I recently visited Camp Ramah in New England (Palmer, MA) along with mentor Dan Kirsch and our JCamp 180 administrative coordinator, Janina Kruzel. This is the camp where JCamp 180 began, coming out of a now (in)famous tour with Harold Grinspoon more than 15 years ago. We were there on a gorgeous Friday morning in advance of the first Shabbat of the summer - a day at camp never seemed better.
First impressions matter! The drive into Ramah is lined with tall trees, colorful murals and a beautiful athletic field that was leveled and re-seeded last summer (this was a special fundraising project that has transformed the field into a great spot for sports and gatherings - great investment!). Camp looks neat, lively and welcoming.
Inside the office, there is a stack of maps of camp; this is an easy way to help visitors navigate around camp and get oriented. It’s so easy to get a bunch of these printed out!
Camp Ramah boasts the oldest inclusion program in the Ramah system and possibly the country. Tikvah Village houses campers, provides services to special campers who bunk in neuro-typical cabins and provides training to adults in vocational arts. The vocational training at Camp Ramah is exceptional – residents help camp run by delivering mail, working in the chadar kitchen, and baking special orders like brownies and challah rolls for cabins. They make camp run smoothly and their kitchen smelled so GOOD!
We also loved hearing about the year-round position of Director of Camper Care, a position that assesses campers before, during, and after camp. This is an innovative approach to serving camper needs all year long to make the transition to camp run smoothly.
One of the residents (known as a “Voc-Eder) shows off the bowl of the new industrial mixer:
We also toured Camp Ramah’s small farm with ducks, goats, and chickens where campers learn how to care for the animals.
Before lunch, we visited the kitchen in the new chadar (built last year after a successful capital campaign); the chadar can now accommodate all of camp and the place is humming with activity! We saw Shabbat pastries getting plated and heard
about the famous Shabbat brownies.
Curiously, we didn’t EAT any of these goodies. Next time, I hope! :)
Thank you to Rabbi Ed Gelb, CEO, and Rhonda Parker, Development and Campaign Director, and the rest of the Ramah staff for the hospitality and great ideas about how JCamp 180 can continue to contribute to your success. Congratulations for all that you are doing and here’s to a great summer!
Stay tuned to hear about more trips to camps this summer...
Written by Sarah M. Eisinger. Sarah is the Director of JCamp 180. She leverages her background in philanthropy, consulting and organizational development with experience as a camper and counselor to lead the JCamp 180 team in providing camps with services to help them meet their goals: mentoring services, new matching grant programs, professional development opportunities for camp lay leadership and staff, and new initiatives.
Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at www.jcamp180.org