Participation and Behavior Expectations

May, 2024

Summer is quickly approaching, and we are very excited for the incredible experience that awaits our campers.  

The health and safety of our campers is our primary focus. For all the magic of Ramah to happen, everyone needs to be on the same page. I want to directly address the expectations of each camper for this summer and make both campers and parents aware of some specific issues. Further information will be sent out in our Family handbook in the coming weeks.  

It may seem that participation and safety are two distinct topics. In fact, each camper’s full participation in the program is key to their own safety and the safety of others. Proper supervision of campers takes place when they are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. Every time a camper is not “with the program” it means staff need to be diverted to locate them or be with them 1:1. Camp staffing is designed to supervise and care for campers participating in the program.  

 Campers need to participate in the entire program and take responsibility for themselves. When you decide to come to camp you are opting in to the entire experience including attending and participating in all activities, participating respectfully in religious services or study, and being where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Full participation both ensures the highest-level experience and is part of camper safety. Campers are kids and we are not expecting perfect behavior, but we are expecting campers to be able to participate in our program fully, attend all their activities, be at all meals, be on time to curfew and stay within the physical parameters of camp. Campers who demonstrate that they cannot respectfully participate in the full program and be positive members of our Ramah community will be sent home. 

We have been blessed to have had a very safe community at Ramah, and we have also heard from industry leaders and educators some troubling trends in how campers treat each other. We think it is important to talk about these issues prior to camp: 

  • Playing games that involve someone having control or power and include penalties or punishments are very dangerous. We have heard from other camps and schools about a game called “silent football” where when someone loses, they submit to a punishment from the “commissioner” of the league. This leads to social power being used to bully some kids and grossly inappropriate punishments that sometimes include physical and/or sexual abuse. Because it is a “game” and kids want to be accepted, they often suspend their judgement and submit to this. It is important to tell your kids that any actions that include bodily fluids being put on others, that include nudity, physical pain, demeaning activities, EVEN IF AGREED TO, are wrong. We have heard about kids who come in last in fantasy football leagues having to submit to some awful punishments. You should ask your kids about social activities they are involved in, if they play any games that are “secret” or involve consequences, etc. Talk to them about it multiple times and let them know your expectations. 
  • Many kids are getting horrible ideas and information from the internet and social media on how to act, treat others, sexual morals and false information. Although one of the best things about camp is no internet, sometimes campers bring those ideas to camp and make bad choices. Families, please discuss with your campers the need to treat every person with respect and kindness. We will work to reinforce this message at camp. We will not accept behavior that is harmful to others.  
  • Destroying property. There is a disturbing trend at our camp and nationally that children feel the need to punch holes in walls, pull paper towel holders off the wall, ruin property with graffiti and similar things. Some of these things are tik tok challenges they have seen or bad decision making by campers. There is a disconnect between how much children say they love camp but are also willing to vandalize camp. We will not tolerate this behavior and we will charge families for vandalism. 

This note is meant to set both behavior and participations expectations for the summer so that every camper can have a great and safe experience. We love our campers and our camp community and want to help everyone get the most out of Ramah. Please click here to electronically sign that you and your camper agree to and understand the participation and behavior expectations at camp.  

L’hitraot B’Palmer,  


Rabbi Ed Gelb (He/Him) 

CEO, Ramah New England