YOATZOT: OUR PARENT LIAISONS
The term yoetzet is Hebrew for advisor. At camp we have an adult staff member, the yoetzet, who is attached to each edah (division/age group). The yoetzet spends time with the edah and gets to know both the tzevet (staff members) and hanichim (campers) to effectively offer guidance and support. They spend time coaching madrichim (counselors) on a wide variety of topics including, managing homesickness, social dynamics, behavior strategies, hygiene, healthcare etc. The role of the yoetzet is most similar to that of a parent who is looking out for all of our campers’ wellbeing. Our yoatzot are often parents themselves, and they all have a background working with children. While some of our yoatzot are trained psychologists or social workers during the year, this is not their role at camp. They don’t diagnose or provide therapy. When dealing with issues of mental health at camp, we work with campers’ own mental health care providers as well as our consulting psychologist.
Yoatzot also function as parent liaisons. You will receive the cell-phone number of your child’s yoetzet in an e-mail from Rabbi Gelb the night before camp begins. Over the summer, if you have any concerns you can call your child’s yoetzet directly regarding your concerns. We ask that you direct any questions or concerns to your child’s yoetzet, rather than contacting your child’s madrichim (counselors) or Rosh Edah (Division Head) directly.
Please always feel free to contact our CEO Rabbi Ed Gelb or our Director of Camper Care Talya Kalender during the summer, if you feel your child’s yoetzet is not able to help address your concerns. Rabbi Gelb and Talya are always available to help any parent or member of our camp community!
If you have a concern in the spring, before your child’s yoetzet has been assigned, we encourage you to contact Talya Kalender.
Campers love to receive mail! We strongly encourage frequent letter writing as a means of parents and children staying in touch during the summer. Due to our rural setting, please be aware that it can take many days to get mail to and from Camp Ramah.
Send letters to:
Camp Ramah in New England Bunk # ___
39 Bennett Street
Palmer, MA 01069
Encourage your child to write to you by including self-addressed, stamped envelopes in their luggage. Hanichim (up through our entering 9th graders) are required to write to parents twice a week. Hanichim should bring at least eight stamped and addressed envelopes to camp (or sixteen, if they will be at camp for the full summer). It’s a good idea to give your child extra stamps, paper, envelopes, and a list of addresses. If you do not hear from your child by the seventh day of camp, please call your child’s yoetzet.
All mail to the camp office between June 4 and August 22 must be addressed to Camp Ramah, Main Office, 39 Bennett Street, Palmer, MA 01069. Mail sent to our Norwood address is subject to lengthy forwarding delays.
Due to COVID, we will not be able to accept packages this summer (because we do not have the personnel to process large number of packages at camp).
Hanichim can receive e-mail but DO NOT have access to the Internet, and therefore, cannot reply via e-mail. E-mailed messages are printed and delivered daily, except on our Yemei Meyuchad (special days when our specialty staff are off – usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and Shabbat.
You can e-mail your hanichim through your on-line Campminder account. The e-mail service will be activated the day before camp begins. Please log into your CampMinder account and click the “email” link towards the bottom of the page. Each parent who has a Campminder login e-mail may send 5 free e-mails to each child per week. The system will prompt you to purchase additional “camp stamps” to send more e-mails if you desire.
Further instructions regarding e-mail will be e-mailed to you just before the start of camp. This will include information on how to give other people, such as grandparents, access to e-mail your child.
PHONES IN CAMP
Camp is an opportunity for hanichim to develop independence and to mature in a supportive environment. We want our hanichim to engage with their fellow hanichim and with their madrichim.
Hanichim are not permitted to bring a cell-phone to camp.
This policy also applies to our Nivonim campers. We ask parents of Nivonimers to set expectations with your child on how often you want to receive a letter. If you find that you are not receiving enough communication, please contact your yoetzet who will happily help.
Hanichim are not allowed to call home. If it is urgent that you speak with your child, please call your child’s yoetzet or our main office (413) 283-9771. The yoetzet will contact you to arrange a call with your child, if appropriate. The yoetzet is always present for the return call. The camp will arrange for phone calls to be returned to the caller at the earliest opportunity. (In cases of real emergency, every effort will be made to contact you as soon as possible.)
The camp utilizes an outside emergency answering service on Shabbat. This lasts from approximately 3:00 p.m. on Friday to 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. This answering service is also in effect during the week (Sunday-Thursday) from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 a.m. when our camp office is closed. During these times, please call only in case of emergency and ask the service to contact the camp immediately. Non-urgent messages left with the answering service are retrieved at 8:30 a.m. daily, except on Shabbat.
We will accept incoming personal faxes on our summer fax number: 413-283-6661. Please be sure to put the recipient’s name and bunk number on each fax sheet. Faxes are delivered daily, except on our Yemei Meyuchad (special days, when our specialty staff are off — usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and Shabbat.
WEBSITE, BLOG, AND FACEBOOK
Due to COVID, we will not be able to post pictures and blog entries as in the past. We know that many parents enjoy seeing photos of their children as well as blog posts and other updates that share what’s happening at camp during the summer. This summer, due to COVID, we have reduced the size of our staff and will not have a camp photographer, camp blogger, or camp communications specialist on staff. To create the best possible experience for our campers, we want our summer staff to remain focused on ensuring our campers are safe and happy by reducing the amount of time they would typically spend to ensure the daily output of photos and blog posts.
We would like to share our plan for communicating with our families this summer. Please understand that this is our current plan; we’ll remain flexible and adjust as we see how the summer is going and what we are/aren’t able to do.
- We will post a tzrif (bunk) photo for every tzrif by the end of the first day of each session (on our password-protected website photo galleries).
- We will post one photo gallery for every edah (division) per week (on our website photo galleries). These galleries will include at least one photo of every camper in that edah. We will announce the schedule for posting these galleries at the start of each session, so families will know when to look for them.
- Rabbi Gelb will continue to send his Friday update emails to the camp community.
- When possible, we will post additional photo galleries of other camp special events, as well as blog posts, videos and livestreams.
If you want to check in on how your child is doing at camp, we invite you to contact your child’s yoetz, an adult who is attached to your child’s edah; they will be happy to assist you! We will be sending out the names and camp cell phone numbers of our yoatzot shortly before the start of each camp session.
Additionally, you can always feel free to reach out directly to Talya Kalender, our Director of Camper Care, or Rabbi Gelb if you have any concerns about your child during the summer.
Click here for the direct link to our photo-galleries. The password is Summer2021.
We also encourage parents to visit our blog.
We will also be posting updates, including photos, on our private Facebook and Instagram pages as best we can. We encourage parents to “friend” our Ramah Palmer Facebook page to be a part of this on-line community. For any parent who is not on facebook, feel free to contact the Ramah Office to obtain a generic “Ramah Parents” log-in.
COMMUNICATION FROM CAMP TO FAMILIES
In addition to regular updates on the website, you will get important informational emails and mailings during the summer. Please open these immediately and read them.