Our Community

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OSRUI is proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environment. The make-up of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and our programs is as diverse as our population. Our camp program is inclusive and designed for everyone in our Jewish 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 supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs. 

We are committed to building a vibrant community rooted in Jewish values and 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 norms, we strive to reflect the URJ’s and our camps’ core values: 

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We work hard to ensure that each campers needs are met with the proper accommodations.

Kehillah Kedoshah – A Holy Community
We engage in the sacred work of creating a place where all are welcome.
Together, we care for each other and grapple with challenges, as we encounter them.

V’ahavta L’reyecha Kamocha – Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Camp is a microcosm of the world we aspire to build. At OSRUI we practice bold kindness,
and behave towards one another with love, compassion, and respect.

Kevod Habriyot – Honoring of Every Human Being
We take pride in celebrating our rich community and know that the diverse identities, beliefs, practices,
and means of the OSRUI family strengthen us.  We are a community of unique and valued individuals.

Yichut Atsmo – Personal Growth
The OSRUI community is perpetually learning and growing in a safe and supportive environment.
We nurture this growth through developmentally appropriate education, mentorship, and shared experiences.

interfaith families

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.

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, all under eyes of our caring, responsible 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 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 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 beliefs is also strongly encouraged. 

Will my child feel isolated or different because one parent is not Jewish?

Not at all. Each child at OSRUI 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! OSRUI 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 different ways of Jewish living is a meaningful experience. 

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 all while having fun. 

transgender campers and staff

At OSRUI, we welcome campers and staff members who are transgender. If you have questions that are not addressed here, please do not hesitate to contact Debbie Locketz, our Camp Care Director, at dlocketz@urj.org. 

what does it mean to be transgender?

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 do transgender campers and staff sleep?

Based on our values, and best practices in supporting the healthy development of youth, at OSRUI we affirm the gender identity of transgender campers and staff by allowing everyone in our community to live in cabins and tents with the gender in which they identify, rather than their sex assigned at birth. 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 can be 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 restrooms all have stall showers, each with its own curtain and our transgender campers generally shower in private restrooms.

will my child 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’s 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.” View the the full text here. 

how do i explain transgender children and gender variance to kids?

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, what 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.