A Postcard from Camp: News from OSRUI Winter 2020

The osrui blog

Home » A Postcard from Camp: News from OSRUI Winter 2020

From the Director

Shalom OSRUI Community,

As 2020 gets underway there is much to look forward to at OSRUI!

I’m thrilled to announce that over 30 campers are signed up to go to Israel this summer for our first ever Chalutzim Ba’aretz program. These campers will experience 4 weeks in Israel with their OSRUI peers and have the opportunity to celebrate and grow their grasp of the Hebrew language.

The Teen Leadership Summit is another new and exciting option at OSRUI this summer and is part of the Union for Reform Judaism’s ongoing commitment to teens. This two-week program will help 10th-12th graders develop unique leadership skills while enjoying all of the fun activities of summer camp. Whether their area of interest is song leading, social justice or board leadership skills, the teens will be joined by experts from the Reform movement teaching them and providing opportunities to practice new skills. This program is open to new and returning OSRUI campers and we look forward to having teens from across North America join us.

For our youngest campers, we now have two options – one at the beginning and one at the end of the summer — to participate in Atid and get a taste of all the fun of a summer at OSRUI.

And for our alumni…join us back in Oconomowoc this May for Avodah for Alumni and Friends. We’ll put you to work, helping to prepare camp for the summer, and celebrate Shabbat together. It is sure to be a fun and productive weekend!

We have also expanded our popular music programs with a new offering this year: Machon Shira, a weekend of learning for camp and campus songleaders with Dan Nichols, Alan Goodis, and Cantor Rosalie Will.

There are fun opportunities for prospective and current families to spend time together at one of our upcoming Camp Days.

Our sessions are filling up, but there is still time to register for camp! As always, please reach out to me with any questions you have about the upcoming summer or any of our programs.

On behalf of the OSRUI professional staff and lay leadership I want to thank you for being a part of the OSRUI community. I hope to see many of you at camp this summer!


Solly Kane, Director

The Countdown Has Begun!

Summer 2020 begins in less than 20 weeks and we have nearly 850 campers registered!  Fun Fact:  When surveyed at the end of their session last year, 96% of OSRUI campers said they want to come back to camp this summer.  Sessions are filling up, so don’t let another day go by before you register your favorite kids for their favorite session.

Register Now!

New Teen Leadership Summit

OSRUI is excited to introduce the immersive Teen Leadership Summit. Whether you’re an OSRUI veteran camper or you’ve never been to Oconomowoc before, this is a great opportunity to join with teens from around North America and learn with nationally known experts. This two-week program will help you develop unique leadership skills while enjoying all of the fun activities of summer camp. You’ll dive deep into either Songleading training, Social Justice Advocacy training, or NFTY Regional Leadership training.  The session will include focused learning with a team of experts from our movement, opportunities to practice skills learned with hands on experience, and celebrating two Shabbatot with the OSRUI community.

Learn more and register ⇒

Your 2020 Leadership Team

We are so excited to introduce our 2020 Leadership Team! This team is comprised of staff members who help oversee all of the areas of camp, including units and specialty areas.

Meet Your Summer 2020 Leadership Team

Avodah Weekend for Alumni and Friends!

Grab your camp friends, roll up your sleeves and join us as we prepare for OSRUI 2020!  May 15-17.

This weekend will allow our year-round facilities team to get more done before camp opens and help get OSRUI’s summer off to an even better start.

Choose from a variety of projects, which may include:

  • Painting
  • Facilities Maintenance
  • Light handiwork and assembly of small projects
  • Grounds and Gardening, and
  • Preparing our B’tai T’filah (outdoor chapels) for the summer

In addition to working, we will celebrate Shabbat at camp, including Kabbalat Shabbat services, a delicious dinner (remember Shabbat chicken and potatoes?) and Shabbat Shira. Saturday night will include Havdalah, folk night, and a fun evening program!

The Avodah Weekend is open to all adults, 21 and over (whether or not you were an Avodahnik) and the program will happen rain or shine. Whatever your abilities and interests, we have a place for you!

More information and registration.

Where are They Now? 
Alumni Spotlight on Bari Finkel

Meet Bari Finkel, who was a camper and staff member from 2001-2011.  An Executive Produce at Pineapple Studios in Brooklyn, NY, Bari helps creative companies produce podcasts.

How camp has impacted my life:  OSRUI shaped the way I experienced time. For other kids, the year may have been determined by Hanukkah or New Years, Rosh Hashanah or birthdays. My year centered around camp. Every week spent outside of camp was a countdown to when I’d be back. It’s how I marked personal growth. Camp instilled a deep sense of community within me, while also teaching me practical leadership skills. I still hold onto the confidence, independence, and spirituality that was fostered there.

I’m still close with many of my camp friends. I love finding out that old camp friends live in New York, or even are just visiting, and meeting up with them. My dear camp friend Danny Barry and I just went to see Lion King on Broadway last week while he was in NY!

Fun camp fact:   The small moments are the ones I lean on the most from my memories. Star gazing on Tzofim hill, catching sunrises on the docks, Shabbat Shira. But one of my favorite camp stories happened on my Mosh Aleph hiking trip in 2006. …

Read more about Bari on our blog >

Pictured above are the girls from Bari’s Moshavah Aleph hiking trip and Bari and Danny Barry in Chalutzim.

OSRUI Connects More Closely with Our Area NFTY Regions

NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, they pursue tikkun olam (repairing the world), personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism.

OSRUI is excited to be working even more closely with the NFTY regions in our area:

  • NFTY-CAR (Chicago Area Region), which includes the Chicago Metropolitan Area
  • NFTY-NO (Northern Region), which includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba, Canada, Sioux Falls, SD, and Rockford, IL
  • NFTY-MV (Missouri Valley), which includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado, and Central Illinois.

We know how powerful the camp experience is; so many of our campers talk about how they “Live 10 for 2” (live for 10 months waiting for a summer at OSRUI).  We are excited for our teens and pre-teens to be able to have these powerful Jewish experiences 12 months a year.

Join Us in the 53066 and Beyond

Saturday, 2/8 NFTY-MV JYG Art Event
Monday, 2/17 Camp Day: Get Sporty!
Monday, 2/17 NFTY-MV JYG Bowling
2/28 – 3/1 NFTY 678 Kallah – Chicago Northern
2/28 – 3/1 NFTY-MV JYG Chavurah
3/13-3/15 Spring Family Camp with PJ Library
3/26-3/29 Machon Shira Songleading Workshop
4/3-4/5 NFTY-CAR Kolbo
4/3-4/5 NFTY-MV Spring Chavurah
Sunday, 4/5 Camp Day: Show Us Your Art Skills!
Sunday, 4/26 NFTY-CAR JYG Spring Bash
5/1-5/3 NFTY-NO Spring Kallah
5/15-5/17 Avodah Weekend for Alumni & Friends
Saturday, 5/16 Camp Day: Celebrate Shabbat & Open House!
5/24-5/28 Hava Nashira

OSRUI Receives Generous Yashar Grant
Grant will support renovation and expansion of Kallah bathrooms and showers.

We are thrilled to share that OSRUI has been honored with a generous grant to improve accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities on multiple levels. Thanks to the Foundation for Jewish Camp and Weinberg Foundation, we received $200,000 which brings us closer to being able to completely renovate and expand the Kallah bathrooms and showers, making them ADA accessible for summer 2021. The grant also includes funds for professional development and staff training around inclusion to help ensure that OSRUI is a more inclusive community and welcoming experience for every child. The grant funds a percentage of the total project cost. If you are interested in supporting this project or would like to learn more, please reach out to Alex Argentar, Development Director at aargentar@urj.org.

Todah Rabah!   

Thank you to everyone who donated to our end-of-year appeal. Nearly 250 donors contributed $281,000.

In 2019, we raised a total of over $1.26 million for OSRUI.  Thank you to our generous community!


OSRUI is in the News

Three OSRUI Teens Named to JUF Springboard 18 Under 18

Strategies for Sisterhood Success:  An Unexpected Journey Through Cancer

A Wedding Day That Left Them Shook