Jewish Sleepaway Camp

Our second grader is excited about trying sleepaway camp next summer when she will be 8.  I was not ready at that age, but she is an outgoing and social kid.  We're considering Jewish camp, and I'm looking for reviews of recent experiences at Ramah NorCal, Camp Newman, or Camp Gilboa closer to LA.  We attend a conservative synagogue, and our daughter goes to religious school there, although as a family we are not particularly observant.  Paying for camp will be a big expense for us (likely displacing funds we would use for family vacations), and I'd like for her to be at a camp that doesn't feel like a bunch of privileged kids who go to fancy camp and then on to fancy vacations for the rest of the summer.  Most of all, we want for her to be in a loving and welcoming environment with opportunities to explore her Jewish identity and all of the usual camp activities and social experiences.  Any thoughts or recommendations?

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RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

My girls attended Camp Tawonga and really loved it. The cost is pretty comparable to the others and there are a number of financial aid options (as there are for all the Jewish camps, I think.) They have 1, 2, and 3 week sessions. A Taste of Camp (Session I) is a good way to start. It is only 5 days (Sun - Fri). If she's been away from home for a week or more already, you might want to do the 2 week session (Session II).

You can also get more info on ALL the Jewish camps at https://www.jewishcamp.org/one-happy-camper/

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

Hello! I've heard wonderful things about Camp Tawonga from former counselors and campers. The camp is very welcoming, not super religious, and offers financial aid. Because the camp is right outside Yosemite, there's a big emphasis on the outdoors, with opportunities for backpacking and daily hikes. It sounds like a great place to spend a summer!

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

My daughter is counting the days until her third summer at Ramah NorCal begins!  It was her first overnight camp experience in 2017and was a game changer - camp has become a hugely important part of her life and she stays in touch with camp friends throughout the year. It is a very down to earth camp (not at all “fancy”...we are a Berkeley family and it feels very familiar culturally) with a warm community and excellent staff. One of her best friends who is an anxious kid had tried overnight Jewish camp elsewhere for two summers and sadly had to go home after a few days both times. This past summer she went to Ramah NorCal with my daughter and had the time of her life. Will be returning for a month in 2019. The Camper Care Team is fantastic and they do an amazing job really seeing and knowing all of the children. It’s a warm, sweet, supportive and fun Jewish environment. I can’t say enough about this camp. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk!

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

My now third-grade boy attended Camp Ramah in Northern California this past summer for the "Taste of" week, where they engaged in all of the specialty activities (adventure sports, water sports, theater, etc.). He absolutely loved it--being on the beach, the Jewish culture (we also attend a conservative synagogue), the varied activities, the kids and counselors, and even the food. He loved it so much he is signed up for two weeks for summer 2019, and I registered my second-grade girl for the "Taste of" this coming summer as well. Any questions, just ask! 

RE: Jewish Sleepaway Camp ()

Our daughter attended Camp Ramah NorCal/Galim as a rising third grader in summer 2018. She was a first time overnight camper and had the time of her life! She connected with new friends of various ages, felt welcomed, had so much fun, and can't wait to go back next summer. The camp is focused on community, Jewish living, and deep dives into an intensive of the camper's choice. She did Ocean Explorations and loved the time in the water and ocean science. She's ready to go back next summer for the sports intensive. She loved the singing and the food and the community. We also love the immersive Jewish context. She is already signed up for next year!