The Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute (JOLI)
|Session 1||June 18 – July 16||
|Session 2||July 19 – August 14|
Please check our Dates and Rates for updated availability.
PLEASE NOTE: Starting in 2019 participation in JOLI will be contingent upon the successful completion of our new 10th grade edah (age group). Additionally, all applicants will be asked to write an essay and be interviewed by one of our staff, to ensure the program is the right fit for each applicant.
The Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute (JOLI) at Ramah in the Rockies trains Jewish teens (entering 11th &12th graders) to become competent and confident outdoor leaders. JOLI participants spend about half of their time living alongside others on the Ramah in the Rockies ranch, and half of their time backpacking through the Rocky Mountains backcountry. Participants live in their own tent with a counselor but share facilities with chalutzim at Ramah in the Rockies.
What is the goal of JOLI?
JOLI is an intensive Jewish Leadership program. It is the culmination of the Ramah in the Rockies experience, wherein participants learn both soft skills, those being leadership and communication skills, and hard skills, those being outdoor survival skills. In addition to backpacking and spending time on the ranch, or chava, participants also have the opportunity during their third and fourth weeks to practice as future counselors (madrichim) or specialists (mumchim) at the base camp. The combination of the elements leads to a most unique and intensive experience. The expertise acquired and the character built during the JOLI program transcends beyond the time spent in Colorado. And, even more so than any other program at Ramah, JOLI infuses Jewish texts, values, and traditions seamlessly into all aspects of the experience.
While first time participants are welcome (and about 20% of our participants are usually with us for the first time), the program is geared towards those who have been campers at Ramah in the Rockies in previous summers.
Is JOLI the same as our 10th Grade Program?
Absolutely not! JOLI chalutzim have far more opportunities to be leaders than our other chalutzim do. This is true on masa’ot and also at the chava. Not only are the masa’ot more challenging, and take place in areas of Colorado where we do not usually send our younger chalutzim, but they are designed to teach chalutzim how to navigate and survive in the alpine wilderness. In fact, the second masa is entirely led by the JOLI participants, with the madrichim present only if real emergencies arise. Additionally, at the chava, JOLI participants spend more learning advanced training in Wilderness First Aid, apprenticing in a specific program area, planning their own peulot, and even acting as counselors-in-training for the younger chalutzim.
What are some of the highlights of JOLI?
When speaking with JOLI graduates, they often say the whole month was a highlight! Drill down into this statement and a few consistent answers emerge: spending twelve hours alone in the woods on the daytime solo; planning and executing their own masa; being captains & judges for Yom Sport; working with the younger campers and knowing that you are having a profound effect on them; developing deep relationships with the other JOLImers; apprenticing in a specific program area and really experiencing what it is like to be a tzevet member.
What is the general JOLI Schedule?
- Week One – Focuses on Wilderness First Aid training and learning the basics of leadership and community building. Expectations around communication are established as the group spends time getting to know each other on a deep level. And of course, general outdoor skills, including gear maintenance, are reviewed along with a trial overnight.
- Week Two – Focuses on the six day masa. The goals of the masa are for chalutzim to understand what leadership means in the outdoors. Soft skills and hard skills are perfected. The masa will push participants to the limits of their comfort zones and teach participants how to make decisions in pressing situations. A day and a night solo hike are part of this experience, which are usually the most intense programs of the whole summer. Participants will be able to articulate their own leadership qualities by the end of this week in the back-country.
- Week Three – Focuses on the chava experience. Participants can choose to spend the mornings apprenticing in a specific program area or working with the younger chalutzim as CITs. There is also time for daily JOLI Jewish learning. In the afternoon, JOLI participants have one perek where they can be regular participants in program areas, along-side their Bogrim friends. By the end of the week, chalutzim begin planning for week four, which takes up most of their time. Participants have the opportunity to put all their newly acquired skills to the test.
- Week Four – During the final full week of the session, participants either spend five days on an adventure masa or remain at the chava as CITs for the younger chalutzim. Those who choose the adventure challenge take turns leading their peers from sun-up to sun down, with the madrichim coming along to provide simulations, guide some of the more tricky biking parts of the trips and be available in case of an emergency. Usually this week includes an alpine start to climbing one or two 14,000 foot mountains. Those who choose the CIT route are full-fledged members of the edah staff, and are expected to co-lead the three day back packing trips or overnights for the youngest chalutzim.
- Everyone returns to the chava for Shabbat and the final two days of the session!
There is so much more to say about JOLI. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with any of us on the year round team to discuss your options. And of course, if you want to be in touch directly with any JOLI participants from previous years, let us know and we will give you their contact information. We promise you will be hard pressed to find anyone who did JOLI who regrets that decision, or who would say anything less than “it was the most amazing experience of my life!” Our dates and rates are here. To register, click here.
To Apply to the JOLI Program
Please email Rabbi Eliav Bock, Camp Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All participants to Ramah in the Rockies must complete a short application and undergo an interview. For more information, you may also call (303) 261-8214 x104.
Upon completion of the CampMinder application, please also take time to write the JOLI application essay.