In under 80 days, our first pre-camp staff will arrive at camp to begin setting up for the summer. In just over 110 days, we will welcome our first chalutzim (pioneers/campers) to kayitz 2023! We are excited to share that we are having our best return rate of campers from year to year EVER.
We have room for about 20 more campers in Kayitz 2023 with limited space in most edot (age groups). Thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word about Ramah in the Rockies to their friends and families. We are hard at work planning for the upcoming summer as we focus on program and coordinate logistics. Over the next few months, we will send out occasional program updates to keep you and your children informed about the 2023 season.
Expanded Animal Care Program
This summer we are excited to revamp our animal program. In late November, we learned that we could not rent the herd of horses from whom we have relied on for over eight years. While searching for a new herd, we used this time to reevaluate our entire farm and animal program. We reflected on the last few years and realized that only a few dozen chalutzim (about 30-40 campers each summer) leave camp saying that the equestrian program was an impactful part of their camp experience. Most of these chalutzim were in Sollelim and Bogrim who had either chosen horses as their double chug (elective activity) or participated on the horse masa (backcountry excursion). In fact, one of the top three complaints we received about our program in 2018, 2019, and 2022 was that there was not enough horseback riding. In 2021, we cut our riding program due to receiving emaciated animals from our other rental company, which resulted in us shifting our focus to animal care and groundwork. After that summer we received positive feedback about the groundwork and animal care campers did with the horses, as they felt more connected to them. We heard the same thing from campers this past summer, when we also ran a vetting chug on Shabbat to care for a few sick horses.
Based on these reflections, we are revamping and expanding our animal care program for the 2023 season to focus on three main outcomes:
- Chalutzim will interact regularly with animals as part of their camp program.
- Chalutzim will deepen their understanding of Jewish texts, values, and traditions as they relate to animal care, in particular the idea of tzar baalei chayim.
- Chalutzim will understand how being around animals and caring for them can infuse joy, purpose, and meaning in a person’s life.
To accomplish these goals, we plan to:
- Rent four horses. Chalutzim will care for these horses by tending to their basic needs, including grooming and vetting. We also will use the horses for groundwork, usually in one of our round pens. Chalutzim should not expect to ride any of them.
- Continue running our goat program by leasing nanny goats.
- Expand our chicken program by creating two chicken tractors that can be moved throughout camp and hopefully incubating eggs and raising chicks that will hatch 3-4 times during the summer.
- Begin caring for rabbits.
- Convert some of our horse space into seasonal homes for two other types of larger mammals, as well as the previously mentioned smaller animals. We are researching which types of mammals would be appropriate to bring to camp in order to help us achieve our goals. We also look forward to creating a walking path through our horse enclosure to the back of Beit Kesher.
We know that for some this is an exciting development on our animal care and farm program, and for others it is a disappointment; and yet, the challenge of finding a new herd presented us an opportunity to reevaluate our equestrian program, and we are confident that expanding our animal care program will bring more kesharim (connections) and simcha (joy) to our community.
A New Bouldering Wall
We know that our chalutzim, especially the younger ones, LOVE to use our bouldering cave. To provide more bouldering opportunities, we built a new bouldering wall to augment the ones that already exist. This new bouldering wall allows holds to be placed 10-12 feet high (about 4 feet higher than the current ones) and enables us to run two bouldering groups simultaneously, for which we are hiring additional rock climbing specialists. While we still plan to use the real rock slab for extended climbing prakim (activity blocks), chalutzim have told us over the years that they enjoy practicing their bouldering moves on walls where they spend significantly more time climbing and less time waiting to latch into a harness.
We plan to make two significant changes: (1) Sollelim and Bogrim chalutzim will attend biking (and also climbing) at the same time. This will enable us to have an advanced group and intermediate group running simultaneously, allowing us to group riders by their skill level and not just their age. (2) We are in talks to create a new pump track/terrain park north of our current biking pavilion. While we are still actively working on the details, our hope is that this park will allow riders to practice jumps and obstacles in a controlled setting with tzevet (staff) supervising the riders in a relatively confined environment. We are in the midst of designing this park and are unsure if we will have the time and funding needed to open it by the beginning of this summer. While time is something we cannot change, if you are interested in helping with a philanthropic gift to make this happen, please email Rabbi Eliav at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Ramah Medical committee has announced their guidance regarding COVID vaccines for all of our residential camps. Our medical committee has decided to follow NRC’s COVID guidelines. You can view our policy here.
- We assume that COVID will be present in our community.
- We plan to treat it like any other airborne disease, requiring anyone with a fever of 100.4 to remain isolated for 24 hours.
- We hope to mitigate the risk of serious disease by ensuring that we have a fully vaccinated and boosted community.
We will be requiring proof of COVID vaccination (2 primary series and at least 1 bivalent booster) on either the regular vaccination chart as part of your medical forms or with a copy of your child’s COVID vaccine card.
We will be holding a COVID Town Hall with our Medical Director, Dr. Ali Levine, on Monday, April 17 at 6:00pm MT. We will send a registration link in the spring.
We are excited that your child will be spending time with us this upcoming summer. We know that it is an awesome responsibility to care for children and appreciate the trust you place in us to hire appropriate staff and run a safe, fun, and educational program. We are always happy to discuss the summer with you and/or your child. Of course, if after reading this update and/or speaking with us by phone you feel that our camp program will not meet the needs of your child, especially with a significant program change as we have with our animal program, please let us know and we will issue a 100% refund if you would like to withdraw your child. We look forward to seeing our new and returning families at our pre-camp orientations, Spring Visiting Day, and Volunteer Day in the upcoming months.