The Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute (JOLI) at Ramah in the Rockies trains Jewish teens (entering 11th & 12th grades) 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, such as leadership and communication, and hard skills, such as outdoor survival. In addition to backpacking and spending time on the chava (ranch), participants also have the opportunity during their third and fourth weeks to practice as future counselors (madrichim) and specialists (mumchim) at base camp, or give back to the camp community through service projects. The combination of these elements creates a uniquely intensive experience that past participants have repeatedly described as “transformative.” The expertise acquired and the character built during the JOLI program transcends beyond the time spent in Colorado. Additionally, JOLI infuses Jewish texts, values, and traditions seamlessly into all aspects of the experience.
Is JOLI the same as Sayarim (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 (backcountry excursions) and also at the chava. JOLI campers will begin their summer experience by becoming certified in Wilderness First Aid, before embarking on an intensive masa in the Colorado backcountry, where they will experience their first solo hike and implement the backcountry skills they’ve been practicing! The latter half of the JOLI program will focus on leadership skills, and participants will have the opportunity to serve as counselors-in-training for our younger chalutzim, or give back to our community through service projects. JOLI chalutzim who elect to CIT will accompany younger campers on their masa’ot, giving JOLI chalutzim a chance to exercise their leadership skills and serve as role models for the rest of our machane (camp).
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 JOLIers; apprenticing in a specific program area and really experiencing what it is like to be a tzevet (staff) member.
What is the general JOLI Schedule?
- Weeks One and Two – Focuses on Wilderness First Aid, a six day masa, 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. The masa itself will push participants to the limits of their comfort zones and teach participants how to make decisions in pressing situations. A solo hike is part of this experience. Participants will be able to articulate their own leadership qualities by the end of this week in the back-country.
- Weeks Three and Four – Focuses on the chava experience. Participants will spend the mornings apprenticing in a specific program area and working with the younger chalutzim as CITs. There will also be 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 friends. During the final full week of the session, participants become members of the edah staff, mentored by both the JOLI staff and their assigned edah staff. In this capacity, they will participate in leading masa’ot for the youngest chalutzim. Depending on what edah (age group) JOLI participants are paired with, these trips could range from four days in the backcountry to an overnight on the outskirts of the chava. This week will serve as the culmination of the JOLI experience, during which participants will be able to show off their newfound skills as Jewish Outdoor Leaders!
- 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!” To register, click here.