New Family FAQs

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Below are answers to many commonly asked questions. If you would like any additional information please email or call our office.  

Choosing Camp

Why choose OSRUI?

Camp is fun! Located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, our campers enjoy engaging activities and programs, develop life-long friendships, and live with a super-star staff that acts as role models, living Jewish values-not just teaching them. We know they’ll take these values home with them at summer’s end. Our open and accepting environment allows each of our individual campers to form incredible bonds together and to be the best versions of themselves. Our programs and camp traditions create an outstanding environment for our camp community to immerse themselves in Reform Jewish traditions. 

Is my child ready?

We can’t wait to welcome your child to camp and we want their OSRUI experience to be great. As you think about your camper’s readiness for camp, we encourage you to consider the questions below.  Our dedicated Wellness Team, led by Senior Assistant Director Lina Wallace, is always eager to talk more about how we can make your camper’s experience at camp successful. If this isn’t the right summer for your child, we have lots of great family programs throughout the year where your family can get to know camp as you consider OSRUI for next summer. 


Often when kids come to you with a desire to go to overnight camp, it’s a sign that not only are they interested in attending but that they are ready. Asking them about why they are interested will often give you the information you need to feel ready to take this step! 


We encourage campers to practice sleeping away from home before camp. Let your child practice with sleepovers with family members and with friends, as this will give your child the confidence needed to feel positive about sleeping out of the home, and it will help you rest easier too! 


Your child will return home with much greater independence but should arrive at camp willing, with prompting and reminders, to do many of these things. Our staff is there to help every step of the way, but we also expect that campers are able to manage these tasks at an age-appropriate level. These are great tasks to practice at home as you gear up for the summer! 


If your child has accidents on occasion, we can work with you to put a plan in place that your child feels comfortable with and that can work at camp. This is more common than most think and we can help create a plan that is discreet and supportive to your child. 


Lina Wallace is our Senior Assistant Director. Lina and her Wellness Team will talk to family members, professionals, and work with you and your child to make sure camp is prepared for what they might need. 

During the summer, our Camp Care team is made up of licensed professionals who know camp and know kids. They work seamlessly with parents, counselors, and campers to ensure a positive experience for all. They can communicate with families throughout the summer to collaborate in real time and discuss issues as they arise.

Please contact Lina at or 847-239-6983 to have a conversation about your child’s readiness for camp! 

How can I prepare as a parent/guardian to send my child to camp?

As exciting as it is to send your child to summer camp, the process can be overwhelming and lead to some degree of anxiousness. We feel it is important to make sure our circle of support extends beyond the campers to the parents and guardians. 

Prior to camp we will help guide you with packing lists questions and connecting you to other camp families. Our Wellness Team will be in contact with you to discuss any medical or special needs your camper may have. 

Once your child arrives at camp our staff will make sure all their needs are met and they have a successful session. During the session you are more than welcome to reach out and check in with us. We will be happy to give you an update on how your camper is doing. 

Our camp family is always available to help ensure that your entire family has a memorable summer experience. 

Does OSRUI provide tuition assistance?

We are committed to ensuring that no child is denied a Jewish summer experience at OSRUI, regardless of a family’s financial need. 

Need-based assistance is available through our campership fund for all of our programs. We also have partnered with the One Happy Camper program to provide first-time incentives to encourage parents to choose Jewish camp. Our partner URJ congregations are also deeply invested in working with us to help all campers get to camp.   

Please see our Tuition Assistance page for more information and tools to help make camp more affordable for your family. 

life at camp

What is a typical day at camp like?

Each day at camp is full of fun, exciting activities. Younger campers primarily rotate through the schedule with other campers from their bunk, while older campers primarily opt in to interest-based programs throughout the day. Every day, campers get to do swimming or boating, play sports (including basketball, tennis, archery, volleyball, soccer, etc.), a Judaic activity with clergy and/or educators, choose electives (such as drama, sailing, cooking, art, sports, nature, etc.), learn Hebrew, and sing in song sessions and worship services. Throughout their session at camp, campers also have the opportunity to try the Challenge Course (including a zip line, high ropes course, and 55-foot climbing tower), go horseback riding, go tubing on the lake, celebrate Shabbat, and make lifelong friendships. For a typical camp schedule, click here.

What is the main difference between Kallah and Tzofim?

Kallah and Tzofim are our programs for grade-school age campers. Kallah campers live in cabins (with a wash house attached) and eat in our dining hall. Tzofim campers live in large tents (with a cement floor and bunk beds), use port-o-potties and sinks with a stop at a wash house each day for showers, and eat their meals outside on picnic tables. The Tzofim program also includes taking care of farm animals and helping to care for their community. Both programs offer the same activities including waterfront, sports, Hebrew, etc. 

Can my camper request to be with a friend?

If they’re the same age and identify as the same gender – and they both request to be together – we’ll do our best. In general, we work hard to place campers in cabins with other campers and staff members with whom we think they will thrive. 

How Jewish is OSRUI?

We create an environment that embraces diverse experiences and beliefs while remaining distinctly—and strongly—Jewish. At OSRUI Judaism comes alive in a special way for kids. Campers come home from camp signing prayers from services, sharing new Hebrew words, and with a sense of what it means to be a part of the Jewish community. We have services twice a day, usually in one of our outdoor chapels at camp; services are musical, and campers have a chance to participate in the leading of services during their session. Our campers approach Jewish life on their own terms and, because it’s personal, the connection they make to Judaism is lasting.

What if I am not a member of a URJ congregation?

URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute is operated under the auspices of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). About 15% of our campers are not affiliated with the Reform Movement and love their summers at OSRUI too. 

Campers who are not members of congregations affiliated with the URJ pay full tuition, which will not exceed $75 per week per camper, with a maximum of $500 per family per season beyond the URJ discounted rate. 

Who are the counselors and staff at camp?

More than two-thirds of our counselors have grown up at OSRUI as campers and staff. All counselors are college age or older and are required to submit recommendations, undergo a comprehensive background check, and have a personal interview before they are hired. Specialists and unit heads are highly skilled professionals who in most cases have already graduated college. An extensive training program is provided at the start of the summer season and is ongoing throughout the summer. During the summer, staff are supervised and evaluated by members of our camp leadership team, all of whom have proven experience overseeing the work of staff members.

Health, Wellness, and Food

Will my child be safe while at camp?

The safety and wellbeing of our camp community is our highest priority. We have 24/7 security at camp. Our professional staff has all gone through a week-long training led by an Israeli security consulting firm and everyone on our staff has security training as part of the staff training week. OSRUI conducts regular safety and security reviews and evaluation, and we work closely with local law enforcement officials. 

Does OSRUI treat the grounds for mosquitoes and ticks?

OSRUI is a certified camp with Ivy Oaks Analytics for mosquito, tick and poison ivy control, implementing their most advanced program.  Ivy Oaks Analytics specializes in tick, mosquito and poison ivy control in large commercial recreation areas. They work with more than 100 premier summer camps. All products used are EPA Approved for summer camps; the company prefers using natural products. Their program also includes staff education for counselors. 

What about food and food allergies?

OSRUI’s camp-friendly menu offers campers plenty to eat. A salad bar and a pasta bar are available at lunch and dinner, and if meat is served, there is always a vegetarian option. See the Meals and Nutrition page for more information. 

In terms of food allergies, we do not serve peanut butter at camp and we do not cook with nuts or peanuts. Peanut butter alternatives are available. (Note: we do have products in our kitchen at camp that are manufactured at facilities that process nuts and peanuts.) For campers with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten products, we provide a range of gluten-free food (including bread, pasta, cereal, and desserts) and parents are welcome to send other foods as necessary to be stored in the kitchen. We can accommodate other food allergies as well. When registering for camp, please indicate that your child has a severe food allergy and a member of our Wellness Team will contact you. 

Is Camp kosher?

OSRUI uses only certified kosher meat and does not mix dairy with meat. You can expect that no milk or milk derivatives will be used at a meat meal. We do not use separate dishes, cutlery, or serving pieces. A vegetarian option is available at no extra charge. 

What if my child is homesick?

It’s not unusual, at any age, for new and even returning campers to miss home. Our counselors are sensitive to campers who miss home and work hard to keep kids as busy as possible. Unit heads, faculty, and our Camp Care Team can offer support and some extra TLC as well. In most case homesickness resolves quickly. If homesickness becomes severe and interferes with the child’s overall camp experience, we will be in touch with parents to talk about strategies. 

What if my child wakes up in the middle of the night?

Counselors live in the cabins and tents with campers and are always there to offer comfort and support if a camper wakes up in the middle of the night. At least one counselor remains in the bunk from the time campers go to sleep until the staff curfew so the campers are not left alone. 

Does my child need to be immunized?

Yes, the Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty must be immunized. For more information, read the URJ Vaccine Statement. 

How do you celebrate birthdays at camp?

Birthdays at OSRUI are very special! There will be a cake and celebration for your child with their bunk. You are welcome to send letters, cards, and one care package. Packages are only accepted for camper birthdays – and, in order to respect dietary restrictions and general bunk hygiene, we ask that they do not include food. All birthdays at OSRUI are celebrated the same, special way. Our counselors and staff are committed to making a camp birthday celebration special and unique! You should reach out to if you have questions about birthday packages. 

What is camp’s child protection policy?

As part of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), OSRUI takes child protection very seriously. To read our policy please click here.

What will the support for the mental health and social/emotional needs of campers and staff look like?

We recognize that coming to camp can bring feelings of excitement and anticipation as well as anxiety and concerns. While camp is not an academic setting, there can still be stressors that emerge in the camp environment. Adjusting to a camp routine may be new and unfamiliar. Our Camp Care Team is led by our Community Care Manager, Mollie Flink, LCSW, who works year-round to connect with campers and families to ensure that campers are set up for success at camp. The Wellness team is made up of experienced mental health care professionals, nurses, and doctors who provide additional support to campers and staff. All of our staff members are trained in supporting our campers and building community. As always, we communicate and partner with families both proactively and as challenges arise. We know that the connection, routine, and support that camp life offers is exceptionally important today for our campers and staff.

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