We know that our campers, staff, and families alike count down the months, days, and minutes until the start of Ranch Camp each summer. In Judaism we constantly lean on text to help us navigate moments of grief and explore feelings of uncertainty, to offer us clarity when we cannot see and to embrace us in the warmth of a hug when we cannot touch. This piece, by Jamie Anderson, so beautifully captures our heartache:
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
JCC Ranch Camp is more than just a summer camp. It is a community and a home away from home, where so many are able to be their best selves, connect to nature, develop deep friendships, and explore Judaism. Our top priority summer after summer is the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of everyone who comes through our gates. Without meeting this basic need, none of the magic that fills every moment at camp can happen.
With a heavy heart and a clear mind, we made the very difficult decision to cancel our 2020 season to ensure the safety of our community. The CDC Guidelines and the local Health Department requirements make our normal camp experience nearly impossible.
If we have learned anything during this new reality that we are living in, it is that flexibility is the key to making it through the day to day. Fortunately, we are camp people, and flexibility is at the core of the work we do. When we made the decision to cancel our regular summer season, we stretched and put together the plans for Family Camp which we felt would give the connection to the things we are all craving right now: camp, nature, Judaism, and most of all, each other.
We have continued to follow along with the updated and ever changing guidance of the CDC, the American Camping Association, and the local, state, federal government. With our most up-to-date information, we made the heartbreaking decision to not run Family Camp this summer.
In light of our new reality, we were excited to introduce Ranch Camp 2020 Virtual Connections, a virtual experience for campers that will take place in July!
We have been working tirelessly to concentrate the essence and magic of Ranch Camp into short programs with small groups of campers.The goal of Virtual Connections is to help campers connect to their peers in their unit and to participate in special unit programming so that they feel as if they were truly with us this summer. Virtual Connections is open to campers that were registered for the 2020 season and is free of charge to families. Our trained Ranch Camp staff will be leading these programs. These staff are trained to work with children and specifically have been trained to safely lead programs in online spaces.
While we can’t be together in the way we had planned this summer, there will always be a way for us to share our love for one another. We are very much looking forward to connecting with our campers in this new way until we’re all back together under our bluest skies. Ranch Camp isn’t the cabins we sleep in or the walls we sign. It is the people who make us feel seen, loved, whole, and safe. This is what creates the Ranch Camp magic and we know it reaches so much farther than our 400 acres.
Noah Gallagher | JCC Ranch Camp Director
Ryan Bocchino | JCC Ranch Camp Associate Director
Carly Coons | JCC Ranch Camp Assistant Director