Information for Summer 2021
URJ Eisner Camp harnesses the transformative power of Jewish camping to create meaningful relationships that lay the foundation for our community. Children and teens from across the Northeast join together each summer to experience the fun and magic of our kehillah kedoshah (sacred community).
Since we opened our gates in 1958, Eisner Camp continues to serve as a second home to hundreds of children each summer who come together to experience the fun and magic of Jewish camping.
Caring and committed staff strive to enrich the campers’ experiences by creating opportunities for them to build lasting friendships and become the best versions of themselves. Our staff cultivates curious minds and a creative spirit by providing encouragement and support as our campers embrace the challenges of learning new skills in athletics, aquatics, the arts, and outdoor adventure programs. Grounded in Jewish values, the Eisner Camp community is immersed in a wide range of innovative educational pursuits and unique spiritual experiences.
Our intimate (tech-free and parent-free) environment allows campers to embrace the challenge of learning new skills in athletics, aquatics, the arts, and adventure and nature programs. What campers don’t realize is that they are learning communication, collaboration, creativity, grit and empathy – the predictors of success in camp, school and beyond.
From the youngest of our campers to the oldest of our Machon (Counselors-in-Training), every child who spends a summer at Eisner Camp returns home wiser, more self-confident, and more connected to the Jewish community.
Eisner Camp is more than a summer of fun, it is an experience that lasts a lifetime. Everything we do at Eisner Camp is intentional. Campers and counselors alike strive each day to embody our mission statement, which we believe helps us to be the best selves and community we can be.
Eisner Camp is more than a summer of fun – it is an experience that lasts a lifetime!
Our Mission Statement
Hineini – Here I am
… I am here to strengthen my own self-esteem and that of everyone in the camp community.
… I am here to strengthen my own Jewish identity and spirituality and that of everyone
in the camp community.
… I am here to strengthen my connection to the Eisner community and the Jewish community and to help everyone around me to do the same.
… I am here to do as much as I can, in the time that I have, in the place that I am, and to inspire others to join me in this holy work.
For it is written: “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben chorin, l’heebatel mimena.”
“You are not required to complete the work, nor are you free to ignore it.” Pirke Avot 2:16
…are reflected in our day-to-day life at camp. Every five years, Eisner is visited by the American Camping Association(ACA). Since Eisner always meets the ACA’s high standards, we continue to receive their accreditation. We are committed to providing:
- a safe camp community
- caring, competent adult role models
- healthy, developmentally-appropriate experiences
- service to the community and the natural world
- opportunities for leadership and personal growth
- discovery, experiential education, and learning opportunities
- excellence and continuous self-improvement
Eisner Camp strives to embody the “audacious hospitality” of the Reform Movement. We welcome campers and staff members from families of all backgrounds–including those with interfaith, same-sex or single parents–or those who identify as LGBTQ.
Eisner is proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environment. The make-up of the URJ and our programs are 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.
Campers range from ages 7 to 17 and are entering grades 2-12. A great many of our campers and staff members come from the greater New York and Boston Regions. We also have representation from all over the Northeast as well as from across the United States and overseas. Most of our campers are members of Reform Jewish synagogues.
We place our campers into eight units based on the school grade they will enter immediately after camp. This way, each unit is comprised of children who are socially, physically, and developmentally on approximately the same level. Our units at camp are as follows:
|Hebrew Unit Name||English Translation||Entering Grades|
|K'TANIM ( 2 weeks)||"Little Ones"||2nd and 3rd|
|BONIM||"Builders"||4th and 5th|
|OLIM||"Those who go up"||10th|
|EISNER IN ISRAEL||11th|
Campers entering 11th grade spend an unforgettable summer in Israel with their Eisner friends on the NFTY in Israel program run by the North American Federation of Temple Youth, the youth movement of the URJ.
Our K’tanim program runs for either two weeks (K’tanim 1 and K’tanim 2) or three weeks (K’tanim 3). This introductory program is perfect for our youngest campers, most of whom will be away from home for the first time. Special attention is paid to teaching them how to get around camp and enjoy all that it has to offer. K’tanim stays together throughout the day for all its many self-contained activities. Our “little ones” form wonderful friendships and have a great time during what we hope will be the first of many summers at Eisner.
Our Machon unit is a Counselor-In-Training program. Machon is an integral part of the Northeast Teen Collective, our initiative to increase the number of teens participating in Jewish life while inspiring them to be agents of change. During the first session of camp, our Machonikim participate in an intensive leadership training program, preparing them for all aspects of being staff members as well as leaders in their home communities. During the second session of camp, our Machonikim become counselors, sports coaches, waterfront instructors, logistics staff and more as they receive on-the-job training.
For families who live year-round or summer in Southern Berkshire County, we offer a unique Day Camp program for children ages 4-7 years old. Our Day Camp is on the grounds of Eisner Camp and our very youngest campers enjoy the facilities and programs of our overnight camp.
Our staff has been carefully selected and 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 cabin counselors are Jewish college students who bring abundant warmth and energy to our camp community. Many of them are former Eisner campers, comfortable at camp, familiar with camp routines and traditions, and eager to share their love for Eisner and Reform Judaism with this next generation of campers.
Our coaches, art instructors, lifeguards, and outdoor adventure instructors are both college and graduate students from all over the world who share their areas of expertise with our campers. Our swim staff receive American Red Cross certified lifeguard training.
Our Leadership Team is made up of college seniors, college graduates, graduate students, and young professionals as well as adults with many years of experience working with children. Many are teachers and synagogue youth professionals who bring their year-round expertise to their positions at camp.
Our wonderful 24-hour professional and newly- renovated and expanded Health Center is staffed by caring nurses and physicians.
Each week a group of dynamic rabbis, cantors, and educators from URJ congregations from throughout the northeast come to camp to teach, worship and have fun with our campers. Our education faculty is an essential part of the Reform Jewish community at camp.
Energetic Israelis join our staff each summer as well. They are coaches, ropes course and nature instructors, bunk counselors, art instructors and more. They organize our Israel Day programs, teach us Hebrew, and add an Israeli “flavor” that enhances everything we experience at camp.
Our kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping staff includes young men and women from the Czech Republic, Belarus, Mexico, Poland, Hungary and other countries who come to Eisner through international programs that send qualified young adults to various summer camps in America.
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 a Eisner staff member. When Opening Day arrives, our entire staff is confident, energized, excited, and ready to meet our campers.
OUR CAMPERS BECOME OUR STAFF
Many of our staff members were campers themselves having grown up at Eisner and choosing to work with the next generation of Eisner campers. Our campers become our best counselors! As a way to pay it forward, our staff take all they’ve learned as campers and put it in their “toolkit” as counselors: resiliency, compassion, self-confidence, civility, patience, the ability to speak out, stand up and fix what is broken in our world, embracing Judaism and so much more. These skills are essential not only in camp, but everywhere in life and will positively impact them as they enter the job market after college. We hope our campers will be our staff members for many years after high school and are thrilled that so many are!
Eisner Camp is proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environment. Our camp community represents that vibrant and colorful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. Our camp 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. We hope that our campers and staff strengthen their self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community through the inclusive nature of our people, staff, and programs.
We are committed to building a vibrant community rooted in Jewish values and to bringing the transformative power of Jewish summer camp to every child and family who come through our gates. From our policies to our programs and camp traditions, we strive to reflect our camp’s core values and those of the URJ:
Kehillah Kedoshah – A Holy Community
We are a sacred community, responsible for one another.
V’ahavta L’reyecha – Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
We should behave towards one another with love and kindness.
Hachnasat Orchim – Welcome the Stranger
Camp is a place of “audacious hospitality,” where all who enter are celebrated.
Yichut Atsmo – Personal Growth
Camp is a uniquely transformative opportunity for young people to take risks and grow, and our job at Eisner is to nurture that growth.
Families with Different Faith Backgrounds
Your child – any child from an interfaith family who is being raised as a Jew – has a place at our camp. For over 30 years, the Reform Movement has been at the forefront of the Jewish world ensuring a welcoming environment for interfaith families. As Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rabbi Rick Jacobs has stated, “Creating pathways for Jews and non-Jewish partners to create active Jewish homes is a blessing.”
What happens at a URJ camp? What is Jewish living?
Camp is fun! Our campers experience a great atmosphere, terrific activities and programs, values that come to life every day and friendships. This happens all under the watchful eyes of our caring, responsible counselors or other adult role models (some of whom either are children of interfaith families or themselves non-Jewish).
Your child, when entrusted to our camp, will experience what it is like to live a completely Jewish lifestyle. This complete absorption into the rhythms and calendar of Jewish living gives each child a fuller appreciation of the richness of their Jewish identity and heritage. They are taught the values of charity, justice and kindness. Experience has shown that they will bring these values home.
Shabbat is a big event at camp. The entire camp comes together, dressed in white as one family on Friday evening, for dinner, worship, song and dance. Campers experience the fullness of a Shabbat celebration both spiritually and culturally.
Each child’s pride in their Jewish identity is nurtured, while respect for those of other religious beliefs is also strongly encouraged.
Will my child feel isolated or different because one parent is not Jewish?
Not at all. Each child at Eisner is valued as the unique individual they are, with the wonderful attributes they bring to our community. Each child is recognized as a full member of the Jewish community whether they have one or two Jewish parents. Celebrating Judaism includes respecting those of other faiths as well.
Will my child feel embarrassed if they aren’t familiar with a Jewish practice or tradition at camp?
They will not be the only one! Eisner is a place for your child to further their knowledge of Judaism in an experiential way. Every child who comes to camp brings a different skill set and knowledge of Jewish tradition and practice. They learn from their counselors and from their friends at camp. This is a no-stress environment, where learning the levels of Jewish living is an enjoyable and natural progression.
Will it be a problem if my child has limited or no knowledge of Hebrew?
No problem! Campers learn Hebrew at camp in an experiential way, learning some basic Hebrew terms, Hebrew blessings and phrases.
When my child returns home, will they be uncomfortable with my not being Jewish?
Remember that many of your child’s counselors have experience with interfaith families – either their own, their relatives or their friends. We teach each child that the Torah mandates to honor their father and mother. We emphasize to each child that this teaching is not based on the parent being Jewish – the teaching is based on honoring each parent. Your position as the child’s parent will continue to be sacrosanct. We will encourage the respect you are due as a parent, with no regard to your own religious beliefs.
TRANSGENDER CAMPERS AND STAFF
What does it mean to be transgender? Is that person a boy or a girl?
Some children are born into the body of a boy, but in their hearts and minds they are girls. Others are born into the body of a girl, but in their hearts and minds they are boys. Those raised as boys for the first few years of their lives make it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be girls. Likewise, those that are raised as girls for the first few years of their life made it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be boys. Their social development and patterns are aligned with other children of their age.
Where will transgender campers and staff sleep?
A transgender camper or staff members who identifies as female will sleep in a girls’ cabin with campers. A transgender camper or staff member who identifies as a boy will sleep in a boys’ cabin with campers.
What about privacy?
Our transgender campers and staff are private about the ways in which they are different from other children their age. At camp, we teach all of our campers and staff to have a sense of modesty and to respect one another’s privacy. We will continue to reinforce this message. Our cabins all have stall showers, each with its own curtain. All toilets are in stalls with doors. We also have a door or privacy curtain between the bathroom area and living space in each cabin. Outside the cabin, all our public restrooms have stalls which enable privacy around camp. Every child and staff member thus has privacy when showering, changing and using the restroom.
Will my kids be scared or confused?
Probably not, but if they are, help them understand that this is just one of many ways in which their friends may be different from them. Try not to assume that your kids will think this is weird or confusing. They may just accept it at face value and move on. It is a good idea to ask if they understand and if they have more questions. As always, there are staff and resources at camp for your child to turn to in times of need.
What does the Reform Movement say about transgender people?
The Reform Movement’s recognition of transgender rights dates back to 1978. The Movement has an explicit policy of non-discrimination regarding transgender people and has even developed blessings for the changing of gender. Through the years, the URJ has been a fierce advocate of LGBT rights and equality both within the Movement and in the wider community through the resolutions of the Commission on Social Action and the work of the Religious Action Center. In November 2015, the URJ adopted a movement-wide “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.”
Visit http://www.urj.org/what-we-believe/resolutions/resolution-rights-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-people to see the full text.
How do I explain transgender children and gender variance to my child?
One way to explain gender variant and transgender children/adults is to use the concept of gender being on a spectrum. Draw a line and on one end write male (or draw a male) and do the same for female on the other end of the line. Have your children list “typical boy” and “typical girl” behaviors, likes, characteristics, etc., and write them on either end. Think about the toy and clothing sections of Target! Describe how people tend to fall on the end of the spectrum that matches their body parts, but not always. You can locate, with your child, where on the spectrum some friends and family fall – what cousin is a “tomboy,” which male friend likes dolls, which girl friend is a “girly-girl” who doesn’t like sports, etc. Then you can say that some children have a boy’s body but inside feel far over on the female side, and some children have a girl’s body but inside feel far over on the male side. This also presents a teachable moment about gender roles in general, to teach children that there are many ways to be a girl and to be a boy.
Here are some resources for your own education that can help equip you to talk to your children.
Books for Adults:
- Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper, The Transgender Child
- Nicholas Teich, Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
- Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree
- Joy Ladin, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders
- Noach Dzmura, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community
Books for Children:
- Rachel Gold, Being Emily [middle school and older]
- Jennifer Carr, Be Who You Are [young children]
- TransYouth Family Allies website
- ABC News article coverage of Camp “You are You”
- Katie Couric video clip about Coy Mathis
- Transgender Basics
- The Youth and Gender Media Project
- Why Pronouns are So Important
Best Practices Guides
2021 Camp Prep
2021 FORMS CHECKLIST
All forms are due Thursday, April 15, 2021.
REQUIRED FORMS for EACH CAMPER in YOUR FAMILY
- Code of Conduct & Anti-Bullying Pledge (download, print, sign, scan and upload)
- All About Me! (download, print, have camper complete, scan and upload)
- Camper Profile (online form completed by parent)
- Recent Camper Photo (upload current passport-style picture of camper) Remember to smile!
- Camper Health History (online form completed by parent)
- Camper’s Medical Examination Form and Immunization Form (download, print, have physician complete, scan and upload document OR use your pediatrician’s standard examination & immunization forms, scan and upload)
- URJ Vaccine Statement (online form completed by parent to acknowledge that you have read and understand the URJ vaccine policy)
- Insurance Card and Camp Treatment Authorization Form (download, print, sign, scan and upload along with photocopies of your insurance card)
- Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Special Diets Form (online form completed by parent)
- Camp Community Covenant – Brit Kehilah (Please DOWNLOAD, print and sign this form with your camper. This signed form must be scanned and uploaded to your CampInTouch account.)
- Grandparent Connection: Submit this online form if you would like us to send summer news, videos, etc. to your camper’s grandparents.
- Bar/Bat Mitzvah Preparation: Download, print, complete and upload this form if your camper will become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in August-December 2020. Your Rabbi, Cantor or Educator will need to sign it.
Remember to complete a set of forms for EACH camper in your family!
NEW CAMPER ORIENTATION
Stay tuned for more information about New Camper Orientation programs- coming soon!
THE WEEK BEFORE CAMP
We hope that you will find this information helpful in days leading up to drop off as well as Visiting Day.
The establishment of a healthy camp environment is the result of a successful partnership between parents and camp. Your diligence in the assessment of your child’s health in the week prior to camp is critical to ensuring that we limit the exposure of the camp community to any illness. We know how disappointing it is to tell your child that their departure for camp must be delayed because of illness. We are counting on you to help us by serving as the first line of defense. Clearly, if your child is ill, the place they will be most comfortable is in your care at home.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
- If your child develops a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the 7 days prior to the start of the session, please have your child evaluated by a physician.
- If your child’s physician determines through an in-person examination and testing that your child has an illness, the camper MUST REMAIN AT HOME until the child’s physician and the Camp Director determine that your child no longer poses a risk of spreading an illness to others.
- No child should come to camp until they are fever and symptom free (without medication) and healthy for at least 24 hours. Please do not bring your child to camp until you have discussed your child’s condition with the Camp Director.
Lice: We want to provide you some packing tips that will help ease the lice check process, and minimize stress if your child is found to have lice or nits:
- Pack everything to be used at camp a minimum of 48 hours prior to departure.
- Anything that has been used or worn in the 48 hours prior to arriving at camp (that you must take with you… such as combs, brushes, special stuffed animals, sweatshirts, pillow cases, blankets etc.), place in a separate bag away from the bag that will be brought to your bunk.
Please make sure the hair is combed of knots to make the head check as quick and painless as possible. Please brush your hair in the morning of opening day and choose hairstyles that will keep your hair as tangle-free as possible! If you’re one of our many curly-haired campers, we might suggest braiding it straight out of the shower to keep as tangle-free as possible.
What to bring
You can pack your camper in soft duffels or a traditional camp truck – up to you! We recommend soft duffels because they are both lighter and easier for campers to manage and for us to store at camp.
All campers must bring disposable masks, not washable fabric masks. Since we anticipate our campers will misplace masks, tear them, drop them and perspire in them, we are asking campers to bring a large number of masks so they will have plenty of fresh ones each day. Please pack the following number of masks for your camper:
K’tanim 1 Campers – 50 masks
Single Session Campers – 100 masks
Full Summer Campers – 150 masks
We will send all unused masks home at the end of your camper’s session. Please write your camper’s name on each box of masks.
- 3 bath towels (to use for showering)
- 3 beach towels (to bring to the pool)
- 2 face towels (for hand and face washing)
- 2 wash cloths (to use in the shower)
- 2 fitted sheets (twin size)
- 2 flat sheets (can also be used as light blankets)
- 2 pillow cases (bring an extra if you want your bunkmates to sign it!)
- 1 pillow (or two if that’s what you’re accustomed to)
- 1 blanket (light to medium weight)
- 1 laundry bag (to use when camp-provided bag is at laundry service)
- 1 mattress pad or egg crate (for those who like to pad their mattress)
Please label all linens with your camper’s name!
- 16 pairs of underwear (older campers include bras)
- 16 pairs of socks
- 10 T-shirts (or tank tops or any short sleeve shirt)
- 3 long sleeve shirts (for cool evenings)
- 2 sweatshirts (for very cool evenings)
- 1 light jacket (for very, very cool evenings)
- 8 shorts (gym, cargo, Soffes, etc.)
- 2 pairs of jeans (for cool evenings, hiking)
- 1 raincoat/poncho (must have a hood)
- 3 pairs of pajamas (or sleeping shirts, etc.)
- 2 nice Shabbat outfits with white top (skirt, nice shorts, or slacks)
- 4 swim suits (girls – 2 must be one-piece suits for instructional swim)
- swim goggles (for those with chlorine-sensitive eyes or contacts)
- 1 sun hat (baseball hat, etc., not a visor)
- dressy outfit for banquet (optional, many campers like to dress up!)
Please label all clothing with your camper’s name!
- 2 pairs of sneakers (for everyday wear, sports)
- 1 pair of sturdy shoes (for hiking and rain – only if you already own, do not buy!)
- 1 pair of swim shoes (to wear to the pool)
- 1 pair of sandals/flip-flops (if you wear them)
- 1 pair of soccer/baseball cleats (only if you already own, do not buy!)
- 1 pair of Shabbat shoes (optional, some wear nice sandals, NO HEELS HIGHER THAN TWO INCHES PLEASE!)
Please label all shoes with your camper’s name!
- comb and brush
- clips, hair bands
- toothbrush and toothpaste, plastic drinking cup
- soap and soap dish or body wash for shower
- shampoo, conditioner, gel, etc.
- razor and shaving cream (for shavers only)
- nail clipper
- pads, tampons (for older campers)
- sun block (lots!)
- insect repellant
- caddy to store and carry toiletries
Please label all toiletries with your camper’s name!
- flashlight, extra batteries
- pens, pencils, stationery, envelopes, stamps, eLetter Replies
- family addresses, printed labels, pre-addressed envelopes
- 2 sturdy refillable water bottles (item most commonly lost at camp!)
Please label everything with your camper’s name!
- playing cards, Magic: The Gathering cards, etc.
- fan to clip on bed post (can be electric or battery operated)
- plastic drawer unit – see section on plastic drawers and other storage (only one please!)
- baseball mitt, tennis racket, shin guards
- inexpensive digital camera or disposable cameras
- musical instrument
- lovies (teddy bears, blankies)
- summer reading books (we have a camper lending library!)
- western-style clothing for Country-Western Night, America swag for our 4th of July celebration
- dressy outfit for banquet (many campers like to dress up)
If your child wears glasses or contact lenses, we encourage you to send an extra pair of glasses ( even if it’s the pair that the current ones replace) and an extra set or two of contact lenses.
Please label everything with your camper’s name!
What Not to pack
× night lights (we’ll place one in the bathroom of every cabin)
× shirts with inappropriate language or that advertise beer/liquor
× expensive clothing requiring special washing
× chewing gum, candy, food of any kind
× Ugg boots
× cell phones
× iPod/MP3 player with screen
× shoes or sandals with heels higher than two inches
× valuable jewelry, Apple watch or smart watch
× super soakers/water guns
× expensive digital cameras
× hoverboards, skateboards, scooters, “Heelys”
× bottled water or flavored powder or drops to add to water
× any over-the-counter or prescription medications (all medications must go through JDrugs)
× e-cigaretters, vapes, Juuls, portable essential oil diffusers
× laptop computers, iPads/tablets, portable DVD payers, Kindles, Nooks
× electronic hand-held game devices, i.e. Gameboy’s, PSP’s, Nintendo DS’s
PLASTIC DRAWERS AND OTHER STORAGE
Many of our campers bring plastic drawer units with them to provide extra storage.
Please bring plastic drawer units that are no larger than 14.25 in L x 12.05” W x 26.44” H. Please bring only set of drawers.
To help stay even more organized, some campers also bring fabric boxes that measure 10.5” x 10.5” to place in their camp provided wooden cubby. Please do not purchase 12” x 12”, they do not fit in our cubbies.
On Opening Day each camper will receive an Eisner Camp laundry bag. This bag will be picked up from camp once a week by a local, professional laundry service and returned to camp the next day. The entire contents of your camper’s laundry bag is washed as one load in hot water. Please do not pack clothing that is not color-safe. Delicates, linen, wool, suede, and dry clean only items should not be sent to camp. Eisner is not responsible for missing or damaged clothing.
LABEL, LABEL, LABEL
We want our campers to return home with everything they brought to camp. Therefore, please LABEL, LABEL, LABEL! EVERYTHING that comes to camp must have your camper’s full name (not initials) on it. Whether you sew the labels in, iron them on, use permanent marker or a stamp, you must label EVERYTHING.
One of the best labeling products we’ve seen are the peel and stick labels available from Label Daddy. Here is a Eisner Label Daddy Coupon. You can buy them directly from the company.
Please be sure to pack plenty of durable and comfortable clothing appropriate for a rustic camp setting. Campers spend most of their day outside; Eisner is a place where we play, perspire, and dance our hearts out. We try to create a wholesome environment that mirrors the values we attempt to instill in our campers. To create this sense of community, we ask campers and staff to dress in a way that is respectful both to themselves and others in the camp community. Clothing that allows underwear and/or bras to be visible should not be brought to camp and body parts that are customarily covered by undergarments should not be visible as well.
Please do not pack any clothing with inappropriate pictures, offensive sayings or advertisements for drugs, alcohol, vaping, etc.
Please pack swim suits that are functional for instructional swim – one-piece suits, tankinis, and shorts-style swim suits are best. During free swim and pool parties, swim suits should follow the same principles as clothing. These guidelines are intended to promote the values of our camp and the self-esteem of our campers.
Campers are expected to dress appropriately for their activities. They must wear long pants for hiking, sneakers for sports, and swim suits for swim.
Visit our online camp store, to buy cool Eisner clothing for your child. This is completely optional – though your camper would love it! (If your camper would like camp swag for the summer, please make sure to order by June 1 to guarantee delivery before camp starts.) While at camp, your camper will receive an Eisner Camp T-shirt.
Campers are asked to leave all articles of value at home. Camp cannot assume responsibility for your child’s belongings. There is no need for jewelry or expensive items at camp. Do not send any cash to camp – there is nothing to buy!
Days at camp
Opening Day: Information will be available later this Spring about Opening Day
First Session Opening Day: June 27 Second Session Opening day: July 25
The philosophy which guides the planning and implementation of our activities promotes building strong bodies and strong minds. We encourage healthy activity and food choices as well as time for rest, relaxation and fun! We want to make sure that our campers see the importance of making healthy and smart decisions through a lens of Jewish values, for themselves and the greater camp community. We hope that the things they learn in camp will carry over to their lives at home.
Every day our campers will participate in swim, sports, arts, Chugim, and Limud/Kesher. They will travel throughout the day in their cabin groups and will get to select many of their activities as a cabin.
This summer, Sport Instruction, Art Instruction, and Chugim will be cabin-selected every couple of days. Our campers will be moving throughout the day with their cabins, as “pods.” Every effort will be made to give each cabin their first choice activities each day!
TEVA AND ADVENTURE- OUTDOOR EDUCATION
Each cabin will spend time together experiencing Teva (outdoor nature program) and our high or low ropes course. At our Teva (nature) sites, each cabin will With sleeping bags in hand, our campers “move” to our Teva (nature) camp sites to hike, participate in nature-themed activities, and help prepare a meal. and sleep in tents under the stars. On our ropes courses, campers will experience various group-building and trust activities that deepen the bonds of friendship between them.
MEALS DURING THE WEEK
The meals at Eisner are Kosher style – we do not mix milk and meat, serve pork, shellfish, or products containing them. Whenever meat or chicken is served, a vegetarian and Kosher option is available. We are happy to accommodate campers who choose to follow a special diet (Kosher vegetarian, vegan) or who have food allergies or sensitivities (gluten-free, dairy-free, nuts allergies). Please let us know about your child’s special diet on the Health History Form and Food Allergies, Food Sensitivities & Special Diets Form.located in the Forms and Documents section of your CampInTouch account.
As a camp community we begin every meal by reciting Hamotzi (blessing before the meal). We end our meals singing B’rich Rachamana (Aramaic blessing after the meal) or Birkat Hamazon (blessings after the meal).
Each morning includes breakfast favorites such as pancakes, French toast sticks, oatmeal, waffles, eggs or muffins. Cold cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, milk and orange juice are always available.
In the afternoon, a kid-friendly lunch is served. Some favorites include pizza, sliders, chicken wraps, grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni & cheese. Salad and sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches, and fresh fruit are always available.
Dinner favorites include tacos, chicken fajitas, baked ziti, and chicken stir-fry. Salad and a cooked vegetable are always served as well. Plain pasta and other meal alternatives are always available for our picky eaters. Dinner ends with a yummy dessert.
Each week campers enjoy a cookout of burgers, hot dogs, salads, and watermelon. Vegetarian, Kosher, and other meal alternatives are always available. On Friday evening we enjoy a traditional family style Shabbat dinner with meal of chicken, potatoes, a vegetables, soup, salad, and our famous Shabbat Sha-brownies!
On Shabbat morning we enjoy a breakfast buffet including bagels, eggs, lox spread, white fish, potatoes, turkey bacon, cereal, yogurt, hot chocolate and even Shabbat donuts!
Canteen (MO is short for Mo’adon which means “lounge.”)
Each week, campers choose from a long list of sweets, slushies, and other snacks from our canteen. The treats at the Mo are included in your camp fees, so there is no need for campers to bring money to camp.
Sicha (conversation), a quiet time set aside each week, gives campers an opportunity to check in with one another and their counselors to make sure that each and every person in the cabin is living the values of V’ahavta L’rayacha Kamocha, love your neighbor as yourself. Through a series of guided questions, campers share both their accomplishments and challenges of the week gone by. Each cabin revisits their Bunk Brit (agreements), created on the first night of camp, to make sure they are following the rules they created for their cabin.
Tochnit Erev (Evening Activity)
Each unit’s counselors work closely with our program directors and unit heads to plan evening programs for their campers. Some programs are social, such as pool parties or wacky Olympics, while others are content based, such as those dealing with peer pressure and bullying. We also have Judaic programs that teach campers about topics such as Israel or Jewish values. Each evening program closes with the entire unit singing the beautiful bedtime Shema.
MENUCHA (REST HOUR)
After an activity-packed morning, campers need to take a break. During Menucha, or rest hour, campers spend quiet time in their cabins. Some sleep, others read or play quiet games with bunkmates. This is the time when many campers write letters home to family and friends.
CHUGIM (Outdoor Activity)
Chugim include a wide variety of activities from which campers choose. In the past, Chugim have included tennis, running and exercise, flag football, street hockey, biking, table tennis/game room, Magic: The Gathering, Ultimate Frisbee, Israel Scouting, gardening, and caring for the animals in our farm.
Each Sport Instruction, Art Instruction and Chugim rotation lasts for 3-5 days. Every effort is made to give campers their first choices!
AYZEH KEF (literally, “What Fun!” )
The upper camp Ayzkey Kef periods are for fun-filled activities that our counselors create and run each day for our older campers. Campers can experience all sorts of creative, wacky fun. Past options have included The Amazing Race, Decade Dancing, Finger Painting, Picnic Games and Harry Potter-inspired Quidditch.
Good hygiene is an important part of camp! We set aside a “shower hour” everyday for campers.
Before the lights are turned off, each cabin enjoys a bedtime ritual. Some counselors read aloud chapters in a book, some share stories from their day, some sing. It is a wonderful way for our campers to wind-down before they go to sleep, and a very soothing way to say Laila Tov – good night!
Laila Tov (Good Night)!
After a long day full of Eisner activity and fun, it is time for bed. When the campers are all settled in their beds, one counselor stays in the cabin with the campers, and the others may enjoy some social time in the staff lounge. There is a roving “shmira” on-duty until counselor curfew to make sure that everybody is safe and sound.
JEWISH LIFE AT CAMP
MA’ARIV EVENING PRAYER
Every evening after dinner each unit comes together for a creative prayer experience. Ma’ariv is joyful, age-appropriate, full of song, and led by campers and their counselors. By the end of each camp session, campers are familiar with the prayers included in these short daily services and are prepared to participate in services in their home congregations.
KESHER – CONNECTION
Kesher is our camp-style informal and creative Jewish education program for our older campers (grades 8 – 10). In the spring, our campers complete an online survey telling us which contemporary Jewish subjects they would like to “connect” and through which modality (art, music, texts, etc.) they would like to make the connection. The rabbis, cantors and educators on our faculty create and lead exciting courses based on the survey results. This camper-centered curriculum changes each summer depending on what our campers tell us they would like to learn. Kesher 2019 included courses on Hebrew, Jewish values, greening, relationships, Israeli culture and more.
LIMUD – LEARNING
Our younger campers (grades 3 – 7) actively participate in Limud, our camp-style informal and creative Jewish education program. A committed group of rabbis, cantors, and educators outline and then teach a theme-based, project-based summer curriculum which is experiential, creative, and age-appropriate for each grade unit. Campers will explore a variety of Jewish concepts and values based on each grade unIt’s theme. This summer we will have a variety of Limud themes, including Israel, God, Torah, Mitzvot (religious obligations), Middot (Jewish values) and Tikkun Olam (repairing our world).
Shabbat at Camp
…is the highlight of the week. The excitement starts to build on Friday afternoon, as campers and staff prepare themselves and our facilities. Each unit cleans a designated area of camp and campers are given extra time to shower and dress for Shabbat. All campers and staff are required to wear white shirts on Shabbat evening.
Campers and staff join together to sing a few Shabbat songs before proceeding to the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) for a delicious Shabbat dinner.
After dinner and Birkat HaMazon (the blessing after the meal), the whole camp family participates in camper-led Shabbat experience in our beautiful Beit T’filah (outdoor sanctuary). Our Shabbat worship, is truly magnificent and has a strong impact on the awakening spirituality of so many of our campers.
After T’filah, campers enjoy some Shabbat brownies al fresco – a treat that has become a camper favorite and affectionately called Shabbat Sha-brownies!
Our Shabbat celebration continues with an all-camp song session led by our guitar-playing song leaders. The music ranges from traditional Shabbat melodies to contemporary Jewish rock, and the energy and ruach (spirit) generated is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Our song sessions lead right into Israeli dancing. High energy line and circle dances keep campers moving until each unit, in turn, heads back to their cabins. Laila Tov! Good night!
On Shabbat morning, campers sleep a bit later and an optional buffet breakfast is available in the Chadar Ochel prior to our Shabbat morning T’filah. Once again, Shabbat T’filah is held in the Beit T’filah and one unit acts as our Sh’lichei Tzibor, our leaders in prayer.
At the conclusion of our T’filah, we move right into Chofesh, free time, during which campers can enjoy some active outdoor time with their cabins before lunch. Campers can play gaga, tether ball, and run around with their cabinmates.
After a full Shabbat morning of song, worship and Chofesh, it’s time for Shabbat lunch, another rousing song session, and then it’s back to the cabins for Shabbat Menucha, some Shabbat rest.
During Shabbat afternoon, each cabin is free to choose from a variety of camp activities, such as tie-dying shirts in the art shack, swimming, boating, biking, reading, and just relaxing.
After all that activity, it’s time for dinner. After dinner, each unit says “goodbye” to Shabbat with their own beautiful outdoor Havdalah service separating Shabbat from the start of the new week. Shavuah Tov! Have a good week!
Shabbat at camp is a most unique experience. It overflows with song, worship, study, rest and friendship. On Shabbat, Eisner truly becomes a K’hila K’dosha, a holy community.
CLOSING DAY: Information will be available later this Spring about Closing Day
First Session Closing Day- July 23 | Second Session Closing Day- August 15
Visiting Day will be virtual this year. We’ll let our full summer families know the details of the day soon.
Staying in touch
Office: (413) 528-1652
If you have a concern about your child’s health or medication, ask for the Health Center.
URJ Eisner Camp
53 Brookside Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
SUMMER OFFICE HOURS
Sunday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST
Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EST
Saturday 1:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m. EST
In case of a true emergency, you will always be able to contact one of the directors. Just call camp and follow the prompts on the recording.
LETTERS FROM THE CAMPERS
Although they may also choose to write to their friends or grandparents, campers are required to write two letters addressed to a parent each week. A check list for each cabin will be monitored by one of the directors to make sure that every camper has written a letter and addressed it to you. Please discuss your letter writing expectations with your child prior to Opening Day. This is especially important for children who live in separate homes with each parent.
It is a good idea to send envelopes and stamps in a zip-lock bag to protect them from the humidity. For our younger campers, we ask that you send at least 8 stamped envelopes that are already addressed to you (K’tanim 1 and 2 campers need to bring only 4.) This will ensure that the letters will not return to camp because of an unclear address.
The first letter you receive may not be the happiest especially from first time campers. Please remember that campers often take a few days to feel completely comfortable at Eisner and we are sure that subsequent letters will be more upbeat.
Your camper’s letters may be short and contain little information. Try sending a letter template with blanks for your camper to fill in. When the blanks are filled in the letter can be returned to you. (My favorite activity is…My new friends are…, etc.).
Remember that mail from Great Barrington can truly be “snail mail.” In the past, letters have taken as few as two days to reach home, and others have taken as long as five. Campers using CampInTouch’s email service (see below) may write eLetter Replies as their bi-weekly letters.
LETTERS TO CAMPERS
Campers love receiving mail, so be sure to write often. If you tire of writing letters, be creative. Send comics from the newspaper, sports articles, funny cards, etc., each with a short note. Rotate through your family, with parents writing one day, and another family member the next.
What you include (and do not include) in your letters is also important. It is in your camper’s best interest not to feel like they are missing too much at home or feel anxious about your wellbeing. Be careful not to elaborate about how desperately you miss them, or how terribly quiet the house is. Instead, ask lots of questions about activities and friends. This will help your camper structure letters back to you. Keep the closing of your letters simple – “I love you and miss you,” is great, but “I’m so lonely without you. I cannot believe you’ll be gone for so long,” is not!
We have an email system in place for you as well. Prior to the summer, we will send you information about writing to your camper via CampInTouch. Emails sent to camp through CampInTouch are printed and distributed to campers daily. Eisner has already paid your registration fee for this service, and we’ve even started you with some free credits that you can use when emailing your camper. You’ll be able to purchase additional credits at any time.
On Opening Day, please make note of your child’s bunk number and include it when addressing letters:
URJ Eisner Camp
P.O Box 569
Great Barrington, MA 01230
If you would like to write a letter to your camper before they leave for camp, so it will arrive during the first few days, it is okay not to include your camper’s bunk number on these first letters.
EMAILS TO AND FROM CAMP
CampInTouch email allows you to send one-way messages to your child that are printed at camp and delivered once a day at mail time (this means that if you send your camper multiple emails in a day they will receive them all at once!).
Each standard email uses 1 “CampStamp,” and additional stamps can be used to add extra options to your message. Every account has been pre-loaded with 2 CampStamps per camper, per login, per week, at no cost. You can purchase additional stamps at any time in your CampInTouch account. CampStamps are $1 each, or slightly less if you buy them in quantity: $10 for 10 CampStamps, $14 for 15 CampStamps, $18 for 20 CampStamps or $25 for 30 CampStamps. Any rollover CampStamps from 2019 will be automatically uploaded to your account to use for the summer.
If you would like, before you click SEND, you can check the box that says, “I would like a handwritten eLetter reply.” If you click this box, we will attach an eLetter Reply to your message. The eLetter Reply is a blank piece of paper with your name and a barcode on it that is unique to you. Your camper receives two pieces of paper: one is your eLetter, and the other is this blank eLetter Reply. Your camper writes you a letter on the eLetter Reply and gives it to us. We send it to CampInTouch and the eLetter Reply appears instantly in your email inbox as a PDF file. Each page of eLetter stationery has a unique printed bar code.
Since you are charged a CampStamp only when your camper completes and returns the eLetter Reply to you, we recommend you print a whole stack of eLetter Replies before your camper leaves for camp so the eLetter Replies will be familiar. You can do this by clicking on the eLETTER STACK option when you’re in the email screen. Pack this stack of eLetter Replies with your camper’s belongings. Remember, you will only be charged a CampStamp for the eLetter Replies your camper completes and gives us to send to you.
More information about this service and the costs is included in the “Quick Start Guide” posted in your CampInTouch account. Please note that eLetter stationery from Summer 2019 will no longer function – you’ll need to request new reply emails with this year’s bar codes.
Here’s how the CampInTouch email system works:
- Log into your CampInTouch account
- Scroll down to Online Community
- Click on EMAIL – Your camper’s name will appear with a box next to it. If you have more than one camper, each camper’s name will appear.
- Place a check in the box next to the camper to whom you would like to send an eLetter.
Type your eLetter in the message box, and click SEND. It is that easy.
BLOG AND COMMUNICATIONS
We will post pictures on CampInTouch, write blog posts, and send weekly emails so that you can get a feel for what is going on at camp. Please check our Blog periodically in the summer so you can watch videos, read about special happenings at camp, and become a virtual part of our camp community.
Parents can send photo postcards to your campers, friends, and family directly through your CampInTouch account. To send a postcard, hover over the photo you want to send and click on the stamp icon.
The CampInTouch Photos section is where you can view the most current photos from camp. You can mark your favorite pictures, purchase hi-res images and prints, and email photos directly to your friends and family.
Prior to the camp session, you will receive additional information about the Summer Services within your CampInTouch account. We have photographers constantly snapping pictures at camp. The photos are uploaded daily. The upload time depends on the photographer’s schedule and the data transmission speed of our internet connection on any given day. We try to get every camper’s picture onto our site, but some campers run towards the camera and some run away. Please be patient!
Below is our broad photo uploading schedule:
- Photos will be posted once each day.
- You can expect 200-300 photos to be uploaded daily.
Parents will call after viewing a picture of their camper without a big smile, or not standing with their friends, or not seemingly engaged in the activity at hand, or wearing long sleeves on a hot day, or wearing someone else’s sweatshirt, and so on and so on. Please do not worry. Remember that each photo is a snapshot of one moment in a very long action-packed day at camp. We do our best to give you a taste of what is going on at camp each day. Please remember, it is only a taste and not photojournalism!
Eisner Camp will not accept any camper packages. This includes boxes or large mailing envelopes of any size.
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., sneakers or more sunscreen), you will be able to send these items to camp.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that a package is on its way, and what your camper can expect to find inside when opened with a staff member. Please note that this will be done on an exception-only basis and unless we know a package is coming, we will refuse to accept it at camp. We will respond to your email letting you know that it is indeed okay to send the package. In past summers we received many emails from parents telling us that they were sending things that were not truly necessities and were in conflict with our package policy (i.e. nail polish, water guns, Maccabiah clothing) and we asked them not to send the package.
For Summer 2021 only — We anticipate that when our full summer campers speak to their parents virtually on Visiting Day, many will request additional toiletries and other necessities be replenished. We will certainly allow these packages to be sent to camp. Please email us at email@example.com to let us know the package is on its way.
This policy is in line with the policies of many other camps. We are grateful for your cooperation.
COMMUNICATION WITH CAMP
Phone calls and emails to camp
There may be times during your child’s stay at Eisner when you’ll call camp.
If you have a specific concern about your child, ask for Laura Gurvis or email her directly. Laura, our Associate Director, works with our newly expanded and highly-trained Community Care Team which oversees every aspect of our camp community. The team focuses much of its time on campers who need extra support while at camp, those who struggle with adjusting to life at camp and anybody who might need an additional helping hand and compassionate ear. We will soon send you the name of your camper’s unit’s Community Care Team Advisor and her direct email. Either she, or Laura, will respond to your call or email with information about your camper.
Our other Directors, James Gelsey, Eva Gruenberg, Nicki Poliak and Adam Kohane are also available to help you. With over 500 campers, we receive many phone calls and emails each day. Please be patient with us – most of the day we’re out of our offices and around camp with your children. Your call or email will be returned as soon as possible.
Please don’t call just to check on your camper. If we have any concerns, rest assured, we’ll call you. Remember that the first letter from your camper may take up to a week to arrive. Don’t assume that something is wrong just because you haven’t heard anything right away.
PHONE CALLS FROM CAMP
It is our policy that campers are not permitted to use the phones at camp to call home. However, the Directors, Community Care Team or Medical Staff will call you if there is a question or concern about your camper.
If your camper celebrates a birthday while at camp, we make sure it’s a special one. After breakfast or lunch, a birthday cake is presented to the birthday camper along with a birthday crown, and the entire camp sings “Yom Huledet Sameach” (Happy Birthday). The birthday cake is shared by bunkmates as a special dessert.
If you would like to speak to your camper on their birthday, please call or email Laura Gurvis a few days prior to the birthday so we can make arrangements to bring your camper to the phone at a designated time. You know your camper best; if you think hearing your voice might be upsetting, a birthday phone call might not be the best idea. Please have all family members present for the short birthday phone call. Separate calls from parents, older siblings, grandma and grandpa cannot be allowed since the calls would be too disruptive to the camper’s schedule.
Your camper cannot call you on your birthday, or on the birthday of other family members. Again, as little disruption as possible to your camper’s day is best.
Please do not offer your camper’s counselor extra money for a bunk birthday party or send a package with birthday favors for your camper’s bunk. We will not accept the money or the package. All birthdays at Eisner are celebrated the same, special way. We ask that you not send flowers or balloons or attempt to drop off packages (or have others send/drop off birthday packages on your behalf). Please let your camper know that they will receive all presents when returning home.
Remember, we will not automatically bring your camper to the phone on their birthday. We will call only if you have contacted camp to arrange a mutually convenient time for the call.
At camp we live our best unplugged life! We ask our campers to unplug their electronics…and plug into your friends, the outdoors, and Jewish life at camp!
Al tifrosh min hatzibur
Do not separate yourself from the community!
After careful consideration, our Electronics Policy is designed to:
- encourage our campers to spend more time off their beds and outdoors
- promote socialization between campers
- remove the divide between “the haves, and the have-nots”
- reduce the stress associated with the damage to and theft of electronics
- give campers a much-needed break from the world of technology
- allow campers to fully embrace and “plug into” the connections they make with other campers as they “unplug” from their electronics
- ensure that our campers are not exposed to age-inappropriate material
Now for the details about acceptable electronics.
If your camper must have their music at camp, either for fun or Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation, please send:
- an inexpensive mp3 player, or
- an iPod that does not have a touch screen (both the shuffle and nano models are welcome.)
We will not allow any mp3 players/mobile devices with touch screens. This way we can ensure that our campers cannot watch videos, TV shows, movies or access the internet. As such, campers may not bring any smartphones, even if the SIM card has been removed. We feel so strongly about not allowing our campers to have any touch screen devices in hand, that we will confiscate any iPod/mp3 player with a touch screen and return it to you on Closing Day.
You may send an inexpensive digital camera or disposable cameras. (Make sure you pack enough memory cards and batteries.) Please discuss proper handling of the camera and how pictures should be taken of bunkmates only with their permission. Please leave expensive cameras at home.
Mp3 players and digital cameras are the only electronics allowed at camp.
GAMEBOYs, PSPs, NINTENDO DS
No electronic hand-held game devices will be allowed in camp.
We will confiscate any Gameboys, PSPs, Nintendo DSs or other hand-held electronic devices and return them to you on Closing Day.
It is our long-standing policy that campers may not bring cell phones to camp. Cell phone use at camp is counter to the values we teach and uphold at Eisner and interferes with an important peer aspect of the overnight camp experience. We know that one of the reasons you send your camper to camp is so that they can take a well-needed break from technology. Although cell phones have been strictly prohibited at camp for many years, some families choose to ignore this policy. When you allow your camper to break the rules and take a cell phone to camp, your camper learns that the rules do not apply to them and your family.
When campers bring a phone to camp it:
- leads to conflicts within the cabin
- allows campers to focus on their friends at home rather than their friends at camp
- enables campers to call parents when they need advice instead of turning to their peers or counselors
- prevents campers from problem solving
As a result, we maintain a zero-tolerance cell phone policy.
Please take the time to discuss this policy with your camper. In the past, campers have hidden their cell phones in their bags without their parents’ knowledge. Parents will be held responsible if their camper does not comply with the cell phone policy regardless of how the cell phone arrived at camp.
LAPTOPS, NETBOOKS, iPADS, KINDLES, NOOKS
Campers are not permitted to have these, or similar electronic devices, in camp. Please make sure you purchase, and pack, any books your camper might be required to read from their school’s summer reading list.
ONE LAST WORD ON ELECTRONICS…
From our experience over the years, we can assure you that these policies are in the best interest of your camper. Camp is a great opportuntity for campers to power down, unplug, and take a well-needed break from the world of electronics.
If you have any questions about our electronics policy or want further clarification, please contact one of the Directors at 201-722-0400.
Health + Safety
We work hard to make sure that everyone remains healthy at camp. Yet we also understand and prepare for when our campers get sick. We have a wonderful group of supportive medical staff that will take care of them in our newly renovated health center.
HEALTH CENTER STAFF
Registered nurses staff our Health Center 24 hours a day. Most of our camp nurses work as school nurses throughout the year and are both experienced and comfortable treating children and communicating with parents. We also have a physician in residence who is on call 24 hours a day and in the Health Center for daily health calls and for emergencies.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT VISITS
Our nurses and physician will decide if a camper or staff member must be brought to the Emergency Department (ED). Should your camper require emergency medical care, including x-rays or any laboratory evaluation, we will bring them 1.4 miles away to the Fairview Hospital ED and will contact your camper’s designated emergency contact, before your camper leaves for the ED. A counselor or nurse will accompany your camper and stay with them until they return to camp. In the unlikely event that an ambulance must be called to transport your camper to the Fairview Hospital ED, one of the camp directors will accompany them. Our nurses and physician will update you when your camper is seen in the ED and when they return to camp.
COMMUNICATING WITH THE HEALTH CENTER
Our nurses will call you if your camper:
– has received treatment from the camp doctor
– visits the Health Center frequently with the same complaint
-is ill and will need to spend the night in the Health Center
-has an ingrown toenail (a common camp affliction)
-has lice or nits
-needs to receive outside medical attention
– if they have any concerns regarding your child’s health or medication.
Our nurses will not call you if your camper comes to the Health Center with a stomachache, headache, splinter, to get ice for a bump or any other common ailment.
If you have any concerns about your camper’s health or medication, you can reach the Health Center directly at 413-528-8683. Please be patient with our Health Center staff who may not be able to answer the phone since they are busy with our campers — they will call you back as soon as possible.
ILL AT CAMP
When a camper has fever and must spend the night in the Health Center, one of our nurses will call you. We will make sure your camper is comfortable and we will update you late the next morning to let you know how they’re doing. One of our nurses sleeps overnight in the Health Center and is always available to those campers spending the night.
When a camper is febrile for 72 hours, with no break in fever, if often makes sense for them to go home to see a specialist or their own physician. Our camp doctor will ask you to partner with them to make the best decision and plan for your child.
OTHER HEALTH NEEDS
Crutches, Casts and Orthopedic Boots
Campers need to be able to move independently around camp’s hilly and uneven terrain. Since campers on crutches cannot safely navigate camp, campers on crutches cannot come to camp. If an injury sustained at camp requires the use of crutches, the camper will need to go home.
If a camper requires an orthopedic boot, and it can easily come off and on for daily bathing and swimming, they can attend/remain at camp.
Casts on the wrist or arms must be waterproof so that campers can independently shower daily. Because of hygiene concerns, plaster casts will not be allowed at camp.
Dozens of campers will come to camp this summer with braces, retainers and other orthodontic devices. Please discuss proper care of all orthodontics with your camper prior to their time at camp.
Sometimes a wire or bracket on a camper’s braces breaks or loosens and causes discomfort. We can take the camper to our local orthodontist so that he can make adjustments to stop the discomfort. We will always call you before we make an appointment for your camper.
If your camper’s glasses break while at camp, we will send the glasses to our local optician for repair. If the glasses cannot be fixed, we will ask you to send another pair. It’s a good idea to send your camper with the last pair of glasses they wore prior to the ones they are currently wearing. It’s always good to have a back-up pair on hand.
Yes, the tooth fairy visits Eisner Camp. Well, sort of. Campers who lose teeth while at camp will be given a container to store the tooth until they get home. Our Community Care Team will also give the toothless camper a sweet treat.
Clean and Healthy Campers
Our campers are responsible for their own personal hygiene. We expect them to shower every day with soap, wash their hair with shampoo, change their underwear, socks and clothes, brush their teeth and wash their hands after they use the toilet. We expect that they will apply bug spray and sunscreen daily and that they will drink plenty of water. However, they are children, and we know many of them will need lots of cueing by our counselors and nurses to take proper care of themselves. Although we will gently remind our campers to complete all these tasks, you can help us by discussing these expectations with your camper and practice, practice, practice doing these things without you while they are still at home!
This summer, we expect our campers to wash their hands throughout the day and wear their masks over their mouth and nose when directed to. We will make it very clear to our campers and staff when they must wear a mask and when they can take it off. We expect 100% compliance to insure a healthy camp community.
Your camper’s safety and security are a top priority at Eisner Camp. Our professional security staff is on duty 24 hours a day to ensure the safety of the entire Eisner community. The front gate remains locked at all times and can only be opened by our security staff who also make periodic checks throughout the entire campgrounds.
Working in partnership with the other URJ Camps across North America and our Israeli security consulting firm, we have created, over the last two decades, thoughtful and sophisticated safety and security protocols and procedures that address a wide range of concerns. These protocols are updated annually, and we train our camp supervisors and camp staff prior to every summer so they are prepared to work as a team to insure a secure camp environment. We have a close relationship with the Great Barrington Police and Fire Departments, so we can work collaboratively if need be. The confidence of our camp community in our professionalism is essential to our success.
Policies + Resources
Cabin assignments are made by the Camp Directors after careful consideration of appropriate placement. The Directors must consider:
- the balance of new and returning campers
- the numbers of one session and full summer campers
- how many bunk beds fit in each cabin
- the recommendations of Unit Heads and counselors from previous summers
- camper requests
Juggling all this information and making everybody happy is quite a challenge! When you registered your child, we asked you for the names of two campers with whom your child would like to share a cabin. Although we are interested in knowing the wishes of parents and campers regarding cabin placement, our experience has shown us that part of the fun of camp is to experience meeting new people and learning to live in a group situation. A successful new friendship can be the most rewarding aspect of the camp season. At camp, friendships come quickly.
If you decide not to make a cabin request for your child, we will surely place them in a cabin that we feel is best.
We do not accept negative cabin requests (“Please do not place my child with…”). This is counter to the values of inclusion and tolerance that we teach at Eisner. V’ahavta L’rayacha Kamocha, Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, is a Jewish value that we embrace. At camp, as in life, we do not all have to be best friends, but we must get along and treat one another with kindness and respect. Living these values is part of our Mission Statement and paramount to the community we create at Eisner. We teach campers the importance of getting along with EVERYBODY in their cabin and continuously teach and model the social skills to help them do so.
We also cannot accept requests for particular bed placement (bottom bed, top bed, must be away from the bathroom, not near the corner of the cabin…). These requests, if accepted, would make it impossible for us to effectively place campers in cabins. If, for medical reasons, your child needs a top or a bottom bed, you may make a bed placement request.
There are times when, in the best interest of the child and other children, cabin requests cannot be honored. In these few cases, we hope that you will trust our professional judgment.
We will not accept any cabin requests after June 1, 2021. Cabin assignments are given out on Opening Day. Absolutely no cabin changes will be made at that time.
Parents often ask if they can tip their camper’s counselors. It is the policy of all URJ camps that staff members may not accept gratuities. If they do, they jeopardize their position at camp. Instead, we encourage you to make a contribution to Eisner Camp in honor of your camper’s counselors and the good work they have done. Your contributions are tax-deductible, and can be made online (the website will be shared at the end of the session) or by contacting our Development Associate, Marisa Bergman. The counselors being honored will be notified of your generosity.
Since we will be a closed campus this summer, with no guests, alumni, or parents coming in or out, we cannot welcome any visitors at any time.
BAR/BAT MITZVAH PREPARATION
Campers who will become Bar or Bat Mitzvah in August, September, October, November or December 2021 will meet bi-weekly with our Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor and faculty members. Each camper will meet with our tutor for individual lessons each week and with our faculty for a group lesson each week as well. Please make sure you complete the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation form (found on the “Forms & Documents” page of your CampInTouch account) and that you send two copies of all study and preparation materials. Our goal is to help your camper maintain what they have already learned prior to coming to camp, not to teach new material.
EVALUATIONS AND SURVEYS
Halfway through each session we ask our campers to complete a “How Ya’ Doing” evaluation so that we can make sure that each of our campers is having an amazing time at camp. This mid-session evaluation is completed by the campers with no staff present and read only by the Directors and Community Care Team, allows campers to share information in writing that they might not be comfortable expressing to a staff member. Getting this information from our campers mid-way through the session allows us to make changes and improvements while the campers are still at camp. We also have our campers complete surveys at the end of each session which help us when we begin to prepare for the following summer. Our campers talk, and we and listen!
In order to create and maintain an inclusive Jewish Community at camp, one in which the Jewish values of Derech Eretz (civility) and Chesed (kindness) are always present, we encourage our campers to leave all Body Talk outside the gates of camp. By Body Talk we mean any mention of another’s clothes, hair, weight or height, positive or negative. Avoiding such language creates an environment of comfort and acceptance by all and for all. When campers feel they are not being judged by their peers, they can relax and be themselves. This is when real personal growth takes place and campers’ self-esteems flourish. As we eliminate Body Talk in our cabins, it is remarkable to see how easily our campers spread the message of simple self-acceptance.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. Mindfulness means slowing down, paying attention, being grateful, taking pauses to appreciate where you are, who you are, and whom you are with. It’s also about forgiveness and compassion and evaluating what’s important. It’s about acting as individuals while maintaining the perspective that we are all in this together. Judaism, at its very core, is all about mindfulness. And so is Eisner Camp! We’ll teach our campers some of the ancient wisdom of Jewish mindfulness and how they might include these lessons in their daily lives. In a variety of age-appropriate and engaging ways, we’ll talk about mindfulness while we eat our meals, enjoy the natural surroundings of camp, celebrate Shabbat and embrace the Jewish value of Hodayah, gratefulness.