working at Jewish camps, Hillels and youth movements, she is deeply committed to creating open caring environments in which all kids can thrive, grow and belong.
Over the last 15 years working for the Hillel movement in California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Kansas she has firsthand experience seeing the transformational power of Jewish summer camp. “So many of my students experienced their first sense of truly belonging at Jewish summer camp. They bring that ruach and joy to Hillel and beyond because of the impact camp made on them. Jewish summer camps and the Hillel movement are both grounded in investing in the future of the Jewish community.”
One of her biggest accomplishments at KU Hillel was piloting the award-winning mental health and wellness work for which KU Hillel is known. The partnership with Jewish Family Services of Kansas City, provided free therapy appointments for any Jewish student who needed it. Students had the opportunity to work on weekly mindfulness exercises, stress-relieving techniques and seek out individual counseling. She also moved KU Hillel to their new home, just steps from campus. This led to increased engagement with the student community including Shabbat dinners, Jewish learning classes, and creative social programs.
Suzy earned her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and Innovation from Hebrew Union College and she earned her B.A. in Community Studies, minor in Education from University of California, Santa Cruz.
Suzy has worked at Jewish summer camps in leadership positions throughout the west coast and is excited to bring her enthusiasm and deep commitment to inspiring Jewish identity and growth to Camp Mountain Chai.Contact Suzy
Rachel Shyloski, MSW – Camp Director
Since 2009, Rachel Shyloski has been involved with Camp Mountain Chai as both a Unit Leader (’09-’13), Director of Camper Care (’14), Assistant Director (’15-’18) and Associate Director (’19-’21). Her patience and ability to empathize have always been true to her nature. Rachel is a naturalist and humanist at heart. Her love of nature coupled with her desire to educate others about the natural world has given Rachel a unique perspective on how to build that same respect for one another within our Camp community.
Rachel comes to Camp Mountain Chai all the way from North Carolina. Her desire to further understand human nature combined with a lifelong passion to work with people, led her to UNC-Asheville where she obtained a BA in Psychology. Her desire to help others, led her to pursue a Masters in Social Work, which she obtained in 2014 at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Rachel brings a wide range of skills, knowledge and trained experiences to our camp family.
Rachel is an avid bird watcher and outdoors woman. Many of her friends would describe her as helplessly compassionate, terminally funny, and devastatingly kind. Her desire to share camp with others, and her experience in Jewish summer camps have allowed Rachel a unique opportunity to serve CMC in a very special way. Rachel looks forward to the future with open eyes and a desire to be of service to her fellows.Contact Rachel
Beth “B.Cap” Caplan – Assistant Director
Beth (B.Cap) has been part of the Camp Mountain Chai community since 2011. Over the past decade, she has held several positions including Senior Counselor, Head of Arts, Cornerstone Liaison, Social Media Coordinator and Program Director.
Beth considers herself a lifelong “happy camper” having begun her camping career at the age of nine at URJ Camp George in Parry Sound, Ontario. With over 22 years of camp experience, Beth is someone who strongly believes in the unforgettable memories, creative programming, lifelong friendships and the magic that Jewish summer camp has to offer.
From the great country that birthed Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Drake, Beth comes to Camp Mountain Chai all the way from Toronto, Ontario. She holds a degree in Media Studies, specializing in Public Relations, from the University of Guelph-Humber. She also holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Social Media Marketing.
When Beth isn’t spending her time way up the tall green mountain, she enjoys cardio funk dancing, visiting National Parks, walking her Husky, Aspen, playing guitar and photography. Beth looks forward to fulfilling her dream of serving a community that she so deeply cares about.Contact Beth
David Edwards – Operations Director
After graduating from a vocational high school, where he studied Culinary Arts, David attended the University of Arizona and graduated with a BS in Business Management and Human Resources. He worked his way through college as a line cook, sous chef and manager in the food service industry. David moved to Encinitas, CA in 2011 and continued his studies in food science, while simultaneously managing an organic fruit farm and supervising a team of farmer’s market vendors.
Since living in San Diego, David has become an avid surfer (gaining him the nickname, Big Wave Dave), pickleball player, and outdoor enthusiast. He has developed a passion for healthy food and lifestyle choices and started a catering company as a side-gig. David joined the CMC team in December 2018 as the office manager but has quickly become a vital asset to the team in the logistics and operations departments.
David attended Jewish overnight camp for a few years as a child but brings a new perspective to the camp industry and CMC specifically. His ability to learn quickly and take on new tasks without fear have helped round out the CMC full-time team.Contact David
Emily Merrill – Operations Admin Assistant
Emily joined CMC as our Camp Operations Admin Assistant this summer, which means you can find her year-round in our San Diego office (when she doesn’t sneak up to camp for a weekend). Before joining CMC she was a program assistant in Refugee Resettlement with Jewish Family Service and interned in DC for a climate activist nonprofit called Earth Day Network.
Emily is a California native who spent her summers in back-to-back YMCA summer camps and on San Diego’s trails. In college, she sat on the board of the Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association, a group that aims to preserve the estuary and the valley’s trails for the enjoyment of recreational riders. Though she attended her fair share of overnight ranch camps, her heart lies in multi water sports camps. She loved sailing and snorkeling in San Diego’s beaches and has a passion for freshwater ecosystems.
In her spare time, Emily cares for her pet reptile, a blue tongue skink named Skinky. She also maintains her aquarium, which she calls her underwater garden. She believes that summer camp cultivated her passion for aquatic ecosystems and her desire to advocate for the planet.Contact Emily
AMY EPNER, PHD – COORDINATOR OF MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Amy is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor, and avid Jewish overnight camp advocate. She has been involved with Camp Mountain Chai since 2010 as a camp parent, volunteer, board member, and mental health consultant. Amy earned her bachelor’s at Cornell University, her master’s at Brandeis University, and her doctorate at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. Amy has experience working with all age groups and has specialized training in the field of health psychology including coping with illness, stress reduction, time management, lifestyle changes, addictive behaviors, disordered eating, anxiety, and parenting issues. Amy has helped develop and expand the CMC Camper Care program with the goal of embracing MESSH (Mental, Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Health) at camp. She is passionate about creating a supportive, inclusive, and growth-oriented environment for all campers and staff.
In her free time, Amy loves spending time with animals, exploring new hiking trails, and completing crossword and sudoku puzzles. Although she and her husband are now empty nesters (their two grown children are both CMC alumni), they still have the pleasure of caring for their rescue dog at their home in La Jolla.Contact Amy
Jennifer Paul – Associate Development Director
Jennifer recently joined the staff at CMC as the Associate Development Director. She’s also a current camp parent and her son will be returning for his third year. She has loved the positive experience camp has had on her son.
Jennifer worked over 10 years as the Annual Campaign Manager for Hillel of San Diego where she was responsible for multiple campaigns which included direct mail, email, social media, phone-a-thons, data management, events and parent and alumni relations. Most of all she enjoyed building relationships with the students and seeing the positive influence Hillel has on their college experience and Jewish identity. Previously, Jennifer served as the Director of Alumni Engagement at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where she oversaw Homecoming Weekend, reunion classes and alumni clubs. Originally from Westchester County in New York, Jennifer earned her B.S. in TV/Radio and her Masters in Corporate Communications from Ithaca College and has a certificate in non-profit management from Georgetown University.
Jennifer has been living in San Diego for 13 years. She is married and has three children and two cats. She enjoys spending time with her family and doing all the amazing things San Diego has to offer from theme parks and the zoo to beaches and Padres games. When she’s not working, she can often be found at the baseball field with her boys who play year-round. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering at her kid’s schools, dancing (tap & jazz), exercise, trying new restaurants, travel, movies and Sudoku.Contact Jennifer
Kelly Sarvela – Accounting and HR Manager
Kelly joined CMC as our Accounting and HR Manager in March of 2023, working out of our San Diego office. Before joining CMC she worked as an accountant and HR manager for PrecisionMed, a Biotech in Solana Beach and for Baja Expeditions, an adventure travel company that runs whale watching and kayaking trips in Baja, California.
Kelly is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and grew up camping, swimming and canoeing on the many lakes Minnesota has to offer. She attended the University of St. Thomas, majoring in Psychology. After college, she moved to Portland, Oregon, where she spent her spare time hiking, camping and river rafting. She fell in love with San Diego while on vacation and moved to town in 2007.
When she is not in the office, Kelly enjoys spending time with her two daughters, camping, going to the beach, parks, zoo and SeaWorld. She also has a chocolate lab named Chaco and an energetic bunny named BunBun to keep her busy.Contact Kelly