Below is Part 2 in a series of stories as told by our own campers, which will give you an in depth view into Step It Up.


Bryan Itkowitz, a sleep away camp alumni and staff member, has brought an infectious energy to the YU Men’s Basketball Team. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Bryan possesses an effortless politeness and charm of a ‘good ol Southern boy’ and boasts a genuine smile that immediately puts anyone that crosses his path at ease. Bryan is currently finishing up his first season on the basketball team and his sophomore year at YU in the rigorous and ever so demanding Pre-med program.

“After a grueling six days of training, I drag my sore limbs into the dining hall eagerly anticipating Shabbat dinner. On my right sits a Secular Jew from Holon, wearing a kippah on his own accord. On my left is an orthodox kid from Jersey who, after a taxing week of basketball, can hardly keep his eyes open through Kiddush. Across from me sits a Catholic Floridian, presumably very confused, as he witnesses his first Shabbat dinner ceremony. And me, I’m the “Memphis kid” who just learned what MTA, HAFTR and TABC stand for. How did I find myself feasting with such a diverse group of people this Friday night? Only at Step It Up.

“Sit up strait!” “Look me in the eyes when you speak.” “Lock in!”

These are directions I didn’t expect to hear at summer camp. After all isn’t summer camp suppose to be pure, untainted fun? A release from responsibility? A time designed to maximize entertainment at every corner? I think SIU has dual curriculum.

SIU masters the same “summer camp fun” through an excellent basketball curriculum. At the same time it champions a social contract that instills confidence, responsibility and accountability. SIU instigates good social and work habits at every turn, on and off the court. This synthesis led to the most fun and productive summer of my life.

The social skills I learned at SIU manifest themselves during important life events. They show up in interviews, public speeches and other interactions that can make or break my future. The skills I learned during the summer can directly effect a conversation or presentation that leads to my next raise. I am comfortable in these social situations because of the informal “social education” I got at SIU.

The phrases above are commonplace at SIU because Yogev and his staff recognize the importance of teaching successful social and work habits at a young age. There is no better vehicle to teach vital tools like mutual resect and responsibility than through the universal, kid friendly language of basketball.”