Jewish Life at Camp

Home » Jewish Life at Camp

Living Our Values

It is an integral part of Camp’s mission to instill in our campers the love and beauty of Judaism, Jewish Identity, and Spirituality. Part of our Mission Statement reads:

… I am here to strengthen my own Jewish identity and spirituality and that of everyone in the camp community.

… I am here to strengthen my connection to the Crane Lake and Jewish community and to help everyone around me to do the same.

The values of Reform Judaism are woven into the fabric of life at camp to connect our campers to their rich Jewish heritage while understanding our collective responsibility to Tikkun Olam – making the world a better place.

Our unique programming and celebrations create an unparalleled connection by living Jewishly 24/7. We encourage each camper to explore our traditions and today’s world to discover their own Jewish identity.

T'filah (Prayer)

Each morning after breakfast, our entire camp comes together for T’filah. T’filah is full of song and ruach, spirit and joy. By the end of each camp session, campers are familiar with the prayers (and hand motions/dance moves) included in these short daily services and are prepared to participate in services in their home congregations.

Limud (Learning)

Our younger campers (grades 3 – 7) actively participate in Limud, our camp-style informal and creative Jewish education program. A committed group of rabbis, cantors, and educators outline and then teach a theme-based, project-based summer curriculum which is experiential, creative, and age-appropriate for each grade unit. Campers will explore a variety of Jewish concepts and values based on each grade unIt’s theme. This summer we will have a variety of Limud themes, including Israel, God, Torah, Mitzvot (religious obligations), Middot (Jewish values) and Tikkun Olam (repairing our world).

Kesher (Connection)

Kesher is our camp-style informal and creative Jewish education program for our older campers (grades 8 – 10). In the spring, our campers complete an online survey telling us which contemporary Jewish subjects they would like to “connect” and through which modality (art, music, texts, etc.) they would like to make the connection. The rabbis, cantors and educators on our faculty create and lead exciting courses based on the survey results. This camper-centered curriculum changes each summer depending on what our campers tell us they would like to learn. In the past, Kesher has included courses on Hebrew, Jewish values, greening, relationships, Israeli culture, and more.

Shabbat at Camp

Shabbat at camp is nothing less than magical. Many of our campers (and alumni) proudly claim it is their favorite part of the week. By bringing the camp together as a whole, we create an opportunity for the Crane Lake community to reconnect as a community and deepen connections after a fun-filled week. Shabbat overflows with song, worship, rest and friendship. On Shabbat, Crane Lake truly becomes a Kehillah K’dosha, a holy community.

As a part of our Shabbat preparation on Friday afternoon, each unit cleans a designated area of camp. Campers are then given extra time to shower and dress for Shabbat. We encourage our campers and staff to dress nicely on Shabbat. (Typical choices include a “polo” collar style or button-down shirt, a sundress, or skirt outfit.)

Our Shabbat celebration begins with the camp coming together for a Shabbat walk as our song leaders lead the community, cabin by cabin, to the Chadar Ochel (dining room) together in song. We gather in the Chadar Ochel for blessings followed by a delicious Shabbat dinner, during which campers may sit anywhere they choose. This is a wonderful opportunity for siblings, cousins, and friends from other cabins to enjoy Shabbat dinner together.

After dinner and Birkat Hamazon (blessing after the meal), the entire camp comes together to welcome Shabbat in our beautiful outdoor sanctuary. One unit prepares the camp-wide Shabbat T’filah (service) each week, complete with art work, dance, and song, serving as our leaders in prayer. Our Shabbat worship, with more than 500 community members participating, is truly magnificent. With so many young voices rising together in prayer, the sound is like no other. This beautiful weekly service has a strong impact on the awakening spirituality of so many of our campers.

T’filah is followed by an energy-filled song session. With many guitars and hundreds of campers singing Shabbat songs, we really celebrate Shabbat! For many, this song session is the highlight of the week. The spirited song session leads right into Israeli dancing. For those that may enjoy a quieter song session, they have the option to go to another location. Our song leaders end the night with camper-favorite, Summertime Forever, and then our bed-time ritual. Laila Tov!

On Shabbat morning, campers can sleep a bit later. An optional buffet breakfast is available at the Chadar Ochel prior to our Shabbat morning T’filah. Once again, Shabbat T’filah is held in the outdoor sanctuary and one unit acts as our leaders in prayer.

After a full Shabbat morning of song and worship, it is time for Shabbat Cookout lunch, and then it is off to Shabbat Breira (free-play). Shabbat afternoon is filled with outdoor play and after dinner, Shabbat ends with a beautiful outdoor Havdalah service.

camp is just a piece

Crane Lake Camp is only a piece of our campers identity. Many go home and are part of their synagogue’s youth group, or participate and take on leadership roles in NFTY on both the regional and national levels.

Our staff and former campers attend some of the most elite colleges and universities such as University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, NYU, Boston University, University of Vermont, University of Delaware, University of Massachusetts, Brandeis University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin. They are active on campus, in social justice causes and Hillel. Our alumni continue their work in Tikkun Olam throughout college and when they become adults. Working in Boston, New York, all over the U.S. Israel and the UK, Crane Lake alum grow into successful leaders, holding jobs at major banks, law firms, and technology companies. Former campers and staff members are now doctors, teachers, authors, graduate students as well as work at Teach for America, Disney World, Staples, ESPN, Huffington Post, Peace Corps, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and WeWork. They are also rabbis and camp directors.

URJ Crane Lake Camp empowers children, teens and adults to better themselves, their communities and the world. Our diverse and welcoming community is a reflection of today’s families throughout the Reform Movement. Individuals of all different shapes and sizes, race, learning styles and abilities, ethnicities and beliefs call Crane Lake Camp their summer home. In our incredibly accepting community, all kids—regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, or Jewish background—are treasured.

Our staff is well trained to help our campers to develop cohesive and supportive dynamics among all campers work together, respect and learn from one another, making the camping experience better for everyone. We work together to understanding camper needs and plan how best to meet them. Together, we all become more compassionate, understanding, confident in diverse situations and contributors to our Jewish community.

Our Community