What should I pack? How do I get to camp? What are the COVID policies? What if I miss home? You have questions and we have answers! Please review the information below as you prepare for Summer 2023!
- COVID-19 Policies
- Missing Home
- Making Friends
- Summer Communication
- Staying Healthy
- Virtual Information Sessions
- First Time Campers
- 2023 Summer Handbook
- Getting To and From Camp
Let’s talk about packing! The Summer Handbook is your BEST resource for packing and other general questions. We have a comprehensive packing list for every camp program from minis to EQ to trips – you can find these packing lists on pages 27 –32 of the Summer Handbook. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to look it over in the next couple of days. This page will take about 10 to 15 minutes to read and review.
In general, camp is a casual place clothing-wise. Your camper should feel comfortable in all the clothes and gear that they bring to camp. Camp is also full of adventures that often lead to campers getting dirty. It’s important to send clothing, shoes, gear, bedding, ect. that your camper won’t mind getting dirty or potentially losing. Here are some basic packing guidelines:
- Please send your child with clothing that is suitable for physically active programming. This includes well-fitting closed-toe shoes, shirts, pants, and shorts that they can move in, and swimwear that stays in place. Shoes should be well fitting and have a backing around the heel for general activities.
- Clothing that advertises alcohol, sex, drugs, or cigarettes is unsuitable dress for our camp community.
- Shabbat is a special time at camp. Our schedule is different, food is different, and so is the way we dress. Pack something a bit special that your child won’t wear during the rest of the week (i.e. khakis, nicer shirt, skirt, or sundress). Please make sure that Shabbat outfits are appropriate for Shabbat activities like dancing and singing and allow campers to move comfortably.
- Luggage – don’t be concerned about buying a new trunk or fancy duffle bag for camp. The suitcases and/or duffel bags that you may already have are just fine. Campers unpack into shelves and luggage is stored under beds or outside of the bunk. If you do send a trunk, please try to make sure it has wheels!
- Traveling via Airport: When it comes to getting luggage to and from camp, some families choose to send some or all of their luggage via delivery services such as UPS. This can, sometimes, cost less than checking a bag. If you choose to do this, let us know to expect the bag and we will make sure it is ready for your camper when they arrive. If you would like a camper’s luggage shipped from camp, you can arrange for pickup with UPS and have a label sent to us which we will affix to the bag.
- Leave electronic devices and anything with a screen at home. Ranch Camp prides itself on being a completely screen-free environment. If your camper needs access to an electronic device at camp, please contact us. If your camper does bring an electronic device to camp it will be kept in the office until the end of their camp session.
- Traveling via Airport: Devices and cell phones are okay for travel to and from camp, but we will hang on to them until it’s time to travel home. We’ll make sure all devices are charged and ready for departure day.
- Label EVERYTHING with your camper’s full name – even if you don’t think it needs a label – like toothpaste – it needs a label. Any unlabeled items that are found at the end of the session will be donated. Label, label, label with your camper’s FULL NAME.
- We do our very best to ensure that your camper returns home with all the items they came to camp with, lost and found is inevitable. All lost and found items that ARE LABELED with a camper’s first and last name will be available for pick up at the JCC in Denver in August after the camp season closes. All lost and found items that ARE NOT LABELED with a camper’s first and last name will be donated to a local thrift store or charity after the camp season closes.
Remember: please send LOTS of sunscreen, pre-addressed stationery, stamps, toothpaste, and other toiletries. A HAT and WATER BOTTLE are musts! Sending extra hats and water bottles in case they are misplaced gets bonus points because all campers must have both all day, every day at camp.
More info on our 2023 COVID Policies is coming soon.
This page was last updated on 3/7/2023.
Our policy, as outlined in the 2023 Camper Application, is:
All participants attending JCC Ranch Camp programs are required to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and guidelines or provide a medical exemption. Participants attending other JCC Denver programs may also be required to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and guidelines or provide a medical exemption. I acknowledge there are no refunds for incomplete or un-submitted Immunization records according to Colorado State Requirements.
What if I get COVID-19 at camp?
“Please don’t leave me! I don’t want to be away from you for so long!” Those words will soon be echoing across the state, country, and world as campers leave for summer camp. Oh wait- that’s coming from the parents and caregivers?!!? Be strong! Be brave!
It’s a long one, but the tips we share below are proven ways to help make this summer a successful experience for you and your camper. This page will take about 10 to 15 minutes to read and review.
Our staff are experts in helping campers who miss home re-engage in camp activities and truly have the best summer ever. By sending your camper to camp, we are beginning a partnership. We will work together to help them grow, experience all the wonderful aspects of camp, meet new friends, have a blast, and learn the kinds of skills that will prove invaluable as they mature.
Why do we say missing home instead of homesick?
Missing home is a feeling that is completely normal and an expected part of coming to camp but it is not a physical or mental illness. We want campers to know that nothing is wrong with their bodies or brains if they miss home which is why we refrain from using the word homesick. It seems small but this language change helps campers feel more comfortable and confident during their time at camp. Missing home is one of the many opportunities campers have to exercise their ‘struggle muscles’ and learn that it’s okay to feel all their emotions at camp. They can miss home and still be excited about horseback riding, they can miss home and still feel the happiness of making a new friend, they can miss home and still long for babka on Shabbat, they can miss home and still love the people at home who are waiting to hear all about their summer adventures.
Here’s how you can help prepare your camper for the summer:
- Use language like ‘I know you will have a fun, terrific time at camp,’ ‘you are so brave for going to camp and you’re going to have fun every single day,’ and ‘We are so proud of you for going to camp on your own’ rather than ‘We will miss you’ and ‘we can’t wait for you to come home.’
- Let your camper know that if they do miss home, it is totally normal and okay! Give them some strategies for when they miss home like writing a letter, playing a game with a friend, talking to a staff member, or doing something physical like dancing or shaking it out.
- Practice independence with your camper! Give them the space to be responsible for themselves in their at-home routines.
- Talk to your camper about what their cabin will look like, what sleeping in a bunk bed is like, what eating buffet-style in a dining hall is like, and what using a shared bath house is like. Need help with this? We have a guide to help with these conversations!
- Send a letter ahead of time so there’s something from you waiting for your camper on the first day of mail. Continue to send your camper letters and camp stamp emails throughout the session.
- Pack personal items from home like a favorite stuffed animal or a family picture.
- Help your camper understand that they can trust and confide in their staff members to help them with any needs. It is crucial for them to know that they have people at camp with their best interests at heart.
- Do not bribe your camper to enjoy camp; instead talk to them about finding confidence, independence, and best friends while at camp.
- Do not tell your camper that they can come home if they are having a difficult time. This gives campers an incentive to make a difficult time for themselves and leave camp early.
- Do not use the work homesick; instead say missing home.
If you receive a “homesick letter,” do not panic! Remember two things:
- It passes. By the time you receive a letter describing a tough time, your camper probably isn’t missing home anymore. In the time it takes for their letters to reach you, we’ve been building friendships, jumping into activities, and ensuring campers feel included, seen, and safe.
- If you receive something that concerns you in a letter, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Campers, especially in their first years at camp, are more apt to share with their parents and caregivers than go to their counselors about some things. Let us know what’s going on so we can support your camper as best as possible
Now, as far as you missing your campers go, meet a friend for coffee, see some movies, go on an adventure, write lots of letters, and relax. We post tons of photos during the summer, so you can see your camper just about every day! And remember to greet your returning camper with lots of love and smiles – hearing about all the adventures they had at camp will be the best part of your summer.
Feel free to call and check in with us anytime. Ryan, Katelyn, and our incredible Camper Care Team are available by email and phone during the summer to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Making new friends and reconnecting with old friends is a true highlight of every camper’s experience at camp. At Ranch Camp, we strongly believe that everyone has the right to be included, seen, and safe. Without that, campers will never have those magic moments that make summers at camp so special. Active and open lines of communication between parents, caregivers, campers, and our team are part of the reason kids keep coming back to Ranch Camp for the “best summer ever.” This page will take about 5 minutes to read and review.
We know that campers often feel more comfortable if they know they’ll already have a friend in their cabin that they’ve met before camp. Introducing campers to each other and scheduling time for them to connect before camp can be hugely valuable. To help make these connections, we’ll send you a Unit Directory in an email about 4 weeks before your camper’s arrival day. This directory has names and contact information for all the campers in your camper’s Unit this summer. While you won’t know your camper’s bunk assignment until closer to the start of camp, campers in the same unit will spend a lot of time together throughout the session, so please feel free to connect!
At camp, we spend A LOT of time during the first days, and the entire session, facilitating ice breakers, playing intentional team-building games, and helping campers get to know each other. Our staff are experts in understanding the social dynamics of each cabin and coaching campers in friendship building. Each day, campers will not only connect with their cabin mates but will also join activity groups that help expand their social experience.
One of the biggest opportunities for growth at camp is learning how to navigate friendships. From living together to eating together to doing activities together, campers experience a huge level of social interaction each day. With this level of social interaction, it isn’t uncommon for tension and social conflict to occur which is why train our staff to help campers exercise their “struggle muscles” in building and maintaining friendships. We have several strategies and techniques rooted in non-violent communication and restorative justice practices that we use at camp but ask for your partnership in preparing your camper for the social aspects of camp.
Share the definition of bullying we use at camp with your camper: any behavior directed towards a camper that causes that camper to feel excluded, unseen, or unsafe. Talk to them about the community they are entering or returning to: we take care of each other and treat each other with kindness and respect. Our camp community uplifts each other. For this to remain true, we must have the commitment of each and every member of our community to never tolerate anything less. Every bunk creates a ‘brit’ or, in English, a contract, at the start of their session to set ground rules. We establish behavior and social expectations and lay the groundwork for future conversations on the subject, should the need arise.
Our goal is to make Ranch Camp a place that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe for all campers and staff. If your camper is feeling nervous about making friends feel free to call and check in with us anytime. Ryan, Katelyn, and our incredible Camper Care Team are available by email and phone during the summer to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
We have communication down to a science at Ranch Camp. Here is everything you need to know about communicating with your camper and the Ranch Camp staff before and during the summer. You can also review these policies in depth in our Summer Handbook. This email will take 10 to 15 minutes to read and review.
Our Office is Moving to Camp on May 22nd!
Our summer office hours are Sunday through Thursday 9:00 am – 6:30 pm and Friday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Our office is closed on Saturdays in observance of Shabbat. Our office is also closed between sessions on June 10th, June 26th, July 17th, and August 7th. You can reach us at our summer number, 303-648-3800, starting Monday, May 22nd.
How do you communicate with your camper?
Ranch Camp is a screen-free environment, so the best, and only, way to communicate with your camper is through mail! Mail is delivered every day except for on Saturday (Shabbat). We encourage you to write to your camper daily or as often as you can. There are few things as exciting as receiving messages from home, especially when bunkmates are receiving mail as well. There are a few ways to communicate with your camper while they are at camp: by sending snail mail, by sending CampStamp emails, or by sending a care package.
- Snail Mail: Trust us when we say nothing will bring a bigger smile to your camper’s face than receiving a letter from home. Please keep in mind that our local post office is a small-town operation and we have experienced some slow mail service in the past. We suggest sending your camper a letter or two before camp begins or dropping off a couple of letters with a staff member on arrival day so that they’ll have mail waiting for them at camp.
- Camp Stamp Emails: You can also email your camper while they are at camp. Although campers do not have internet access and cannot email back, they are able to receive printed emails with their snail mail that you send through your CampInTouch Account from the “Email” link. Just like buying stamps to send a letter, you will need to purchase CampStamps through your CampInTouch account to send emails to your camper.
- Care Packages: Every camper is allowed to receive 1 package per session. Our goal is to relieve campers of package anxiety, relieve caregivers of the pressure to send them, and reduce the amount of waste generated from packages. Any additional packages that a camper receives will be held in the camp office and available for pick up at the end of the session. You may send non-food items such as games, cards, etc – the best care packages include things that the entire cabin can participate in together. DO NOT SEND FOOD OR ANYTHING EDIBLE IN CARE PACKAGES! Food in bunks attracts critters and interferes with our allergen-friendly environment and Kashrut supervision policies. Any food sent in care packages will be confiscated and thrown away.
Please Send All Mail and Packages to:
JCC Ranch Camp
21441 N Elbert Rd
Elbert CO 80106
How does your camper communicate with you?
Campers will be able to send you letters! To help us encourage your camper to write home and make the letter-writing process easy, you can send pre-addressed envelopes, stationery, and stamps. Ranch Camp delivers all outgoing mail to the Elbert Post office daily (except Sundays). If you get a letter asking for a replacement of an essential item, like toothpaste or shampoo, odds are that we noticed, and we have already replaced the item. Call us before you send these items.
Campers are not permitted to call home or have visitors during their time at camp with the exception of emergency situations.
Communicating With Our Team About Your Camper
We know that parents and caregivers miss their campers as much as, or even more than, campers miss home while they are at camp. We want you to feel confident about your camper’s time at camp and we are committed to communicating with you about your camper during their session. We will return all emails and phone calls within 24 hours of receiving them. There are several ways that you can stay in the loop while your camper is at camp.
- Checking Out Photos: We’ll upload about 100 photos in CampInTouch every other day that will give you a glimpse into the day-to-day happenings at camp – photos will include group and individual shots of activities, cabin programs, all camp programs, and more. We only have satellite internet at camp, which requires us to travel offsite to upload photos – we appreciate your patience as photos get uploaded during your camper’s session. Photos are not uploaded on Shabbat.
- To access photos, please log in to your CampInTouch account and navigate to the “Photos” section. Photos are not posted on Shabbat.
- Photos from backpacking trips (Toshavim, TASC, Pack n’ Ride & Teen Village) will be uploaded before the end of the camp session – the priority when those campers return to camp is getting them de-geared and debriefed safely
- Blog Posts and Social Media: Every week, we will post one blog written by staff members at camp to share the story of camp with you on our website and social media pages. We’ll also post on our social media accounts four times a week sharing the highlights of each day. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok @jccranchcamp.
- First Time Camper Calls and Camper Updates: If your camper is attending Ranch Camp for the first time, you’ll receive one “First Time Camper Update Call” within the first five days of their session (if you have a camper attending a Mini Camp or Baktanna, you’ll receive your “First Time Camper Update Call” about halfway through the session) Additionally, all parents and caregivers will receive an email about halfway through their camper’s session with a progress note about your camper’s unit and cabin. If your camper is at camp for a full session, you will also get an individualized update about your camper in this progress note.
- We will call you if your camper:
- is struggling to overcome challenges outside of a normal time frame (i.e. intense and excessive missing home).
- is struggling to overcome social/emotional challenges outside of a normal time frame.
- is unable to follow the rules outlined in the Camper Conduct Agreement.
- is causing harm to self, others, or the space around them.
- has to spend the night in the Clinic, needs to be taken home to recover, requires a new prescription medication while at camp, or needs to be seen by a healthcare professional outside of camp.
- is a frequent visitor to our Clinic.
- frequently needs additional or unanticipated support from our Camper Care Team.
- You WILL NOT be contacted for minor physical or emotional health issues, such as scrapes, non-repetitive headaches or stomachaches, normal levels of missing home or social conflict, etc.
Keeping campers healthy and safe – physically, mentally, and spiritually – is our number one priority. Ranch Camp has a reputation for excellence when it comes to health and safety and this summer is no different. Below, you’ll find an overview of our approach to helping campers stay healthy at camp. You can find more information in our Summer Handbook. This page will take about 5 to 10 minutes to read and review.
Our Staff Teams
When it comes to staying healthy, both physically and mentally we have two incredible staff teams to support campers. For physical health, we have a long-standing partnership with excellent medical professionals in the area that help evaluate and shape our summer policies annually. Our on-site medical staff includes experienced nurses, paramedics, and EMTs who are passionate about working with youth and providing the best medical care possible. We devote significant time to health and safety during our staff orientation so that every staff member knows exactly what to do in an emergency. For mental health, we bring social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals together to join our Camper Care Team. The Camper Care Team supports campers daily in maintaining their mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Additionally, all staff members are both CPR and first aid certified, and our lead counselors are also youth mental health first aid certified.
Staying Healthy at Camp
We do everything we can to ensure the health of our campers, but health and wellness at camp is truly a partnership with our parents and caregivers. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your camper stays healthy while at camp:
- Make sure your child comes with two full sized water bottles, sun protection like a brimmed hat and sunglasses, and a daypack to carry these items in. Hydration and sun protection are the most important factors in keeping campers healthy.
- Send your camper with extra sunscreen and practice applying sunscreen prior to camp! While you may think your camper has enough sunscreen to cover themselves for a decade sunny days, these things are occasionally lost, misplaced, or spilled, so pack extra. Sunscreen will also travel in your camper’s daypack. Bunkmates are not permitted to share sunscreen, bug spray, and other similar products.
- Send your camper with their own LABELED supplies for basic health and hygiene needs (including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, body wash, hair brush, etc. – whatever they use at home should come to camp) If your camper runs out of or loses any basic health and hygiene items, please instruct them to tell a staff member right away to get a replacement – we keep a stock of most health and hygiene items on hand. We’ll be in touch if they need an item that we do not already have on hand.
- Help your camper build consistent health and hygiene routines. Build independence in their routines for brushing teeth, getting dressed and undressed, showering, using the bathroom, combing or brushing their hair, etc. Campers should be able to do their health and hygiene routines with developmentally appropriate levels of support.
- Review the Camper Conduct Agreement with your camper and help them understand camp’s behavior expectations. Talking about behavior expectations beforehand will prepare you campers to work through any social or emotional conflict they may experience at camp. Encourage your camper to talk to a staff member if issues arise and let them know that staff are trained to help them overcome social and emotional conflicts.
- If your child regularly takes medications – prescription medication, over the counter medications, vitamins/supplements, homeopathic medications, essential oils, and anything else that can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested:
- All medications must be turned in to the health clinic staff on the first day of camp.
- All medications must be in original packaging and cannot be expired (do not “pre-package” yourself OR put medications in mixed bottles or Ziploc bags!)
- The dosage, medication name, and administration instructions on the medication you bring to camp MUST match the dosage and medication name listed on your Physician Form and Health History Form.
- If you bring any regularly taken medications that are NOT listed correctly on all forms we cannot administer them until we receive written consent from your doctor.
- Please contact our office pre-summer if your child will be taking growth hormone, using insulin injections, or other refrigerated medications so we can develop appropriate care plans.
If you are concerned about how we might accommodate your camper’s health-related needs, whether it be physical or mental health, or if they are struggling with basic health and hygiene routines prior to camp, please reach out and let us know so we can best prepare and set them up for success this summer. The more we know about your camper prior to their arrival, the better we will be at keeping them healthy – and healthy campers have more fun!
Join us in the coming months for a Virtual Town Hall and Information Session about preparing for camp this summer. We’ll host several Virtual Town Halls and Information Sessions this spring that will review everything you need to know for Summer 2023. Each Virtual Town Hall and Information Session will cover the same information and will be recorded, so you only need to attend 1, and don’t worry if you can’t make it!
Register for our Virtual Town Hall and Information Sessions:
We love having first-time campers at Ranch Camp! Sending a camper to camp for the first time is exciting but can bring up some nerves for both caregivers and campers. We’re here to help ease any first time camper worries and get you prepped and ready for your first overnight camp experience. We’ve created a First Time Camper guide for caregivers and campers to read together and have a dedicated Camp Care Coordinator to support first-time campers while they are at camp.
Check out our First Time Camper Guide!
First Time Camper Calls and Camper Updates: If your camper is attending Ranch Camp for the first time, you’ll receive one “First Time Camper Update Call” within the first five days of their session (if you have a camper attending a Mini Camp or Baktanna, you’ll receive your “First Time Camper Update Call” about halfway through the session) Additionally, all parents and caregivers will receive an email about halfway through their camper’s session with a progress note about your camper’s unit and cabin. If your camper is at camp for a full session, you will also get an individualized update about your camper in this progress note.
Check out our 2023 Summer Handbook!
The Summer Handbook is your best, go-to resource for all things camp!
Campers arrive and depart Ranch Camp either by car or by plane. There are no buses to or from Ranch Camp. You’ll indicate your travel preferences on the Ranch Camp Transportation form, an electronic form that allows you to indicate who is dropping off and picking up your camper if they are arriving and departing by car OR allows you to provide our team with their flight information. If you’re arriving by car, we invite you to join us for a short open house on arrival day! You’ll get to chance to see your camper’s bunk, help them set up, walk around camp, and nosh at our arrival day barbeque. We’ll send you more information about this prior to your camper’s arrival.
If your camper is arriving and departing by plane we can pick your camper up and drop them off directly at their gate – we coordinate a team of staff members to transport campers to and from the airport. We ask that you help us by booking a flight that lands/departs from the Denver International Airport between 9:30 am MST and 12:30 pm MST – or as close to that window as possible. We will reach out to confirm your flight information and give you the contact information for your airport staff member about a week before camp starts.
All transportation information must be finalized at least one week before arrivals and departures at the latest. Transportation changes, especially if arriving or departing by plane, made within one week of arrival and departure day may not be accommodated by our team.
Directions to Ranch Camp can be found in the Summer Handbook.