Staying in Touch

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Staying in Touch

How to keep up with all the fun and excitement over the summer!

Contacting Camp


(413) 232-4257

If you have a concern about your child’s health or medication, ask for the Health Center.


URJ Crane Lake Camp
46 State Line Rd
West Stockbridge, MA 01266


Sunday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST
Friday: 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. EST
Saturday: 1:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST

In case of a true emergency, you will always be able to contact one of the directors. Just call camp, and follow the prompts on the recording.

Letters From Campers

Although they may also choose to write to their friends or family members, campers are required to write two letters addressed to a parent or guardian each week. A check list for each cabin will be monitored by one of the directors to make sure that every camper has written a letter and addressed it to you. Campers have the added incentive of using the letters as their admission to canteen (snacks, toys, trinkets, and drinks) to encourage compliance. Please discuss your letter writing expectations with your child prior to Opening Day. This is especially important for children who live in separate homes with each parent.

It is a good idea to send envelopes and stamps in a zip-lock bag to protect them from the humidity. For our younger campers, we ask that you send at least 8 stamped envelopes that are already addressed to you (K’tanim 1 and 2 campers need to bring only 4). This will ensure that the letters will not return to camp because of an unclear address.

The first letter you receive may not be the happiest, especially from first time campers. Please remember that campers often take a few days to feel completely comfortable at Crane Lake and we are sure that subsequent letters will be more upbeat!

Your camper’s letters may be short and contain little information. Try sending a letter template with blanks for your camper to fill in. When the blanks are filled, in the letter can be returned to you. (My favorite activity is…My new friends are…, etc.).

Remember that mail from West Stockbridge can truly be “snail mail.” In the past, letters have taken as few as two days to reach home, and others have taken as long as five.  Campers using CampInTouch’s email service (see below) may write eLetter Replies as their bi-weekly letters.

Letters To Campers

Campers love receiving mail, so be sure to write often. If you tire of writing letters, be creative. Send comics from the newspaper, sports articles, funny cards, etc., each with a short note. Rotate through your family, with parents writing one day, and another family member the next.

What you include (and do not include) in your letters is also important. It is in your camper’s best interest not to feel like they are missing too much at home or feel anxious about your wellbeing. Be careful not to elaborate about how desperately you miss them, or how terribly quiet the house is. Instead, ask lots of questions about activities and friends. This will help your camper structure letters back to you. Keep the closing of your letters simple – “I love you and miss you,” is great, but “I’m so lonely without you. I cannot believe you’ll be gone for so long,” is not!

We have an email system in place for you as well. Emails sent to camp through CampInTouch (the same as the registration system account) are printed and distributed to campers daily. Also, the new Campanion app will have a feature for you to send — and your kids to write back — letters that don’t have to go through the USPS. Crane Lake has already paid your registration fee for this service, and we’ve even started you with some free credits that you can use when emailing your camper. You’ll be able to purchase additional credits at any time.

On Opening Day, please make note of your child’s bunk number and include it when addressing letters:

Camper’s Name
Bunk #
URJ Crane Lake Camp
46 State Line Rd
West Stockbridge, MA 01266

If you would like to write a letter to your camper before they leave for camp, so it will arrive during the first few days, it is okay not to include your camper’s bunk number on these first letters.

Emails To and From Camp

CampInTouch email allows you (parents/guardians and any guests you invite) to send one-way messages to your child that are printed at camp and delivered once a day at mail time (this means that if you send your camper multiple emails in a day, they will receive them all at once!).

Each standard email uses 1 “CampStamp,” and additional stamps can be used to add extra options to your message. Every account has been pre-loaded with 2 CampStamps per camper, per login, per week, at no cost, and you can purchase additional stamps at any time using your credit card. CampStamps are $1 each, or slightly less if you buy them in quantity: $10 for 10 CampStamps, $14 for 15 CampStamps, $18 for 20 CampStamps or $25 for 30 CampStamps. Any rollover CampStamps from last summer will be automatically uploaded to your account to use for the summer.

If you would like, before you click SEND, you can check the box that says, “I would like a handwritten eLetter reply.” If you click this box, we will attach an eLetter Reply to your message. The eLetter Reply is a blank piece of paper with your name and a barcode on it that is unique to you. Your camper receives two pieces of paper: one is your eLetter, and the other is this blank eLetter Reply. Your camper writes you a letter on the eLetter Reply and gives it to us. We send it to CampInTouch and the eLetter Reply appears instantly in your email inbox as a PDF file. Each page of eLetter stationery has a unique printed bar code.

Since you are charged a CampStamp only when your camper completes and returns the eLetter Reply to you, we recommend you print a whole stack of eLetter Replies before your camper leaves for camp so the eLetter Replies will be familiar. You can do this by clicking on the eLETTER STACK option when you’re in the email screen. Pack this stack of eLetter Replies with your camper’s belongings. Remember, you will only be charged a CampStamp for the eLetter Replies your camper completes and gives us to send to you.

More information about this service and the costs is included in the “Quick Start Guide” posted in your CampInTouch account. Please note that last year’s eLetter stationery will no longer function – you’ll need to request new reply emails with this year’s bar codes.

Here’s how the CampInTouch email system works:

  1. Log into your CampInTouch account
  2. Scroll down to Online Community
  3. Click on EMAIL – Your camper’s name will appear with a box next to it. If you have more than one camper, each camper’s name will appear.
  4. Place a check in the box next to the camper to whom you would like to send an eLetter.
  5. Type your eLetter in the message box, and click SEND. It is that easy.

Or you can use the Campanion app from a mobile device or desktop:

  1. Log into your Campanion app
  2. From the menu select ‘Letters’
  3. Click on the pencil icon to compose a new letter
  4. Click on “To”- Your camper’s name will appear with a box next to it. If you have more than one camper, each camper’s name will appear.
  5. Place a check in the box next to the camper to whom you would like to send an eLetter.
  6. Type your eLetter in the message box, and click SEND. It is that easy.

Parents and guardians can send photo postcards to your campers, friends, and family directly through your CampInTouch account (accessed from a desktop). To send a postcard, hover over the photo you want to send and click on the stamp icon.

Photo Gallery

We have photographers constantly snapping pictures at camp. The photos are uploaded once each day. The upload time depends on the photographer’s schedule and the data transmission speed of our internet connection on any given day. We try to get every camper’s picture onto our site, but some campers run towards the camera and some run away. Please be patient!

Below is our broad photo uploading schedule:

  • Photos will be posted once each day, most likely the next morning.
  • You can expect 200-300 photos to be uploaded each day.
  • Camp-wide special event photos (such as evening Maccabia events) will often be posted a day or two after they happen.

Additionally, parents often call after viewing a picture of their camper without a broad smile, or not standing with their friends, or not seemingly engaged in the activity at hand, or wearing long sleeves on a hot day, or wearing someone else’s sweatshirt, or standing alone, or on a different team from their best friend, and so on and so on. Please do not worry. Remember that each photo is a snapshot of one moment in a very long action-packed day at camp. We do our best to give you a taste of what is going on at camp each day. Please remember, it is only a taste and not photojournalism!


  1. The CampInTouch Photos section is where you can view the most current photos from camp. You can mark your favorite pictures, purchase hi-res images and prints, and email photos directly to your friends and family.
  2. The Campanion app offers all the CampInTouch features used by parents in one place. You can view the daily photos, get updates from camp, email photos directly to your friends and family, and correspond with your camper (send and receive eLetters) right from your phone.
Package Policy

Crane Lake does not accept any camper packages. 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″).

We made this change several summers ago because:

  • The volume of packages that arrived in camp each day created a community of “have and have-nots,” undermining our efforts to create a Jewish community in which each camper feels that they are valued and treated equally.
  • Some campers didn’t receive any packages, which led to feelings of sadness and jealousy; others received so many packages they literally could not manage all the “stuff” in their cabins.
  • Our staff spent hours organizing and sorting hundreds of packages daily, giving them less time to spend with campers.
  • Empty packages produced a tremendous amount of waste.
  • Campers sacrificed much of their free time during rest hour retrieving packages from the mailroom.
  • Sadly, many parents did not respect our no-food policy, and others forgot to share that policy with extended family members. The food, candy and gum that arrived in these packages (hidden or otherwise) had to be taken away, disappointing the camper.
  • Parents told us that it is expensive and burdensome to fill and mail packages, and that they often felt pressure to do so.

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., sneakers), you will be able to send these items to camp. Please email us at to let us know that a package is on its way, and what your camper can expect to find inside when opened with a staff member. Please note that this will be done on an exception-only basis and unless we know a package is coming, we will refuse to accept it at camp. We will respond to your email letting you know that it is indeed okay to send the package. Last summer we received many emails from parents telling us that they were sending things that were not truly necessities and conflicted with our package policy (i.e. nail polish, water guns, Maccabiah clothing) and we asked them not to send the package.

Phone Calls

At camp we believe in the power of campers unplugging from electronics and so we do not schedule phone calls between campers and their families during the summer (except for birthday calls- see below).

If you have a specific concern about your child, please call our office and ask to speak with Alyson Bazeley, our Assistant Director or email her directly.  Alyson works with our Camper Care Team to help you navigate any concerns that may arise during your camper’s time at camp. With over 350 campers, we receive many phone calls and emails each day. Please be patient with us – most of the day we’re out of our offices and around camp with the campers. Your call or email will be returned as soon as possible.

We believe in a creating a partnership with you. If we have any concerns, rest assured, we’ll call you.

Pro tips: Remember that the first letter from your camper may take up to a week to arrive. Do not assume that something is wrong just because you haven’t heard from your camper right away.

If you have a concern about your child’s health or medication, ask for the Health Center when you call the office.


If your camper celebrates a birthday while at camp, we make sure it is a special one. At breakfast, birthday cupcakes are presented to the birthday camper, and the entire camp sings our special Crane Lake birthday song!

They will know that their day is special and that one of your presents to them is the gift of camp. We ask that you not send flowers or balloons or attempt to drop off packages (or have others send/drop off birthday packages on your behalf). Please let your camper know that they will receive all their presents when they see you in person at home.

This policy puts us in line with the policies of many other camps. We hope you agree that this was a positive change, and we are grateful for your cooperation.

If you would like to speak to your camper on their birthday, please email our Camper Care Coordinator at, a few days prior to the date so we can make arrangements to bring your camper to the phone at a designated time. You know your camper best; if you think hearing your voice might be upsetting, a birthday phone call might not be the best idea. Please have all family members present for the short birthday phone call. Separate calls from parents, older siblings, grandma and grandpa cannot be allowed since the calls would be too disruptive to the camper’s schedule.

Your camper cannot call you on your birthday, or on the birthday of other family members. Again, as little disruption as possible to your camper’s day is best.

Please do not offer your camper’s counselor extra money for a bunk birthday party. We will not accept it and cannot hold a special party. All birthdays at Crane Lake are celebrated the same, special way. We thank you for respecting our no-package policy and give you our assurances that your camper will have a memorable birthday celebration this summer at camp!

Remember, we will not automatically bring your camper to the phone on their birthday. We will call only if you have contacted camp to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Crane Lake Unplugged

At camp we live our best unplugged life! We ask our campers to unplug their electronics…and plan to plug into your friends, the outdoors, and Jewish life at camp! Please leave all electronics at home where they will be perfectly safe until your camper returns.

There are a few exceptions. You are welcome to pack any of the following:

  • an mp3 player without touch screen
  • a CD player
  • an inexpensive digital camera.

And those are the only electronics that are welcome at camp.

Like all camps, we have given serious thought to this issue. Like many camps, we have chosen to differentiate between time at camp versus the rest of the year. We have learned that camp is very different…and that is what makes it so special.

After careful consideration, our Electronics Policy is designed to:

  • encourage our campers to spend more time off their beds and outdoors
  • promote socialization between campers
  • remove the divide between “the haves, and the have-nots”
  • reduce the stress associated with the damage to and theft of electronics
  • give campers a much-needed break from the world of technology
  • allow campers to fully embrace and “plug into” the connections they make with other campers as they “unplug” from their electronics
  • ensure that our campers are not exposed to age-inappropriate material

Check out our video about living tech free!

Electronics Allowed at Camp


If your camper must have their music at camp, either for fun or B Mitzvah preparation, please send:

  • an inexpensive mp3 player, or
  • an iPod that does not have a touch screen (both the shuffle and nano models are welcome.)

We will not allow any mp3 players/mobile devices with touch screens. This way we can ensure that our campers cannot watch videos, TV shows, movies or access the internet. As such, campers may not bring any smartphones, even if the SIM card has been removed. We feel so strongly about not allowing our campers to have any touch screen devices in hand, that we will confiscate any iPod/mp3 player with a touch screen and return it to you on Closing Day.


We encourage you to send an inexpensive digital camera or disposable cameras. (Make sure you pack enough memory cards and batteries.) Please discuss proper handling of the camera and how pictures should be taken of bunkmates only with their permission. Please leave expensive cameras at home.

Electronics Not Allowed at Camp


No electronic hand-held game devices will be allowed in camp.

We will confiscate any Gameboys, PSPs, Nintendo DSs or other hand-held electronic devices and return them to you on Closing Day.


It is our long-standing policy that campers may not bring cell phones to camp. Cell phone use at camp is counter to the values we teach and uphold at Crane Lake and interferes with an important peer aspect of the overnight camp experience. We know that one of the reasons you send your camper to camp is so that they can take a break from technology. Although cell phones have been strictly prohibited at camp for many years, some families choose to ignore this policy. When you allow your camper to break the rules and take a cell phone to camp, your camper quickly learns that the rules do not apply to them and your family. 

When campers bring a phone to camp it:

  • leads to conflicts within the cabin
  • allows campers to focus on their friends at home rather than their friends at camp
  • enables campers to call parents when they need advice instead of turning to their peers or counselors
  • prevents campers from problem solving

As a result, we maintain a zero-tolerance cell phone policy.

Our policy sends a very clear message. If we learn that any camper has a cell phone in camp, we will take it away; call their parent; and require a parent to come to camp to take their camper home for three days. There will be no reimbursement of camp tuition for this suspension.

Please take the time to discuss this policy with your camper. In the past, campers have hidden their cell phones in their bags without their parents’ knowledge. Parents will be held responsible if their camper does not comply with the cell phone policy regardless of how the cell phone arrived at camp.


Campers are not permitted to have these, or similar electronic devices, in camp. Please make sure you purchase, and pack, any books your camper might be required to read from their school’s summer reading list.