- What is the history of the Ramah camps?
- Where do Ramah Outdoors campers come from?
- Where is the camp located?
- Why do we refer to campers as chalutzim?
- What will I eat?
- Can I bring my own food to camp?
- What gear do I need to bring?
- What clothing do I need to pack?
- What does a typical day look like at Ramah Outdoor Adventure?
- I am in high school, and I love to sleep in during the summer. How am I supposed to wake up at 6:30 am?
- What does a typical session look like at Ramah Outdoors?
- What are the sleeping arrangements?
- How safe will my child be at base camp and on excursions?
- Are Immunizations Required?
- What is the Jewish education program at Ramah Outdoors?
- What about prayers?
- Are there religious requirements for participants?
- Why is Shabbat so special?
- Can I call my child when s/he is at camp?
- Can I stop by to visit when I am in the area?
- Is there a way to know how my child is doing?
- Is there anything else concerning communication I should know about?
- Can I bring my iPod, cell phone, or computer to camp?
- How will my camper get to camp?
- Additional Baggage Fees?
- How far is camp from Denver or Colorado Springs?
- Can I obtain community service hours at Ramah Outdoor Adventure that will fulfill my middle or high school requirement?
During the 1940s, The Jewish Theological Seminary established several programs to reconnect Jewish youth with the synagogue and cultivate American-born Jewish leadership. One of these programs was Camp Ramah, a program conceived by Moshe Davis and Sylvia Ettenberg of the JTS Teachers’ Institute.
The first Ramah camp opened in Wisconsin in 1947. Over the next 25 years, a network of resident camps was established. Today, in addition to the Conover, Wisconsin site, there are Ramah camps in Lake Como, Pennsylvania (Camp Ramah in the Poconos, founded in 1950); Palmer, Massachusetts (Camp Ramah in New England opened at East Hampton, Connecticut in 1953 and moved to the Palmer site in 1965); Ojai, California (Camp Ramah in California, founded in 1956); Utterson, Ontario (Camp Ramah in Canada, founded in 1960); and Wingdale, New York (Camp Ramah in Berkshires, opened in Nyack, New York, in 1961 and moved to the Wingdale site in 1965). In 1997, Ramah opened its latest overnight camp in Clayton, Georgia (Ramah Darom). In addition to these overnight camps, Ramah operates day camps in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Nyack, New York.
Today, with eight overnight camps, three day camps, and Ramah programs in Israel and Argentina, Ramah impacts more than 9,000 campers and madrichim every summer. A summer at Ramah is spent immersed in Jewish living highlighted by dynamic and innovative programming. Traditional camp and outdoor activities, including swimming, sports, dance and art, are enhanced by Ramah’s dedication to excellence in informal Jewish education. Combining a love for camping with meaningful Jewish experiences, Ramah instills in its chalutzim and madrichim a love of Judaism, the Jewish people, Israel, and the outdoors. The Ramah movement is guided by seven core values:
- Self-esteem of every individual
- Character development
- Jewish learning
- Jewish identity and community
- Jewish observance
For more information about Camp Ramah please visit http://www.campramah.org/
Ramah is a regionally based system and typically each Ramah camp draws exclusively from its own region. However, as Ramah’s first specialty camp with wider appeal, we have broadened our boundaries and draw chalutzim from throughout North America who are passionate about the outdoors and want to practice outdoor adventure in a Jewish environment. Our chalutzim come from New York, Boston, Washington DC/Baltimore, Tulsa, San Jose, Los Angeles, Houston, and many more cities across North America.
Ramah Outdoor Adventure is located at Ramah in the Rockies, a 360-acre ranch nestled in the pristine Pike and San Isabel National Forests. Ramah in the Rockies is only 90 minutes from Denver, at an elevation of 8,000 feet. The ranch is surrounded by magnificent towering mountain peaks with three mountain-fed streams running through the middle of camp. We have on-site natural climbing walls, horse stables, numerous fields for sports, and hundreds of lush, verdant acres for our chalutzim to safely explore every day. Please contact the camp office by calling (303) 261-8214 for an exact street address or driving directions.
At Ramah Outdoor Adventure we refer to our campers as chalutzim, which means pioneers in Hebrew. Ramah Outdoor Adventure prides itself on being a rustic camp in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Everyone who joins our community feels they are helping to create a new Jewish community in an area seldom settled by Jews. In addition to exploring an original homestead house on the ranch that dates from the late 1800s, throughout the summer we explore trails and fields rarely touched by humans — just like the early Western pioneers. In addition, by referring to ourselves as chalutzim, we remember those who helped develop the land of Palestine into the modern State of Israel we know and love today.
Food and Gear
At base camp, all meals are prepared in our kosher kitchen by our professional culinary staff. We believe that the food we serve and eat should reflect our environmental values. A core part of what we do is “lift the veil” on the food at camp. We aim to serve sustainable food, taking into account where food is grown, how it is made (we try not to serve anything processed) and how it affects both our budget and our bodies. Whenever possible, we try to serve organic and locally-grown foods. On overnight excursions, meals are prepared by the group and cooked on camping stoves or over open fires. All excursion meals are kosher vegetarian and enjoyed by everyone!
Please do not bring food to camp. Only food provided by our professional culinary staff in the dining hall may be eaten at camp. Ramah Outdoor adventure is not only a kosher facility, but we are also in the middle of a vast wilderness area. We are only guests on this land which is inhabited year round by an array of wildlife that would love to sample our good food. No food will ever be stored or eaten in our daily living areas, sleeping tents and bathhouses. Fear not though, we have an open snack bar available between meals with healthy options like local fruits, homemade granola, popcorn, and other goodies. Any food brought into camp by participants or sent to camp in care packages will be donated to a local food pantry. If you have any special dietary restrictions or allergies please call our office at (303) 261-8214 to discuss further.
Participants are expected to supply their own personal clothing and gear, including waterproof jacket and pants, a compact sleeping bag and hiking boots. All communal equipment, such as tents, stoves, pots and pans are provided by the camp. While we encourage participants to bring their own internal frame packs, we provide extras for those who do not want to make the investment in such equipment. A full packing list will be available to families in February 2013.
The weather in the Rocky Mountains can change hourly. Often temperatures will reach 85 degrees during the day and 45 degrees at night. Therefore, it is important to bring clothing for both the warm days as well as the cool nights. We will provide a more detailed packing list in February 2013.
This is a typical schedule for base camp:
|6:30am||Kimah (Wake Up)|
|7:00- 7:45||Teffilot (caring for our souls, morning prayers)|
|8:00-8:30||Shmirat HaGuf (caring for our bodies, morning exercise)|
|8:40- 9:50||Breakfast & Bunk Clean-Up|
|9:50- 11:00||Activity A (Activities may include: horseback riding, wilderness survival, mountain biking, ropes course/rock climbing, camping skills, wilderness arts & crafts, frisbee golf, orienteering, archery, mining, aerobics, duathlon training, sports service projects & more)|
|11:10- 12:20pm||Activity B (Activities may include: horseback riding, wilderness survival, mountain biking, ropes course/rock climbing, camping skills, wilderness arts & crafts, frisbee golf, orienteering, archery, mining, aerobics, duathlon training, sports service projects & more)|
|12:30-1:30||Lunch & Shira (Song Session)|
|1:30- 2:30||Sha’at Minucha (Rest Hour)|
|2:30-3:40||Edah learning/ projects|
|3:50-5:00||Activity C (Activities may include: horseback riding, frisbee golf, wilderness survival, mountain biking, ropes course/rock climbing, camping skills, wilderness arts & crafts, orienteering, archery, mining, aerobics, duathlon training, sports service projects & more)|
|5:00-5:45||Camp wide sports & activities including, soccer, ultimate frisbee, football, jogging, biking, yoga & meditation. This is also an opportunity for down time, showers, and quiet activity.|
|7:15-8:15||Peulat Erev (Evening Program)|
|8:15-8:45||Quiet free time|
|9:00pm||Bunk time and Laila Tov (Good Night)|
On Masa (Excursion)…
There is no such thing as a typical schedule while on excursions. Each morning begins shortly after the rising of the sun, and each day includes time for prayer, study and eating. Each excursion is so unique: One might be hiking for eight hours a day and others might spend 4 hours learning to set up a top rope course and then a few hours practicing rappelling or climbing. The goal of excursions is to master a specific set of skills that one can take home and apply in one’s own life and on one’s own adventures.
One of the magical aspects of a summer at Ramah Outdoor Adventure is that we have a chance to live in harmony with the natural cycle of the day. We rise earlier than we would ordinarily wake up in the “real world”, and go to sleep much earlier than we would at home. After a few days of adjusting our bodies to the cycle of the sun, waking early and going to sleep when it is dark becomes second nature.
Ramah Outdoor Adventure blends the best of outdoor adventure camps and traditional camps. Our older chalutzim (7th to 10th Grade) spend a significant amount of time out on the trail in small groups honing their adventure skills as well as at base camp learning a variety of skills and building a strong, and supportive larger community. Almost all Shabbatot are spent at base camp as part of this greater community. Each session begins with a few days at base camp, followed by a spirited Shabbat. Early in the week (usually Monday or Tuesday), older chalutzim leave base camp on extended excursions focused on the program area of their choosing such as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking & rafting, or rock climbing. Chalutzim return to base camp on Friday and spend the next week engaged in programs at base camp. Following the next Shabbat, chalutzim set out on their second excursion followed by a final Shabbat and week of programming at base camp. (Two week participants only experience one excursion during their time at Ramah Outdoor Adventure).
Our program for younger chalutzim (3rd to 6th grade) is designed to give chalutzim a taste of general camp life as well as a full range of adventure programming. Younger chalutzim will spend most of their time at base camp participating in outdoor adventure activities with their tent mates. By experiencing all of our base camp offerings at least once, younger chalutzim will begin to discover the magic of high alpine adventure and travelling through each activity together allows for the creation of tight bonds and friendships between campers. Younger chalutzim also venture off the ranch on several occasions for both full day excursions and an overnight trip in the surrounding wilderness areas.
Accommodations and Safety
At base camp, chalutzim sleep in large sturdy platform tents according to their gender and edah (age unit). Each tent holds up to ten chalutzim plus two or three instructors. Tents are equipped with bunk beds and cubbies for storage.
Excursions give chalutzim the chance to sleep outdoors near a mountain stream, in an alpine valley, or along the banks of a river. Our camp provides lightweight tents for all participants that hold up to five individuals.
Safety is our number one concern at Ramah Outdoor Adventure. All instructors have undergone intense staff training that includes intimate knowledge of emergency procedures, communication, and how to avoid dangerous situations. Most of our staff maintain current certification in Wilderness First Aid (20 hour course) at a minimum, and many of our trip leaders maintain certification in Wilderness First Responder (an 80 hour course). Our directors conduct regular safety and security reviews and evaluation, and work closely with local officials to make sure our safety standards and practices are the best they can be. The health and welfare of our community will always be our top concern.
All children attending Ramah Outdoor Adventure should have received the full complement of routine vaccinations as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). At present there is much confusion and misinformation in the general public about the routine vaccination schedule. Some parents have opted to defer the vaccination of their children. While individual parents may choose to defer the vaccination of their children, for Camp Ramah this is not an issue of individual rights and choice, but an issue of public health and policy. The routine vaccination of all chalutzim is an important public health matter especially in the confined environment of a sleep away summer camp. Chalutzim without all routine vaccinations will NOT be accepted.
Our madrichim (staff) are Jewish educators as well as outdoor adventure experts. They are trained to blend Jewish values and teaching into all aspects of our program. From reciting a bracha (blessing) during a thunderstorm, to framing a service project by learning a Jewish text about us being stewards of the earth, Jewish learning is woven into the fabric of our day.
Teffilah at Ramah is one of the daily highlights. We begin each morning with a Shacharit service. Sometimes we pray by edah (age group), sometimes with the whole camp, and sometimes as individuals. We believe that teffilah is a time to connect with our inner spirit as well as the Divine. We make every attempt to offer chalutzim a variety of ways to express themselves in prayer: meditative tefillot, chanting tefillot, yoga teffilot, or traditional congregational tefillot. While not every option is available each day, we ask participants to find at least one form of prayer that moves them spiritually. In the afternoons and evenings, we take time to daven a shorter Mincha and Ma’ariv service.
At Ramah, we require all participants to be Jewish. Participants are expected to participate in all religious aspects of the camp. Camp is a place to broaden one’s horizons. It is a time for religious experimentation and challenge. We encourage participants to seek out ways to deepen their religious practices throughout the summer and to find ways that they will be able to continue their religious practice in a more meaningful way when they return to their home communities. Male chalutzim over the age of 13 are required to bring a tallit (kattan or gadol) and teffilin. Girls over the age of 12 are welcome to bring their tallit and teffilin as well.
Ask almost any Ramahnik what their favorite part of the summer is, and most will answer unequivocally “Shabbat!” — A truly magical time at camp. There is no better feeling than a Friday evening when we gather together to reflect on our week and pray together as one community.
The magic begins on Friday afternoon in the heightened anticipation of last-minute preparations, as everybody rushes to clean the tents, shower, and change into their nicest white shirts and cleanest clothes. As the sun begins to set, the edot, or chalutzim divisions, collect for a few moments of quiet reflection before gathering as an entire camp for Israeli dancing and the evening services.
Friday night dinner is usually the most relaxed meal of the week. Food is eaten slower, conversations linger longer, and singing includes spirited dancing and clapping.
Shabbat day (Saturday) is a very relaxed day. Chalutzim sleep late and eat a light breakfast, followed by spirited Shabbat services. Following services is free time for the remainder of the day. When the entire camp gathers for havdallah which marks the conclusion of Shabbat – chalutzim are relaxed and motivated for another exciting week.
Communications and Electronics
Most participants adjust very quickly to being away from home. But for some, the adjustment is longer and a bit more difficult. Speaking with parents while at camp can create a situation where participants miss home and need to go through their adjustment all over again. Email or regular mail is highly encouraged from parents to their children. Although chalutzim may not email or call home, they are strongly encouraged to write home regularly (via regular mail!).
No! Parents are not allowed to stop into camp. For the same reason that we don’t allow phone calls, parent visits can be incredibly disruptive to the participants and the camp program. Please do not stop by when in the neighborhood.
Yes! We send out frequent newsletters about the progress of the camp program. We also encourage parents to subscribe to our Facebook page, which we update frequently through the summer. We also will be in contact with you should your child have adjustment issues or if there is any major news about the health or well-being of your child that you should know about. Sometimes we call just to say hi and let you know how wonderful your child is!
We are located in a very remote area of the Pike National Forest. We have a few land lines and a limited amount of bandwidth to connect to the internet. It is always best to email us directly with questions. We respond to all emails within 24 hours. That being said, for immediate attention, please call us at (303) 261-8214.
At Ramah Outdoor Adventure, we pride ourselves on being a rustic, back-to-nature camp. It is an opportunity to get away from electronic distractions of everyday life. This means NO CELL PHONES, IPODS, OR COMPUTERS ARE ALLOWED TO BE USED AT CAMP. The exception to this rule is for people who are studying for their bar/bat mitzvah who might need to practice and chalutzim who bring phones for travel day. When chalutzim arrive on the first day, we will collect all electronics, and return them on the last day of camp. Our base camp office is equipped with modern technology, which is used by senior staff to communicate with the outside world. Watches are welcome at base camp, but are left behind on excursions. Living according to the cycle of the sun can be one of the most powerful experiences of the summer!
Billing and Financial Aid
If you are requesting financial to help pay for camp, please contact the camp director, Rabbi Eliav Bock, to obtain the necessary forms. All requests are handled with the utmost level of confidentiality, and are reviewed solely by our financial aid committee. Recipients of financial assistance will receive a credit towards their final bill. All families must pay the refundable deposit before their application will be reviewed.
All applications must be submitted with a refundable $500 deposit.
All tuition must be paid in full by April 1, 2013.
Ramah Outdoor Adventure is committed to working with families who would like an alternate payment schedule or need extra time to make the final payment. Please contact the business manager, Douglas Wolf, douglasw[at]ramahoutdoors[dot]org to make special arrangements.
Until March 1, 2013 if you decide that this camp is not an appropriate fit for your son/daughter, we will refund you your tuition in full (including the deposit).
After March 1, 2013, we will only be able to issue refunds if we are able to find a chalutzim who will take the place of your son/daughter in his/her age unit.
After June 1, 2013 we will not be able to offer any refund if your child withdraws from camp.
Most of our out-of-state chalutzim fly in and out of Denver International Airport (airport code: DEN). In January 2013, we will publish a list of designated flights from major cities around the United States. These flights we guarantee a Ramah staff member will meet at the gate on arrival days and escort your child there on departure days. On arrival days all flights must arrive between 9:00am and 10:30am and on departure days all flights must leave after 1pm and before 5pm. You are welcome to book your camper on any flight realizing that your camper may not be met or escorted by a Ramah staff member but it must be within our travel window or you will encounter additional fees for private shuttles or childcare. A shuttle bus from the airport will be provided for a nominal fee as well.
Local chalutzim may either be dropped at camp or take a local shuttle bus from the Hebrew Educational Alliance in Denver, for a nominal fee.
Ramah Outdoor Adventure appreciates your pre-paying any additional fees (baggage etc.) imposed by your airline. We suggest you fly Southwest airlines to avoid baggage fees however we recognize you have a choice when flying. If you learn at check-in that you cannot pre-pay the fees for your camper’s return trip, please go to your UltraCamp account and pay the correct amount of fees to be credited on return day. To reduce confusion and prevent your child’s baggage from not accompanying them home, all fees must be pre-paid at least seven (7) days before the end of your camper’s session.
Our camp at the Ramah in the Rockies ranch is located approximately two hours from Denver International Airport, one hour and 40 minutes from downtown Denver, and one hour and 20 minutes from Colorado Springs. The drive is a scenic mix of highway and local paved roads. The last six miles to camp follow a well-maintained dirt forest service road.
YES! Every chalutzim who comes to Ramah Outdoor Adventure is required to perform some community service. When at base camp, the entire camp divides into groups on Friday afternoons and performs two hours of community service. In addition chalutzim in grades 7-10 have the option of doing daily community service as an elective as part of the regular camp program. Finally chalutzim in grade 7-10 have the opportunity to perform an entire week of community service as part of our “trail crew” masa.
The “Trail Crew” masa offers a unique opportunity to learn valuable outdoor stewardship skills while giving back to the Colorado environment. In the field, our crews partner with local conservation corps, and engage in special projects that can range from ecological restoration, to trail building, to wildlife management and even archeological excavations. Participants on these trips learn tool use and best practices in the field while gaining important skills and knowledge about environmental management and outdoor service work. For 2013 we are hoping to find an additional partner with whom we work to expand our service learning options.
At the end of the session, the camp administration is able to write community service letters on behalf of any chalutzim who makes such a request. The total number of hours, can be as little as 4 in a one month session, to as many as 50 or 60 for the same session. Each chalutzim must decide on his/her on how much community service s/he wishes to perform. Our service letters should be accepted by most middle and high schools.