Parent You Should Know: Sara Sideman

Sara Sideman 1

Provided Photo

Sara Sideman did not go to Jewish camp growing up. (Sideman’s mother was a school speech pathologist, so she was home in the summer and did not need the childcare.) But nonetheless, a Jewish summer camp—the JCC Camps at Medford—was where Sideman, now 36, eventually found her calling.

The southern New Jersey resident worked at the camp as a counselor between the ages of 15 and 19, and now, as an adult, she is working there once again. Actually, she does more than work there—she runs the place. The Cherry Hill resident is the director of the summer program by the Katz JCC, which means she also gets to oversee her three sons who are campers there: 8-year-old Benny and twin 5-year-olds Noah and Jonah.

Sideman spoke to MetroKids about living her dream with her boys at her side.

You work long hours in the summer. How do you balance that with motherhood?

I have an incredibly supportive partner. I think that particularly as a woman, sometimes you get questioned if you’re driven. I always wanted children, but it didn’t change my drive professionally. I have always had a strong need to grow, achieve, etc.

We sit down every week and go through the schedule and navigate who’s doing what. My parents are 12 minutes from us. My parents are incredibly supportive and help us with childcare. They help us navigate all of their activities.

What is it like to do a job you love that also benefits your kids on a daily basis?

Parent You Should Know 2

Provided Photo

One of the best moments I’ve ever experienced was after a camp season—one of the first that my older son was old enough to understand. He [turns] to me and goes, “You know, Mommy, I’m really proud of you that you’re the camp director.” I burst into tears because, of course. For him to know that I followed what I was passionate about and made a career and a life out of it, and that I have made and built Jewish community, that was vital for him to see.

Being a mom to three sons, three future potential husbands, I think it’s wonderful for them to see their mother working and growing. And to see their father supportive of it.

What do you love the most about being a parent?

I love the little things. The quiet moments where you get to hold and cuddle and grow. But I think the biggest thing is being able to build the type of people that I think there should be more of in the world. And I’m proud of them. I have three very different and very kind and compassionate children.

What is the biggest challenge of parenting for you?

Long hours. And guilt. When you work full-time, there’s the constant push and pull. There’s never enough time for my kids. I work hard to try to be intentional during the time I spend with them. To not be on my phone.

The nice thing about working in the JCC and nonprofit world is that if my child has a doctor’s appointment, it’s never a question.
The expectation is you’re there with your child.

What do you love the most about living in Cherry Hill?

I’m raising my children 2 miles from the JCC. They think this building and this place is home. I love my neighborhood. It’s family-friendly; it’s warm and diverse. My husband and I are suburbs kids at heart, so we love having access to everything.

Where do you hope to take your career?

My big dream is to build community where children and youth grow. Whether that’s in camp settings or JCC settings or beyond, if I can help families build connections to Jewish communities, then I will be incredibly successful in my career.


Family Favorites

Shabbat Dinner- It is less about the food and what we are eating and more about the ritual and time together as a family.

Chocolate chip cookie cake. My boys all have significant food allergies, so it must be homemade.

Too many to count…We sing in our house all day long.


Vacation spot:
With kids that are still fairly young (and the pandemic) we haven’t had as many opportunities for vacation. We are excited to take the kids to Virginia at the end of the summer for a Williamsburg/Busch Gardens trip!

Categories: Camps & Classes, Family Life, Home Life