Category: Base

Camper Travel on Arrival and Departure Days 2024

Camper Travel on Arrival and Departure Days 2024

Camp starts on the bus, so we strongly encourage every camper to take the bus. Camp Zeke provides a pickup at Newark airport for our many campers who come from further away. The only campers who may be permitted to drive to camp are those who live closer to camp than they do to a bus location. You can see more details in our parent handbook. Regardless of how you’re arriving, please fill out the transportation form on your CampInTouch account if you have not yet done so. Please see below for drop-off  and pick-up times. 

Important Note for Departures: Campers may only be picked up by the individuals listed on the Authorized Adult Pick-Up Form. Please be sure to fill out this form on your CampInTouch account. Authorized individuals will need a valid photo ID to check out campers at the bus drop-off or at camp.

 

Sunday, June 30th and Monday, July 22nd: Camper Arrival

Bus from MD:
B’Nai Shalom, 18401 Burtfield Dr, Olney, MD 20832
Please arrive at 10:30am to load the bus. It will depart at 11:00am.

Buses from NJ:
Berkeley College, 44 Rifle Camp Rd, Woodland Park, NJ 07424 (Drive to your left after security.)
We will have a staggered arrival, with several buses to camp:

On 6/30:
*Campers entering 2nd – 5th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:00 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 12:30 pm.
*Campers entering 6th & 7th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:45 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 1:15 pm.
*Campers entering 8th & 9th grade: Please arrive promptly at 1:30 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 2:00 pm.
*Campers entering 10th – 12th grade: Please arrive promptly at 2:15 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 2:45 pm.

On 7/22:
*Campers entering 2nd – 6th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:00 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 12:30 pm.
*Campers entering 7th – 12th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:45 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 1:15 pm.

*If you have campers in multiple age groups, please arrive at the time of the youngest camper.

Bus from Newark Airport will depart once all camper flights have arrived.

For the very few people driving to camp, please arrive 4:00-5:00pm.

 

Sunday, July 21st and Sunday, August 11th: Camper Departure

Bus to MD:
B’Nai Shalom, 18401 Burtfield Dr, Olney, MD 20832
The bus will depart camp at 11am. Depending on traffic and bathroom stops, it should arrive at around 4:00-4:30pm.

Buses to NJ:
Berkeley College, 44 Rifle Camp Rd, Woodland Park, NJ 07424 (Drive to your left after security.)
Similar to arrival day, we will have staggered departures from camp. To reduce parents’ wait time, we will send exact bus assignments about 1 week prior to departure day.

*Campers entering 2nd – 6th grade: The bus will leave camp at 11:00 am and should arrive at about 1:30pm.
*Campers entering 7th & 8th grade: The bus will leave camp at 12:00 pm and should arrive at about 2:30pm.
*Campers entering 9th – 12th grade: The bus will leave camp at 1:00 pm and should arrive at about 3:30pm.

*If you have campers in multiple age groups, older siblings will join the bus of their youngest sibling.

Bus to Newark Airport will depart camp with enough time to check in for all camper flights.

For the very few campers being picked up by car to camp, please arrive 2:00-2:30pm.

 

 

2024 Emails to Enrolled Families

5/15/24 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 4)

Dear friends:

In the lead-up to camp, we like to pass along resources to help you prepare for a successful summer full of happiness, deep friendships, and personal growth. Before getting to the latest article, please see a few updates and reminders below:

  •  Bus Times and Locations Now Online: To see bus times and locations, please visit campzeke.org/camper-travel-on-arrival-and-departure-days-2024.
  • Medical Forms: Medical forms (and all camper forms) are now due for first session and full season campers. They are due by June 1st for second session campers. Please complete them on CampInTouch at zeke.campintouch.com.
  • Please Review the Parent Handbook: Camp’s Parent Handbook (campzeke.org/current-families/parent-handbook) has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience.
  • Who Do We Contact with Questions? For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.
  • Prior Advice/Guidance Emails: To read all the prior emails in our series of pre-camp advice and guidance, please visit campzeke.org/2024-emails-to-enrolled-familiesWe’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

Please read on for the latest article!

TALKING ABOUT CAMP
by Bob Ditter

Sending your child away to camp is a major milestone for most families, one that is often marked by excitement, anticipation and perhaps even some anxiety. Though camp is certainly about making friends and having fun, it is also about being on your own and being a part of a community.

One of the most important things you as a parent can do to help prepare your child for both these aspects of camp is to talk with your child about it before they go. In fact, it may be better to have several occasional, shorter talks rather than one long conversation…. Children usually do better with this sort of conversation if it is part of a more general discussion, either at the dinner table or, for example, while riding in the car doing errands.

The following are some sample topics for discussion that will help prepare your child emotionally for their big adventure at camp:

Friends. Camp is not anything if it is not about making new friends. If you are shy about meeting new kids, then learn to get to know others by being a good listener. Ask questions. Share what you have. Join in. Remember also that not everyone in your bunk has to be your friend, and you don’t have to be everyone else’s friend. As long as you treat others with respect and they do the same with you, then having one or two friends at camp is fine. Of course, if you have more, that’s great!

Respect. No matter how you feel about anyone else — your counselors or other kids in your group — I expect you to treat people with respect. If you are angry, upset or disagree, there is a respectful way to express it.

Activities. There are many exciting things to do at camp, many of which you may never have tried before. (If your child is tending to be a bit homesick or worried about being homesick, remind them what it was they were excited about doing at camp when they first thought about going there.) You may not like all the activities or you may be better at some than others. That’s normal. I, however, expect you to try. The more you put into camp, the more you will get out of it!

Cooperating. You, like every other camper there, will be part of a bunk. As your parent I expect you to cooperate with others and help out. That’s part of what makes camp so special — kids helping each other out. Most kids will help you if you are friendly and help them.

Give yourself time. One thing about camp is that almost everything is new — the kids; the activities; the routines; the bed you sleep in; the bathrooms; the food and more. It takes a few days to get adjusted, so be patient with yourself. Most of the time you will be having so much fun you won’t mind all the changes, but if you do, remember that you will get so used to things that by the time you come home you will miss them all!

Getting help. Everyone has good days and bad days. If you are having a problem, your counselor is there to help you! You don’t have to wait to tell us if you are upset about something. After all, if your counselor doesn’t know what might be troubling you, they can’t help you. Be honest and ask for what you need… [And remember, if a counselor can’t help with something, campers can always come to any adult in camp, including of course, our Director of Camper Care, Riva Schanker, and the caring adults on our Camper Care Team!]

Helping out. Camp is about fun, but it also requires that you help out. Clean-up is part of camp. You do it every day! As your parent I expect you to cooperate.

Being positive. A great thing to remind your first time camper about is what his or her strong points are. I would focus not just on what they do well, but their positive qualities, such as what makes them a good friend or the type of person other kids would want to know. Helping children identify their strengths can help them when they are having a set back — one of those inevitable growing pains all children have from time to time.

Gratitude. A lot of people have worked hard to make sure you have a good time at camp. Your counselors, the people in the dining hall, the maintenance staff, the health staff — they all work hard so you can have fun. Be grateful for what others do for you.

Talking with your child about these kinds of issues is a great way to support them as they get ready take this important step on the road to being more resilient and self-reliant. For you as a parent it can give you more peace of mind as you allow your child to participate safely in a broader world — a world introduced to them in part by camp!

* * *

We hope you find our pre-camp preparation emails helpful Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions!

Warm regards,
Your friends at Camp Zeke (Meet Us Here)

5/6/24 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 3)

Dear friends:

We’re excited to pass along the recording of our recent Summer Serenade virtual song session! It begins with some key members of the Camp Zeke team introducing themselves. For the songs and staff introductions, check out the Youtube video.

Also, we’d like to send a HUGE thank you to Camp Zeke’s song leader extraordinaire, Cantor Melanie Blatt! We are so lucky that Melanie has been part our Camp Zeke family for the past decade. To learn more about song sessions at camp, check out: campzeke.org/current-families/song-sessions.

As you prepare for camp, we also have a few reminders and tips for you:

Medical Forms Due
Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms are now due for first session and full season campers. They are due by June 1st for second session campers. All details are on CampInTouch (zeke.campintouch.com).

How Do We Prepare for Camp?
The starting point is reading the Parent Handbook (campzeke.org/current-families/parent-handbook), which has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience. Of course, once you review the handbook, if you have any questions at all about preparing for camp we’re glad to help every step of the way!

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus to camp. See the transportation form on CampInTouch (zeke.campintouch.com) for details. Exact bus times, locations, and schedules are coming shortly.

Who Do We Contact with Questions?
The Parent Handbook (campzeke.org/current-families/parent-handbook) has answers to many common questions. If you still have questions once you review the handbook, we’re always here to help!

For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Prior Advice/Guidance Emails
To read all the prior emails in our series of pre-camp advice and guidance, please visit: campzeke.org/2024-emails-to-enrolled-families. We’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

We hope you find our pre-camp preparation emails helpful Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions!

Warmly,
The Camp Zeke Team

 

4/16/24 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 2)

Dear friends:

In the lead-up to camp, we like to pass along resources to help your camper prepare for a successful summer full of happiness, deep friendships, and personal growth. Right around this time of year, as the weather gets a little warmer, both new and returning campers can feel some pre-camp jitters.

That’s totally normal! We wanted to share some advice from the Child Mind Institute about preparing your campers for the experience. Please read on for the Institute’s insight. Before getting there, a few quick reminders:

You’re Invited: Join a Virtual Song Session THIS Friday (4/19)
Our very own Cantor Melanie Blatt, one of the most talented song leaders in all of Jewish camp, is leading a virtual song session on Zoom this Friday week. RSVP here! Want to learn more about the amazing song sessions at camp? Check out this page.

*RSVP FOR FRIDAY’S ZOOM SONG SESSION*

Medical Forms Due Soon
Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms are due by May 1st for first session and full season campers and by June 1st for second session campers.

How Do We Prepare for Camp?
The starting point is reading the Parent Handbook, which has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience. Of course, once you review the handbook, if you have any questions at all about preparing for camp we’re glad to help every step of the way!

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus to camp. See the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Do We Contact with Questions?
The Parent Handbook has answers to many common questions. If you still have questions once you review the handbook, we’re always here to help!

  • For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.
  • For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Prior Advice/Guidance Emails
To read all the prior emails in our series of pre-camp advice and guidance (just one email so far), please see this link. We’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

* * *

Clearing the Fear to Make Way for a Formative Experience
Adapted from Child Mind Institute

Portraits of summer camp showcase sun-splashed kids playing sports, swimming, and getting freckles. Not pictured is any sign of anxiety, a totally natural reaction to a new adventure and a several-week separation. All kids experience a mixture of excitement and nervousness when summer camp approaches.

Of course, getting past these initial jitters is part of the value of the camp experience. Indeed, summer camps hone many skills that are useful for future success. These include resilience, self-reliance, social adaptability, and of course, the ability to overcome jitters before an important and valuable life event. The camp experience — being away from home among peers — also helps kids develop social skills, separate in a healthy way from parents, cultivate independence, and build confidence.

The key to helping your camper get over the pre-camp jitters is to acknowledge their feelings and give them tools to tame those feelings, thus making room for the life-changing, skill-building experience they’re about to have:

1) Let your child feel a sense of ownership over the experience. Familiarize them with the camp environment by looking at pictures and reviewing the online map of camp, and teach them about the camp’s activities so they can formulate expectations.

2) Help your child get excited about camp: Take them shopping for new gear and focus them on fun things about camp that they can look forward to.

3) Avoid focusing on what makes kids anxious. Instead of asking leading questions like, “Are you nervous about making friends?” ask open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling about making friends?”

4) Don’t trivialize their concerns or offer glib reassurances. “There’s nothing to worry about!” or “Everyone loves camp!” may discourage your child. Instead, show that you have empathy and acknowledge their concerns.

5) Focus on concrete details in conversations leading up to camp. Avoid abstract issues like what it’s like to be away from home, and focus instead on cabin details (like the air-conditioning and private bathrooms!), song-filled meals in the dining room, lifelong friendships people make at camp, and warm nighttime campfires.

6) Reflect on your own formative experiences away from home and share positive aspects of them with your camper. Show that you are willing to talk about the new things they’ll be doing, whether it’s eating new food, sleeping in a bunk bed, getting along with cabin-mates, or even cleaning their own area and folding their clothes!

7) Go through “rehearsals.” A shorter-term sleepover or a night at Grandma’s will make it easier for your child to be away from home.

8) Don’t linger at the bus stop. Keep the goodbyes short and sweet. And take the bus! Camp starts on the bus. Some parents choose to drive to camp, but taking the bus is often a better option because that’s where friendships first begin to form.

9) Make communication easy and accessible: Pack envelopes and stamps, and make sure your child understands how easy it will be to write to you.

10) Have goals for each letter, so your child will come away focused on how she is adjusting, rather than on how much she wants to come home. For example, in the first letter from your camper, the goal might be to make one friend within the first two or three days of camp. When you write initial letters to camp, you can stress that it’s normal for the first couple days to feel hard (and for that reason, don’t be too upset if you get a sad letter in the first few days of camp, which is an adjustment period).

11) Try not to communicate your own anxiety; your child can pick up on your feelings even if you don’t verbalize them. What you want to share is your confidence in your child and the summer experience.

12) Help your child formulate realistic, goal-oriented plans for making friends or toasting the perfect marshmallow or passing a swimming test. The thrill of completing these plans can give your child a feeling of success and take their mind off of the jitters.

13) Make sure the staff and counselors know anything they need to know about your camper to head off problems and maximize the experience. Does your camper wet the bed? Are they anxious about water? And let your child know that counselors and the rest of the staff are there to support them, whether they have a simple question or a larger need.

And remember that the cost of a good camp covers more than the arts and crafts: It includes a team of professionals and counselors committed to fostering social learning in your child. [At Camp Zeke, we call this group our Camper Care Team. It includes a team of teachers, parents, and other caring adults. They monitor the campers throughout the summer to make sure everyone is adjusting well and thriving in the camp community.]

Summer camp is a unique situation where your child engages with a large community of peers and learns how to interact socially in a less-structured environment than school. This is a time for kids to actively make decisions for themselves and develop a sense of self-reliance. Though you may be concerned and wish to intervene, your supportiveness will give your child room to take ownership over the experience themselves. And that’s what leads to the tremendous growth that kids experience at camp.

* * *

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Warm regards,
The Camp Zeke Team (“Meet” Us Here)

 

4/3/24 Email: 2024 Parent Handbook and Camp Forms (Email 1)

Dear friends:

We hope you’re all doing well and getting excited for an amazing camp experience! Around this time of year, we begin sending advice emails and reminders about preparing for camp. To kick things off, we’re pleased to share our 2024 Parent Handbook.

Camper Forms
Please review the Parent Handbook on our website: campzeke.org/current-families/parent-handbook. This has all the information you need to prepare for the camp experience. Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms are due by May 1 for first session and full season campers and by June 1 for second session campers. Most forms are for parents to complete. Additionally, every camper will need an annual physical (done within 12 months of camp’s start date) and updated vaccination information prior to camp. If you need to schedule an appointment with your physician, please give yourself enough time.

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
As we frequently mention to families, Camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus. Please see the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Should I Contact with Questions?
If you have questions about preparing for camp (including questions about medical forms, the packing list, etc.), please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. Please note: We do encourage each family to read the Parent Handbook first. It has many answers.

If you have questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Warm regards,
The Camp Zeke Team

 

Security at Camp

Security at Camp Zeke (2024)

At Camp Zeke, we take the security of our community very seriously. Over the past couple years, we’ve received multiple federal/state security grants that have funded a number of important security measures, including the following:

  • Camp has a team of guards who patrol the camp during the day and throughout the night.
  • Camp has one private road leading into camp, which is guarded. Every person who enters camp must stop at our guard booth for check-in and approval before being allowed to enter camp.
  • Camp has a closed-circuit camera system throughout camp, with screens in our office, in our roadside guard booth, and on the cell phones of every leadership staff member, showing every public area of camp.
  • Camp has obtained security grants to add lights to dark areas, upgrade the gate at the entrance to camp, and implement various other security measures.
  • Camp also has detailed security procedures and protocols on which all the staff are trained during orientation. All of our security procedures were recently vetted and updated following consultation and guidance from Jewish communal security experts who work within the UJA-Federation of New York’s network.
  • We also maintain a good relationship with our local constable and other emergency responders.

Every summer, our goal is to create wonderful, meaningful, and transformational experiences for our campers, and we know that it all begins with a foundation of safety and security. This is something we keep top of mind in all our planning and staff training.

Friendship Bracelets

Friendship Bracelets at Camp Zeke

Do you want to know about something special that’s deeply woven into the fabric of our camp culture? Making friendship bracelets! It’s not just about crafting colorful threads; it’s about creating connections and memories that last a lifetime.

1. Tradition and Togetherness:

At Camp Zeke, making friendship bracelets isn’t just a craft; it’s a tradition that brings us all together. Whether you’re a seasoned bracelet-maker or a complete beginner, everyone is invited to join in.

2. Expressing Creativity:

It’s a chance to express your creativity and individuality. Each bracelet is unique, reflecting the personality and style of the person who creates it. You get to choose the colors, patterns, and designs that resonate with you.

3. Symbol of Friendship:

These bracelets go beyond being mere accessories. They are symbols of the friendships we form at Camp Zeke. When you wear one, it’s like carrying a little piece of camp with you wherever you go.

4. Shared Memories:

Many of us have made bracelets during campfires, by the lake, or in the shade of our favorite trees. Those bracelets become tangible reminders of the shared laughter, adventures, and the special moments we’ve had at camp.

5. Inclusivity:

The beauty of making friendship bracelets is that it’s an inclusive activity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a camper, a counselor, or someone visiting for the day – everyone can join in. It’s a chance to connect with others, break the ice, and form bonds that extend beyond the camp season.

6. Gifts of Friendship:

And let’s not forget the joy of gifting a handmade bracelet to a friend. It’s a gesture that says, “I appreciate our friendship, and I want you to have a piece of camp with you, too.”

So, whether you’re making your first bracelet or adding to your collection, know that you’re contributing to something special, something that makes our camp experience even more unique and meaningful. Let’s keep weaving those threads of friendship together!

 

Below are some instructional videos that teach you how to make your own awesome bracelets. You can click on the links or follow instructions below. Happy crafting, everyone!

 https://youtube.com/shorts/Hr-00DeVpfI?si=jy4I0b1DcDDbyqOR

https://youtu.be/Y_FzuLwCZnk?si=JVS6kgrF_RepVYmI

https://youtu.be/sS2BmCzQwbs?si=0GlfhHvpm-vyWl5d

 

How to Make a Friendship Bracelet:

Materials Needed:

  1. Embroidery floss or yarn in various colors
  2. Beads and/or charms (optional)
  3. Scissors
  4. Clipboard, cardboard, or tape (optional, for securing the bracelet while working)

 

Instructions:

1. Choose Your Colors:

Select the colors you want for your bracelet. Traditional friendship bracelets often use bright, contrasting colors.

2. Measure and Cut the Threads:

Decide on the length of your bracelet. A common starting point is around 60 inches (150 cm) per thread. Cut as many threads as you want, depending on the thickness of your bracelet.

3. Arrange the Threads:

Align the threads and tie a knot at one end, leaving a small loop. This loop will be used to secure the bracelet during the crafting process.

4. Start Braiding:

  • Divide the threads into groups (usually 2-4 threads per group).
  • Begin braiding the threads together, making sure to keep them tight and even.
  • You can experiment with different braiding techniques, such as the classic three-strand braid or more complex patterns.

5. Add Beads or Charms (Optional):

If desired, incorporate beads or charms into your bracelet by threading them onto individual threads.

6. Finish with a Knot:

Once you reach the desired length, tie a knot at the end to secure the braid. You can also add a loop or make a braided tie for closure.

7. Trim Excess Threads:

Trim any excess thread at the ends, leaving a small tail.

8. Share with Friends:

Friendship bracelets are meant to be shared. Give them to friends as a symbol of your bond.

Vaccination Policy

Immunization Policy

Due to considerations of public health and camper safety, especially in the close quarters and communal living of a residential summer camp, all campers and staff members must be vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption that is vetted and approved by camp’s medical director.

Camp strongly recommends the full vaccine regimen outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control, and camp requires at least the following vaccines:

(1) MMR: 2 doses, or 1 dose with proof of immunity from the current calendar year.

(2) Varicella: 2 doses, or 1 dose with proof of immunity from the current calendar year.

(3) Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis: for children, 3 doses if the first dose was after age 1 and 4 doses if the first dose was before age 1, for adults, 1 dose.

(4) Polio: For children under 18, 3 doses if the last dose was given after age 4 and 4 doses if the last dose was given before age 4. For adults, 1 dose.

(5) Meningitis ACWY: If living in a bunk, 1 dose within the last 5 years. This is mandatory for anyone above age 11 and highly recommended for anyone under age 11.

Equal Opportunity, Antiharassment & Nondiscrimination Policy

Equal Opportunity, Antiharassment & Nondiscrimination Policy

  1. Commitment to Equal Opportunity. Camp is committed to providing campers and staff with an environment free from any form of unlawful discrimination. Camp does not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, or other protected categories, classes, or characteristics. Actions related to camp admission, discipline, housing, and other opportunities shall not be made based on any such status. Discriminatory behavior is prohibited regardless of how it is exhibited, whether verbally, in writing, or electronically displayed or conveyed. Notwithstanding the foregoing: as a Jewish organization, camp may give preference to hiring Jewish staff members, and admitting/providing scholarship funding to Jewish campers, to promote the religious principles for which the camp was founded; and camp may impose bona fide occupational qualifications for certain positions, such as hiring female staff to live in girls’ housing (with such determinations made based on gender identity, as set forth below).
  2. Prohibition on Harassment. Harassment is strictly prohibited. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a person’s protected characteristics (e.g., race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and other factors protected by federal, state or local law) in circumstances where: (a) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued participation in camp; or (b) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
  3. Accommodations Policy. Camp is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to campers and staff with disabilities. If a camper or staff member believes they need an accommodation because of a disability, then they must contact camp management to provide a description of the specific accommodation requested, the reason for the need for an accommodation, and how the accommodation will allow the individual to participate in camp. After receiving the request, camp will engage in an interactive dialogue to determine the requestor’s precise needs or limitations and explore potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations, to the extent reasonable accommodations can be made without imposing an undue burden/hardship on camp. Camp makes determinations about reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis using an individualized assessment of each person.
  4. Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Community Members. Camp is a welcoming environment for every community member. We celebrate diversity and prohibit discrimination based on any protected characteristic, including sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender identity, and gender expression. We house and group campers and staff based on their gender identity or expression, rather than their assigned gender at birth. If a transgender, a gender nonconforming, a nonbinary, or any other camper or staff member prefers a private room, then camp will endeavor to provide the camper or staff member with a private room. Campers and staff may use bathrooms based on their gender identity or expression, rather than their assigned gender at birth. Every member of our community has the right to be addressed by their chosen name, title, or pronoun. No camper or staff members needs to show any particular “proof” of gender to exercise these rights.

Camper Travel on Arrival and Departure Days 2023

Camper Buses on Arrival and Departure Days 2023

This summer, almost every camper will be taking the bus to and from camp. If you have not yet done so, please fill out the transportation form on your CampInTouch account. Please see below for drop-off  and pick-up times. 

June 28th and July 19th: Camper Arrival

Bus from MD:
B’Nai Shalom, 18401 Burtfield Dr, Olney, MD 20832

Please arrive at 9:30am to load the bus. It will depart at 10:00am.

 

Buses from NJ:
Berkeley College, 44 Rifle Camp Rd, Woodland Park, NJ 07424 (Drive to your left after security.)
We will have a staggered arrival, with several buses to camp:
On 6/28:
*Campers entering 2nd – 5th grade: Please arrive promptly at 11:00 am to load the bus. It will depart at 11:30 am.
*Campers entering 6th grade: Please arrive promptly at 11:45 am to load the bus. It will depart at 12:15 pm.
*Campers entering 7th & 8th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:30 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 1:00 pm.
*Campers entering 9th – 12th grade: Please arrive promptly at 1:15 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 1:45 pm.
On 7/19:
*Campers entering 2nd – 6th grade: Please arrive promptly at 11:00 am to load the bus. It will depart at 11:30 am.
*Campers entering 7th-12th grade: Please arrive promptly at 12:00 pm to load the bus. It will depart at 12:30pm.
If you have campers in multiple age groups, please arrive at the time of the youngest camper. 

 

Bus from Newark Airport will depart once all camper flights have arrived.

For the very few people driving to camp, please arrive 4:00-5:00pm.

 

July 18th and August 8th: Camper Departure

Bus to MD:
B’Nai Shalom, 18401 Burtfield Dr, Olney, MD 20832

The bus will depart camp at 11am. Depending on traffic and bathroom stops, it should arrive at around 4:00-4:30pm.

 

Buses to NJ:
Berkeley College, 44 Rifle Camp Rd, Woodland Park, NJ 07424 (Drive to your left after security.)

Similar to arrival day, we will have staggered departures from camp. To reduce parents’ wait time, we will send exact bus assignments about 1 week prior to departure day. 

*Campers entering 2nd – 6th grade: The bus will leave camp at 11:00 am and should arrive at about 1:30pm.
*Campers entering 7th & 8th grade: The bus will leave camp at 12:00 pm and should arrive at about 2:30pm.
*Campers entering 9th – 12th grade: The bus will leave camp at 1:00 pm and should arrive at about 3:30pm.

If you have campers in multiple age groups, older siblings will join the bus of their youngest sibling.

 

Bus to Newark Airport will depart camp with enough time to check in for all camper flights.

For the very few campers being picked up by car to camp, please arrive 2:00-2:30pm.

 

Campers may only be picked up by their parent or legal guardian, unless the parent or guardian contacts the office in advance to inform us of other arrangements. Please note that you may need a valid photo ID to check out your camper at the bus drop-off or at camp.

2023 Emails to Enrolled Families

6/15/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 7)

Dear friends:

As the conflict continues on in Ukraine, camp is welcoming 11 Ukrainian campers this summer on full scholarships – at absolutely no charge to their families. The UJA-Federation of New York is providing a grant for 8 of these full scholarships, and now we need your support to fund the other 3. Please give generously to help this important cause. To learn more about making camp a philanthropic priority, please visit our Philanthropic Support page.

Also, a couple quick reminders: First, please note that the horseback riding form is now on CampInTouchIf you’d like your camper to ride this summer, please sign up now on CampInTouch. Second, please note that all medications must go through JDrugs. The JDrugs form is on CampInTouch.

Please review the Parent Handbook for all details about preparing for camp. To read all the prior emails in the Preparing for Camp series, you can visit this link

SONG SESSIONS AT CAMP
By The Camp Zeke Team

To see what pure joy looks like, you don’t need to look any further than a song session in the third week of camp. By that point in the summer, the community feels like a huge family. The kids are completely at ease, being their truest selves. For the staff, the friendships are rock solid. The youngest camper knows the oldest staff member and everyone in between. And by the third week, every last person in camp has memorized the words to our songs.

What do our song sessions look like? Just as a particular meal comes to an end, a camper looks up and notices a song leader plugging in her guitar. She quietly hums a melody. A few voices chime in from around the room. Another song leader appears. The humming turns into words. The song starts getting louder. Some campers drum a beat on their tables.

Pretty soon, the entire camp is buzzing. The campers are jumping up and down with pure joy, singing their hearts out. The kitchen staff have left the kitchen and they’re dancing with their arms around each other’s shoulders. The counselors have started a conga line. Everywhere you look, it’s smiles from ear to ear.

It takes a couple weeks for camp to get there, but once it does, the community becomes pure magic.

We like to pass along our most popular camp songs before the summer starts so our new staff feel right at home when they arrive to camp, and so our returning staff remember the starry nights by Hickory Lake.

We sing lots of songs you’ll already know, like “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King, “One Day” by Matisyahu, and “I’m yours” by Jason Mraz.

We also sing songs you might only hear at camp, like “Od Yavo Shalom” (until there is peace), “Brich Rachamana” (a post-meal song of joy and gratitude in Aramaic), and the official Camp Zeke song!

Our very own Cantor Melanie Blatt, one of the most talented song leaders in all of Jewish camp, made a couple videos of our harder-to-find camp songs so everyone can learn them before camp starts. You can watch Melanie’s videos here: Video OneVideo Two. The lyrics are below.

1. Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu – Hebrew
Od yavo shalom aleinu (Let there be peace among us)

Od yavo shalom aleinu
Od yavo shalom aleinu
Ve al kulam (x2) (and everyone)

Salaam (Peace)
Aleinu ve al kol ha olam, (Peace among us and the whole world)
Salaam, Salaam (x2) (Peace, peace)

2. The Short Camp Zeke Song – English with 4 Hebrew words
I am strong – Koach! (strong)
I am proud – Ga’ave! (proud)
Stand with me – B’yachad! (together)
Sing out loud – B’kol! (one voice)

We grow faster, we grow stronger than we ever thought we could
Here at Zeke our minds and bodies and our souls are understood
With great friends and great adventures healthy living is a blast
I only with that my time here at Camp
Zeke would last….foreverrrr….

3. Brich Rachamana – Aramaic
Brich rachamana malka d’alma ma’arey d’hai pita (x2) (Blessed is the Compassionate One, Ruler of the Universe, Source of this Food)
Na na na na na na, na na na na na (x2) English: Na na na na na

4. Adama V’Shamaim – Hebrew and English
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho

Adama Veshamayim
Chom Ha’esh
Tzlil hamayim

Ani margish zot begufi
beruchi, benishmati

Ani margish zot begufi
beruchi, benishmati

Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho

Love the earth
Love the sky
Heat of fire
Sound of water
I can feel it in my body,
in my spirit, in my soul.

Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho
Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Heya Ho

5. Ameh
Ameh, Ameh, Ameh Yisrael Chai
Ameh, Ameh, Ameh Yisrael Chai
Ameh, Ameh, Ameh Yisrael Chai

Ohhh Ohhh Od Avinu Chai
Ohhh Ohhh Od Avinu Chai
Ohhh Ohhh Od Avinu Chai

6. Chinai Matov – Hebrew and English
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Wow Wow Wow

Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Wow Wow Wow

Hinai matov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad
How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this day

Hinai matov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad
How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this day

Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Wow Wow Wow

Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Wow Wow Wow

Hinai matov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad
Hinai matov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad

Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Eeeeh Ohhh Ohhh
Wow Wow Wow

How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this lovely day
How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this day
How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this lovely day
How great it is for brothers and sisters to hang out on this day

* * *

Please let us know if we can be helpful as you prepare for camp! And please give generously to help fund camp’s scholarship efforts.

Warmest regards,
The Camp Zeke Team

 

6/8/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 6)

Dear Friends:

Our staff are hard at work setting up camp with tremendous anticipation for the arrival of our campers in a few more weeks! Most immediately, we’re in the process of finalizing our first session and full season bunks. Who’s excited!? If you have a final bunk request that you’d like to send in, please email rachel@campzeke.org to let her know.

Before getting to our content, a few notes and reminders:

  • You can see this summer’s bus pickup locations here and confirm your bus selection on CampInTouchRemember, camp starts on the bus so please plan for all campers to take the bus.
  • Medical forms are now due for all campers. Please submit them on CampInTouch if you haven’t already.
  • All medications must go through JDrugs. The form is on CampInTouch. Please do not send medications directly to camp that have not gone through JDrugs.
  • Optional Teen Leadership sign-up form is now available on CampInTouch.
  • Optional Horseback Riding sign-up form is now available on CampInTouch.

Please review the Parent Handbook for all details about preparing for camp. To read all the prior emails in the Preparing for Camp series, you can visit this link

Getting Ready for Camp
By Bob Ditter

Some parents, especially ones who have never been to camp as children themselves, make the mistake of thinking that camp is about the activities or the facilities. While those are important aspects of camp, that’s not what camp is. Camp is about making some of the best friends of your life. It’s an exercise in self-reliance and social learning.

Since campers live in groups, it is also about learning the give-and-take of making decisions and getting along with all those “brothers” or “sisters” they suddenly inherit when they arrive. In a time when resilience – the ability to stick with something and recover from a setback – is a great quality to cultivate in our children, camp is an increasingly attractive option. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me how much more confident, calm, purposeful or focused their children seem after a couple of weeks of the overnight experience.

But Are We Ready?
Are you ready as a parent to let your child go? Children are like little membranes – they pick up all of the subtle emotions of their parents. [So please keep a positive, upbeat attitude to reinforce that camp is an incredibly valuable life experience. Your kids will pick up on the message – both spoken and unspoken.]

Think of camp as “life experience with training wheels.” Camp professionals have been helping kids separate and become more independent for years. This is their true business. They tell you they teach swimming or arts and crafts or canoeing, but what they really teach is self-reliance and resilience – in other words, [essential] skills for life.

Reassure yourself, as a parent, that you’ve done your job. All the advice, coaching, caring and goodwill you’ve given your child over the years is in there. Trust the job you have done. Let your kids try out their wings, even if it means they take a little nosedive once in a while. [All of us on the Camp Zeke staff will be there to help them along and support them the whole time, so they will soar, even without you there.]

How Do We Get Them Ready?
I created a few tips for parents to help them and their children get ready for the adventure of camp. They are as follows:

(1) Involve them in shopping for camp, maybe even doing some packing together.
(2) Pack a favorite personal item, like a tee-shirt, cap or small stuffed animal.
(3) Have them “practice” sleeping over with friends or relatives and writing letters home.
(4) Talk with them about the fun things they are looking forward to doing at camp. Watch the camp videos together.
(5) Share stories about your own first times away from home. (Keep it positive!)
(6) Point out what your child does well and how that will be an asset at camp.
(7) Mail a letter to your new camper one or two days before she departs for camp, so that it will be there on her first full day at camp.
Pre-Camp Discussions

It also helps to have a few conversations with your child, before they head off to meet their new friends. Here are a few things you can say – not all at once, but a little over time – in the time before camp starts:

(1) Every camper is part of a group and as your parents, we expect you to cooperate and help out.
(2) If you are having a problem, your counselor is there to help you. Don’t wait to tell us, you can tell your counselor. Be honest and ask for what you need.
(3) Clean-up is part of camp. You do it every day. We expect you to participate.
(4) There are many new things at camp, and you may not like them all or be as good at some as you are at others. We expect you to try!
(4) Go about making a new friend or two. If you are timid about meeting someone new, ask about what they like and be a good listener.
(5) Not everyone has to be your friend, and you don’t have to be everyone else’s friend. If you have one or two good friends at camp, that’s great!
(6) Have fun and tell us all about it in your first letter home.

So, good luck and congratulations on giving your child the “gift” of growing up! It will serve them for years to come.

* * *
As always, the Camp Zeke Team is here and happy to help you get ready for the amazing adventure. Don’t hesitate to be in touch!

Warm regards,
Amy, Andrew, Barbara, Katie, Laurie, Lisa, Janet, Matt, Isaac, Rachel, and Riva (see our bios here)

5/19/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 5)

Dear Friends:

We’re pleased to share the latest email in our Preparing for Camp series, including bus pickup locations for 2023! You can see this summer’s bus pickup locations here and make your bus selection on CampInTouch. Camp starts on the bus so please plan for all campers to take the bus. Please note a few other forms that are available on CampInTouch:

  • Medical forms are now due for first session and full season campers. Forms are due by June 1st for second session campers.
  • All medications must go through JDrugs. The form is on CampInTouch.
  • Optional Teen Leadership sign-up form is now available on CampInTouch.
  • Optional Horseback Riding sign-up form is now available on CampInTouch.

Please review the Parent Handbook for all details about preparing for camp. To read all the prior emails in the Preparing for Camp series, you can visit this link.

Six Insider Tips to Prepare Your Child for Overnight Camp
By Jamie Lake (appeared in Kveller)

My camp duffel bags are 30 years old.* This is the first time since 1986 that they will not make the trek with me from Chicago to Wisconsin for a summer filled with outdoor adventure and friendship. As a life-long camper and now retired camp director, I have enough experience to write a doctoral dissertation on how to prepare your child for the essential Jewish-American tradition: going to overnight camp. Instead of boring you with endless suggestions, I’ll share some tried and true advice.

1. Shop, label, and pack with your child. Gathering items and labeling them with your child’s name, especially for the first timer, can be a lot of work. Doing this together sets the stage for the camp experience where your child will be responsible for her belongings. Kids should know what they are bringing with them, and parents can keep an eye on making sure that unnecessary or banned items don’t end up in your child’s luggage. [As a reminder, see our Parent Handbook at the link above for Camp Zeke’s packing list.]

2. Be smarter than the packing list. Camp directors spend years creating and reworking the camp’s packing list, but this list is designed for a generic camper, not your camper. You’ll want to follow the packing list recommendations, but you also don’t want to send unnecessary things. For example, if your daughter hates wearing sandals, don’t send her to camp with sandals even if they’re on the packing list. (This logic should not be applied to toothbrushes, soap, or shampoo no matter how much your child may dislike using them!) Also, resist the Jewish parent urge to go way beyond what is recommended on the packing list. Your child will have limited space to keep all of her belongings. I promise that once she gets to camp, she won’t need every gimmicky camp accessory or 10 extra t-shirts.

3. Talk about camp, but avoid the scary-funny stuff. Keep in mind that the funny memories you have about mishaps from your days as a camper may only be funny because of the time that has passed since the experiences. You want to avoid mentioning that one time a bat flew into your cabin… Instead, focus on neutral memories, talk about what they are looking forward to, check out the photos on the camp’s website, or watch the camp’s promotional video together. [Read our guidance in prior emails (link above) about how to get past the pre-camp jitters. It’s totally normal for kids to be nervous before camp!]

4. Practice, practice, practice. I hope that one of the reasons you are sending your child to camp is to help them gain independence and a sense of personal responsibility. Begin now by having your soon-to-be camper manage their own hygiene routines (teeth brushing, showering, hair brushing), keeping track of their things, and making their bed with minimal reminders. These are skills that kids will use at camp, and you won’t be there to keep on them. Your child’s counselors will provide gentle reminders, but they will really appreciate a camper who is ready to do these things without much prodding. [Also, critically, please make sure that your campers are prepared to apply sunscreen every day and check themselves for ticks every day. We will have signs and reminders around camp, but campers need to be taught the importance of this from home.] 

5. Manage expectations. This can take on many forms in the weeks leading up to camp. Camp is an unbelievable experience, but similar to home, it is not always perfect. It’s OK to be honest about this with your child. The same idea applies to homesickness. Missing home is a normal part of being away from home, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun at camp. In both scenarios, what’s most important is that you discuss with your child who they can talk to at camp if they are having a bad day or are really missing your dog. Kids should know that the adults at camp [Camp Zeke’s counselors, unit heads, nurses, camper care specialists, and directors] are there to help them problem solve.

6. Do not make The Promise. With the best of intentions, many parents tell their campers that they will come get them if they are not happy. This is the worst thing you can tell a camper. First, the statement sends the message to your child that you don’t believe in her ability to succeed at camp. Second, it sets up unrealistic and low expectations about camp. These feelings often leave campers to take the easy way out if they are ever sad at camp instead of working through the issues and gaining independence.

The camp experience begins long before your camper arrives at camp. These suggestions will help set them up for success and, hopefully, lay the foundation for them to be become life-long campers, too.

*Footnote: Do not expect your duffel bags to last as long as mine. I think this is a case of, “they don’t make things like they used to.”

* * *
As always, the Camp Zeke Team is here and happy to help you get ready for the amazing adventure. Don’t hesitate to be in touch!

Warm regards,
Amy, Andrew, Barbara, Elliot, Katie, Laurie, Lisa, Janet, Matt, Isaac, Rachel, and Riva (see our bios here)

 

5/15/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 4)

Dear Friends:

We’re pleased to share the latest email in our Preparing for Camp series. To read all the prior emails in the series, please visit this link. We’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

Medical Forms Due
Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms were due on May 1st for first session and full season campers. If you have not submitted them yet, please do so as soon as possible. All forms are due by June 1st for second session campers. Please see the forms on CampInTouch for details.

Medications
Please note that all medications must go through J-Drugs. If you are ordering prescription or OTC medication from J-Drugs, please be sure to send the form directly to them, and not to Camp Zeke. Please find the form on CampInTouch.

Totally Optional: Teen Leadership Form
Our Teen Leadership program is an optional program for teens who are excited about taking on a leadership role in camp, mentoring campers, and planning/executing programs. Teen Leaders will be able to earn community service hours for successful completion of the program.

The Teen Leadership program is open to rising 10th to 12th graders who are not in the CIT Program or Junior Counselor Program (see more about our teen programs here). If your camper would like to participate in the Teen Leadership program, please complete the Teen Leadership form now available on CampInTouch.

Totally Optional: Horseback Riding Form
We have a totally optional horseback riding program. The form is now live on CampInTouch. A number of years ago, we partnered with one of our neighbors — a professional, family-owned riding school in beautiful Waymart, PA called Happy Trails Riding Center.

Campers take four lessons per session. Because this program is run through an outside school, it is the only camp program with a separate cost. As noted on the form, the cost of the program is $750 per session.

How Do We Prepare for Camp?
The starting point is reading the Parent Handbook, which has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience. Of course, once you review the handbook, if you have any questions at all about preparing for camp we’re glad to help every step of the way!

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus to camp. See the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Do We Contact with Questions?
The Parent Handbook has answers to many common questions. If you still have questions once you review the handbook, we’re always here to help!

For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Please Make Camp a Philanthropic Priority
As we continue to count down the days to the start of camp, we’re excited to announce that in late 2023, we will begin construction on a brand-new amphitheater that will become the Camp Zeke gathering place for our many all-camp events. Make a gift today and help contribute to our new amphitheater project.

This year, we have been fortunate to receive a matching grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that requires us to raise $128,300. We quite literally cannot access the foundation funds without raising our part of the match. If we don’t raise our part of the match, the foundation funding disappears.

Your donation, given now, will go to work right away, helping us to build our new amphitheater, fund scholarships for low-income campers, hire our amazing staff, and create another unforgettable summer at Camp Zeke. Your investment will immediately be matched. Give here now.

Our Camp Zeke community has always helped us achieve these goals. Your support will not only help us provide an unforgettable summer experience for our campers, but also help us continue our mission of promoting health, wellness, and Jewish culture.

Warm regards,
Amy, Andrew, Barbara, Elliot, Katie, Laurie, Lisa, Matt, Isaac, Rachel, and Riva (see our bios here)

5/5/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 3)

Dear Friends:

We’re pleased to share the third email in our Preparing for Camp series. To read all the prior emails in our series of pre-camp advice and guidance, please visit this link. We’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

Medical Forms Due
Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms were due on May 1st for first session and full season campers. If you have not submitted them yet, please do so as soon as possible. All forms are due by June 1st for second session campers. Please see the forms on CampInTouch for details.

Medications
Please note that all medications must go through J-Drugs. If you are ordering prescription or OTC medication from J-Drugs, please be sure to send the form directly to them, and not to Camp Zeke. Please find the form on CampInTouch.

How Do We Prepare for Camp?
The starting point is reading the Parent Handbook, which has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience. Of course, once you review the handbook, if you have any questions at all about preparing for camp we’re glad to help every step of the way!

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus to camp. See the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Do We Contact with Questions?
The Parent Handbook has answers to many common questions. If you still have questions once you review the handbook, we’re always here to help! For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

And now for this week’s topic…

TALKING ABOUT CAMP
by Bob Ditter

Sending your child away to camp is a major milestone for most families, one that is often marked by excitement, anticipation and perhaps even some anxiety. Though camp is certainly about making friends and having fun, it is also about being on your own and being a part of a community.

One of the most important things you as a parent can do to help prepare your child for both these aspects of camp is to talk with your child about it before they go. In fact, it may be better to have several occasional, shorter talks rather than one long conversation…. Children usually do better with this sort of conversation if it is part of a more general discussion, either at the dinner table or, for example, while riding in the car doing errands.

The following are some sample topics for discussion that will help prepare your child emotionally for their big adventure at camp:

Friends. Camp is not anything if it is not about making new friends. If you are shy about meeting new kids, then learn to get to know others by being a good listener. Ask questions. Share what you have. Join in. Remember also that not everyone in your bunk has to be your friend, and you don’t have to be everyone else’s friend. As long as you treat others with respect and they do the same with you, then having one or two friends at camp is fine. Of course, if you have more, that’s great!

Respect. No matter how you feel about anyone else — your counselors or other kids in your group — I expect you to treat people with respect. If you are angry, upset or disagree, there is a respectful way to express it.

Activities. There are many exciting things to do at camp, many of which you may never have tried before. (If your child is tending to be a bit homesick or worried about being homesick, remind them what it was they were excited about doing at camp when they first thought about going there.) You may not like all the activities or you may be better at some than others. That’s normal. I, however, expect you to try. The more you put into camp, the more you will get out of it!

Cooperating. You, like every other camper there, will be part of a bunk. As your parent I expect you to cooperate with others and help out. That’s part of what makes camp so special — kids helping each other out. Most kids will help you if you are friendly and help them.

Give yourself time. One thing about camp is that almost everything is new — the kids; the activities; the routines; the bed you sleep in; the bathrooms; the food and more. It takes a few days to get adjusted, so be patient with yourself. Most of the time you will be having so much fun you won’t mind all the changes, but if you do, remember that you will get so used to things that by the time you come home you will miss them all!

Getting help. Everyone has good days and bad days. If you are having a problem, your counselor is there to help you! You don’t have to wait to tell us if you are upset about something. After all, if your counselor doesn’t know what might be troubling you, they can’t help you. Be honest and ask for what you need… [And remember, if a counselor can’t help with something, campers can always come to any adult in camp, including of course, Lisa and Isaac!]

Helping out. Camp is about fun, but it also requires that you help out. Clean-up is part of camp. You do it every day! As your parent I expect you to cooperate.

Being positive. A great thing to remind your first time camper about is what his or her strong points are. I would focus not just on what they do well, but their positive qualities, such as what makes them a good friend or the type of person other kids would want to know. Helping children identify their strengths can help them when they are having a set back — one of those inevitable growing pains all children have from time to time.

Gratitude. A lot of people have worked hard to make sure you have a good time at camp. Your counselors, the people in the dining hall, the maintenance staff, the health staff — they all work hard so you can have fun. Be grateful for what others do for you.

Talking with your child about these kinds of issues is a great way to support them as they get ready take this important step on the road to being more resilient and self-reliant. For you as a parent it can give you more peace of mind as you allow your child to participate safely in a broader world — a world introduced to them in part by camp!

* * *
We hope you find our pre-camp preparation emails helpful Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions!

Warm regards,
Andrew, Elliot, Isaac, Katie, Laurie, Lisa, Matt, Rachel, and Riva (see our bios here)

4/23/23 Email: The Preparing for Camp Series (Email 2)

Dear Friends:

In the lead-up to camp, we like to pass along resources to help your camper prepare for a successful summer full of happiness, deep friendships, and personal growth. Right around this time of year, as the weather gets a little warmer and families start really thinking about camp, both new and returning campers can feel some pre-camp jitters.

That’s totally normal! We wanted to share some advice from the Child Mind Institute about preparing your campers for the experience. Please read on for the Institute’s insight. Before getting there, a few quick reminders:

Medical Forms Due Soon
Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms are due by May 1st for first session and full season campers and by June 1st for second session campers.

How Do We Prepare for Camp?
The starting point is reading the Parent Handbook, which has all the essential details about getting ready for the experience. Of course, once you review the handbook, if you have any questions at all about preparing for camp we’re glad to help every step of the way!

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus to camp. See the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Do We Contact with Questions?
The Parent Handbook has answers to many common questions. If you still have questions once you review the handbook, we’re always here to help! For questions about medical forms, transportation, and the packing list, please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. For questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Prior Advice/Guidance Emails
To read all the prior emails in our series of pre-camp advice and guidance (just one email so far), please see this link. We’ll update that link every time we send an email like this one.

Clearing the Fear to Make Way for a Formative Experience
Adapted from Child Mind Institute

Portraits of summer camp showcase sun-splashed kids playing sports, swimming, and getting freckles. Not pictured is any sign of anxiety, a totally natural reaction to a new adventure and a several-week separation. All kids experience a mixture of excitement and nervousness when summer camp approaches.

Of course, getting past these initial jitters is part of the value of the camp experience. Indeed, summer camps hone many skills that are useful for future success. These include resilience, self-reliance, social adaptability, and of course, the ability to overcome jitters before an important and valuable life event. The camp experience — being away from home among peers — also helps kids develop social skills, separate in a healthy way from parents, cultivate independence, and build confidence.

The key to helping your camper get over the pre-camp jitters is to acknowledge their feelings and give them tools to tame those feelings, thus making room for the life-changing, skill-building experience they’re about to have:

1) Let your child feel a sense of ownership over the experience. Familiarize them with the camp environment by looking at pictures and reviewing the online map of camp, and teach them about the camp’s activities so they can formulate expectations.

2) Help your child get excited about camp: Take them shopping for new gear and focus them on fun things about camp that they can look forward to.

3) Avoid focusing on what makes kids anxious. Instead of asking leading questions like, “Are you nervous about making friends?” ask open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling about making friends?”

4) Don’t trivialize their concerns or offer glib reassurances. “There’s nothing to worry about!” or “Everyone loves camp!” may discourage your child. Instead, show that you have empathy and acknowledge their concerns.

5) Focus on concrete details in conversations leading up to camp. Avoid abstract issues like what it’s like to be away from home, and focus instead on cabin details (like the air-conditioning and private bathrooms!), song-filled meals in the dining room, lifelong friendships people make at camp, and warm nighttime campfires.

6) Reflect on your own formative experiences away from home and share positive aspects of them with your camper. Show that you are willing to talk about the new things they’ll be doing, whether it’s eating new food, sleeping in a bunk bed, getting along with cabin-mates, or even cleaning their own area and folding their clothes!

7) Go through “rehearsals.” A shorter-term sleepover or a night at Grandma’s will make it easier for your child to be away from home.

8) Don’t linger at the bus stop. Keep the goodbyes short and sweet. And take the bus! Camp starts on the bus. Some parents choose to drive to camp, but taking the bus is often a better option because that’s where friendships first begin to form.

9) Make communication easy and accessible: Pack envelopes and stamps, and make sure your child understands how easy it will be to write to you.

10) Have goals for each letter, so your child will come away focused on how she is adjusting, rather than on how much she wants to come home. For example, in the first letter from your camper, the goal might be to make one friend within the first two or three days of camp. When you write initial letters to camp, you can stress that it’s normal for the first couple days to feel hard (and for that reason, don’t be too upset if you get a sad letter in the first few days of camp, which is an adjustment period).

11) Try not to communicate your own anxiety; your child can pick up on your feelings even if you don’t verbalize them. What you want to share is your confidence in your child and the summer experience.

12) Help your child formulate realistic, goal-oriented plans for making friends or toasting the perfect marshmallow or passing a swimming test. The thrill of completing these plans can give your child a feeling of success and take their mind off of the jitters.

13) Make sure the staff and counselors know anything they need to know about your camper to head off problems and maximize the experience. Does your camper wet the bed? Are they anxious about water? And let your child know that counselors and the rest of the staff are there to support them, whether they have a simple question or a larger need.

And remember that the cost of a good camp covers more than the arts and crafts: It includes a team of professionals and counselors committed to fostering social learning in your child. [At Camp Zeke, we call this group our Camper Care Team. It includes a team of teachers, parents, and other caring adults. They monitor the campers throughout the summer to make sure everyone is adjusting well and thriving in the camp community.]

Summer camp is a unique situation where your child engages with a large community of peers and learns how to interact socially in a less-structured environment than school. This is a time for kids to actively make decisions for themselves and develop a sense of self-reliance. Though you may be concerned and wish to intervene, your supportiveness will give your child room to take ownership over the experience themselves. And that’s what leads to the tremendous growth that kids experience at camp.

* * *
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Warm regards,
Andrew, Elliot, Isaac, Katie, Laurie, Lisa, Matt, Rachel, and Riva (see our bios here)

4/10/23 Email: Parent Handbook 2023

Dear friends:

We hope you’re having a happy Passover! Around this time of year, we begin sending advice emails and reminders about preparing for camp. To kick things off, we’re pleased to share our 2023 Parent Handbook.

Camper Forms
Please review the Parent Handbook on our website at this link. This has all the information you need to prepare for an amazing camp experience. Please note that the medical forms and all other camper forms are due by May 1 for first session and full season campers and by June 1 for second session campers. Most forms are for parents to complete. Additionally, every camper will need an annual physical (done within 12 months of camp’s start date) and updated vaccination information prior to camp. If you need to schedule an appointment with your physician, please give yourself enough time.

Camper Drop Off and Pick Up
We are happy to announce that bus transportation is back for this summer! Please note that camp starts on the bus and we expect that all campers will take the bus. Please see the transportation form on CampInTouch for details.

Who Should I Contact with Questions?
If you have questions about preparing for camp (including questions about medical forms, the packing list, etc.), please contact Rachel at rachel@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783. Please note: We do encourage each family to read the Parent Handbook first. It has many answers.

If you have questions about billing, deposits and financials, please contact our registrar, Barbara Lichter, at barbara@campzeke.org or 212-913-9783.

Warmest regards,
The Camp Zeke Team

JFAM Weekend Schedule COJECO 2022

Welcome to Our COJECO JFAM Weekend at Camp Zeke

Friday

2:00 – 4:00 PM – Arrival/Welcome/Show Families to Rooms – Enjoy a selection of healthy snacks, cold drinks and freshly brewed hot coffee in our center dining room. Hachnasat orchim – we welcome you to our community!

4:00 PM – Meet on the main lawn near the lawn deck for fun and games and an interactive camp treasure hunt and visit all the key places on camp to learn where everything is located.

5:00 PM – Join us on the lakeside pavilion for a reception complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres for the adults and fresh fruit and snacks for the kids.

5:30 PM – It’s time for Kabbalat Shabbat – Help us welcome Shabbat through joyful song, reflection and prayer.

6:00 PM – We now move to the dining room porch as we explain and practice the ritual of lighting the Shabbat candles, Family blessing (i.e. blessing the children), say kiddush, have a ritual hand wash, and then everyone washes their hands as they enter the dining room as a community (hang the bracha for handwashing above the sink). Once seated, we sing Shalom aleichem, say the blessings over the challah. We encourage the children to join in the singing and rejoicing in welcoming the Sabbath.

6:15 PM – Enjoy a festive Shabbat meal with a traditional chicken and matzo ball soup, fresh roast chicken, chicken fingers for the kids, tri-color roast fingerling potatoes, a fresh vegetable medley and warm fruit pies for dessert. (Wine and Grape Juice)

Throughout the meal, we will sing/teach short Shabbat songs accompanied with a bit of learning (i.e. about the meal and what we’re eating, and a bit of Torah). We finish the Shabbat meal by singing the prayer after the meal.

7:15 PM – Learn to create bedtime rituals with our Jewish life leader in the dining room. (Dine on south side, learn afterward on north side) – Hashkiveinu, Shma, guided prayer – COJECO staff adds a Russian-language equivalent

7:45 PM – Leilah tov – Bedtime for the younger children. For children ages 6 and older – join our counselors in the theater for a fun-filled Shabbat Game Oneg

8:15 PM – Join our adult smooze, snacks and adult beverages at our Oneg Shabbat in the A Lounge – Babysitters are available to watch your little ones. COJECO staff will run an interactive program

Saturday – Shabbat Shalom!

7:30AM – Good morning!

Enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a hot cocoa on the dining room porch.

We invite you to join us for morning yoga on the lakeside pavilion

8:15 – 9:15 AM – Breakfast – Enjoy a selection of fresh fruit salad, assorted yogurts, muffins, pastries, hard boiled eggs, fresh bagels and spreads, and assorted cold cereals. – We practice shmirat ha’guf – taking care of our health.

– Singing and Ruach in the dining room before we split into Shabboptions.

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – It’s time for Shabboptions – select one of the following:

● Traditional Shabbat Service full of joyful singing and prayer led by our Rabbi on the lakeside pavilion
● Shabbat Theater – Join us in the theater as we create mini plays using scenes from the Bible
● Shabbat Reflective Nature Walk – Meet us at the lakefront and take a gentle walk around the lake as we reflect on the meaning of Shabbat and the Torah portion of the week. (Wear hiking boots or shoes and bug spray).
● Torah Yoga – Stretch your limbs as we contemplate the Torah portion of the week with our flexible instructors, lakeside in our martial arts studio.

10:45 AM – 12:30 PM – Separate child and adult programming for children 2+ – Babysitting is available for children under the age of 2.

● Children 2 years and older are divided into groups by age under the supportive supervision of our wonderful counselors. Children enjoy fun activities like Shabbat appropriate nature arts and crafts, Gaga, Sports, lawn games or a song session with our Camp Zeke song leaders. (Shabbat crafts – challah cover, kiddush cup, candle sticks, Havdalah box – including spice bag, Havdalah candle.)
● Adults can choose from a circus workshop, working out in a well-equipped gym, a lively Zumba or spin class or a chance to relax and enjoy nature.
● At 11:45 AM – we invite the adults to gather at the lakeside pavilion for a discussion of Tikkun Middot/Jewish values with our Rabbi.

12:30PM – Lunch – Enjoy a healthy lunch with plenty of fresh salads, fruits and tasty fresh options.

1:30PM – Rest hour – Recuperate and relax with your family. Take time for a nap or explore our beautiful property on
your own.

2:30 – 5:30 PM

Family activity time!

The fun continues with a variety of activities for the family to enjoy including fitness classes, music, healthy cooking, Shabbat crafts, swimming in the pool, arts and crafts, kickball, basketball, tennis, circus arts, ping pong, nature exploration, hiking and more.

Enjoy healthy and refreshing snacks served from our canteen located on the theater porch.

5:30 PM – Free time before dinner

6:00 PM – Dinner or the third meal

7:00 PM – Help us say farewell to Shabbat and welcome to the new week with our Havdalah service on the lawn deck.

7:15 PM – Evening campfire and s’mores – Learn songs you can sing all year long as you join at the lakeside pavilion for a Shira – Jewish singing (song session) – Our staff are available to watch your little ones when they are ready for bed.

8:30 PM – Come one, come all to the Camp Zeke JFAM All Family Talent Show! – In the Theater

9:30 PM – Leilah tov for the rest of the kids – Practice your bedtime rituals – Staff are available to watch your little ones.

10:00 PM – Adults only chat and smooze – examine ways to create Jewish family rituals and traditions that will last a lifetime. Adult beverages and snacks will be served.

Sunday

7:30AM – Good morning!

Enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a hot cocoa on the dining room porch.

We invite you to join us for morning yoga on the lakeside pavilion

8:15 – 9:15 AM – Breakfast – Enjoy a selection of fresh fruit salad, assorted yogurts, muffins, pastries, blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs, fresh bagels and spreads, steel-cut oatmeal with fresh berries and assorted cold cereals. – We practice shmirat ha’guf – taking care of our health.

9:30 – 11:30 AM – Choice of activities – spend time as a family and try some of Zeke’s favorites.

● Circus arts – learn to spin on our silks and hoops or tumble on our mats
● Family Zumba dance party – shake and stretch as we take care of our health
● It’s Challah braiding time! – Learn to bake the traditional bread we eat on Shabbat
● Make a traditional Blintzes for Shavuot
● Judaica art – Create your own mezuzah case or challah cover
● Lake is open for boating – Parents must accompany children
● Lively game of family basketball – meet on the lower basketball court

11:30 – 12:00 Noon – Farewell and closing gathering on the main lawn – with singing and blessings – let’s all share what we learned and what we hope to do once we get home.

12:30 PM – Farewell lunch

Can non-Jewish campers attend Camp Zeke?

Can non-Jewish campers attend Camp Zeke?

We welcome everybody with open arms, regardless of whether a family is Jewish. Our goal is to create a joyful community that’s based on universal values including kindness, welcoming new members of the community, and inclusion. We look at these values through a Jewish lens, but camp is a totally comfortable environment for a camper of any background.

Many of our campers don’t do anything “Jewish” at home, and come to camp for the cultural connection to Judaism. We also have many families with one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent, whose kids go to church on some holidays and temple on others. We also welcome non-Jewish campers and staff, who have a wonderful experience at camp.

As long as a camper is comfortable in a Jewish community, they will do great in the camp community regardless of their religion.

In a typical summer, roughly half our staff aren’t Jewish, 20% of our families have at least one non-Jewish parent, and a few campers have no connection to Judaism at home but just appreciate the values and community of camp.