I am considering camp for the first time, and have some questions.
The sleep-away camp experience provides children and teens with an opportunity to practice independent living skills (eg. keeping track of their stuff and making sure to shower), to improve their social skills (living with peers 24/7 is awesome and kids learn how to get along), and to gain self-confidence (master a new skill, go without screens, learn new Hebrew words) in their own abilities. Here at Ramah, the typical sleep-away experience is woven together with Jewish life. Each day includes Jewish song, prayer, Hebrew, food, Israel education, and so much more, feeding campers’ Jewish identities in ways that literally last a lifetime. To send a child to Ramah is to give them a gift of self-discovery and Jewish exploration. Relationships that last well beyond summers at camp.
Your child may be begging to go to camp but your gut tells you waiting one more year may be beneficial OR your child may be expressing appropriate hesitation and reservations but you’re confident she’ll do fine once at camp. Here are a few helpful indicators that a child is ready for sleep-away camp: Your child can identify elements of camp he or she is looking forward to participating in (swimming, Israeli dance, meeting new friends, etc.). Your child has had some successful experiences at sleepovers or staying with relatives. Your child has demonstrated the ability to handle independent self-care skills such as brushing their teeth, changing clothing, showering, etc.
Rising 3rd graders are only eligible for our two week Gesher program. Rising 4th and 5th graders may participate in our Gesher program OR our 4-week Nitzanim program. We offer these two possibilities as we recognize that at these ages some kids are ready and eager for a full month and others would benefit from a shorter experience. There are some differences in daily schedules and activities but both programs offer a great introduction to Ramah with a focus on getting kids familiar with camp, engaged in activities, and making new friends. Reach out to us if you are unsure of which program would best suit your child.
We offer opportunities to visit camp during the year. Reach out to email@example.com to learn more about when and how to visit us in Ojai.
FAQs for Current Camp Families
Your child will be with many caring and experienced people while at camp. They will spend the most time with their madrichim (counselors). Your camper will live with 2-5 counselors who will sleep with them, eat with them, and travel to many activities with them throughout the day. Our counselors are all high school graduates or older; the vast majority of whom were Camp Ramah campers themselves. They are enthusiastic about their Judaism and are selected for their natural ability to work with camper-age children and be amazing role models. Our staff arrives to camp early for one week of training in everything from CPR and first aid, to planning exciting and age-appropriate activities, as well as managing the physical and emotional care of campers. Each age group also has a Rosh Edah (unit head) who also spends much of the day with the campers and helps support and guide their madrichim. Our Roshei Edah are veteran and enthusiastic Ramahniks who have spent nearly a decade of summers at Camp Ramah as both campers and madrichim. In addition, each age group has a dedicated adult member of the Camper Care team: a Yoetzet, or parent liaison. Finally, Aviva Levine Jacobs, Director of Camper Care, Ariella Moss Peterseil and Rabbi Joe Menashe, Directors of Camp Ramah are in and around camp daily, keeping an eye on our campers and available to support and answer questions from staff, as well. Who will care for my camper
Missing home is a completely normal reaction for kids when they come to camp. We refer to these feelings as “moments of sadness”, since it’s not indicative of a “sickness” and kids can and do overcome these sad moments. Our counselors are trained to identify and support campers who are feeling sad the first few days and nights. They are able to validate the child’s feelings and also help to get them involved in activities they enjoy. It can be helpful to talk about it with your child in advance, acknowledging they may miss home at times or feel sad. You can discuss what they might try if this occurs (talk to a counselor, write a letter home, read a favorite book, play a game). Please DO NOT promise to pick them up if they are sad. Instead, tell your child you have confidence the feelings will pass and they can manage them. Our parent liaisons (yoatzot) will reach out to you should we have any concerns about your child’s adjustment to camp and you may reach out at any time with questions via phone or email.
We welcome those interested to submit a bunk request with the names of up to three individuals in the same grade with whom your camper would like to live. Our goal is to accommodate at least one request as we consider a wide range of variables in creating our tzrif/ohel (bunk/tent) communities. Bunk assignments are announced once campers arrive at camp. Parents will receive an email on opening day with your child’s bunk/tent number.
While some kids choose to attend camp with a friend or two from home, we have many campers who come to camp not knowing anyone. Our staff is dedicated to endless icebreakers the first few days and to helping kids make connections. If you are interested in being connected with other Ramahniks in your area prior to the summer, feel free to reach out to our office.
Camp is for kids and since many children are picky eaters we provide plenty of “old standards” for them. We fill our menu with kid-friendly entrees, fruits, vegetables, and snacks. At every meal, we always have Sunbutter, jam, hard-boiled eggs, bread and rice cakes available. To see a sample menu, click here.
Camp Ramah is a nut-free community. We provide vegetarian and gluten-free options at every meal. We encourage you to to be in touch regarding any specific questions.
It depends on the age, but in general, your child will participate in five main activities during the day – sports, swimming, electives (including cooking, robotics, woodworking, art, etc.), some form of Israel education, and Judaics. There is also always a part of the day that is planned specifically for your child’s bunk/tent by their counselors.
We are fortunate to have an incredible Health Center on site that we call “the marp” (mirpa’ah). The marp is staffed 24/7 with highly qualified medical, nursing and support staff. In case of a more pressing emergency, the Ojai Valley Community Hospital is only minutes away. There are sick call hours each day. Should your child be admitted to the marp for an overnight stay or need prescription medication, one of our medical staff will notify you.
All medication is dispensed out of our Marp, with multiple medication distribution times throughout the day and evening. We discourage medication holidays during camp. Camp is a highly structured environment and we typically see that children who do well with medication during the school year do well with meds at camp.
Our staff works incredibly hard to make sure that every camper is comfortable and stretching Jewishly throughout the summer. If they aren’t learning something new, then we aren’t succeeding. Ramah is a Conservative movement affiliated camp that is fully egalitarian. With that said, part of what makes Ramah unique is the diversity of our Ramah families who come from all types of Jewish backgrounds. Each day begins with age-appropriate t’fillot by edah that include singing, stories, explanations, and lots of hand motions. Older edot also engage in an afternoon or evening t’filah. The entire camp community comes together for a spirited Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday evening. Each meal begins and concludes with the appropriate blessings. It’s incredible to see how quickly the kids pick it up with no prior knowledge.
Camp remains one of the few places throughout the year where kids can truly unplug and engage with peers and their surroundings, without the distraction of devices. Read more here to learn about the limited types of electronics permitted during the summer.
Based on decades of experience, we have found that conversations between parents and campers take children out of the present moment and interrupt their camp experience. On the flip side, we have found that letters and one-way email (from parents to children) are really great ways for families to stay connected. If you need a more immediate update or have any concerns, you may call or email your child’s yoetzet.
Read more here about how to address letters, send emails, and our flat package policy
With all outdoor fun that happens at camp, we definitely do laundry! For our four-week campers laundry is provided twice during the session; while for our two-week, Gesher, campers laundry is provided once. Some laundry tips: Sometimes there is 8-10 days before laundry is done for a specific age group. Be sure to pack clothes for at least that many days. Darks and whites are not separated. Anything that is new or might run should be pre-washed.
To offer the fewest disruptions to the camping experience, camp provides one Visitors’ Day during the summer. That date alternates each year between Session I and Session II. This year Yom Kehillah will take place on Sunday, July 7th, 2019, during Session I. Please note that Gesher campers do not participate in Yom Kehillah. They will be off-site that day. For campers without visitors, an alternative out-of-camp activity will be offered.
Packing tips? We’ve got a few good ones Pack together! This ensures that your child knows what they brought with them and where to find it when they unpack.
- Luggage: Pack in two, 36” duffles, ideally with wheels. One bag is simply too large for most campers to carry and wheels make it easy to get luggage from the drop-off spot to bunks and tents. (If you’re sending a younger camper, don’t worry, their counselors and friends will help them carry their luggage.)
- Label everything - In a bunk with 15 campers all the same age, it really does help when absolutely everything is labeled. We have found that sticker labels hold up very well at camp. They can be used on fabric or plastic and easily provide one stop labeling for all your camper’s items! Click here to get 25% off Labels with LabelDaddy! Be sure to put a name on everything. In case you’re wondering, the top items most frequently seen in our Lost and Found are water bottles, towels, hats and sweatshirts.
- Use Ziploc, mesh bags, or packing cubes per item or outfit. With 14 days of clothing unpacked into a few cubbies, it can be helpful to have things pre-organized. Put all socks or undergarments in their own bag or, go all out, and have your child put each outfit in a bag.
- Pack lots of socks and undergarments. Despite what we as parents sometimes imagine, there are campers who change socks and underwear twice a day (after swimming and after showering at night). Think about packing extra of both.
- Toss in a couple of white t-shirts that can be used for crafts, tie-dye, etc!