Dear Ranch Camp Community, I hope you will share my pride as I present an excerpt from an exciting press release that went out on March 26.
A transformational gift of $2 million has been designated by Don Sturm and the Sturm Family to JCC Ranch Camp, an overnight camp in Elbert, Colo. This extremely generous gift will support renovations to meaningfully enhance the camper experience. The updates will also improve facilities to support off-season rentals for meetings, business retreats, weddings, and other social events.
“Summer camp can be a foundational and transformational experience for kids; an opportunity to grow individually and connect with peers while building skills and enjoying the outdoors” said Donald L. Sturm, Chairman of ANB Bank. “Our goal is to make Ranch Camp stand out as a top tier overnight camp, where children from all over the country can experience outdoor education and activities through a Jewish lens. We’ve honed in on the capital projects that will enhance the camper experience, encourage personal growth and build community amongst the campers.”
Exciting updates at the JCC Ranch Camp include:
A new ropes course and zip line
A modernized center of camp with seating and play areas
Shade structures for the soccer field and pavilion
Both new and renovated bathhouses
I am beside myself with gratitude for this opportunity. We are moving rapidly forward with several projects that support Mr. Sturm’s goal of seeing Ranch Camp as a “top-tier” overnight camp. I believe that our program is excellent; I look forward to seeing the quality our facilities rise to the level of our program.
Among the most interesting statistics gleaned from our 2018 survey was that 33% of our campers come from a home with one parent that does not identify as Jewish. This is the third highest percentage of interfaith families among the 73 residential Jewish camps participating in the survey. From my perspective, this is an extremely encouraging figure. It tells me that we are succeeding in creating an inclusive Jewish community.
How are we able to do this so well, and what does it look like?
Ranch Camp is not affiliated with a single denomination of Judaism. We have families from across a wide spectrum of observance. We keep a Kosher kitchen. We are not obligated to use a Sidur (prayer book) produced by the Reform or Conservative movements. Our Sidur is the Ranch Camp Sidur. It is constantly evolving to include songs and prayers that have become meaningful to our community as we experiment with new elements. This makes for Shabbat services that are participatory, engaging, and enjoyable for every participant, regardless of their background or familiarity.
Over the course of Summer 2018, we went through a process of turning over the majority of our service to our campers to lead. Campers brought elements from their families and communities. They shared personal stories that added dimension and reflection. I knew we had come to an important part in this evolution when campers began inviting staff members to the bimah. Anyone who attended a Kabbalat Shabbat during our third session will tell you that the experience was truly meaningful. I have described it as “transcendent,” and among the most significant Jewish experiences I have ever had with my family.
Campers are drawn to Ranch Camp because we have a great site, great programs, and a strong reputation. They might come for the horses, or the pool, or to accompany a friend or sibling or cousin. When they return home, and they are asked about their favorite things at camp, they are more than likely to include “Shabbat,” because Ranch Camp Shabbat is unique, special, and it belongs to each one of them, regardless of their background.
As you are getting your kids ready for camp we know that questions will start arise. Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we have received in the past month about camp! If you have more questions, be sure to let us know.
Does Ranch Camp provide Bar/Bat Mitzvah Support? We can provide Bar and Bat Mitzvah support at camp. A trained staff member will meet with campers twice during their session, reviewing any study material that they have brought with them to camp and making sure that they stay on-track in their studies while at camp. Personal music devices can be used for their and will be kept in the office.
How do you celebrate summer birthdays? At Ranch Camp, each birthday is a special day. We have our own way of celebrating within our camp community including birthday treats for the cabin and a camp wide birthday celebration. We encourage parents to send packages with decorations and/or party favors for the cabin to help celebrate. The very best birthday packages can be enjoyed by everyone in the bunk!
How do bunkmate requests work? We will do our very best to accommodate everyone. However, due to various cabin sizes, we cannot guarantee bunking requests. You can request bunkmates in your camper applications. We try to honor old friendships, encourage new ones, and create a community in which all can be happy. If you have a particular concern, please email us or call our office.
Will you do laundry for campers during the session? Campers’ laundry will be done once during full sessions. No laundry will be done during Mini Sessions or Baktanna and limited laundry will be offered to TASC, Pack n’ Ride and Teen Village due to their shortened time onsite. All laundry is done on the premises by a trained staff member.
Can my child bring their phone/music device/tablet to camp? Ranch Camp is a screen free environment. We believe strongly in giving our campers an opportunity to connect in person to their peers, staff, and nature without the use of technology. Any electronics that are brought to camp will be kept safe in the office until the end of the session.