Is Ramah Right For My Child?

“Thank you, Ramah Palmer for giving me the opportunity to explore, connect with, and experience Judaism in so many new ways, to meet people whom I will love forever, and for changing my life in a way I could have never imagined. Thank you for helping to make me and my children better people, for giving us a Jewish home, for helping to shape our perspective on the world, and for giving us forever friends.” Laura Elson Petshaft, Ramah parent and staff member.

“If you know me, you know that camp is my favorite place on Earth. When I arrived at Ramah for my first summer in 2010 I knew one thing, I was absolutely terrified. For one entire month I was going to be sleeping in an unfamiliar place, without my parents and surrounded by absolute strangers. What I didn’t know at the time was that camp would give me my best friends, long-lasting memories, leadership skills, inspiring role models and the best campers I could ask for. Camp especially taught me the importance of inclusion, acceptance and community. Working in the Tikvah program has changed my life and I am forever grateful for everything I have learned.” Lily Jacobson, Ramah camper and staff member

Here are answers to questions we are sometimes asked by parents wondering whether Ramah will be the right fit for their child:

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 16th, 2024. 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 16th.

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: 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: 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: 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!

Please click here to explore more FAQS and and click here to visit our Ramah Stories page to hear directly from happy Ramah campers, parents, staff-members, and alumni!