A Camp for Everyone!
URJ Camp Coleman is a place where everyone feels at home. We strive to make every camper’s experience nurturing and fulfilling, and we do so by making sure that every child feels welcomed and supported.
What happens at a URJ Camp?
Camp is fun! Our campers enjoy engaging activities and programs, develop life-long friendships, and live with a super-star staff that acts as role models, living Jewish values-not just teaching them. When you entrust your children to us, they will experience what it is like to live in an immersive Jewish community. This complete immersion allows children to see the world through a Jewish lens, giving them a fuller appreciation of the richness of Judaism and strengthening their Jewish identities along the way. They live the Jewish values of Rachamanut (compassion), Kavod (honor and respect), Derech Eretz (civility), G’milut Chasadim (kindness), Tikkun Olam (repairing our world), and so many more! And we know they’ll take these values home with them at summer’s end.
What if my family isn’t very involved in Jewish life?
Campers come to us from a variety of Jewish backgrounds. Some children come from families who are very involved in their synagogues attending Shabbat services regularly, and some do not. Some children attend Jewish Day Schools, and some attend Religious School only once a month or not at all if their families are unaffiliated. And everyone in between! We help our campers learn what they don’t know, and embrace what they do know. Living in an immersive Jewish community offers all of our campers the opportunity to strengthen their Jewish identities while learning more about Judaism.
Camp Coleman is a welcoming community for interfaith families who have made Jewish choices for their children, including Jewish overnight camp. We welcome children from a variety of backgrounds, and know they will quickly mesh into one community.
What if my camper needs extra support while at camp?
During the months before camp, if you have indicated that your camper may need extra support, a member of our Inclusion Committee will be contact you for additional information, so we can begin to prepare for the camper before he/she arrives and ensure a successful summer. Camp has inclusion staff on site to work with campers who might need extra support and to work with the staff who will be caring for them. As necessary, our inclusion staff stays in touch with parents throughout the summer.
Tips for First Time Campers
Here is a wonderful and helpful article from the Washington Post with tips for helping your child with homesickness in advance.
Homesickness/Moments of Sadness
Homesickness (or what we call at Camp Coleman “moments of sadness”) among first time campers is very common regardless of their age or experience being away from home. Although the specific causes of moments of sadness differ from child to child, there are things you can to prior to your camper leaving to help prepare him/her.
Make sure to talk about camp with your camper. These positive conversations help build excitement and anticipation. You can visit the Coleman website together, watch the Coleman promotional video, go shopping for camp gear, and label clothes together. Talk about all the great things he/she will be able to do at camp and about all the new friends he/she will make.
Reassure your camper that missing home is normal. We suggest discussing strategies on how to cope with these feelings. Encourage your camper to talk with counselors or other staff if they feel sad or upset.
If your child is not used to spending the night away from home, make sure to schedule some sleepovers with friends or relatives prior to camp. These small experiences can make a big difference for kids while adjusting to camp life.
Topics to Avoid
Studies have shown that family influence is a powerful factor in whether a child will have chronic moments of sadness. There are some important things to avoid saying. Do not tell your camper how much you’ll miss him or her (even though you will) and do not tell your camper that the house will be empty without him or her (even though it will). These statements cause children to feel guilty about being away and having fun while you are at home miserable without them.
Most importantly, DO NOT tell your camper that you will come to camp and take them home if they are not happy. Many parents tell their campers this with the best of intentions, but it causes huge problems while at camp. First, the statement sends the message to your campers that you don’t believe in their ability to succeed at camp. Secondly, it sets up unrealistic and low expectations about camp. These feelings often leave campers to take the easy way out if they are ever sad at camp instead of working through the issues and gaining independence.
Finally, make sure to avoid telling camp “horror stories.” What is funny to you or an older sibling about camp memories may scare your camper.
Coleman Will Help
The easiest way to prevent moments of sadness is to give your camper the tools to handle the new situations they will be in. Our staff are trained to help your camper through any moments of sadness he/she may have, big or small. Camp offers so many great lessons from learning how to rock climb to living with others and learning how to recognize your feelings. These are all valuable lessons for any child. If we work together for the benefit of your camper, we can give them a safe and nurturing environment to allow your camper to master them as well as gain self-confidence and independence. Please trust us. If we believe that your child’s moments of sadness or struggle to adjust is out of the ordinary, we will contact you to discuss strategies and options.