We are excited that camp is around the corner! As we prepare to welcome our kehillah kedosha (holy community) back to the chava (ranch), we want to take a moment and remind our community that we are committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our campers and staff.
In the spring of 2022, we announced our participation in the Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children campaign (see here) and shared our safety policies and procedures with the community. Aleinu is a program of Sacred Spaces that empowers Jewish youth-serving organizations to review their protocols, training, and reporting procedures regarding child protection, and ensure each organization has a comprehensive child safety plan in place. We receive the education and practical tools we need to help prevent child maltreatment and take responsible action should reports or suspicions of maltreatment emerge. Aleinu provides us access to groundbreaking resources for learning about child maltreatment, implementing abuse-prevention strategies, and meeting standards for child safety.
In our effort to lead with best practices, we formed a Child Safety Committee this past year consisting of Ramah Rockies professional staff and lay leadership, including parents, clergy, and mental health professionals, who meet monthly to review and strengthen our practices and policies. The committee has been working over the past few months and collaborating with our year-round team to:.
- Create a recommended pre-camp family conversation guide
- Clarify protocols and policies on reporting abuse that happens at camp vs outside of camp
- Evaluate and improve our staff training to better educate staff on updated protocols and policies and how to respond in a given situation
- Assess and implement communication on safety policies and protocols with guests who visit our property while camp is in session
- Create opportunities for community dialogue by sharing our policies as we prepare for camp
We also would like to share updated policies we are implementing starting this upcoming summer that are in alignment with our value of kavod (honor; respect) and best practices for child safety.
Over the Counter (OTC) Medications
Policy: ALL CAMPER MEDICATIONS MUST BE TURNED INTO THE MIRPA’AH (INFIRMARY) UPON ARRIVAL.
Reasoning: It has come to our attention that a number of our older campers have been hiding OTC medications in their bags and taking them throughout the summer instead of coming to sick call. This is a violation of Colorado childcare policies. Campers in need of OTC meds will have the option of asking one of the senior Camp Wellness professionals as well as the MDs/RNs for a Tylenol, Advil, or some other over the counter medications. Please do NOT send these medications with your child to keep in their bags.
Policy: Only one person is allowed to be in a hammock at a time.
Reasoning: Hanging out in a hammock is a great way to relax, but only one person is allowed to be in a hammock at a time. This rule is designed to protect everyone’s physical safety by decreasing risks for falling or the hammock breaking. This rule is also designed to decrease the risk of any inappropriate touching between two people while in a hammock, where visibility from the outside is obscured. We encourage chalutzim to set up hammocks next to each other so they can socialize while enjoying the hammock.
Laying in Beds
Policy: Only one person can lie on a bed at a time.
Reasoning: While wonderful bonding can happen among chalutzim in the bunk that involves sitting on each other’s beds to talking, playing card games, etc., only one camper should ever be laying down in a bed at a time. This rule is designed to cultivate physical and emotional safety among all chalutzim who understand that their physical boundaries in their own bed is vitally important. This policy also shows kavod, respect, to other bunkmates who may feel confused by or uncomfortable with peers laying down in a bed together.
Please review our community safety policies with your child here.
Last week we shared the Recommended Pre-Camp Family Conversations guide with our community (view it here). We believe that campers have the highest potential for a successful summer when families collaborate with us on camper goals and expectations. In an effort to reinforce the values of Ramah in the Rockies, this guide serves as a supplement to our Camper Readiness Guide to highlight camper expectations for the summer. We encourage you to consider the questions in the guide and talk through the themes with your child prior to the first day of camp, regardless of age and number of summers at camp.
We are also offering families a specific session on navigating these pre-camp conversations with their child, facilitated by Zach Usmani, Summer Assistant Director, and Talia Horowitz, Director of Camp Wellness, THIS Monday, May 8, 2023 at 6:00 PM MT. You can register for the event here and reach out to Talia at email@example.com with any questions.
When chalutzim arrive at camp, we review a number of safety policies and procedures like where to gather in case of fire and how to react if they see a bear. In the same vein, our camp wellness team will also be meeting with each bunk to review many of the conversations and expectations we shared in the Recommended Pre-Camp Family Conversation guide, including behavioral expectations, consent, and our safety policies (while also explaining why). This is designed to ensure that our campers know who they can go to for support and that they understand our community safety policies.
We value the trust and faith our families place in us with caring for their children each summer, and we hope that each of you will collaborate with us in this project to safeguard our kehillah kedosha. We will keep the community updated on our work, and we hope sharing our safety policies and procedures now will continue to ensure that camp is a safe and sacred space for children, staff, and our entire community. Please contact Mirit Sands, Director of Camp Life, if you have questions, feedback, or are interested in joining or supporting the committee in the future.