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 are also our 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 May 31 and August 21 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.
We are not able to accept packages at camp.
We accept flat envelopes only.
We do not have the personnel needed to process and deliver packages.
If there is something critical that you need to arrange for your child, please contact your child’s yoetzet and they can assist you.
Packages that come to camp will not be delivered, nor will they be returned to sender.
Please make sure to share this policy with grandparents and any other friends/relatives who might be thinking about sending packages.
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. (If your child will fly a long distance to camp, they may bring their phone on the flight, and we will store it in the main office safe for the duration of their camp session.)
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. We want to encourage our hanichim to develop supportive relationships with their madrichim (counselors) and other caring adults at camp. The madrichim, along with the Rosh Edah, Yoetzet, Support Specialist and other members of the camper care team are most often the ones in the best position to support, comfort, problem solve and help with whatever is happening at camp. We have found that even children who are not experiencing homesickness and are having wonderful camp experiences can start feeling homesick after they speak to their parents on the phone, because the “bubble” of camp has been punctured and now they’re thinking about home. Frequently a phone call home causes significant unnecessary stress, both for the camper and for the parents at home.
In general, we recommend that before a camper leaves for camp, parents remind their children how important it is to speak up to an adult of their choice if they are having any type of problem at camp. There are many options for a hanich to speak to: their madrichim, their Rosh Edah, their yoetzet, Rabbi Gelb, Talya Kalender, or anyone else with whom they feel comfortable. We reinforce that message when the hanichim arrive at camp.
Noting that, it is critical that every child feel safe at camp. If a hanich expresses a desire to speak with their parent or guardian, we will contact that parent or guardian to discuss the request together. If the parent or guardian wants to speak to their child, we will facilitate the call.
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 will arrange for phone calls to be returned 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.
WEBSITE, BLOG, AND FACEBOOK
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. However, 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, rather than spending time taking photos and writing blogs.
Here is our plan for communicating with our families this summer:
- 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 Summer2022.
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.