First-time Parents & Camper Guide

My favorite part of camp is making friendships that will last a lifetime

Welcome to URJ Camp Newman!

 

Shabbat

Whether you have just registered your child – or are still considering camp or a year-round event – we’d like to personally welcome you to our Camp Newman family and community. For friendships, adventure and the joy of Judaism, there is no better place than Camp Newman! At summer camp or our year-round events, your child will get to choose from many enriching activities, have an unforgettable Shabbat experience and start making Jewish friends that could very well last a lifetime.

We have created this section to help you and your child prepare – and to start getting excited – about their upcoming camp adventure. If you don’t see your question addressed below, please feel free to contact our Marketing Director, Alaina Yoakum at ayoakum@urj.org, and she’ll track down the answer for you!

 

Thank you for giving our children a place that makes them feel so proud to be Jewish!

A Message from Rabbi Erin Mason, Our Camp Director

Our Camp Director's Message to You

Dear Camper Parent,

Erin SelfieAs I left my summer home at Camp Newman last year, I glanced over my shoulder towards our sukkat shalom, shelter of peace, and smiled. The grapes that drape camp’s sukkah had waited till the final day to begin ripening. It was fitting symbolism that our summer was complete, that we had nourished our camp community, and that future generations would carry forth the joys of Judaism.

You Can Come Home Again

When we ask our campers and staff why they love Camp, one of the prevailing sentiments is that “camp is home.” It is a home they create with their peer community, their first chavura. They return summer after summer – and all through the year – because they are “coming home again.” The idea of home transcends the physical space, even though campers report the sweet chills they encounter as they enter camp’s gates and gaze up to the Star of David. The idea of home is how it makes one feel inside: warmth, love, ruach (spirit), joy, unconditional acceptance, embracing of each individual for whom they are; for being able to be themselves.

Our Stories

Imagine sitting in the middle of camp and just listening. The sounds of laughter, music and singing abound. If you listen more carefully, especially during informal moments – at meals, in the cabin, bed time, walking to and fro, and friends sitting under a tree – one can hear myriad stories. Children open up at camp and tell their stories. They create their stories and pass on their stories. All kinds of stories are told – about growth, conflict, joy, redemption, happiness, sadness, dreams, successes, shortcomings, yearnings, aspirations. So much of camp’s richness comes from children being able to tell, listen and embrace their stories and their friends’ stories.

Passing The Torch

At Camp, the notion of L’dor V’dor, from generation to generation, is ubiquitous. Young children grow up at camp, passing the traditions to those younger. Eventually, they become staff and pass the Torch to the next generation. Many return as faculty, with their own families, perpetuating the chain. In Midrash Rabba, Songs of Songs 1:4, God tells the Jewish people that they will not receive the Torah without reliable guarantors, those who will care and pass along the Torah for generations onward. The Jewish people suggest several groups, parents, grandparents, prophets, shephards – none of them are acceptable to God – only when children are presented as the guarantors does God hand over the Torah to the Jewish people. The Child In Us All- “By The Breath of Children God Sustains the World,” Talmud at camp, the essence of childhood is celebrated, bringing out the child and the best in us all, from the tiny babies to the senior faculty. We all come together to share the magical moments and miracles of Jewish community living.

Rabbi Erin Mason

Camp Director, URJ Camp Newman

 

First Things First … Watch Our Video!

Our video gives you a glimpse into the best of camp – the fun, friendships, adventure, activities and joy of Jewish life. We encourage you to watch it with your child – especially if your child is not certain yet if they wish to attend camp. The excitement is often catching!

Camp has helped me discover my Jewish identity and what it means to be Jewish.

Get a Taste of Camp … Before Camp

yom sport best of 11For some new campers, the idea of sleeping away from home for more than one night may be daunting. During the year, URJ Camp Newman hosts several events that allow young campers to experience a taste of camp in one small bite-sized day (Family Fun Festival and Open House with PJ Library) or weekend (Fall Camp, Winter Camp, and Spring Camp). Often after attending one or more of these events, first-time campers feel more ready and confident to enroll in a summer session.

To see what’s on our calendar for elementary school aged children, click here. For all of our year-round events, click here.

The waterslide is awesome and Shabbat is really fun.

Sing Along with Us!

Music is a big part of camp. Everywhere you go, you can hear the sounds of children singing. To hear some of our favorite hits from the summer, visit our Camp Music page (password is “music”).

How Can I Tell If My Child Is Ready?

New beginnings can often feel both exhilarating and a bit scary. As your child’s first extended time away from home, you want to be sure that you’re sending them to a space that will embrace them and take care of them in the same way that you would. That’s why at Camp Newman we go all out to create a space where first-time campers feel safe to dip their toe into the camp experience – or to jump right in when they’re ready!

Here are some questions you may want to consider as you are deciding if your child is ready for camp: Have they been to an overnight at a friend’s house or a slumber party? How did they do? Can they perform routine tasks – like brushing their teeth and hair in the morning – on their own? Does your child like choosing their own items from a buffet? Does your child ever mention the idea of going away to camp? Start talking about camp with your child – and see what they say! You will know better than anyone when your child is ready for camp.

 

Hear From First-Time Campers – In Their Own Words

Last summer, we asked our first-time campers what they thought about camp. Here’s what they said!

 

I Don’t Know If I Can Afford Camp…

Did you know that there may be a grant available to help you cover the cost of camp? Along with first-time camper grants, there are a variety of other sources.  See what options for summer camp are available here.

For our year-round events, we always offer an early bird rate. Also, some synagogues include the year-round event fee in their religious school tuition or offer incentives of their own. Make sure to ask your temple to see what’s available.

I love being at camp … surrounded by nature, my friends, and people who have similar loves.

Can My Child’s Friend Join Them?

shabbat best of 41Yes! In fact, many first-time campers come to camp with a friend … or two or three! When you enroll your child, there will be an area where you can enter the name of the friend your child would like to be in the same bunk with.

We do our very best to honor all requests made, and will honor at least one mutually-matching bunk request.

 

Who Will Be Watching Over My Child?

campers best of 85Our staff share a strong passion for mentoring youth and for modeling the values of friendships, community, and Judaism. These caring, dedicated, and specially-trained individuals include Israelis, college students, rabbinical students, Jewish educators, clergy, camp alumni, doctors, nurses and social workers.

When asked to describe the most important thought that staff should carry in their minds 24 hours a day, we share the following: Imagine that every child’s parents are watching over your shoulder as you care for, nurture, and inspire their most precious gift in life.

It is my home away from home and a place where I can be my best self.

What Should I Pack?

To see our Summer Camp Packing List for 2015, click here.

For our Year-Round Events (like Fall Camp, Spring Camp, West Coast Party), you should receive a Packing List with your event confirmation email.

Some other items your first-time camper might find fun and useful:

  • A deck of cards or other fun games to play with their cabinmates.
  • A red, green, yellow and blue t-shirt or accessory for when your camper learns their Yom Sport team color (a mystery until the day of). Don’t worry if you don’t have this – we always have extra items and face paint!
  • Stamps & pre-written address labels for mailing letters to friends and family.

 

What If My Family Is Interfaith?

At Camp Newman, we welcome all children regardless if one or both parents are Jewish. To read more about how we strive to create a welcoming environment for all, click here!

 

Shhh…Your First-Timer Gets a Welcome Gift!

Once you have enrolled your camper, be on the lookout some time in May for a special “Welcome to Camp” package to arrive in your mailbox! Our Camp Directors send all of our first-time campers a special gift along with a CD of popular camp music so your camper can begin learning some of our favorite songs and melodies, if they like.

 

What Can I Do to Support My Child?

The most important covenant we possess at camp is with you, the parents. The trust that is fostered between you and the camp helps create a successful partnership. Here are three ways you can partner with us to make sure your child’s summer is the best ever:

  1. Prepare for Camp In Partnership With Your Child: Pack together. (To see what to pack, check out the 2016 Packing List.) Discuss anxieties, expectations and hopes together. Discuss the activities that will happen at camp. Watch the video again. The more your child knows about camp, the better they will adjust. Express how proud you are, as a parent, of your child embarking on their camp journey. Never tell your child that they “can come home” or they “can call home” if they are having a difficult time – this will only make it more difficult for them to adjust.
  2. Coping With Homesickness at Camp: The only “cure” for homesickness is time, coupled with the support of counselors and encouraging letters from home. Our counselors are there to help comfort and encourage your child. They are sensitive, well-trained and, in most cases, were campers once themselves and draw on their own experiences. They also know where to turn for help. Each session, the camp has a faculty of at least eight Rabbis, Jewish educators and a team of on-site counselors and mental health professionals (our Nefesh team) on site, as well as senior staff members who are always available to help guide the camper to success.
  3. When Your Child Is at Camp: Send many positive (and “how proud we are of you”) letters to your child. Have letters waiting for them when they arrive. Say how much you are looking forward to hearing about what they experienced at camp. Discuss the excitement of camp, not what they are missing at home. If they’re not letter writers themselves, send them easy to fill out (“your favorite activity at camp is: _____,” “your new friend’s name is: ____”, etc) self-addressed stamped letters to send you with a report.

Make sure to visit our How to Keep in Touch page for lots more resources and tips for staying in touch with your camper.

 

overnight best of 5Buy a Camp Newman T-shirt

Every camper receives a camp t-shirt as a souvenir on the last day of their camp session. However, if you would like to outfit your first-time camper with Camp Newman gear before camp begins, visit our Camp Store! There are lots of items to choose from, including water bottles, hats, and t-shirts for adults, children, babies, grandparents and even dogs!

 

Got More Questions? We Have Answers!

As first-time parents, we know you have questions – and we have answers! To read our extensive F.A.Q. for both first- and long-time parents, click here.