Q: How do I know if my child is ready for camp?

A: Every child is different, and we are happy to have an individual conversation with you to discuss your child. Generally, we find that it’s helpful for children to have had a handful of successful sleepovers or other overnight experiences at the home of friends or family members before coming to camp. Your child’s enthusiasm for the idea of camp is also important; when kids are excited about the idea of camp, that’s usually a good sign that they are ready. At the same time, we advise parents to remember that it’s normal for kids to have some nervousness or anxiety about coming to camp. We are very intentional about how we plan and structure the critical first few days of camp, so that kids have fun, start making friends, and feel safe. After only a few days at camp, most kids start to feel at home!

Q: What if I'm not sure we can afford camp?

A: In partnership with local communities, we are committed that no child will be denied the Ramah experience due to financial need. Sources of possible financial assistance include your synagogue and local Jewish Federation. We encourage you to consult with your Rabbi or Federation regarding these scholarships. As a supplement to this assistance, scholarship funds are available from Camp Ramah in New England. Scholarship applications are available in November through FACTS Management, Grants and Aid Assessment Service here.

Scholarship Applications are due by January 18th, 2020. At that point, the scholarship committee meets to begin to disburse the available funds and will continue to do so until funds are spent. We reserve some funding for new campers who apply after January 15th.

You must submit a camper application before requesting a scholarship application from us.

We also offer payment plans.

We don’t want any camper to miss out on a Ramah summer due to finances. Please refer to the Dates & Rates page of our website for more information about payment and scholarship. Please feel free to contact our office for more information.

Q: How many kids and staff are in a bunk?

A: The vast majority of our bunks have 12 to 14 campers, and 2 or 3 counselors. The counselors live in the bunks with the campers. (There aren’t separate counselor rooms.) As a general rule, our largest bunk is 16 campers and our smallest is 8, but those are outliers.

Q: What does a bunk look like? Are there bathrooms and showers in the bunk?

A: Please click here to take our virtual tour, which includes 360-degree panorama views of two bunks! Our bunks are all slightly different shapes and sizes from one another, but most follow the same general lay-out: A covered front porch that’s a nice hang-out area; an open central area inside the bunk; wooden bunk-beds around the periphery of the interior, with shelves next to each bed; additional shelves towards the back or on the side for extra sheets/towels/etc. as well as areas for hanging clothes; a bathroom in the back of the bunk, containing 3-4 sinks, 2 toilet stalls, and 2 showers.

All beds and shelves are assigned before camp begins, so no one has to rush to arrive early to pick their spots. Parents can request top or bottom bunks for their child in the spring, if your child has a preference. Counselors decorate the bunk before the campers arrive with signs and posters and fun labels for all of the kids’ beds and shelves. Also waiting for every camper when they arrive, on their bed, is a camp t-shirt and a camp laundry bag with their name on it. (The laundry bags are returned to our laundry service company at the end of the session.)

Q: If my family is not religious, will my child still fit in at camp?

A: Absolutely yes! The beauty of camp is that our program works for campers of all backgrounds. We have some campers at Ramah who come from very secular homes, and some who come from very observant homes, and everywhere in between. About 46% of our campers attend Jewish day schools, about 48% attend public schools, and about 6% attend other private schools. And yet, there is no division of any kind at camp between, for example, day school and public school children. There are opportunities for everyone to learn and grow and shine.

Ramah is a Jewish educational institution; central to our mission is our goal of teaching campers about Judaism — Jewish and Israeli history, culture, music, Hebrew, t’fillot (prayer), and so much more. And yet, this is all done at camp in subtle ways, woven in with the incredible fun that campers have every day with their friends at camp. It doesn’t feel intrusive or overwhelming. Campers have a great time at camp and, hopefully without even realizing it, they absorb so much that they have learned.

We have t’fillot (prayers) every morning.  These are designed to be inclusive and welcoming to all, regardless of whether one comes to camp familiar with the prayers, or not knowing any of them at all. We focus on teaching the kids the prayers: the tunes, the meaning of the words, the choreography of the service.  Our services are filled with ruach (spirit/energy) and lots of singing, so that the experience is fun and interesting for our campers! Each edah (division — grade-level) at camp has t’fillot on their own, so that we can tailor the t’fillah experience for the campers in each specific age-level.

Q: My child doesn't speak Hebrew. Will my child be lost at camp?

A: Not at all! Please see our answer to the above question. Some campers come to camp knowing a lot of Hebrew, some come knowing a little Hebrew, and some come knowing none at all. Camp works and is welcoming for all kids, regardless of the level of Hebrew knowledge they start with. There is no homework required for campers before camp; you don’t need to worry about your child learning Hebrew words before the summer in order to succeed at camp — that is not at all necessary! As with everything we do, we structure our program to be opening and welcoming, and to meet kids where they are.

We use a lot of Hebrew milim (words) at camp — there is a lot of Hebrew that is woven into the fabric of daily life at camp. But we create an environment where this doesn’t feel scary to kids, or like a barrier. Instead, kids simply absorb a lot of Hebrew as they live their daily life at camp, enjoying all of our activities with their friends. Hopefully, most kids won’t even realize this is happening. It’s just that, for instance, most camp programs/locations/etc. are called by a name that’s in Hebrew — so as kids learn their way around camp, they’ll learn that that building over there is the Chadar Ochel (the Dining Hall); that fun program after dinner is a Peulat Erev (evening activity), and so forth. That’s just what they are! Most campers won’t give this a second thought, but the end result is that they will leave camp with so much more Hebrew knowledge than they had when they started!

Q: My child attends a Jewish day school. Will my child be tired of 'all the Jewish stuff' if they come to camp?

A: Camp a wonderful environment from campers who come to us with a high level of knowledge and experience and/or spend the year studying at a Jewish day school. (In a similar fashion, the previous two questions and answers described how welcoming and open camp is for campers who come without extensive Jewish knowledge or experience.) There is no barrier at camp between the day school kids and the public school kids.

Judaism at camp is FUN and it is COOL. Camp doesn’t feel like ‘just more Jewish school’ to the kids. Most of our campers tell us that they build an entirely different way of connecting to their Jewish lives and their Jewish identity at camp. There is something incredibly powerful and transformative about spending the summer living a Jewish life with other Jewish friends from all over.

For campers who are interested, there are many opportunities at camp for them to continue learning and building upon their day school experiences! Campers can take on greater leadership roles in t’fillot (prayers); older campers can sign up for advanced Beit Midrash sessions, studying with the incredible array of scholars who work on staff at camp; and lots more.

Q: Can campers request a friend to be in the same bunk?

A: Yes, each camper may request up to three friends who are in the same grade-level and are attending the same session of camp. We guarantee to place every camper with at least one request (and we always try our best to give more). Bunk requests can be submitted through our on-line system, in the spring. All requests must be made by completing that on-line form. Our Director of Camper Care is always available to speak with parents who would like to discuss a specific bunking question or request in more detail.

Q: Is camp able to accommodate my child’s food allergies?

A: Most likely, yes! We have an incredible kitchen staff and we work closely with our camp families to accommodate the dietary needs of all of our campers and staff. Many of our campers have various dietary restrictions, from lactose intolerance to gluten and egg allergies, and more. If there are other special dietary needs, parents may alert us so that we can ensure that your child receives all the special accommodations that he/she requires. Our Director of Camper Care is happy to discuss this with any parents who have questions about what we can support at camp.

Our camp’s kitchen is completely nut and peanut-free.

All potential allergens are posted on a digital allergy board in the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) before every meal.

Q: Is there a doctor on site?

A: Yes, our camp’s mirpa’ah (health center) is staffed 24 hours-a-day by a doctor and multiple nurses who live on site at camp. Camp physicians staff sick-call hours daily and are always on-call.

Q: What if my child requires medication while at camp?

A: We work with ‘Pack My Rx’, a pre-packaging medication company that has been serving the camping industry for many years. They provide the convenient service of dispensing, packaging and shipping medications directly to summer camps. The use of this programs helps our health center staff to ensure that your child gets the correct medication and the right dose at the right time.

All camper medications and vitamins are stored at and dispensed from our health center.

Many campers and staff visit our health center to receive daily medication. There is no stigma attached to this at camp!

Q: Is there security at camp?

A: The security of our campers and staff is of paramount importance to us. Security has been an ongoing process over many years at camp, and we make changes as warranted each year. Common sense dictates that we don’t reveal all of our measures or every detail on a public website, but here is some information:

The annual process for reviewing our security policies and procedures involved our entire organization, including site-specific reviews of our location and program.  Members of our senior staff attend multiple security briefings and trainings each year, as provided by local Jewish federations, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, camp director groups, the National Ramah Commission, the American Camp Association, the Massachusetts Association of Camps, the Anti-Defamation League, and others. Additionally, we meet regularly with our local law enforcement officials and our security company, Securitas.

Our summer staff is trained and drilled on our security procedures and emergency procedures. Our local law enforcement (the Palmer police department) continue to help us by reviewing our training and drilling procedures and working through different scenarios and communication protocols with our staff.

The Palmer police do routine patrols around our camp when camp is in session. The local police take measures, each year, to make sure that its officers know our facility. This includes the K-9 units conducting training at our facility during the off-season.

Our front gate is manned 24-hours a day by a uniformed officer from Securitas, a company that works with schools and camps across the United States. No one is allowed access to our facility who has not been cleared by our main office staff.

Camp staff wear photo ID cards at all times. Visitors to camp are given visitor badges which they must display at all times.

Q: What is a typical day like?

A: We encourage you to look at the sample daily schedule on pg. 4 of our New Camper Magazine!

Q: What happens if my child is unhappy at camp?

A: It is normal for some campers to experience homesickness at the start of the summer, or to have moments of sadness or difficulty even in the midst of an otherwise fantastic summer. Our wonderful counselors are well-trained in how to help guide campers through these normal moments. We focus on listening to the campers, engaging with them, and helping them to allow themselves to re-join the group or the program. In all of this, our counselors are assisted and supported by our adult staff-members. This includes our senior staff (CEO, Director of Camper Care, Assistant Director, and more), as well as our yoetzot, the adult attached to each edah (division — grade-level). Our yoetzot meet regularly with our counselors to review every camper in their care; this helps us to ensure that we know, in real time, how every camper at camp is doing, and what if anything extra can be done to help us give them the best possible summer camp experience. In more serious situations, our yoetzot and other senior staff-members will get involved personally, guiding and coaching our counselors and also, when needed, getting directly involved with the individual camper(s).

Q: How do campers get to camp?

A: Campers arrive by car, bus and airplane. Many local families drive their child(ren) to camp at the start and end of each session. We staff a flight at the beginning and end of each session from BWI (Baltimore/Washington airport) to BDL (Bradley airport in Hartford, CT). Ramah staff-members are there to greet campers (and parents) at the airport and accompany and help entertain the kids on their flight to camp. Campers often fly to/from Bradley airport from other locations as well. Ramah parents will receive instructions on when to book flights to/from BDL. All campers and staff are then transported from Bradley airport to camp by bus. When they arrive at camp, additional staff-members (along with an excited group of kids!) are there to greet the bus and to help the campers find their bunks and settle in.

Campers from Israel and other international locations can book flights to/from Logan airport in Boston.  We will pick them up from Logan and return them to Logan at the end of their camp session, accompanied by Ramah staff-members.  Additionally, we have a chaperoned flight from/to Israel at the start and end of the second session.

Q: How do I communicate with my child while they are at camp?

A: Parents are encouraged to write letters and to sign up for our free email service. Postal mail and email messages are delivered 5 days a week to campers. Guest email accounts can be set up for relatives, so that they too can e-mail campers.

Q: Can I visit camp before I enroll my child?

A: Yes! We offer a Prospective Family Day during the summer. This is a great day for interested campers and their families to come tour camp, meet with our senior staff, and for children to participate in some of our camp programming! We also offer personal tours on other days during the summer. Please contact info@campramahne.org for more information. Please also feel free to contact Josh Edelglass, our Assistant Director, or Lori Fish Bard, our DC-Area Liaison.

Q: Can I visit my child during the camp season?

A: There is a scheduled visiting day at the end of first session for full session campers. All visitors to camp on days other than Visiting Day require the approval of the Camp Director. We will only be able to accommodate a request for a visit under very compelling circumstances and well in advance of the visit date. Although most visits to camp are disruptive to the program and the campers, we provide the opportunity for a limited number of Shabbat guests in order to let parents and others experience the magic of Ramah. Rooms in the guesthouse at Camp Ramah are available for families and other guests who wish to visit overnight or stay for Shabbat. Please call the office to request a reservation in the guesthouse. Approval of your request is subject to the Director’s discretion and room availability.

Q: What should my child pack when coming to camp?

A: Feel free to use this Suggested Packing List when packing your child for camp!

Q: Is Ramah accredited by the American Camp Association?

A: Yes, we are a proud member of the ACA — the American Camp Association — and we are fully accredited by them. This process involves annual reviews of our policies and procedures, and an extensive camp visit and review of all policies, procedures, communications, and more, which is conducted every three years.

Q: Where can I find directions to Camp Ramah in New England?

A: Directions to camp can be found here.

Q: Where can I find a guide to Ramah's edah (division) Hebrew names and their corresponding grade?