About a year ago, our then program director, Daniel Buoniauto wrote a blog post entitled “A Camp Built on Good Will.” Dan described his experience spending a day on the ranch preparing for the upcoming camp season, working with a group of dedicated volunteers.
Over the past three years, I have seen time and again how a group of passionate volunteers consistently go above and beyond what is expected of them to make our camp the success it has become. In the first season, we had volunteers who donned gloves and masks to clean out aging chicken waste from the old chicken coop so that our chickens would have a clean place to live. Last year, we had groups of people who came up on two Sundays to erect fifteen canvas tents, each weighing several hundred pounds. When I drove up during the tent building with a truckload of hay that I had hauled from eastern Colorado, three people came running to the hay loft to help unload, and we had it emptied in matter of minutes.
Recently, someone asked me what area of camp I think best encapsulates what we are about at Camp Ramah in Colorado. I answered the Pardes Teffilah (literally the prayer orchard), where we conduct Friday night services each week. In 2010, the Chalutzim Hamiyasdim (founding pioneers/campers) told us we needed a large space in which the camp community could gather for prayers and other camp‑wide events. They chose a spot on the hillside near the ohelim (tents) on which to begin the construction. But rather than hire an outside construction crew, these campers began work on the project themselves. This work has been continued by nearly every camper group since. They found logs on the property to serve as supports and using both new and reclaimed wood constructed benches with their own hands to create our wonderful Pardes Teffilah. Every time I walk down the path to this space and look out on the hillside, I think about how amazing it is that our main gathering space was built by dedicated campers and staff using only basic tools and materials.
The volunteer spirit that has built our camp and the service our chalutzim offer each week to the camp community & the surrounding forest is at the foundation of who we are as a community. While we rely on professionals for the heavy lifting (like the one ton boulder we had to move from the tent area last year) and the skilled labor we need in constructing structures like our new dining deck, we continue to rely on volunteers to do basic tasks. Our volunteers love being able to help build a community in the Rockies, and we have met so many interesting people, many of whom might never have had a chance to connect with Ramah in Colorado had it not been through this experience.
For this reason, we once again want to invite friends in Colorado to join us at the ranch on Sunday May 20th and Sunday June 3rd from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. to help us prepare for the upcoming season. Some of the projects we hope to complete on these days include: planting a garden, erecting our three new camper tents, erecting our Ohel Eshel, planting 100 trees and more. If you are able to join us on either or both days, please email info[at]ramahoutdoors [dot] org. We will have a group coming from Denver and are always looking to arrange for carpools. We ask you to bring a picnic lunch for May 20th as our kitchen will not be open yet, but will be serving a hot lunch on June 3rd to everyone who is helping us that day.