Family Handbook & Important Information for kayitz 2022
Shalom Ramah Families,Click here to read our updated Family Handbook.Click here to read our opening camp procedures email. I highly recommend reading the entire Family Handbook. Below, I am highlighting a few key points that are especially important. The rules are primarily for the safety of our kehilah (community) and to create a great Jewish living and learning environment. I am asking you to review these points with your children to help ensure our success.We have been planning and working towards kayitz (summer) 2022 with the hope that Camp Ramah can once again provide safe, joyous, fun, spiritual, and meaningful experiences that will nurture our chanichim (campers) and allow them to be kids again. Last year, with incredible partnership and teamwork with you, our camp families, we delivered the quintessential Ramah experience. The word must have gotten out because we have 100 more campers enrolled this year than last and we are operating at capacity. I ask you to once again partner with us, to assume the best in each other, and to be as flexible as possible. We have wonderful yoatzot (who both provide “camp parent”-like care to campers and act as parent liaisons) who are easily accessible (we will provide cell numbers right before camp begins) during the summer. However, always feel free to reach out to me directly by email.
- We pride ourselves on being a warm and welcoming community at Camp Ramah. I think it is helpful to tell your children that they will meet all types of people at camp. Some of these people will become their lifelong friends and some of them they will just be friendly with. They should do their best to be inclusive of others and to be kind and patient and to take into account other people’s feelings. If they need help with a particular person, they should reach out to their madrichim(counselors) or their yoetzet. You should also tell them that Talya Kalender (our Director of Camper and Staff Care) and I want them to come to us if they are having any problems. It is good for your children to develop these self-advocacy skills. We, of course, also spend a lot of time watching the social dynamics among our chanichim, and the madrichim, with advice and input from us, work on tzrif (bunk) unity and building friendships.
- Our Family and Staff handbooks are online. They outline many of the policies and things we do to keep campers and the community safe. Please always feel free to reach out to us directly. If you have concerns and are uncomfortable reaching out to us, you can directly email our board president, Stuart Katz, or the National Ramah Director, Amy Skopp Cooper.
- Camp security and the overall health and safety of our campers are our top priorities at Camp Ramah in New England. We are, of course, aware of the recent shootings and the rise of anti-Semitic activities in the U.S. Each year, we review security risks and plan revisions with our outside security company, Securitas (the largest security company in the world). We also meet with the Palmer police chief and the police department’s police officer in charge of school safety. The police department is in contact with the FBI. Every year, during the off-season, we participate in several conference calls, webinars and groups about security. We also monitor regular emails from the Jewish Emergency Management System (CJP, ADL, JCRC) and the Secure Community Network of the Jewish Federations of North America. Over the past few years, we have added more electronic monitoring, increased police presence and patrols, enhanced our communications technology and engaged in more emergency training. Our multi-year effort to make camp as secure as possible has put us on firm footing. Still, we are constantly reviewing our security measures to ensure we are taking appropriate measures.
- Food at camp – For both kashrut and health reasons (primarily food allergy safety), we do not allow campers to bring any food to camp. We have a sacred trust to provide both a totally kosher and food-safe environment. We have many campers who have very serious food allergies. Please help us keep our campers safe by not bringing or sending any food to camp. We will confiscate and give away any food brought by campers to camp. We will treat violations of this rule as a disciplinary matter. Please click here to view this year’s allergy protocol letter.
- Vaping and edibles have become more prevalent in our society and schools and can be hard to detect. All forms of marijuana or similar drugs, regardless of form or how they are ingested, are prohibited at camp and will result in immediate dismissal. Possession of drugs, these devices or other drug paraphernalia will also result in immediate dismissal. Please check carefully what your children are bringing to camp. Because we are a children’s summer camp and need to provide a safe environment for all of our campers, Camp Ramah reserves the right to search any camper’s belongings at any time.
- Dress code – Over the past few summers I have had extensive conversations with our chanichim and tzevet about our dress code, which has been evolving. We are trying to balance two values. One value is to reduce social pressure on how to dress. The second value is that we do not want to embarrass people for their clothing choices. Therefore, this year, we are not having a specific bathing suit policy. Please have a conversation with your children about these values and what they plan to bring to camp. For more information, please see “what to pack” in the family handbook.
- Due to ongoing COVID concerns, campers must remain at camp during their camp session.
- Please do not send packages to camp. We will donate all package contents to charity. We will not send packages back to the sender. Please let family and friends know about this policy.
- All campers living in a female identifying bunk of Bat Mitzvah age and older are encouraged to bring a tallit and tefillin to camp. All campers living in a male identifying bunk of Bar Mitzvah age and older are required to bring a tallit (or a tallit katan) and tefillin to camp and wear them during morning t’fillot (prayer services). Please make sure your camper knows about this policy and packs them. If you need help finding tefillin, we recommend contacting your local rabbi who should be able to help.
For the safety and well-being of our camp community, I encourage you to read the Family Handbook. We can’t wait for the chanichim to arrive. Thank you so much for entrusting us with your children. We look forward to an exciting and memorable kayitz.B’Shalom, Rabbi Ed Gelb (He/Him/His) CEO, Ramah New England