Ramah, the Conservative movement’s summer camp, will test the waters in the Greater Washington area with a weeklong day camp in August.
Ramah Day Camp of Greater Washington will be the fourth day camp for the Ramah movement in North America, which operates eight overnight camps in the U.S. and Canada. It will be open to children from kindergarten through fourth grade. The session is Aug. 18-22 and will meet at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase.
“We’ve been talking about it for a few years,” said Rabbi William Rudolph of Congregation Beth El in Montgomery County, who is overseeing the project with Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Shaare Torah Congregation in Gaithersburg.
He said that organizers are looking to build off of the success of Camp Ramah in New England, located in Palmer, Mass., which children from the USCJ’s Seaboard region, including Washington, attend. The Palmer camp enrolls children in grades 2 through 10.
“We’ve watched the Ramah in Palmer grow [in enrollment] and grow in its quality and impact,” Rudolph said, “but it’s far [away] and expensive.”
For those and other reasons, a Ramah day camp is a good alternative to a Ramah overnight camp.
“Not every kid is old enough or ready for overnight camp,” Rudolph wrote in a blog post. “The three Ramah day camps … provide a very Ramah-like experience close to home. Some of us rabbis thought we should have that in our area, too.”
Rudolph said his hope is that the day camp will combine traditional camp activities with Jewish observance.
Shira Rosenbaum, the day camp’s director, said supporters hope the camp will grow into an eight-week summer program with its own facility.
They would like to offer the camp to children older than fourth grade, she said.
Ramah Day Camp of Greater Washington is hoping to attract around 40 campers for this first year. “We’re about halfway there,” Rudolph said.
Rosenbaum said campers will take part in activities such as arts and crafts, sports, cooking, water activities, dancing and drama.
Rosenbaum, a nurse at the Virginia Hospital Center who’s hoping to become a full-time director once the camp expands, said that Ramah helps to instill a sense of pride in being Jewish in its campers.