Inclusion + Accessibility

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Our commitment to diversity, equity & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has and continues to be central to the cultivation of meaningful community. We acknowledge that as a Jewish community our institutions, despite their commitment to values based learning and community building, have perpetuated racism, ableism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. We recognize that the land that our campsite sits upon is Wappo land that was unjustly stolen. 

In January 2020, our full-time professional team, board, and alumni identified that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion needed to become a more central focus to our current internal efforts for growth and change.

We feel it is important to acknowledge and name that DEI work at Camp Newman, and in the global community,  is both a reaction to the current atrocities happening around us as well as an expansion of our Jewish values around inclusion and b’tzelem Elohim, seeing each person as created in the image of God. 

We reaffirm our commitment to continue growing, learning, and serving our entire community and creating a space together that people of all backgrounds feel comfortable, safe, and at home. As always, we encourage you to reach out to us via email at campnewman@urj.org to continue the conversation.

Jews from diverse backgrounds

As part on the Union for Reform Judaism and the Audacious Hospitality effors that our movement encapsulates, we believe that we will be a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community when we fully incorporate the diversity that is the reality of modern Jewish life. We believe that there is more than one authentic way to be Jewish and acknowledge that our diversity is an essential component to making our communities whole.

Jewish populations such as Jews by choice and those exploring Judaism, Jews of Color, LGBTQ+ Jews, Jews who live with physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities, multiracial families, Jews who are unaffiliated and uninspired by Jewish communal offerings, and the evolving needs of interfaith and intermarried couples and families, are all an integral part of our growing community. 

We strive to engage more children and families who are often unrepresented and under-served in Jewish spaces, transforming our camp community into a space of belonging for all who wish to call it home.

Interfaith Families

When you send your child to URJ Camp Newman, they will make friends that may well last a lifetime. We promise we will provide a nurturing and fulfilling experience.

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 and their children. As Union for Reform Judaism 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, great role models, great activities and programs, values not just taught but lived, friendships, and responsible adult role models.

When you entrust your child to our camp, they will experience what it is like to live in a completely Jewish environment. 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 good values home!

Shabbat is a big event at camp. The entire camp comes together as one on Friday evening for blessings, dinner and song. 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 beliefs is also strongly encouraged.

WILL MY CHILD FEEL ISOLATED OR DIFFERENT BECAUSE ONE PARENT IS NOT JEWISH?

Not at all. Many of our camp counselors themselves are wonderful products of interfaith marriages. Each child at Camp Newman 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.

WILL MY CHILD FEEL EMBARRASSED IF THEy DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO SOMETHING JEWISH?

Camp Newman 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 us 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 pick up Hebrew at camp in an experiential way, learning some basic Hebrew terms, Hebrew blessings and phrases. They enjoy showing off when they return home.

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 thy 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.

Nefesh: Camper Care + inclusion

Our Nefesh (hebrew for soul) or Camper Care Team is composed of mental health professionals, social workers, therapists, school counselors and more who have dedicated their time and energy to figure out how camp can be a place of happiness and success for our campers and staff.

Camp Newman has been successful in integrating children of varying abilities and disabilities into our community. We have found that campers with the following diagnoses can be very successful at camp, with the right supports:

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Cognitive delays

Executive functioning delays

Mental health diagnoses, such as depression and anxiety

ADHD

OT/PT needs

Learning disabilities

Hearing loss

Each camper is carefully considered, with input from parents, teachers and other professionals, on an individualized basis to determine appropriateness for our program and the types of accommodations needed. Families work in partnership with our Nefesh team to ensure the camper’s success for the summer. This may include a more comprehensive intake, collaboration with professionals who work with your child, scheduling a home visit, and maintaining regular communication throughout the off season as we prepare for the summer.

If you have questions about whether your child will be successful at camp, please reach out to our Nefesh Team: nefesh@urj.org

A Space for All

As we rebuild our campus, we are committed to ensuring our physical spaces enable all people to feel a sense of full belonging. 

  • All public bathrooms are all gender
  • Our brand new dining hall is over twice as large as our previous version enabling more freedom of movement and accessible space, with an outdoor seating section for 200, divisible dining rooms inside, and massive sliding glass walls that making the dining space indoor/outdoor.
  • Our new 16 person cabins have 50% more space between beds than is suggested by the American Camping Association) and can be divided into two smaller cabins of 8 with their own private restrooms
  • The entire “core” of camp has been regraded and leveled to create accessible walking paths
  • Adventure Mountain (our challenge and ropes course) allows for a “no-step start”, so that all people of all abilities and backgrounds can participate fully.

We’re proud to be a recipient of a Yashar Initiative Grant from Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Weinberg Foundation, enabling us to enhance accessibility of our site and add services for campers and staff with disabilities.

LGBTQIA+

Camp Newman is proud to support campers, staff and family members of many different sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. Every child is unique and we want to learn more about your camper so we can ensure a safe space for them to be their authentic selves at camp. 

We recognize that gender lies on a spectrum and each summer at Camp Newman, we welcome transgender campers and staff into the cabin with which they identify. 

If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to our Nefesh Team: nefesh@urj.org. 

 

Menu + nutrition

 As you would expect, our campers are active all day long. Therefore, meals are an important part of our day!

We eat by cabins every day in our dinning room or what we call the Chadar Ohel (dining hall). For breakfast and lunch, we have two serving times, one with younger age groups, and one with older age groups. Then for dinner we all come together for one big meal with the entire camp.

Our menu has been carefully designed by a dietitian and as a Jewish camp of course we have several food traditions. We begin every meal with our own special hamotzi and end every meal with our own special birkat hamazon to remind us how food came to be at our tables.

We want to make sure every camper has an opportunity to have a safe and healthy dining experience at, therefore do our best to accommodate any allergies, special diets, or picky eaters.

We are a nut free camp. We’ve had campers with nut, fish, dairy, soy, and gluten allergies, and many other dietary needs. We always offer a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free option.

In addition to the main entree at meals, there are always side dishes, fresh fruit, our salad bar, and options to make a sandwich (wow butter, sun butter, and jelly). Our staff make sure that all campers are eating throughout the day and work with campers to make sure there is something that meets their needs.