Camp Procedures & Policies
Before the hanichim (campers) arrive, all tzevet (staff) who live in tzrifim (bunks) are required to attend Staff Week. Rashei Edah & Anaf (Heads of Specialty Departments) and Yoatzot (Parent Liaisons) also attend Staff Week.
First-session and full-summer non-bunk tzevet are invited to come for Shabbat if they would like. (Please inform our office if you choose to do this.) Their two pre-camp training days begin on Sunday morning.
Second-session non-bunk tzevet come for one pre-camp training day. They are invited to come on Sunday afternoon, after Visiting Day, if they would like. (Please inform our office if you choose to do this.) Their training begins on Monday morning of intersession.
These pre-camp training days include an orientation to Camp Ramah and its standards, procedures, philosophy, and mission; training in your edah and anaf (department) for specific responsibilities; and training to develop the skills necessary to perform assignments effectively. Camp policies and regulations are also reviewed at this time, and final preparations are made for the opening of the camp season.
Staff members who need to miss any part of staff week or their pre-camp training days must receive prior approval by the CEO or the Co-Directors. You must contact one of our Co-Directors before June 1st to make these arrangements.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEARNING
Training does not end when the campers arrive. Camp Ramah New England provides an on-going training program for all levels of tzevet throughout the summer, as well as on-going opportunities for Judaic study. We will publicize learning opportunities throughout the summer.
It is expected that everyone in camp, including non-bunk specialty staff-members, will live by the camp rules and contribute to the community. This includes: participating in t’fillot, clearing their own tables in the Hadar Ochel (Dining Hall) and remaining in the Hadar Ochel until Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals) is over.
DEI and INCLUSION AT CAMP
We pride ourselves on being a warm and welcoming community at Camp Ramah. We are fortunate to have people who have many different identities and experiences who attend our camp. We have always taught these values both formally (through staff and camper training programs) and informally at camp and continue to do so. We want to make a clear statement that we are a safe, welcoming and embracing home for members of the LGBTQIA+ and racially diverse communities. Our tzevet and board of directors emphasize LGBTQIA+ inclusiveness, and we are privileged to have an increasingly broad representation from within the LGBTQIA+ community in our Ramah family.
Michelle Sugarman, one of our Co-Directors, is our director of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and implementation.
Click Here to read Rabbi Gelb’s letter on Ramah’s approach to inclusion.
As a Ramah staff member, it is your responsibility to uphold these values and work to ensure that all hanichim and tzevet are supported and included.
SHMIRA — NIGHT-TIME SUPERVISION
Night-time supervision is a critical aspect of staff responsibility. Each madrich (counselor) living in a tzrif (bunk) will have shmira (night-time supervision duties) a number of nights throughout the summer.
In order to help support our madrichim, tzevet who do not live in a tzrif will be required to occasionally assist with shmira, as well as to assist with shabbat coverage and 24-hour late-night shmira at the end of the kayitz.
When on shmira, a madrich is required to remain in their tzrif until all campers are asleep. Madrichim may go to sleep or sit on the porch after their chanichim are asleep. When sitting on the porch, the madrich must go in the tzrif to check on their campers every twenty minutes, until curfew. Short of an emergency situation and notifying the Rosh Shmira, a madrich on shmira may not leave their tzrif for any reason. When on shmira, we want madrichim to keep an eye out to make sure that all hanichim are safe, and that at the appropriate time for their edah, the kids turn off their flashlights, music, etc. and go to sleep. Madrichim need to be careful to prevent any incidents of bullying or teasing, as well as any hanich’s use of any prohibited electronic and/or internet devices.
Night-time procedures for all madrichim:
- All madrichim must be personally checked out prior to leaving their tzrif by their Rosh Edah or that night’s Rosh Shmira.
- At the end of the evening, before going to sleep, all madrichim must SIGN-IN with the Rosh Shmira. They will sign their name on that night’s form. After signing in, they must return immediately to their tzrifim.
Curfews for tzevet are established to ensure proper supervision of all hanichim and to ensure that tzevet are aware, alert and properly responsive to the needs of all hanichim.
The curfew for all tzevet (whether you live in tzrif or in staff housing) is 12 AM (although this may vary over the course of the summer). All tzevet must be back in their own tzrif or room by 12 AM, not just in camp.
LEAVING CAMP PREMISES
In general, camp staff may only leave camp for their day-off.
Leaving camp at any other time (including evenings or other off-time) is not permitted without the express permission of a senior staff-member. This applies to all tzevet, whether or not you like in a tzrif. Non-tzrif tzevet (non-bunk staff) should talk to their Rosh Anaf if they need permission to leave camp.
All tzevet must swipe their electronic I.D. card with the camp’s security guard when leaving camp, and do the same when returning to camp. Any attempt by tzevet to bypass our Guard House and leave or enter camp without swiping your electronic I.D. card is grounds for dismissal.
THE BOUNDARIES OF CAMP
“Leaving Camp” (as mentioned in the previous section, “Leaving Camp Premises”) means going beyond the basic boundaries of the campgrounds: Tzad Aleph, Tzad Bet and Machaneh Gimel.
To be more specific: hanichim and tzevet 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 and tzevet 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.)
LATE NIGHT TZRIF ACTIVITIES
Madrichim are encouraged, working in concert with their Rosh Edah, to plan periodic special events for their hanichim at night. Movie nights, late-night sports, etc., are all fun, exciting activities that the kids will remember for a long time.
Raids and pranks of any kind are not permitted. It is essential that hanichim realize that after lights out in their tzrif, they are to stay in their tzrif. Raids, pranks, or hazing rituals of any kind, at any time of the day or night, are strictly prohibited.
Camp Ramah has a strong history, and kids always love to hear about camp traditions and history from their madrichim. But tzevet must be very careful when telling stories of their camper days to their kids.
Tzevet MUST NOT tell stories to their hanichim about misbehavior they might have been involved in as a hanich or in any other way give kids the idea that it is “cool” to break camp rules or to sneak out of their tzrif at night. Similarly, tzevet must never discuss their sexual experiences with campers, neither may staff-members tell stories with any sexual content. “Ask me anything” harga’ot for the campers are strictly forbidden at camp.
Ghost stories and other scary stories are also forbidden.
With everything they do and say, tzevet must be certain they are modeling the best behavior for their hanichim. This is one of the most important aspects of being on staff: that we all work together to help our hanichim behave properly, and to take advantage of all the wonderful experiences that camp has to offer, while staying within the boundaries of our rules and guidelines.
TRANSPORTATION IN AND OUT OF CAMP
On occasion, tzevet need to leave camp to attend college orientations, medical appointments, etc. Unfortunately, camp does not always have the drivers, vehicles or time to take staff to and from bus and train stations or the airport. We will try to accommodate tzevet requests when possible, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide a ride. The driving needs of camp receive priority scheduling, and we reserve the right to cancel any scheduled ride if camp business needs arise. The following guidelines have been set to meet these needs when resources are available:
- You must request approval for your absence from one of our Co-Directors prior to June 1st.
- In the event something unexpected comes up over the summer, you must request a ride from the Misrad (main office) staff at least 48 hours in advance, and you must confirm that ride 24 hours before it is scheduled. We will help you and provide a ride if possible, but we only guarantee to provide transportation for tzevet at the start and end of their period of employment.
- Travel plans should be scheduled so that the camp driver leaves camp no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and is back at camp by 6:00 p.m. (Please allow enough time before your bus/train/plane departs). Please make sure your plans have been approved by the Misrad staff before you book anything!
CHADAR OCHEL (DINING HALL)
Camp Ramah strives to make the dining experience at camp as pleasant as possible. We rely on our tzevet to achieve this goal. A few reminders:
- Arrive on time for meals.
- Madrichim are required to check to make sure that all of their hanichim are at their shulchan (table) in the Chadar Ochel.
- Meals begin when the appropriate brachah is recited. When we are eating family-style, after the brachah, everyone must remain seated until the Rosh Edah calls out “beteyavon”.
- Hanichim and tzevet should leave their tables only when they are getting food, and should otherwise stay at their table and not wander around the Chadar Ochel.
- Madrichim are responsible for maintaining order at their table, and to ensure their hanichim are quiet when announcements are being made or a hand is raised.
- All tzevet are expected to remain at meals for their entirety, to participate in the Birkat haMazon, and to listen attentively to announcements.
- At the end of the meal, everyone at the table must clean the table and the floors under and around them. All hanichim and tzevet must remain seated at their table until they are checked out by a Rosh Edah that their table is completely clean.
- To protect the kashrut of the camp kitchen, no food may be brought into the Chadar Ochel, and no utensils may ever be taken out of the Chadar Ochel.
Please note that our Chadar Ochel staff work very hard serving six meals a day; therefore we cannot arrange for individual early or late meals.
CAMPERS IN STAFF ROOMS
Campers are not allowed in staff rooms, except for one’s own children on Shabbat only.
MONEY AND VALUABLES AT CAMP
We do not recommend that tzevet keep large amounts of money in their tzrif or room at camp. Passports, traveler’s checks and cash should be stored in lockers in our Moadon Tzevet (Staff Lounge). These items can also be stored in the safe at the Misrad. The camp is not responsible for any loss.
We have a Moadon Tzevet that is available for staff-members to use to hang out and relax. In the Moadon Tzevet, staff will find games and a TV (with Direct TV service available) and WiFi. Please take responsibility and help us keep our Moadon Tzevet clean.
There is wireless access at camp in the library complex, the Moadon Tzevet and many other staff housing areas. While we do not guarantee wireless internet access for all tzevet in their bunk/housing, we do our best to provide as much wireless access around camp as possible.
To access the camp’s wireless, you will need a password, which you can get from the Misrad staff. You may not share this password with hanichim for any reason. Hanichim are never allowed to access the internet unless supervised by tzevet for a camp program approved by one’s supervisor.
VEHICLES & BICYCLES
Insurance and safety policies prevent the use of personal vehicles on camp grounds at any time without permission from the CEO or Director of Finance & Operations. All personal vehicles must be registered with the Misrad and can only be parked in designated areas.
At no time are hanichim allowed in staff cars.
Cars may not be driven through camp. No cars are allowed to be driven into camp past the Misrad (Main Office) without the direct permission of the CEO, Co-Directors, Director of Operations & Finance, or the Director of Camper Care.
Camp Ramah’s auto insurance does not cover tzevet vehicles for any occurrences.
The speed limit in camp for all vehicles is 5 mph. Camp vehicles (vans, cars, maintenance vehicles) are for in-camp use only by those staff trained and designated to operate them.
Tzevet and hanichim must wear seat belts in passenger vehicles when they are provided.
Madrichim are not permitted to have bicycles at camp. Mumchim who do not live in a tzrif may only have a bicycle with special permission from a senior staff member. It is the tzevet’s responsibility to carefully observe all the rules of bicycle safety. Tzevet must always ride at a slow, safe speed — it is very easy for someone to get hurt by a speeding bike. Hanichim are never allowed to ride a staff member’s bicycle. Tzevet MUST wear a helmet at all times when riding a bike at camp.
Golf Carts may only be driven by senior staff members, unless given direct permission from the CEO, Co-Directors, or Director of Finance & Operations.
No tzevet may have a pet at camp without the express permission of the CEO.
Any animal in camp must always be kept on a leash. The leash may only be held by the animal’s owner – never by a camper.
Swearing or cursing, whether in anger, on a sports field or in casual conversation, does not have a place in a Jewish educational setting. We want to create a positive and healthy atmosphere in our Ramah community. Using inappropriate language sets a bad example for our hanichim, who are constantly looking to staff as role models. Also, be mindful of threats, jokes, and the way you speak to both campers and fellow staff members. Gossip, slander, talking about people behind their backs, and lashon harah is an offensive, inappropriate and un-Jewish use of language. Tzevet must make every effort to avoid this and to object when hearing it from others.
GRAFFITI & VANDALISM
All hanichim and tzevet are responsible for maintaining the physical condition of camp. Any vandalism or destruction of camp property by members of the camp community is grounds for dismissal and will result in damages assessed and charged to the staff-member. Any damage to the property, including graffiti, will be paid for by the individual(s) involved. (FYI – repainting bunks and/or bathrooms costs between $200-$800).
Fire extinguishers may never be discharged except in case of fire.
VISITING POLICY AND VISITING DAY
In general, tzevet are not allowed to have visitors at camp.
Adult tzevet are welcome to have their spouses come visit them over Shabbat. You must sign up on the “spouse list” in the Misrad by dinner-time on the Thursday before, if your spouse is coming for a visit. Also, all spouses must submit a a signed criminal record check permission form, and comply with all other camp protocols. Spouses and all visitors must be vaccinated for Covid and must take an antigen test the day they are planning to come to camp. If you are sick, stay home.
The last day of the first session is the official Visiting Day for hanichim (as well as being the end of the first session). It is a day of hard work for tzevet and they may not have visitors without the permission of their supervisor.
We have single-stream recycling available at camp. Paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminum and more can all be recycled at camp. We have recycling stations around Tzad Aleph, Tzad Bet and in the Beit Midrash.
Cell phones can be convenient – and indeed very useful in many cases – but, at camp, we want to create an atmosphere in which hanichim and tzevet can engage with one another and connect. We want everyone at camp to invest in the camp program without being distracted by the outside world. In recent years, some campers have reported that they feel their tzevet are distracted and distant because they’re always on their phones.
We have worked this off-season with veteran counselors and staff-members to develop the following guidelines regarding cell phones at camp:
- Tzevet should make every effort possible not use their cell phones in front of hanichim.
- Tzevet should not use their cell phones during aruchot (meals).
- Tzevet should not use their cell phones in the tzrif — during wake-up, nikayon, menuchah, and bed-time — except in case of emergency. Madrichim are permitted to use their cell phone in the tzrif at night, after all of the hanichim have been put to bed.
- Cell phones may not be used or carried under any circumstances on Shabbat.
We will work hard, as a camp, to make sure that supervisors are not sending any texts or WhatsApp messages to counselors during archuot or tzrif times.
ENFORCING THE CELL PHONE AND INTERNET USE POLICY FOR CAMPERS
Hanichim are not permitted to have or use cell phones at camp. Similarly, hanichim are not permitted to have or use any device that can access the internet at camp (even if the internet feature is turned off). Kindles or other e-readers that can access the internet only to download e-books are allowed; if they have any additional web-surfing functionality they are not allowed.
There are are two main reasons for these policies:
- When a hanich has a cell phone and calls home with issues, it does not allow for the child to develop the proper relationship with their madrichim. Additionally, many of these issues are momentary, and if the hanich does not have the cell phone, they will work them out and move on. Using a cell phone only exacerbates any issues a hanich might be having.
- Our children are immersed in a never-ending fast-paced technological world. Being at camp is a gift that allows them to experience life at a different pace and in different ways. Devices that can access the internet and play games or watch movies are a distraction from the camp experience.
We need our tzevet to help us enforce these policies! Madrichim are required to be on the look-out for hanichim with cell phones and/or devices that can access the internet. If a hanich has a cell phone or a device that can access the internet, they will be confiscated and returned to that hanich at the end of the summer.
Our madrichim are on the “front lines” of helping us to create the type of atmosphere that we want to create at camp. We expect vigilance in these areas from our tzevet.
LIVING IN NATURE
We are blessed to have a beautiful hundred-plus acre facility with a forest, river and lakes. Living in nature brings some possible situations about which we want to make sure you are aware. We cannot list every scenario, but here are a few things that we think are important to share.
Bats — Bats are a normal part of nature and eat many mosquitos. There are specific guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in regard to bat exposure.
Here are the three scenarios in which the Massachusetts state epidemiology office (using CDC guidelines) routinely recommends rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP):
- When someone sees a bat bite or scratch on themself.
- When someone wakes up and finds a bat flying in their room, since bites can be “silent” and the presence of a bat in the room is not theoretical.
- When a bat is found in a room with an infant/young child/person with a disability, since that individual cannot give a reliable history regarding possible exposure.
In the event a bat is discovered in a tzrif, madrichim must remove all hanichim immediately and contact senior tzevet without delay.
We continue to contract with Braman Pest Control, a southern New England company in business for over 120 years, and their bat specialist, to inspect our bunks in the fall and spring to ensure as best as possible that that there are no nests in the bunks and that there are no holes into which bats might be able to enter.
Insects and bugs — There are mosquitoes and ticks in our environment. Madrichim must remind our hanichim to apply bug repellent daily. Additionally, madrichim must remind the hanichim to self-check for ticks when they shower.
Sun/heat — Before leaving the tzrif for breakfast and also after menuchah (rest time after lunch), madrichim are to encourage their hanichim to apply sunscreen and bug spray, wear a hat, and take a water bottle.
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.