WHO ARE OUR CAMPERS?
Campers range from ages of 7 to 17 and are entering grades 3-12. A great many of our campers and staff members come from the greater New York and Boston areas, yet we have representation from all over the Northeast as well as from across the United States and overseas. Most of our overnight campers are members of Reform Jewish synagogues.
Eisner Camp strives to embody the “audacious hospitality” of the Reform Movement. We welcome campers and staff members from families of all kinds–including those with interfaith, same-sex or single parents–or those who themselves identify as LGBTQ.
Eisner and Crane Lake Camps are proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environments. The make-up of the URJ and our programs is as diverse as our population, therefore our communities represent that vibrant and colorful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. We are proud that our camps and programs are inclusive and designed for everyone in our community from LGBTQ to children with single, same sex or interfaith parents, to children of color. Our program is created to strengthen the self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community of all campers through the supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs.
What is the food like?
It’s pretty simple…our campers and staff love our food! Even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy our meals because of the variety we offer. We strive to serve all of our campers’ dietary needs by offering a wide variety of meal options that are kid friendly and healthy. Each day’s breakfast includes a favorite such as pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, waffles, eggs or croissants. Cold cereal, fresh cut fruit, Greek yogurt, milk and orange juice are also always available. Lunch favorites include pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches, and meatball subs. And dinner favorites are baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, brisket, chicken wings, and turkey dinner. At both lunch and dinner, campers are welcome to have fresh salad, soy nut butter and jelly and fresh fruit. We offer salad/breakfast bars at every meal. Campers enjoy a weekly outdoor barbeque with burgers and hot dogs, as well as an outdoor Shabbat breakfast buffet, and outdoor Shabbat lunch.
Vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free alternatives are always available. Eisner offers a safe environment for campers with food allergies and always have a complete list of ingredients of our meals on hand. See more about our offering here (link). Please call our office to discuss any specific food questions.
Kosher Style? What does that mean?
Meals are served kosher style, which means we do not serve milk and meat together. We are not a kosher facility, yet we do not serve pork or shellfish (or products containing them,) and they are not permitted on campgrounds. When meat is served, kosher and vegetarian options are offered, and a non-dairy dessert is served.
What am I supposed to pack?
Check out our Packing List!
Do you do laundry at camp?
Laundry is sent out once each week at camp (no additional fee). On the first day of the session, each camper receives an individual laundry bag. Each week, campers fill their bags and in 24 hours, we return their bags with clean folded clothes.
What is camp’s package policy?
After much conversation with our staff, the Eisner Crane Lake Board of Directors, and other summer camp directors, our camps will no longer accept packages. This includes boxes or large mailing envelopes of any size. Camp will only accept up to a standard #10 size business envelope (4-1/8″ x 9-1/2″).
Our experience through the years has shown us that our current system of accepting packages from families cannot be sustained. We believe this decision is truly in the best interests of our campers. Here’s why:
- The volume of packages that arrives in camp each day creates a community of “have and have-nots” and undermines our efforts to create a Jewish community in which each camper feels that he or she is valued and treated equally.
- Some campers don’t receive any packages, which leads to feelings of sadness and jealousy; others receive so many packages they literally cannot manage all of the “stuff” in their cabins.
- Our staff spends hours organizing and sorting hundreds of packages daily, giving them less time to spend with campers.
- Empty packages produce a tremendous amount of waste.
- Campers sacrifice much of their free time in the afternoon retrieving packages from the mailroom.
- With the current load of packages, UPS and Fed Ex trucks drive in and out of camp several times a day, forcing campers from the roads.
- Sadly, many parents do not respect our no-food policy, and others forget to share that policy with extended family members. The food, candy and gum that arrives in these packages (hidden or otherwise) must be taken away, disappointing the camper.
- Parents have told us that it is expensive and burdensome to fill and mail packages, and that they often feel pressure to do so.
- Other Jewish overnight camps which have instituted similar no-package policies report that the burden it lifted from parents, campers, and camp staff has been positively received.
Of course, we understand that sometimes sending items to camp will be necessary. If your camper has forgotten something (e.g., a teddy bear) or needs something new (e.g., running shoes or more sunscreen), you will be able to send those types of items. We will set up a dedicated email address so you can contact us in advance about these needs. Please note that this will be done on an exception-only basis. Unless we know a package is coming, we will refuse to accept it at camp. Full-summer and second session Olim campers should come to camp with all of their Maccabiah color garb and gear. More information on our new process will be included in the parent materials sent later this spring.
This new policy puts us in line with the policies of many other camps. We hope you agree that this is a positive change, and we are grateful for your cooperation. Thank you in advance for doing your part to ensure that Eisner and Crane Lake Camps live according to their values and principles.
Where is Eisner Camp located?
Eisner Camp is located in Great Barrington, a small town in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.
What are the cabins like?
All cabins have indoor plumbing with toilets, showers and sinks. Campers and staff sleep on bunk beds (all top bunks have bed rails). Storage units (cubbies) are provided in every cabin for campers to store their belongings. Campers participate in keeping their bunks clean each day, and camp’s housekeeping staff clean all of the bathrooms on a regular basis.
Health & Safety
What medical facilities do you have at camp? What happens if my child gets sick?
Our goal at camp is to maintain your child’s health. Our wonderful 24-hour Health Center is staffed by registered nurses and a physician, all of whom live on camp property and is equipped with supplies to deal with minor injuries and illnesses. Our medical staff coordinates and monitors all daily medication distribution along with any as-needed medications directed to campers. All over-the-counter or prescription medication (except in certain instances like asthma inhalers, nose sprays and creams) are locked in our medicine dispensary in the dining hall and are only available to campers as distributed by our medical staff. We have a great relationship with our local emergency service departments. If necessary, multiple local hospitals are close by, and emergency services are available immediately.
How do you deal with safety and security at camp?
We take safety and security at camp very seriously. All of the camp directors participate in extensive professional training to handle minor and major safety and security situations. In addition, all of our summer staff are trained to manage and handle safety and security situations during our pre-camp orientation. During the summer, we have 24-hour, on-site security staff that monitors and keeps camp safe. Access to camp is restricted and available only through a security gate. All visitors must sign in before entering the site.
Does my child need to be immunized?
Yes, the Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty must be immunized. For more information, read the URJ Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.
COVID-19: For Summer 2022, we are requiring all age eligible participants, staff, volunteers, and guests on our camp properties to be fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC, against COVID-19. More information is available upon request.
How do you protect children at camp?
At the heart of our Reform Movement is our enduring commitment to shaping a more whole, just and compassionate world. That holy work includes ensuring that each and every member of our camp community – especially our children – are protected and that their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and safety is our highest priority.
In addition to the physical health of our campers and staff, we are especially attuned to the mental health needs of our camp community coming on the heels of such a difficult and challenging year. URJ Camps have extensively prepared for helping campers adjust to COVID bubbles, testing, PPE, and other new safety features at camp. Each camp has plans and staffing for Camper Care that includes social work personnel to guide staff and to directly respond to camper concerns.
The URJ also remains committed to ensuring the most robust child protection practices, fostering an environment of prevention, protection, and support for raising concerns.
- For over five years, we have partnered with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) to collaborate in preparing and providing our staff training for abuse prevention.
- Every member of our camp staff has or will undergo training in how to prevent, recognize, respond to, and report abuse. This year, as in the past, we have worked with BCAC to continuously improve our protocols.
- Every URJ Camp staff member must pass annual background checks, and are required to participate in annual anti-harassment and discrimination training as has been the case for the last four years.
- We continue to update employment policies, practices, and procedures, and provide ongoing training for our staff on topics such as workplace guidelines, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To continue our work in these areas to align with our values on an ongoing basis, we hired Melissa Johnson last year as our General Counsel and Vice President for People and Culture. As well, the URJ recently engaged Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton, a nationally regarded firm that has worked with a number of leading organizations, schools and universities on creating safe and healthful environments.
Should you ever have any concerns or knowledge of misconduct now or in the future, or that have taken place in the past, please do not hesitate to reach out to Missy or Mary Beth.
- Mary Beth Hogan URJinvestigation@debevoise.com (212) 909-6996
- Missy Johnson email@example.com (212) 650-4120
We recognize that it is uncomfortable to talk about child mistreatment and the reason that we do so openly with you and our staff is to be able to address and train for these challenges head on.
Nothing is more important than the physical, emotional and mental health and well-being of our communities; indeed, we view this as our sacred moral responsibility. It is, and always will be, our highest priority.
Who will be taking care of my child?
Our staff has been carefully selected by our camp directors. All staff members participate in an intensive training program before our campers arrive. This on-site training includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts. Our bunk counselors are Jewish college and university students who bring abundant warmth and energy to our camp community – nearly 80% are alumni. Our various sports, aquatics, arts, adventure and nature specialists are both college and graduate students from all over the world who share their particular areas of expertise with our campers. A rotating group of dynamic rabbis, cantors and educators from our URJ congregations comes to camp to teach, worship and have fun with our campers. These faculty members join our community for one or two weeks at a time. Our education faculty is an essential part of the Reform Jewish community at camp. Approximately 35 energetic Israelis join our staff each summer as well to bring the Israeli culture to camp. They work as sports and nature specialists, bunk counselors, art specialists and more. They organize our annual Israel Day program, teach us Hebrew, and add an Israeli “flavor” to everything we do at camp.
What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
Generally, we have at least one counselor for every five campers in each cabin. We position counselors to sleep in each of the corners of the cabin to ensure that campers can easily locate a counselor at night. We take great pride in our quality camper supervision; whenever campers are in their cabins, a counselor is there too. At night, when campers return to their bunks to go to sleep after their evening program, a counselor remains in the bunk to supervise the campers. All general counselors sleep in the cabin with the campers.
How are Eisner staff trained to care for campers?
Our staff has been carefully selected and intensely trained by our camp directors to keep our campers safe, happy and instill the values of Eisner Camp. Before our campers arrive, all staff members participate in an intensive training program. This on-site training includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts. Our Leadership Team, who work as unit heads and department heads, arrive at camp three weeks before our campers. Our specialists, including coaches, art instructors, lifeguards, ropes course instructors, outdoor education and Limud staff arrive more than two weeks before our campers. They have ample time to train, get certified by outside professionals when appropriate, and set up their activity areas. Our general counselors arrive at camp eight days before the campers arrive, joining the specialists for Staff Training Week in which they learn about working with children and being an Eisner staff member. When Opening Day arrives, our entire staff is confident, energized, excited, and ready to meet our campers.