Homesickness, Discipline, & Camper Behavior
Homesickness is a normal part of the adjustment that many children will make while away from their homes and families.At Camp Ramah we are sensitive to both the children who are experiencing homesickness, and to their families who miss them. We work hard to support families through this adjustment. The overwhelming majority of hanichim (campers) adjust quickly to camp.
Letters sent home early in a camp session may relay strong feelings of homesickness during this transitional period. This is normal.
If you ever receive a letter that you are concerned about, please contact your child’s yoetzet (parent liaison).
We encourage parents to read this article on “Managing and Minimizing Homesickness” and to review these strategies with your child.
Camp Ramah New England’s discipline policy is designed to create a safe environment at camp, and to help children develop self control and assume responsibility for their actions.
Clear and consistent, age appropriate rules and limits are established at camp. Any disciplinary measure used will relate to the child’s specific actions and will be handled in a timely fashion. No physical or corporal punishment, or hitting of any kind, is allowed. No cruel punishment, verbal abuse or humiliation, scare tactics, or other controlling measures are allowed. No methods associated with the deprivation of food, water, or shelter, or extended isolation are allowed. No punishment of any kind for wetting the bed is allowed.
If a child’s behavior is chronically disruptive, even after reasonable measures have been made to assist the child in adjusting to the camp setting, parents will be contacted by camp staff to determine if the child is able to continue at camp. Staff will always work toward developing a cooperative plan of action to maximize a camper’s chances of success at summer camp. If disruptive behavior continues, the camper may be dismissed from the camp program.
Camp Ramah reserves the right to immediately dismiss a hanich from the summer camp program without prior warning.
The following actions may result in immediate dismissal from camp:
- Physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- Leaving the camp grounds without the permission of the Camp Director
- Smoking (including e-cigarettes) or vaping
- Possessing or using marijuana (or marijuana equipment)
- Possessing any type of weapon, including a knife or firearm
- Vandalism (including graffiti) or pranks or activities that damage camp property
- Misuse of fire extinguishers
- Disrupting someone who is sleeping
- Invading someone’s privacy while they are in the bathroom or shower.
- Self-harmful behaviors
- Sexual activity (including intercourse, oral sex, or other behavior for which the camp cannot take responsibility)
- Camp Ramah New England has zero tolerance for the use by any camper of alcohol, illegal or recreational drugs, or other controlled substances
It is not possible to list all forms of behavior that are considered unacceptable.
The CEO and/or yoetz will be in touch with the parent/guardian directly if there are discipline issues.
WHEN A CAMPER LEAVES CAMP EARLY
We strive to work with each camper to have a healthy, fun and safe experience. On rare occasions, a camper may be asked to leave camp early. This could happen due to behavior or health/ mental health issues. Many times a child being sent home happens after multiple efforts to address camper issues and there has been ongoing communication with the parents. Every once in a while an event happens that necessitates departure without prior process. Camp Ramah reserves the right to dismiss any camper whose actions or behavior we determine to be detrimental to the camp or to themselves. All dismissal decisions are at the sole discretion of the CEO. We realize that leaving camp early is serious and will do everything we can to make it as comfortable as possible. We also will do our best to keep the matter confidential. Our protocol for sending a child home is designed to be as sensitive to the child impacted as possible and to also keep in mind the experience of the other campers and camp community.
This is the general protocol we follow when a camper is dismissed from camp:
- When a decision is made that a camper is leaving camp, we try to limit the amount of time the transition takes for everyone’s benefit. We expect the parents to work with us to ensure that a camper can leave within a few hours.
- Please be aware that once it is decided a camper is being dismissed from camp, the camper will no longer be able to participate in camp activities. The camper will be supervised and cared for, but the camper will likely be waiting in the office or health center until the camper leaves camp.
- After being informed that they are leaving, the camper will return to their bunk to pack with the help from a staff member.
- When possible, we allow the camper a short amount of time to say goodbye to friends.
- We will do our best to have a senior staff member (Yoetzet, Director of Camper Care, Assistant Director, Business Manager or CEO) meet the parents when they arrive to pick up their camper. There are times when other events happening at camp may preclude the CEO from being available.
- Within a week of the camper going home, the camp will reach out by email to the camper family to see how the camper is doing and if there is any follow up needed. Further communication could happen via phone or email. We care about each camper and also realize that sometimes families want follow up and sometimes families prefer privacy.
If a child is expelled due to violating any conditions stipulated in this Family Handbook or due to inappropriate behavior, no refund will be provided. If a child is sent home for medical reasons, tuition will be refunded, pro-rated, for the number of days at camp minus the administrative fee ($1,500 full, $1,000 single, $600 mini-session). Withdrawal due to a medical or mental health condition that was not disclosed may result in expulsion without a refund.
THERE ARE NO REFUNDS FOR VOLUNTARY WITHDRAWALS OF CAMPERS. Voluntary withdrawals include, for example: child is homesick, parents are childsick, change in family plans, family vacations and promises made by parents to withdraw the child after a “trial period at camp”.
GRAFFITI & VANDALISM
All campers and staff are responsible for maintaining the physical condition of camp. Any vandalism or destruction of camp property by members of the camp community will result in damages assessed and charged to the camper’s family, and possible expulsion from camp. Any damage to the property, including graffiti, will be paid for by the campers’ families. (Repainting bunks and/or bathrooms costs between $200 – $800.)
THE BOUNDARIES OF CAMP
Hanichim may not leave the camp grounds at any time except on camp-supervised trips or programs. Violation of this rule is grounds for dismissal. Hanichim may not ever go beyond the basic boundaries of the campgrounds: Tzad Aleph (A-Side), Tzad Bet (B-Side), and Machaneh Gimel. To be more specific: campers may not ever go beyond the Eruv that surrounds camp, the train tracks, or K’far Nivonim without the express permission of their Rosh Edah (Division Head), and accompanied by a madrich (counselor). This rule means that hanichim are not permitted to go to the “train bridge” in the woods behind camp.
In order to ensure the observance of Shabbat, on Shabbat campers and staff are not permitted to go beyond the Eruv.
(NOTE: An Eruv is a boundary that allows Jews to carry needed things in public on Shabbat, marked around much of camp with wooden poles connected with string.)
ABUSE AND NEGLECT POLICY
It is the goal of Camp Ramah New England to promote a camp that is free of child abuse and neglect. To achieve our goal, the conduct that is described in this policy will not be tolerated. We have provided a procedure by which inappropriate conduct will be dealt with if experienced or reported by campers and staff.
Because Camp Ramah New England takes allegations of child abuse and neglect seriously, we will respond promptly to complaints of child abuse and neglect. Where it is determined that such inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective action as is necessary, including disciplinary action where appropriate.
Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect
The following are some examples of conduct that may constitute child abuse and neglect:
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Psychological/emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
The striking or other physical or sexual abuse of campers is grounds for immediate dismissal. Verbal abuse or harassment of campers is also grounds for dismissal.
Complaints of Child Abuse and Neglect
If a camper believes that they have been subjected to child abuse and neglect by staff or another camper, the camper has the right to file a complaint with our organization. This may be done in writing or orally.
State laws mandate that certain persons report suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect to civil authorities. Ramah policy requires all Ramah staff to report any reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused or maltreated. Staff members must directly and immediately notify camp leadership of any suspected incident of child abuse. The CEO shall report suspected abuse or neglect to the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families.
All reports facilitated by camp leadership will be held in the strictest of confidence protecting the confidentiality of the information and the individuals involved. Additionally, this policy encourages reporting suspected historical events that are suspicious for child abuse or maltreatment.
If a child reports, or we suspect, abuse or neglect at home, the CEO would contact the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to determine our reporting responsibilities.
State and Federal Remedies
In addition to the above, you may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies.
Massachusetts Department of Children & Families: Central Office:
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Boston Office:
One Ashburton Place, Suite 601
Boston, MA 02108
436 Dwight St., Room 220 Springfield, MA 01103 (413) 739-2145
REGULATIONS AND LICENSE
This camp must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and be licensed by the local board of health.