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Richard and Eileen Greenberg cherish a strong commitment to creating Jewish community and preserving the environment. This commitment has led them to support the work of Ramah in the Rockies with their time and resources.

Richard devoted his professional career to preserving the environment, opening the Colorado office of the  United States Environmental Protection Agency as a senior enforcement attorney, and then entering the private sector.

The mission of the camp initially motivated the Greenbergs to support it; seeing that mission put into practice inspires them to stay involved. “It’s great to see kids from all over the country practicing their Judaism in an environment that encourages sustainability, environmental protection, and an intentional way of doing everything, including enjoying God’s creation,” Richard said.

The Greenbergs have donated both to the general fund for capital improvements and made specific donations to the equestrian program. Eileen’s parents, Sondra and Howard Bender, have been leaders in Maryland thoroughbred horse breeding for thirty years (Sondra passed away in February, 2012). The Greenbergs have provided funding to create an equestrian center in the Benders’ honor.

In addition to traditional horseback riding, Eileen is committed to helping camp develop more equestrian-facilitated learning, which she describes as “an experiential approach that creates a supportive learning environment for participants to learn about themselves, heal what has been broken, and re-connect to what has heart and meaning through interactive experiences with horses.” To this end, last summer Eileen brought to camp an equestrian-learning facilitator, who introduced the techniques of equine-guided learning to some of the horseback riding staff. In future summers she hopes to expand on this success.

Both Richard and Eileen have personal connections to Jewish summer camp: Growing up, Eileen attended Camp Ramblewood, a Jewish summer camp in Maryland, for six summers. Richard, meanwhile, worked as a “tripper” at Camp B’nai Brith in Starlake, Pennsylvania for four summers. Richard remembers his experience fondly. “It was great to lead these kids, most of whom had never been involved in real outdoor activity on overnight canoe trips,” he said. They passed this love of camp on to their (now adult) children, who attended Camp Shwayder in Idaho Springs, CO.

They have been active members of the Denver area Jewish community for many years, serving on the boards of HEA and The Colorado Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE-CO).

Richard devoted his professional career to preserving the environment, working as a senior enforcement attorney with the United States Environmental Protection Agency for many years.

The Greenbergs have been gratified to see how their support has helped camp to develop and are full of hope for Ramah in the Rockies/Ramah Outdoor Adventure’s future. “It’s remarkable how far the camp’s gone since it opened,” Richard said, but added, “We’re just seeing the beginnings of how the equestrian program can develop.” They urge other people to get involved and help create the camp they want to see.

(And as an update to this blog post, all of us at Camp Ramah want to wish the Greenbergs Mazal Tov on becoming grandparents last week to Jackson Joseph Greenberg– Their first grandchild!)

Check out an amazing video produced by the Greenbergs during their visit to Ramah Outdoor Adventure:

watch?v=hBVGT3e3Z2Y&feature=youtu.be

greenbergs

 

Throughout the off-season, we engage a number of parents in interesting “conversations” online about various aspects of our camp program.  This year, we thought it would be a good idea to publicize some of these email exchanges for our broader camp audience.  We will always remove names and any identifying factors.  We will make small edits to ensure anonymity and correct sentence flow, but otherwise we will publish them in their entirety.  We hope that this segment will be published whenever we feel that there is something worth sharing, and will shed a little light onto how we promote camp in the off-season and the intentionality that goes into making the summer season a success.

 

Parent’s letter:

 

“I do feel that making mincha optional sends a really weak message to the kids and is exactly the kind of thing the Conservative Movement in general suffers from. It’s important to us that he regulate himself to davening [praying] and we will ask him to attend mincha but with so many kids allowed to play instead it makes this a real uphill task for those who know their parents/Hashem [God] expect it. I wish these divisions between movements would disappear and mitzvot would simply be a given and not an option.”

 

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Check out our video, Mining at Ramah!

A group of chalutzim (campers) walk along a ditch, eyes glued to the ground. They call out eerily profound advice to each other. “You can’t be looking for it if you want to find it,” says one to the others.” “It doesn’t matter if it’s topaz or not, as long as you think it looks cool,” says a second. What has produced this level of wisdom in these chalutzim? Rock-hounding.

Rock-hounding (looking for rocks near the surface of the earth) is one of the most popular peulot (activities) at Ramah Outdoor Adventure. Rafi , 13, has done rock-hounding all three summers he’s been at camp. “You get to find cool rocks, learn what they are, and once you memorize the different kinds, you can tell other people what they found,” Rafi said.

Situated on the outskirts of the Pike’s Peak batholith, the region around Ramah Outdoor Adventure has a long history of mining. Since the 1850s, prospectors have come through looking for gold and silver. They found a little metal, but mostly they found topaz, a semi-precious gemstone, and quartz.

Rock-hounding is led by Juliana Kern, a fixture at camp since it opened. Rocks are in Juliana’s blood. Her mother was the only woman studying among 1000 men at the School of Mines in Golden, CO, in the late 1940s, and went on to work for the United States Geological Survey and as a photocrographist. She also taught mining to adults at the Denver Free University, where a young Juliana sat in on classes. Juliana’s brother owns a claim on Crystal Creek (also in Colorado) that has been mined for close to 120 years.

Juliana herself worked in nursing for many years, and as a grocery stocker, always continuing to collect rocks as a hobby. After she hurt her leg in 2003, she began looking for rocks more as a form of physical therapy. Now she enjoys sharing her passion for rocks and minerals with children. “I love kids, and I love it when they first find something and they’re so amazed at the beauty of it,” Kern said.

Rock-hounding also led Juliana to a spiritual experience. “Finding something beautiful in Utah is what brought me closer to Hashem,” she said. She tries to bring in religious teaching to her activities with campers. “I try to tell them about the perfect laws of nature that they talk about in the torah, that nothing is added or taken away from God’s creation, and how cool it is for God to have put something here for us to find billions of years later,” she said.

Finding shiny rocks is also a great chance to talk about the perils of materialism, according to Juliana. Campers often want to know how much their finds are worth, but Juliana says, “I tell them, ‘If you like it, it has a sentimental value that money can’t be placed on,’ and about how people place claims and get greedy and harass each other until it’s no fun anymore.” Campers can keep anything they find at camp except for Native American artifacts.

While intensive mining can be environmentally destructive, Kern says that the rock-hounding she does with campers has a minimal impact, and actually provides an opportunity to discuss environmental stewardship. “I teach them to only dig it up if they’re sure it’s there, and I try to foster that love of nature. I tell them that they’re visitors here, and it’s more the spider’s home than it is theirs.” In the hands of Kern, rock-hounding becomes an opportunity to teach Jewish values, environmental ethics and life-lessons. Not bad for digging in the dirt.

Ramah Outdoor Adventure has challah that has campers and counselors coming back for more every Shabbat! Recreate the ooey-gooey goodness for your own Shabbos table.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_2ceKteb3E

Robyn’s Challah Recipe (makes 3)
Ingredients
5c flour (½ whole wheat ½ white or high gluten)
½ c sugar
½ c oil
2-3c water
1tbs salt
1tbs yeast
optional cinnamon or other spices ~1tbs

Combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and optional spices in a large mixing bowl. Measure out water and oil, add water SLOWLY mixing with your hands…send some love! Only use as much water as you need (it will vary), keep dough fairly dry. Add oil slowly bringing the dough to a moist but NOT sticky consistency. Knead dough for a while adding flour oil and water as needed.
Place dough in a bowl about 3 times its size and cover with a warm moist cloth to rise. If its warm outside let it sit in the sun otherwise heat the oven just a little so it’s warm and let it rise there. After about 2 hours take dough out to braid, don’t forget to knead and punch it down some more. Don’t forget to take the challah sacrifice here. Feel free to add more spices at this point. Once challah is braided you can put oil with spices and or syrup/honey/agave on top. Mix the topping together before painting on challahs.
Set oven to 350F, let the challah rise on the stove top while the oven is warming. Cook for 20-45 minutes. The challahs should have a hollow sound when you tap the bottoms.
Shabbat Shalom!

The Results Are In!

Over the past six weeks, our year round team has contacted almost all of our 2013 parents to solicit feedback on our season that ended just two months ago.  In addition many families filled out the third party survey conducted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp.   We appreciate everyone who left their comments in our online survey, who answered our calls, and/or who responded to our messages via email or telephone.  We have incorporated all these comments into an action plan as we begin our planning for the 2014 season.  The results of the online survey can be found here and will be available for all to see on our website throughout the year.

Here are some of the takeaways from all the feedback our families have provided us.

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This Pesach, as we read the story of yetziat mitzrayim in synagogue and at Seders, conversation may turn, as it often does, to leadership. We may discuss Moses’ fear about taking on the mantle of leadership, Pharaoh’s pride that keeps him from protecting his people, or Aaron’s capitulation to the Israelites’ demands to build them an idol. Every summer at the Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute (JOLI), a program of Ramah Outdoor Adventure, teenagers have the same discussions, relating these core Jewish stories to their own leadership styles in the wilderness.

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Sacred Environments: Teens Learn About Sukkot in the Wilderness.  By Nathaniel Eisen

You shall dwell in booths seven days; all citizens of Israel shall dwell in booths; so that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. –Leviticus 23:42-43

For many of us, building a sukkah is just a commemorative act. We may pick up our schach from a local Hillel or Chabad, rather than gathering it in the woods. We have a warm house to retreat into should the fall weather turn nasty. But when you are huddled beneath a millimeters-thick tarp during a hailstorm, you begin to appreciate how wonderful and frail shelter can be.

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Rabbi Marc Soloway, Rabbi of Bonei Shalom in Boulder, CO, wrote the following post for his synagogue bulletin.  We hope you enjoy reading.

Are you Ready for Jewish Holiday Summer Camp ?

By Rabbi Marc 

This summer I got to spend two whole weeks at “Ramah of the Rockies” as rabbi in residence at this amazing Jewish camp here in Colorado.  As I prepared to leave, I had a taste of the emotions of the two-week campers who were also getting ready to end their heightened summer experience; that intense sadness at having to leave the sacred place and the wonderful friendships cultivated there. 

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It has happened!

Another successful summer at Ramah Outdoor Adventure has come to an end.  All is quiet on the ranch.   The goats, chickens and duck have gone home; the alpacas and horses will be picked up shortly.  A few hours ago, we said goodbye to the last of our chalutzim (campers).  Our tzevet (staff) are packing away equipment, sweeping the ohalim (tents) and readying camp for the long nine months of hibernation.  Today is one of the hardest days of the summer.  There is no cheering in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall), there are no yelps of joy coming from the chalutzim biking down the single track, and there is no one hanging around the table in the middle of the kfar (tent village) playing cards during free time.

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This was sent out as an email to our parent body.  I am re-posting it on our blog, as many readers are not on our parent list.

At Ramah Outdoor Adventure, we are constantly striving to improve our camp program.  While we know that children and counselors have transformative experiences each summer, we understand that a successful program must constantly evolve.  Each summer we ask our current camper families to evaluate their child’s experience at camp using a third party survey.  We are pleased to share the results of these surveys with you at this link.

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