The Camp Program
PARTICIPATION IN THE CAMP PROGRAM
The power of Camp Ramah’s impact is rooted in the experiential nature of camp life. Campers and staff engage in a living laboratory of Judaism and share the full range of daily living from daily chores and meals to social, religious and instructional activities. Although there are choices on which particular activity one might do, like ceramics or soccer, by coming to camp, one commits to participating in the full program.
Why are we telling you this? Because at Ramah we pride ourselves on making necessary accommodations for campers to be able to access our program. These accommodations are discussed and worked out with our camper care team in the off-season. Campers coming to camp with these supports should be able to participate in the vast majority (over 90%) of camp programming.
As a community we want to support the individual while also maintaining that the individual has a responsibility to the community. Everyone participating raises the level of the camp experience ,and if individuals choose not to participate that disrupts others and impacts everyone. Additionally, campers who don’t participate or aren’t where they are supposed to be require individual staff supervision which is an unsustainable model for our camp program.
It is normal for campers to have some activities they don’t love. Camp is an all inclusive experience and campers must participate in all activities.
Kids are kids. Sometimes a particular activity isn’t their favorite, makes them mildly uncomfortable or they would rather do something else in the moment. We tolerate occasional testing of limits by campers as age appropriate. However, campers are expected to participate in the full program and cannot opt out of activities.
There is a difference between being “unsafe” and “uncomfortable”. No child (or staff member) should ever feel or be “unsafe” at camp. Leaving your comfort zone and trying new things is part of what camp is about. There are appropriate and positive ways to be “uncomfortable” at camp.
Please have a conversation with your child about participation at camp and encourage them to partake in the full experience.
BEHAVIOR IN THE TZRIF (BUNK)
The tzrif (bunk) is a place where all of its members must feel safe and comfortable. Hanichim must act in a friendly and respectful manner at all times with their friends and bunk-mates, as well as with their madrichim (counselors).
Hanichim should be mindful of each other’s privacy and behave with modesty and respect. Hanichim are not allowed to lie or sleep in each other’s beds or shower together in the same stall. Hanichim are not allowed to disrupt someone who is sleeping or to invade someone’s privacy in the bathroom or shower.
No photographs or videos are permitted to be taken inside a tzrif.
It’s always exciting when a hanich has a birthday while at camp! Every hanich with a birthday during the camp season will receive a cake for a tzrif party. Hanich birthdays are in our database and this is taken care of automatically. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s Yoetzet (Parent Liaison) to schedule a phone call with their child on their birthday.
Shabbat at Ramah is magical. When we ask campers why they keep coming back to camp, Shabbat is always one of the first things they mention. The ruach (spirit) of Shabbat is one of the most indelible memories of the Ramah experience.
We are a Shomer Shabbat camp. In their personal space, on their own bed, a hanich may chose to use a flashlight or headphones.
Sports and swimming are permitted on Shabbat.
Turning on or off lights, writing, drawing, painting, building, playing musical instruments are prohibited on Shabbat.
T’FILLOT (PRAYER SERVICES)
Every morning, every edah (division/age group) participates in morning t’fillot (prayer services). Our t’fillot are molded to fit each age group and are focused on making prayer relevant and meaningful for our hanichim. With the ongoing help of madrichim and other tzevet, hanichim will leave Ramah with greater abilities for synagogue participation and leadership.
All t’fillot are egalitarian.
At Camp Ramah New England, everyone is treated equally in all Jewish ritual matters. Women are counted for a minyan and are eligible to read Torah and Haftarah, and to lead all religious services and rituals. Women are encouraged to bring tallit and tefillin to camp.
Hanichim living in male identifying bunks are obligated to wear a kippah or head-covering during meals, study and prayer. Hanichot living in female identifying bunks may elect to cover their heads during those times, but they are not obligated to do so. During t’fillot on Shabbat, we require a kippah rather than a hat. For campers over the age or Bar/Bat/Brit Mitzvah, when wearing tefillin during t’fillot (prayers), one must always wear a kippah.
Hanichim living in male identifying bunks over the age of Bar Mitzvah must wear a tallit and tefillin during t’fillot on weekday and Sunday mornings, and a tallit on Shabbat morning. Hanichot living in female identifying bunks over the age of Bat Mitzvah are encouraged to do so.
Anyone, of any gender, who is leading t’fillot or participating in the Torah Service, must wear a tallit and a kippah or head-covering, which camp will provide.
On Friday afternoons, the entire camp community gathers together to welcome Shabbat through song and prayer as we daven Kabbalat Shabbat together. This is a particularly special experience, as it is one of the few times during the week that the entire camp is gathered together.
At Camp Ramah, we take seriously our commitment to Ivrit (Hebrew). We help our hanichim to expand their Ivrit abilities in many different ways, including our formal curriculum and also through singing and dancing to Israeli music, and taking extra care that certain words and phrases only be said in Ivrit. We make announcements in the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) and during t’fillot exclusively in Ivrit.
Meah Milim: We’ve put together a list of the 100 most common milim (words) that we strive to use only in Ivrit at camp. Throughout the summer, our hanichim and madrichim encourage one another to use the milim on this list exclusively in Ivrit. And the Meah Milim initiative doesn’t stop with specific words — we use this program as a catalyst for including more Ivrit in our everyday lives at camp.
Click here to read about our Meah Milim (100 Words) program and to see the complete list of milim (words).
We do not expect anyone to come to camp with these meah milim already learned or memorized. We do not want anyone to feel pressured to “study” before coming to camp! We will all be learning and working on these meah milim together at camp.
And who knows, we might just have some special swag to give to tzevet and hanichim who make great use of these meah milim this kayitz at camp!
Hanichim have a full day of activities and programs, and a good night’s sleep is essential for their enjoying camp. Therefore, it is imperative that your child understands that when lights are out at night, it is time to go to sleep and they are to remain in their tzrif. Night excursions and raids are not allowed at Camp Ramah. This policy is very strictly enforced — both for the safety of your children and the tzevet (staff-members). Hanichim who are not able to abide by this rule will not be allowed to remain in camp.
THE BOUNDARIES OF CAMP
Hanichim 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 or another senior staff-member.
With permission, hanichim and tzevet may visit the treehouse and use the trail that runs behind Tzad Bet (B-Side), from Agam HaTzafon back to K’far Nivonim. This is not allowed on Shabbat, when, in order to ensure the observance of Shabbat, no one is permitted to go beyond the Eruv.
Hanichim are NEVER permitted to go to the “train bridge” in the woods behind camp, or anywhere else off of the trail to the treehouse.
(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.)
LIVING IN NATURE
Insects and bugs — There are mosquitoes and ticks in our environment. Please send plenty of bug spray with your child. Our madrichim will remind them to apply the repellent daily. Additionally, our madrichim will remind the hanichim to self-check for ticks when they shower. Please teach your children how to do a tick self-check and encourage them to do so daily. Each tzrif has a card hanging in the bathroom reminding campers how to do the checks.
Sun — Please send your children with hats and sunscreen to prevent sunburns. Our madrichim will remind the hanichim to put on sunscreen daily and to reapply as necessary.
Tornadoes — In case of a tornado warning, we have a detailed procedure to shelter everyone in camp in one of our basements. We drill this procedure during staff week.
ANIMALS AT CAMP
No campers may bring an animal to camp.
CAMPERS WITH UPCOMING B’NAI/BN’NOT/BRIT MITZVAH
Please click here for updated information on how we support our campers with a Bar/Bat/Brit Mitzvah in the months after camp.
RULES FOR CAMPERS TRAVELING ON A BUS OR VAN
- Campers should be encouraged to utilize the bathroom prior to departing.
- Please obey your “Bus Captain” and all Ramah staff-members at all times.
- Passengers must remain seated at all times with hands and arms inside the vehicle. (This requirement to remain seated at all times may be modified, as appropriate, when traveling aboard motor coaches with toilets on board.)
- All personnel in vehicles must buckle up before the vehicle can leave camp, and remain belted until exiting the vehicle after it is parked. If applicable, persons in wheelchairs are seat-belted into wheelchairs that are in locked positions and secured to vehicles.
- Campers should be careful not to be disruptive during the bus ride (no yelling, running around on the bus, etc.). Videos and other entertainment must be quiet enough not to distract the driver.
- Do not disembark from the vehicle without the express permission of your Bus Captain.
- Do not leave any garbage on the bus.
We do not accept tipping for our staff. Tzevet at Camp Ramah are engaged in an important educational enterprise. They are dedicated to this task. If you appreciate the service your child receives at Camp Ramah, we encourage you to make a contribution to Ramah New England in honor of a staff member. All staff-members are notified of such contributions.
VISITING POLICY AND VISITING DAY & INTERSESSION
We expect to welcome full summer camper families to camp for Visiting Day. We will be sending out more details as it gets closer. This is what we anticipate now (as of May, 2023):
- Visiting Day will run from 11:30-3:00.
- We will offer a free BBQ lunch for campers and visitors.
- All visitors will need to register prior to Visiting Day, RSVP for the BBQ lunch, and will need to take an antigen test with negative results that day.
- We are restricting visitors to immediate family.
- Full summer campers and their visitors will be able to leave campus during visiting hours.