On Monday night we sat around our camp fire on our closing night of first session.  Our chalutzim hamiyasdim (founding campers) and tzevet (staff) had an opportunity to stand up and place two rocks around the base of the fire pit.  One rock represented a hope that had come true during their time at Ramah Outdoor Adventure, and the other was something they were leaving behind.  I sat there smiling and crying at the same time.  Here we were almost two years since we first wrote the proposal to start this camp, and we were wrapping up our first session.  Our chalutzim stood one after the other and reflected about the new outdoor skills they had learned, the new friends they had made and the new Jewish values they had learned.  They talked about leaving behind physical markers at camp (like a new footbridge that some helped to build), new smiles on people’s faces (because of the friends they made) and new traditions that will remain part of the camp for a long time to come (like yom sport).  At the end of the summer, we will use the rocks from this first group along with all the rocks  all 120+ chalutzim from their final night at camp to create a permanent base at our fire pit.   For years to come, campfires will be lit and campers brought together around the hopes and dreams represented by the chalutzim of our inaugural summer. Read more

When I was studying to be a rabbi, I never thought that part of the official duties in my rabbinate would be to drive 450 miles to Pavillion, Wyoming (a town of 126 people, two hours west of Casper) to ride horses in the pouring rain.  And yet, last Thursday I found myself standing next to veteran ranchers Dar and Bob Vogel on their 2,000 acre ranch checking out about 50 horses that they had pulled off the range.  Each horse had spent the past six month on the Wyoming plains eating the winter grasses and trying to stay warm in the freezing temperatures.  While horses that live in barns need constant attention, horses on the plains can run freely, need almost no grooming, and do not even need shoes on their hooves.

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I write this update having just returned from an afternoon at the Ramah in the Rockies Ranch.  We needed a 4 wheel drive vehicle to access the camp today, but once we reached the grounds it was amazing to drive around the pristine ranch.  As is the case in so much of Colorado this time of year, there were parts of the road that had no snow at all and others that were buried in one foot drifts!  I did get stuck a few times, but with the help of my passengers, we managed to push the SUV each time the wheels just wanted to spin.

Being at camp, made me realize that summer is around the corner.  We open for campers in under six months!  I could not have had this realization at a better point; last week we had our best week yet for recruiting.  We have been receiving so many inquiries, that Douglas, Elyssa and I are working overtime just to return emails and phone calls within one business day, as is the policy of Ramah Outdoor Adventure.  And, by the time this Chodesh Tov email is sent to the community, I expect that we will have already begun our waiting list for 6th & 7th grade boys in Session II. We have one more spot available, and about seven more families who I expect will want to register their son for this spot.  We will be working in the coming weeks to see whether we can find additional space for the younger boys who want to join us this summer, but in the meantime we will be taking names and opening spots only after we are certain we will be able to have appropriate accommodations for them. Read more

This weeks post is a VERY short one.  I just wanted to say congratulations to Noah from Boulder and Savannah from California for being the winners of the Ram Outdoor Adventure December raffle.  Both are entering 6th grade!  We are looking forward to seeing you guys at camp this summer.   The families were notified by phone on Monday, though we are only sending this out to the broader community today.

Remember, we give away two weeks of camp the first Monday of each month.  To enter our raffle for next month, please send an email with your child’s name, daytime phone number and email to

A more complete post will be coming next week.