Looking back… Looking forward

Posted by   on under 50th Anniversary



IMG_6499Dear Friends,

During Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Returning, or Repentance, I hope that we have all begun a process of heshbon ha’nefesh, of taking stock.  On Rosh Hoshanah, many of us spent many hours in synagogue in prayer; taking time for reflection and contemplation, meditation and introspection. In essence, this is the ultimate purpose of this time on the Jewish calendar.

As director, I want to share my camp heshbon ha’nefesh with you looking back at our 50thanniversary season. As part of the process, it is important to reflect upon this summer’s accomplishments in order to begin the process of planning Kayitz 2014.

Recreational and educational programming is the heart and soul of camp, taking ten months to prepare and presenting it  in  fifty-one days each summer.  As a Jewish summer camp, upholding our Jewish values and vision, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires incorporates the importance of Hebrew, prayer, Shabbat and Israel everyday.  This is what makes Ramah, Ramah.

  • This past summer, Nadine Fahoun, an Israeli-Arab tennis champion, returned to camp for one week as our tennis coach, teaching tennis and presenting her perspective of living in coexistence in Haifa.  To compliment Nadine’s view, Dr. Alex Sinclair, an experienced educator, enabled us to understand some of challenges facing Israel today, making us more comfortable asking the right questions and strengthening our own connection to Israel.
  • Tefillah is an area in camp that continues to be educationally and spiritually challenging. This summer B-side tefillot returned to edah focused minyanim adding ayoetzet l’tefillah – an educator working with the edah to enhance the prayer experience. On A-side we offered different kinds of prayer experiences to better engage campers while creating a commitment to daily prayer.
  • Al Hagova, our Outdoor Education department, expanded its scope this summer with over twenty specially trained staff in high and low ropes, rock wall climbing, wilderness first aid, and much more. As a result, we were able to offer multiple activities to many more campers.
  • This summer we hosted two world renowned artists – David Moss and his wife Roz joined us for a second summer and lead workshops for many campers and staff members. A small group of Solelim campers created a logo for our recycling program under David’s tutelage. Mordechai Rosenstein’s week in camp resulted in a magnificent mural designed by campers which now adorns our sifriyah-Beit Midrash.
  • And finally, farming through the engagement of the Amir Program enhanced our nascent organic gardening program. Campers planted and tended over 300 plants  and even  began harvesting before the end of the summer.

So many of these wonderful programs come to us through the generous support of our parents, alumni and Haverim, friends of camp, who help cover expenses beyond tuition.   We are forever grateful to all who assisted in raising nearly $500,000 last year, funding scholarships, staff training, and numerous program enhancements.   We thank all who continue to give gifts through our Annual Fund Campaign, providing the necessary resources which elevate the CRB experience.

As part of the camp’s strategic plan, communication continues to be a key focus. With hundreds of views, a 100 day countdown to camp on Instagram sparked early enthusiasm for gearing up for Kayitz 2013l!  We continue to build our social media presence. Facebook, blogging, Twitter and YouTube have become part of CRB culture.

  • Over 5,000 photos were presented on our website.
  • Over 20 videos were sent to the parent body.  Go to the CRB YouTube channel to enjoy our videos.
  • Watch for our new “birthday card” for all campers!
  • Quick, caring, and informative responses to your calls and emails are always a key concern of mine.   We are committed to you, our parent body.

Through our work with the Foundation for Jewish Camp and JCamp180, camp has become a much better governed and managed institution. We are forever growing in our reach and at the same time always looking at who we are and how we can improve our operation. As a former Federation leader said,

          “The camp has successfully adhered to its core mission [no watering down there] while investing and attracting philanthropic
          support… Good for them for saying ‘we are not going to change who we are, but we will make ‘who we are’ even better.” There
is great momentum there.”

Today we have 500 campers who have applied for the 2014 season. This is an incredible achievement which I do not take lightly. The fact that the summer is still nine months away and many of you have already made the commitment for 2014 is truly inspirational.  Thank you for your faith in us and for choosing Ramah.

Gmar Hatimah Tova,
Rabbi Paul Resnick