AUDACIOUS HOSPITALITY AT CAMP

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 camps and programs are inclusive and designed for everyone in our community from LGBTQ to children with single, same sex or interfaith parents, to children of color. We hope that our campers and staff strengthen their self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community through the supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs.

We are committed to building a vibrant community rooted in Jewish values and bringing the transformative power of Jewish summer camp to every child and family who come through our gates. From our policies to our programs and camp norms, we strive to reflect the URJ’s and our camps’ core values:

Kehillah Kedoshah – A Holy Community
We are a sacred community, responsible for one another.

V’ahavta L’reyecha – Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
We should behave towards one another with love and kindness.

Hachnasat Orchim – Welcome the Stranger
Camp is a place of “audacious hospitality,” where all who enter are celebrated.

Yichut Atsmo – Personal Growth
Camp is a uniquely transformative opportunity for young people to take risks and grow, and our job at Eisner and Crane Lake Camps is to nurture that growth.

Your child – any child from an interfaith family who is being raised as a Jew – has a place at our camp. For over 30 years, the Reform Movement has been at the forefront of the Jewish world ensuring a welcoming environment for interfaith families and their children. As Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rabbi Rick Jacobs has stated, “Creating pathways for Jews and non-Jewish partners to create active Jewish homes is a blessing.”

Camp is fun! Our campers experience a great atmosphere, terrific activities and programs, values that come to life every day and friendships, all under eyes of our caring, responsible adult role models (some of whom either are children of interfaith families or themselves non-Jewish).

Your child, when entrusted to our camp, will experience what it is like to live in a completely Jewish environment. This complete absorption into the rhythms and calendar of Jewish living gives each child a fuller appreciation of the richness of their Jewish identity and heritage. They are taught the values of charity, justice and kindness. Experience has shown that they will bring these values home.

Shabbat is a big event at camp. The entire camp comes together, dressed in white as one family, on Friday evening, for dinner, worship, song and dance. Campers experience the fullness of a Shabbat celebration both spiritually and culturally.

Each child’s pride in their Jewish identity is nurtured, while respect for those of other beliefs is also strongly encouraged.

Not at all. Many of our camp counselors themselves are wonderful products of interfaith marriages. Each child at Crane Lake Camp is valued as the unique individual they are, with the wonderful attributes they bring to our community. Each child is recognized as a full member of the Jewish community whether they have one or two Jewish parents.

Crane Lake is a place for your child to further their knowledge of Judaism in an experiential way. Every child who comes to camp brings a different skill set and knowledge of Jewish tradition and practice. They learn from us and from their friends at camp. This is a no-stress environment, where learning the levels of Jewish living is an enjoyable and natural progression.

No problem! Campers pick up Hebrew at camp in an experiential way, learning some basic Hebrew terms, Hebrew blessings and phrases. They enjoy showing off when they return home.

Remember that many of your child’s counselors have experience with interfaith families – either their own, their relatives or their friends. We teach each child that the Torah mandates to honor thy father and mother. We emphasize to each child that this teaching is not based on the parent being Jewish – the teaching is based on honoring each parent. Your position as the child’s parent will continue to be sacrosanct. We will encourage the respect you are due as a parent, with no regard to your own religious beliefs.

If you have questions that are not addressed here, please do not hesitate to contact us:(201) 722-0400 or eisnercranelake@urj.org.

Some children are born into the body of a boy, but in their hearts and minds they are girls. Others are born into the body of a girl, but in their hearts and minds they are boys. Those raised as boys for the first few years of their lives make it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be girls. Likewise, those that are raised as girls for the first few years of their life made it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be boys. Their social development and patterns are aligned with other children of their age.

A transgender camper or staff members who identifies as female will sleep in a girls’ cabin with campers. A transgender camper or staff member who identifies as a boy will sleep in a boys’ cabin with campers.

Our transgender campers and staff are private about the ways in which they are different from other children their age. At camp, we teach all of our campers and staff to have a sense of modesty and to respect one another’s privacy. We will continue to reinforce this message. Our cabins all have stall showers, each with its own curtain. All toilets are in stalls with doors. We also hang a privacy curtain between the bathroom area and living space in each cabin. Outside the cabin, all of our public restrooms have stalls which enable privacy around camp. Every child and staff member thus has privacy when showering, changing and using the restroom.

Probably not, but if they are, help them understand that this is just one of many ways in which their friends may be different from them. Try not to assume that your kids will think this is weird or confusing. They may just accept it at face value and move on. It’s a good idea to ask if they understand and if they have more questions. As always, there are staff and resources at camp for your child to turn to in times of need.

The Reform Movement’s recognition of transgender rights dates back to 1978. The Movement has an explicit policy of non-discrimination regarding transgender people and has even developed blessings for the changing of gender. Through the years, the URJ has been a fierce advocate of LGBT rights and equality both within the Movement and in the wider community through the resolutions of the Commission on Social Action and the work of the Religious Action Center. In November 2015, the URJ adopted a movement-wide “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.” View the the full text.

One way to explain gender variant and transgender children/adults is to use the concept of gender being on a spectrum.  Draw a line and on one end write male (or draw a male), and do the same for female on the other end of the line.  Have your children list “typical boy” and “typical girl” behaviors, likes, characteristics, etc., and write them on either end.  Think about the toy and clothing sections of Target! Describe how people tend to fall on the end of the spectrum that matches their body parts, but not always.  You can locate, with your child, where on the spectrum some friends and family fall – what cousin is a tomboy, what male friend likes dolls, which girl friend is a “girly-girl” who doesn’t like sports, etc.  Then you can say that some children have a boy’s body but inside feel far over on the female side, and some children have a girl’s body but inside feel far over on the male side.  This also presents a teachable moment about gender roles in general, to teach children that there are many ways to be a girl and to be a boy.

Here are some resources for your own education that can help equip you to talk to your children before camp.

  • Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper, The Transgender Child
  • Nicholas Teich, Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
  • Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree
  • Joy Ladin, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders|
  • Noach Dzmura, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community
  • Rachel Gold, Being Emily [middle school and older]
  • Jennifer Carr, Be Who You Are [young children]