The reader of this blog (I am assuming that there is at least one) might think that I just decided to close up shop, as I have not posted in three weeks. However, despite my recent absence from the blogosphere, I am still doing well and Ramah Outdoor Adventure is still very much around. I am actually writing this at 30,000 feet somewhere between Denver and Austin. Dina and I were out in Denver for a few days looking for a place to live when we move out there in June, and I am headed to Austin for a Shabbat with friends and then two days of meeting people in the Austin Jewish community on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday, I return to JTS for my final week of classes as a Rabbinical School student! Read more

Creating Institutional Memory:

I am on my way back to Denver after spending last week visiting two summer camps. One of the great parts of having this grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation is that I have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the camping field. While I have spent many years working in camps (mostly Ramah camps), it is a totally different experience to walk into a new place with an eye towards learning from another camps successes and trying to avoid their short comings. Read more

I just came in to Denver for a few hours to restock our food, but wanted to write a quick blog post to update everyone on our training week.

In short, it is going amazingly well! As of Sunday night, we had 17 participants and staff on site. We hail from 10 states including Arizona, Texas, Oregon, New York, South Carolina and Massachusetts. At the airport almost no two participants knew each other. When they set out on their 3 day excursion in the national forest yesterday, there were long hugs and lots of “we will miss you” and “can’t wait to see you Friday!” It was as though we had known each other for years. Read more

We at Ramah Outdoors are gearing up for our first staff training session which begins on Sunday. I am heading o the Ranch this Friday with 3 other leaders for Shabbat before heading to the airport on Sunday to pick up all the participants. I thought I would post the letter I just wrote to the participants which gives a little insight into our last minute preparations.

Remember if you are in the area on August 9th, please join us on the Ranch for an open camp day!! Read more

I just returned from an amazing 36 hours at the Ramah Rockies Ranch. I had been there twice before, although never in the growing season. Wow, what a magical place! Although I have been telling people for some time that he ranch is 385 acres, I did not quite realize how big that was until I spent the better part of yesterday exploring the trails on the ranch only to realize there were so many more to walk when it was time to cook dinner. (By comparison, the ranch is a little less than half the size of Central Park! It took me about 5 years to really get to know Central park. I hope it does not take me as long to know the ins and outs of this place) Read more

As things heat up here I will be returning to more regular blog posts so long as I am near an internet connection which is not something I take for granted out here:

Greetings from Denver:

I finally had a chance this week to get out into the Rocky Mountains! On Sunday I left the city to drive two hours to the Arkansas river near Buena Vista. Lindsay and I camped along the water and in the morning hopped on a rafting trip run by Noahs Ark . It was an amazing day! Read more

This weeks blog posting is VERY short. I am sure I am not the only one who gets odd looks when I say I involved in creating a Jewish camp focusing on outdoor adventure. People sometimes think I am crazy when I tell them that our camp will be have a primitive base camp, and that this is one of our selling points! I truly believe that teens will flock to a program that encourages them to get away from the technology they have become so tuned into the rest of the year.

So it is in this vain that I came across this song entitled “Jews Don’t Camp


I returned yesterday from another Foundation for Jewish Camp conference in NJ. I have to say, that these conferences are actually pretty interesting. For the most part, the sessions are useful and informative. For example, this past week we spent a day learning about recruiting and marketing. We also spent a day learning about presentation skills and practicing delivering our camp “pitch.” We worked most of the day with a guy who coaches people in the business world on how to hone their speaking styles. We also had sessions on exciting topics like data bases, internet access, and setting up a phone network. These are issues, that I do not usually think about in Rabbinical School, but clearly are important for me to learn in my job at Ramah Outdoors.

Although I am sure that the reader would love to hear more about the databases and the pros and cons of each, I thought that I would instead blog about a movie we saw called Jesus Camp. Jesus Camp is a truly petrifying documentary about the use of Camp and experiential education in the Christian Evangelical movement. If you have not seen this movie, I would say that it is a MUST SEE. It is not exactly the curl up with the pop-corn type of movie, but the questions it raises are important for any American to ask, and especially those who believe strongly in the power of summer camp. Read more

People are often surprised when I tell them that I never went to Jewish camp as a child. As a student at an Orthodox Day School and growing up in an observant family, my parents wanted me to get other experiences during the summers, and so I spent four summers in Boy Scout camp. For me, Boy Scout camp was a chance to do what I loved doing most—being in the outdoors and exploring nature. We use to spend most of our day at camp working on different Merit badges. A required one for all scouts was the Environmental science badge. The only requirement I remember from this badge was that I was required to go into the woods and sit alone for few hours. The goal was to be at one with nature, observing the sounds, feels and smells of nature. I have a distinct memory of walking away from my camp site one day—only a few hundred meters- and sitting there for the afternoon, listening smelling and observing. Nature came alive in a way I had not fully appreciated. I came alive in a way I had never experienced. Read more

Greetings from Boulder Colorado! I am sitting here at my friend’s house, in Boulder watching the snow come down. So far there are about 6 inches. Ordinarily not such a big deal, except that I came out to Colorado with no boots(!!) and I have a tiny car that will probably act more sled than car when I try to leave here:-)

I am spending the week out in Denver/ Boulder area meeting members of the community and making contact with potential stakeholders. I want to write about one amazing experience I had on Friday up at the Lost Valley Ranch. Read more

Today is my first day back in NYC after a few days down in Atlantic City at the ACA Tri State (American Camping Association) conference. Tri-State is the biggest camping conference in the world and happens annually in March. Technically Tri State is meant for camp professionals in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in reality, the 3000 professionals come from all over the country (and even the world) to take part in this conference. Yesterday I met one person who flew in from Israel for Tri-state. Read more

Today is the Ides of March, and it seems like only yesterday that I wrote my last real blog. Of course it was more like six weeks ago that we stopped servicing our original website in favor of building a new one. For the past five days we have had a small group of people testing the new site and we are ready to have the next group of people join. So if you are reading this blog, you are probably on our new site!

Today’s post will serve as an update for those who do not live in my head and who want to know where we are in the process of establishing Ramah Outdoor Adventure: I will continue later in the week with more theoretical questions I am pondering. Read more

It is erev Shababt here in NYC and I somehow the blog post I have been meaning to write all week has not written itself. So here I am preparing for another relaxing Shabbat, and wanted to share some thoughts about I read last Shabbat.

I recently bought a copy of the book titled A Wild Faith by Rabbi Mike Comins. It is a guide to spiritual and Jewish practice in the wilderness. I would encourage every member of the Ramah Outdoor Adventure community to read this book, as it is a fantastic guide to many of the issues we will be teaching at camp. It also has over 30 practical lessons/ suggestions for integrating the Jewish ideas/ values into actual programming in a camp. Read more

As part of the FJC incubator process, I have had a chance to deliberately articulate what I believe are the ROA core religious values. I have done more extensive processing of how to measure each value and how to design programs that reinforce these values, but I thought that for right now I would just list what I believe that values are. Feel free to comment on these values in a forum or by sending me an email or posting a note on my wall. I should give credit where credit is due, and mention that 7 of these 8 values are based on the values articulated in, Sacred Clusters, Chancellor Schorsch’s articulation of the core values of Conservative Judaism. Read more

I am currently flying at about 37,000 feet somewhere between Denver and NYC. Although I do not have internet up here, I thought I would write a few words for the ROA blog and then post it later once we land in New York. Read more