Who are the campers?
Crane Lake Camp strives to embody the “audacious hospitality” of the Reform Movement. We welcome campers and staff members from all families –including those with interfaith, same-sex or single parents–or those who themselves identify as a person of color or LGBTQ.
Eisner and Crane Lake Camps are proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environments. The make-up of the URJ and our programs is as diverse as our population, therefore our communities represent that vibrant and colorful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. Our program is created to strengthen the self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community of all campers through the supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs.
Campers range from ages of 8 to 17 and are entering grades 3-12. A great many of our campers and staff members come from the greater New York and Boston areas, yet we have representation from all over the Northeast as well as from across the United States and overseas. Most of our overnight campers are members of Reform Jewish synagogues.
Where is Crane Lake Camp located?
Crane Lake Camp is located in West Stockbridge, a small town in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, right on the border with New York State. Our private, 110-acre spectacular campgrounds are on the shores of the beautiful, spring-fed Crane Lake, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains.
What am I supposed to pack?
Check out our Packing List!
What is camp’s package policy?
After much conversation with our staff, the Eisner Crane Lake Board of Directors, and other summer camp directors, our camps have a no-package policy for campers.** This includes boxes or large mailing envelopes of any size. Camp will only accept up to a standard #10 size business envelope (4-1/8″ x 9-1/2″).
Our experience through the years has shown us that our current system of accepting packages from families cannot be sustained. We believe this decision is truly in the best interests of our campers. Here’s why:
- The volume of packages that arrives in camp each day creates a community of “have and have-nots” and undermines our efforts to create a Jewish community in which each camper feels that he or she is valued and treated equally.
- Some campers don’t receive any packages, which leads to feelings of sadness and jealousy; others receive so many packages they literally cannot manage all of the “stuff” in their cabins.
- Our staff spends hours organizing and sorting hundreds of packages daily, giving them less time to spend with campers.
- Empty packages produce a tremendous amount of waste.
- Campers sacrifice much of their free time in the afternoon retrieving packages from the mailroom.
- With the current load of packages, UPS and Fed Ex trucks drive in and out of camp several times a day, forcing campers from the roads.
- Sadly, many parents do not respect our no-food policy, and others forget to share that policy with extended family members. The food, candy and gum that arrives in these packages (hidden or otherwise) must be taken away, disappointing the camper.
- Parents have told us that it is expensive and burdensome to fill and mail packages, and that they often feel pressure to do so.
- Other Jewish overnight camps which have instituted similar no-package policies report that the burden it lifted from parents, campers, and camp staff has been positively received.
Of course, we understand that sometimes sending items to camp will be necessary. If your camper has forgotten something (e.g., a teddy bear) or needs something new (e.g., running shoes or more sunscreen), you will be able to send those types of items. We will set up a dedicated email address so you can contact us in advance about these needs. Please note that this will be done on an exception-only basis. Unless we know a package is coming, we will refuse to accept it at camp. Full-summer and second session Olim campers should come to camp with all of their Maccabiah color garb and gear. More information on our new process will be included in the parent materials sent later this spring.
This new policy puts us in line with the policies of many other camps. We hope you agree that this is a positive change, and we are grateful for your cooperation. Thank you in advance for doing your part to ensure that Eisner and Crane Lake Camps live according to their values and principles.
What are the cabins like?
All cabins have indoor plumbing with toilets, showers, and sinks. Campers and staff sleep on bunk beds (all top bunks have bed rails). Storage units (cubbies) are provided in every cabin for campers to store their belongings. Campers participate in keeping their bunks clean each day, and camp’s housekeeping staff clean and sterilize all of the bathrooms daily. Watch this video for a camper tour of some of our bunks!
What is the food like?
It’s pretty simple…our campers and staff love our food! Even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy our meals because of the variety we offer. We strive to serve all of our campers’ dietary needs by offering a wide variety of meal options that are kid friendly and healthy. Each day’s breakfast includes a favorite such as pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, waffles, eggs or croissants. Cold cereal, fresh cut fruit, Greek yogurt, milk, and orange juice are also always available. Lunch favorites include pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches, and meatball subs. And dinner favorites are baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, brisket, chicken wings, and turkey dinner. At both lunch and dinner, campers are welcome to have fresh salad, soy nut butter and jelly and fresh fruit. We offer salad/breakfast bars at every meal. Campers enjoy a weekly outdoor barbeque with burgers and hot dogs, as well as an outdoor Shabbat breakfast buffet, and outdoor Shabbat lunch.
Vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free alternatives are always available. Crane Lake offers a safe environment for campers with food allergies and always have a complete list of ingredients of our meals on hand. Please call our office to discuss any specific food questions.
Kosher Style? What does that mean?
Meals are served kosher style, which means we do not serve milk and meat together. We are not a kosher facility, yet we do not serve pork or shellfish (or products containing them) and they are not permitted on campgrounds. When meat is served, kosher and vegetarian options are offered, and a non-dairy dessert is served.
Do you do laundry at camp?
Laundry is sent out once each week at camp (no additional fee). On the first day of the session, each camper receives an individual laundry bag. Each week, campers fill their bags and in 24 hours, we return their bags with clean folded clothes.
Who will be taking care of my camper(s)?
Our staff has been carefully selected and intensely trained by our camp directors to keep our campers, safe, happy and instill the values of Crane Lake Camp. All staff members participate in an intensive training program before our campers arrive which includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts.
Our bunk counselors are Jewish college and university students who bring abundant warmth and energy to our camp community. Our various sports coaches, lifeguards, and arts and outdoor adventure instructors are both college and graduate students from all over the world who share their particular areas of expertise with our campers.
A rotating group of dynamic rabbis, cantors, and educators from our URJ congregations come to camp for a week or two at a time to explore Judaism, worship and have fun with our campers. Our education faculty is an essential part of the Reform Jewish community at camp.
Over 20 energetic Israelis join our staff each summer. They are coaches, instructors, and bunk counselors, infusing Israeli culture into the daily life at camp as well as creating Israel-themed evening programs, and teaching us some Hebrew.
What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
There is one counselor for every four campers in each cabin. We position counselors to sleep in each of the corners of the cabin to ensure that campers can easily locate a counselor at night. We take great pride in our quality camper supervision; whenever campers are in their cabins, a counselor is there as well. At night, when campers return to their bunks to go to sleep after their evening program, a counselor remains in the bunk to supervise the campers. All general counselors sleep in the cabin with the campers.
How are Crane lake staff trained to care for campers?
Our staff has been carefully selected and intensely trained by our camp directors to keep our campers safe, happy and instill the values of Crane Lake. Before our campers arrive, all staff members participate in an intensive training program. This on-site training includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts.
Our Leadership Team, who work as unit heads and department heads, arrive at camp three weeks before our campers. Our specialists, including coaches, art instructors, lifeguards, ropes course instructors, outdoor education and Limmud (Jewish learning) staff arrive more than two weeks before our campers. They have ample time to train, get certified by outside professionals when appropriate, and set up their activity areas. Our general counselors arrive at camp eight days before the campers arrive, joining the specialists for Staff Training Week in which they learn about working with children and being a Crane Lake staff member. When Opening Day arrives, our entire staff is confident, energized, excited, and ready to meet our campers.
Health & Safety
How do you handle safety and security at camp?
We take safety and security at camp very seriously. All of the camp directors participate in extensive professional training to handle minor and major safety and security situations. Our summer staff are trained to manage and handle safety and security situations during our pre-camp orientation. 24-hour, on-site security staff monitors and keeps camp safe. Access to camp is restricted and available only through a security gate. All visitors must sign in before entering the site.
Additionally, we are located across the street from the police department and have excellent relationships with the town. They are very familiar with our campgrounds and schedules and are readily available as needed.
What medical facilities do you have at camp? What happens if my child gets sick?
Our goal at camp is to maintain your child’s health. Our wonderful 24-hour Health Center is staffed by registered nurses and a physician, all of whom live on camp property and is equipped with supplies to deal with minor injuries and illnesses. Our medical staff coordinates and monitors all daily medication distribution along with any as-needed medications directed to campers.
All over-the-counter or prescription medication (except in certain instances like asthma inhalers, nose sprays and creams) are locked in our medicine dispensary in the dining hall and are only available to campers as distributed by our medical staff.
Amidst COVID restrictions and modifications, tele-health visits will be arranged if an escalation is needed. In addition, we have a great relationship with our local emergency service departments and can easily move individuals needing more services. If necessary, multiple local hospitals are close by, and emergency services are available immediately.
Is there an immunization policy?
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 Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.
COVID-19: For Summer 2022, we are requiring all age eligible participants, staff, volunteers, and guests on our camp properties to be fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC, against COVID-19. More information is available upon request.
How do you protect children at camp?
URJ CHILD PROTECTION POLICY UPDATE
At the heart of our Reform Movement is our enduring commitment to shaping a more whole, just and compassionate world. That holy work includes ensuring that each and every member of our camp community – especially our children – are protected and that their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and safety is our highest priority.
In addition to the physical health of our campers and staff, we are especially attuned to the mental health needs of our camp community coming on the heels of such a difficult and challenging year. URJ Camps have extensively prepared for helping campers adjust to COVID bubbles, testing, PPE, and other new safety features at camp. Each camp has plans and staffing for Camper Care that includes social work personnel to guide staff and to directly respond to camper concerns.
The URJ also remains committed to ensuring the most robust child protection practices, fostering an environment of prevention, protection, and support for raising concerns.
For over five years, we have partnered with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) to collaborate in preparing and providing our staff training for abuse prevention.
Every member of our camp staff has or will undergo training in how to prevent, recognize, respond to, and report abuse. This year, as in the past, we have worked with BCAC to continuously improve our protocols.
Every URJ Camp staff member must pass annual background checks, and are required to participate in annual anti-harassment and discrimination training as has been the case for the last four years.
We continue to update employment policies, practices, and procedures, and provide ongoing training for our staff on topics such as workplace guidelines, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To continue our work in these areas to align with our values on an ongoing basis, we hired Melissa Johnson last year as our General Counsel and Vice President for People and Culture. As well, the URJ recently engaged Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton, a nationally regarded firm that has worked with a number of leading organizations, schools and universities on creating safe and healthful environments.
Should you ever have any concerns or knowledge of misconduct now or in the future, or that have taken place in the past, please do not hesitate to reach out to Missy or Mary Beth.
- Mary Beth Hogan URJinvestigation@debevoise.com (212) 909-6996
- Missy Johnson Mjohnson@urj.org (212) 650-4120
We recognize that it is uncomfortable to talk about child mistreatment and the reason that we do so openly with you and our staff is to be able to address and train for these challenges head on.
Nothing is more important than the physical, emotional and mental health and well-being of our communities; indeed, we view this as our sacred moral responsibility. It is, and always will be, our highest priority.
How do I apply for a need-based scholarship and where do I find the need-based scholarship form?
A child must be enrolled in camp for the need-based scholarship application to be submitted and considered. Scholarship applications can be found in your camper’s CampInTouch account under the “Forms and Documents” section and are due January 31st. Additional components such as Temple Forms and Tax Documents may be requested and are due by January 31st.
How much scholarship assistance should my family expect to receive?
The amount of scholarship awarded to each family will be based on the number of applicants and level of need. Our goal is to help get as many campers as possible to camp, with that in mind our scholarship awards are given based on one session.
How are the scholarship funds disbursed?
Scholarship assistance is provided as a credit on camp fees and is posted in the Financial Management section of your CampInTouch Account by early April.
How do my Synagogue and camp work together to provide a scholarship?
We are so grateful to our Synagogue partners for their generosity and for helping support our scholarship efforts. On the scholarship application, we ask that you provide the amount of scholarship you are requesting from your Synagogue, along with contact information for a representative from the Synagogue. We will send a form to that representative to fill out and return. Once that is completed the Synagogue scholarship amount is posted in the Financial Management section of your CampInTouch Account.