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 Camp Care team, led by Debbie Locketzare 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. 

DOES YOUR CHILD WANT TO COME TO CAMP? 

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! 

HAS YOUR CHILD DEMONSTRATED SUCCESS WITH SLEEPOVERS AND FALLING ASLEEP WITHOUT YOUR ASSISTANCE? 

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! 

IS YOUR CHILD ABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY CONDUCT TASKS OF DAILY LIVING (BRUSHING TEETH, GETTING DRESSED, SHOWERING, PUTTING AWAY CLOTHES, PUTTING ON SUNSCREEN, SERVING THEMSELVES FOOD, ETC.)? 

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! 

DOES YOUR CHILD SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT WITHOUT NIGHTLY ACCIDENTS? 

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. 

HOW CAN WE HELP? 

Debbie Locketz is our year-round Camp Care Director.  She is poised to have in-depth conversations with prospective and enrolled families to discuss readiness and to prepare for success, recognizing that each camper is a unique individual. Debbie 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 Debbie at dlocketz@urj.org 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 Health Center Staff and Camp Care 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.  Campers primarily rotate through the schedule with other campers from their bunk and unit. Every day, campers get to do swimming or boating, sports (including basketball, tennis, archery, volleyball, soccer, etc.), a Judaic activity with clergy and/or educators, electives (such as horseback riding, waterskiing, drama, sailing, cooking, art, sports, nature, etc.), learn Hebrew, sing in song sessions and worship services. Campers also have the opportunity to try the Alpine Tower Challenge Course (including a zip line, high ropes course, and 55-foot climbing tower), play games, participate in the creative arts, build campfires, relax, 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 tending a garden, taking care of farm animals and helping to prepare their group’s meals. 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 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 songs 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 a surcharge, which will not exceed $75 per week per camper, with a maximum of $500 per family per season. 

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.  Salad bar is 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 Camp Care Team will contact you. 

is Camp kosher?

OSRUI uses only certified Kosher meat and does not mix milk 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?

We love birthdays at camp!  They are celebrated in the unit with singing and dancing and a cake for your child’s bunk!  If your child has a birthday at camp, a member of our team will be in touch before the summer to talk with you about how we will celebrate! 

how will you make decisions about COVID-19 protocols?

We are working with a team of medical experts, and our partners across the URJ camps, to guide our decisions and revamp our protocols and procedures. We are also working in close coordination with the American Camp Association and Foundation for Jewish Camp to gather learnings and insights from the field. In addition, we are in communication with camps that ran last summer and continually monitoring CDC guidelines. 

We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving local standards and protocols. 

will camp look different next summer?

Yes, while we are committed to delivering OSRUI’s Magic with the same excellence you’ve come to expect from us, it is likely that some elements of camp will look different. 

We will share updates on all of the changes as we finalize things, but some examples of what we are thinking about include (but are not limited to): 

  • Pre-camp testing and screening 
  • Quarantine protocols 
  • Travel to and from camp 
  • Procedures for the dining hall 
  • Procedures for the health center 
  • Limiting campers and adults coming and going from camp 
  • Cleaning protocols 
  • PPE 
what will the support for the mental health and social/emotional needs of campers and staff look like?

We recognize that while a return to camp life is much anticipated and exciting, it also brings with its anxieties and concerns. Our campers and staff have lived anything but normal lives over the last several months. Some of whom may have suffered their own losses and adjustments to new family situations due to COVID. Changes to our camp program and routine will bring some unfamiliarity and adjustment. Our staff will be trained in supporting our campers and building community at this unusual time. Our Camp Care Team made up of mental health care professionals, as well as our excellent Medical Team, will provide additional support to campers and staff. As always, we will communicate and partner with families as challenges arise. We know that the connection, routine, and support that camp life offers will be eagerly welcomed and is exceptionally important today for our campers and staff. 

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