Diversity and Inclusion at Camp

URJ Camp Coleman is proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environment for campers and staff. The make-up of  URJ camps is as diverse as our population, and our camp community represents that vibrant and colorful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. Camp Coleman is designed for everyone in our Reform Jewish community from LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) 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 comes through our gates. From our policies to our programs and camp norms, we strive to reflect the URJ’s and our camp’s 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 Camp Coleman is to nurture that growth.

Information for Interfaith families

Your child – any child from an interfaith family who is being raised as a Jew – has a place at our camp. For many years, the Reform Movement has been at the forefront of the Jewish world ensuring a welcoming environment for interfaith families and their children. 

what happens at a urj camp? what is jewish living?

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.

will my child feel isolated or different because one parent is not jewish?
Not at all. Many of our camp counselors themselves are wonderful products of interfaith marriages. Each child at Camp Coleman 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.
will it be a problem if my child had limited or no knowledge of hebrew?
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.
will my child feel embarrassed if they do not know how to do something jewish?
Coleman 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.
when my child returns home, will they be less comfortable with my not being jewish?
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.