Ramah Camps and Israel Programs
The Ramah Camping Movement began in 1947 with the establishment of the first Ramah camp in Conover, Wisconsin. That camp and additional Ramah camps have been maintained as a partnership among the Conservative community in a given geographic area, the National Ramah Commission, and The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Ramah operates eight residential camps and three day camps throughout North America, including an outdoor adventure specialty camp in Colorado, as well as extensive Israel programs. Offering programming conducted in Hebrew and English, the camps are a natural extension of a child's year-round Jewish education. A four-week (younger children) or eight-week (grades 7 to 11) session supplements what the child is learning in an afternoon school, day school, or Hebrew high school.
The Ramah camps also offer opportunities for JTS students to serve as teachers in formal classroom settings, as arts and sports specialists, and as division heads and counselors with cabin groups. The camp program includes regular instruction in Jewish classical texts, Hebrew language, religious life, and contemporary Jewish issues; in some cases, experimental texts are created especially for this purpose.
Ramah also offers an intensive experience in religious life, focusing on daily worship, Sabbath observance, and ethical conduct. As a natural complement to these objectives, emphasis is placed on the creative use of the outdoors and on the development of personality, skills, and interests. A full program of crafts, athletics, the arts, and outdoor adventure is offered. To be eligible for admission, applicants are required to have a Hebrew education appropriate to their chronological age.
Through Ramah's special-needs programs (Tikvah and other programs), many of our camps provide a summer experience for children and teens with learning challenges, emotional disorders, and other developmental disabilities.
A recent development in Ramah’s programming is in the area of family education. Most camps run four- to six-day family camps in which the entire family—children of all ages, plus parents and grandparents—enjoy an intensive week of family camping, Jewish learning, and family building. Though brief, these experiences have an inordinately powerful impact on the development of Jewish family life.
The Ramah Camping Movement also sponsors special programs for high school, college, and graduate students:
- The Bert B. Weinstein National Ramah Staff Training Institute meets annually for an extended period in between camp seasons. Under the educational direction of the National Ramah Commission, the institute provides an intensive experience of Jewish studies and group leadership workshops to a limited number of college students of exceptional ability. Candidates accepted into this program are expected to serve on the staff of Ramah camps during the following season.
- The Louis and Shoshanah Winer National Training Institute for Division Heads and Senior Staff is held each May, and brings together the division heads and senior staff of all of the Ramah camps for cross-camp training and enrichment.
- The Alexander M. Shapiro Fellowships, established by the Zinbarg family of Congregation Oheb Shalom in South Orange, New Jersey, supplement the summer income of rabbinical, cantorial, education, and social work students who spend the summer at Ramah. The fellows also participate in an educational seminar during the academic year.
- Morton M. and Miriam Steinberg Fellows, college seniors and graduate students who are senior members of the Ramah educational staffs, participate in leadership initiatives related to the Ramah Camping Movement’s global outreach efforts. In recent years, delegations of NRC Steinberg Fellows traveled to Argentina, Germany, and Ukraine to establish relationships with their counterparts in local Ramah and Ramah-style camps.
- The Ramah Service Corps is an initiative supported by the Foundation for Jewish Camp to introduce camp to thousands of Jewish children and to bring Ramah-style programming to synagogue life during the school year. With mentoring and support from their local Ramah camps, college and graduate student interns serving local synagogues plan religious school and Shabbat programs, and work to bolster recruitment and outreach for Jewish camping.
- Ramah partners annually with the Jewish National Fund to sponsor an Alternative Winter Break Service Trip to Israel.
Ramah Programs in Israel offer a variety of programs:
- The Ramah Israel Seminar is a summer program in Israel that couples studies related to Israel with carefully planned visits to interesting sites and an introduction to Israeli society. The seminar is intended for older high school students as a culmination of the Ramah summer-camp experience, serving as a bridge between one’s years as a camper and one’s return to camp as a staff member.
- USY High is a two-month program conducted in Jerusalem each February and March for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Participants take part in a fully accredited academic program of Judaic and general studies along with other intensive educational experiences related to the development of Zionism and the State of Israel.
- Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim is a one-semester program conducted in Jerusalem each spring for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Participants take part in a fully accredited academic program of Judaic and general studies, along with other intensive educational experiences related to the development of Zionism and the State of Israel.
- The Ramah Israel Institute offers synagogue, day-school, and community groups a new approach to experiencing Israel. It combines a tour with formal and informal educational activities focused on a theme of the groups' choosing. Family groups are assigned a family educator who creates a program for the children, as well as intergenerational activities for children and parents during the trip.
- The Ramah Jerusalem Day Camp is a summer experience for children entering grades K through 9.
To contact the National Ramah Commission directly, please call (212) 678-8881 or send an email. For more information about Ramah, and for links to all Ramah camps, visit the Ramah Camping Movement online. Those interested in summer jobs at a Ramah camp can visit the Ramah jobs website or call the National Ramah Commission.