Meet 3 Directors of JCC Chicago Apachi Day Camp, Also North Shore Moms! | Chicago North Shore Moms

We’re so excited to introduce you to three amazing moms who are all JCC Chicago Apachi Day Camp Directors: Stacey Skolnick, Director, along with Alison Blake, Assistant Director, of ‘Z’ Frank Apachi in Northbrook, and Andrea Merfeld, Director of Apachi Evanston. These impressive North Shore working moms have chosen to give back to our North Shore community creating fantastic summer experiences for kids that allow them to be their best selves. Get to know Stacey, Alison and Andrea who help create the very best summer that camp has to offer!


Hi Stacey, Alison and Andrea! Tell us a little about yourself.

Stacey: I grew up and live in Highland Park, and I have identical twin daughters who are eight and consider ‘Z’ Frank Apachi to be their local home away from home. As a camp director, camp naturally is always on my brain, and one of my top mom hacks is sending a large ziplock bag in my kids’ camp backpacks for wet bathing suits, so the prized projects my kids create make it home in perfect condition.


Stacey Skolnick, Director of ‘Z’ Frank Apachi

Alison: I’m from Buffalo Grove and now live in Wilmette, and my husband and I are parents to two amazing children, my daughter, who is eight, and my son, who is six. Our kids have attended Apachi Day Camp for multiple summers now, and my daughter was even a camper before I started working there.


Alison Blake, Assistant Director of ‘Z’ Frank Apachi

Andrea: I’m a Glenview native still living there with my husband and our two wonderful girls who are twelve and nine and both live for JCC Chicago Camp Chi overnight camp and Apachi Day Camp. Outside of camp, my other passions are softball and volleyball, and growing up, my love for volleyball was fueled from playing in JCC Chicago Camp Chi’s SIT (Staff in Training)/Staff volleyball game as a SIT, a beloved Camp Chi tradition.


Andrea Merfeld, Director of Apachi Evanston

Why did you all choose to become a camp director, and how long have you been working in the field?

Stacey: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on children, and from my experiences as a camp counselor, unit head and program director, I instantly knew this was my life’s passion. I have 36 years of experience as a camp director, including 5 years at Apachi Day Camp and 8+ years of experience teaching early childhood.

Alison: My meaningful experiences as both a camper and counselor at JCC Chicago Apachi Day Camp, as well as a camper at JCC Chicago Camp Chi overnight camp, made me want to become a camp director! I’m beyond thankful for a career that lets me contribute to our wonderful community, allows me to watch my children flourish and empower campers to enjoy summer to the fullest. This is my third summer at ‘Z’ Frank Apachi in Northbrook, and I bring 13+ years of hospitality and event Industry experience with me to camp.

Andrea: Ever since I first attended camp at JCC Chicago Camp Chi overnight camp, I knew that camp was my happy place and dreamed of becoming a camp director. I’ve held almost every role at Apachi Evanston, counselor, assistant unit head, assistant director and seasonal camp director all while I was teaching elementary school. When the stars aligned for me to take on the role as full-time camp director, I jumped at the chance to do it, and this marks my 27th summer at Apachi Evanston.


What is Apachi Day Camp like from you perspective?

Alison: Apachi Day Camp is more than just a day camp – it’s a place where campers are seen and supported socially and emotionally and valued for who they are. Our Apachi values of Kindness, Respect and Community are woven into everything we do, and the warm, safe, inclusive community we foster allows campers to experience the joy of summer adventures and have the freedom to explore their interests and express themselves.

Stacey: We really create a camp community at Apachi that’s brought closer together through all-camp experiences – our weekly theme days, guest entertainers, Maccabi, our friendly team-based sports competition, and Shabbat celebrations. Every day at ‘Z’ Frank Apachi campers swim twice a day and rotate through a really wide range of activities including all the sports, rock-climbing, pedal boating, dance, theater, gymnastics, arts & crafts, STEM, and so much more, ensuring there’s something for every child.

Andrea: If your camper comes home messy and tired, then we did our job right; our campers had a great day! But it’s not just about the activities, it’s the “in between” moments with friends and counselors that are what an Apachi summer is all about. One thing that’s special about Apachi Evanston, is that in addition to our traditional camp day fun, for kids that are really into sports and performing arts, we have specialty camps that are led by professionals in those fields.


All three of you are local moms. How does being a mom impact your role as a camp director?

Stacey: I actually think being a camp director helps me be a better mom! Camp truly speaks to every part of being human, and spending my life at camp has made me see each person for who they are, meet them where they are, to really listen, to have fun, to love, to be flexible and creative, and to make songs out of EVERYTHING!

Alison: Being a parent deepens my understanding of the trust parents place in us while their kids are with us at Apachi, and the importance of creating a nurturing, safe, enriching, and fun environment for their children. As a mom in the community, I have a lot of interactions with other parents and that gives me some good insight into how to tailor our programs to meet their needs.

Andrea: Becoming a mom transformed my role as a camp director; I now see myself as the “camp mom”, stepping into the mother figure for campers and counselors alike. My conversations with parents are more relatable since I have children, and I understand where parents come from, which enhances the relationships I build each summer.


How can our readers learn more about Apachi Day Camp or get in contact with you?

Stacey: Learn all about ‘Z’ Frank Apachi on our website at If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or 847.272.7050.

Andrea: You can visit for more information on Apachi Evanston’s summer program. If you’d like to directly connect with me, you can reach me at [email protected] or 773.516.5882.


*This article is sponsored by Chicago North Shore Moms trusted community partner, JCC Chicago. Thank you!

Join The Chicago North Shore Moms Network Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around The Chicago North Shore community with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.