The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Family Weekend at Camp Ramah in California (Ojai) Part II

Posted in personal growth by Juliet on June 2, 2010

[Missed Part I?  Catch up here.]

Camp Ramah is a Jewish sleepaway camp affiliated with the Conservative movement. There are Ramahs across the United States and Canada. There’s even a Ramah day camp in Nyack, New York, near Scott’s hometown of Tappan.

Eva is going to sleepaway camp at Ramah for two weeks this summer, so when we learned that they offer family camp over the long Memorial Day weekend, we figured it would be a great “soft introduction” for her.

Neither Scott nor I went to Ramah as kids (we went to secular camp, Scott at Trail’s End in Pennsylvania and Taconic in the Berkshires, and me at Kennolyn in the Santa Cruz mountains and later, Stan Smith tennis camp.)

I’ve been to Ramah at Ojai twice before for women’s retreats. It was fun getting to experience camp this weekend. Scott and I felt like kids too, as we enjoyed activities alongside our children.

Families in the know brought wine to drink with dinner. (Kosher wine is welcome.) We picked up this bottle of Baron Herzog at Vons in town after sundown Saturday night, when we ventured out in search of items we forgot to pack. We opened this bottle to share with friends on the lawn during the outdoor BBQ (with veggie burgers and hot dogs) Sunday night.

The ropes course was just unveiled two weeks ago. It's built in a beautiful orange grove and they are putting up shade structures because it is HOT. There is a full Marines-style course plus this high rock climbing structure (just like Celebrity Fit Club!) The camp brought in professionals to run the course this weekend (this is Burton) and for summer, experts will come to camp from Israel to train staff in how to run it.

Ropes course

It smells like orange blossoms and sunshine.

Eva attacks the course.

Well done, Eva!

My inner Jewish mother came out when Jane began to climb. That was the exact moment that I learned that this was only the second time operating the brand-new course. Luckily Jane has practiced a lot on trees, street signs, poles, etc.

To the guys who teased me for not being able to watch this part: F all y'alls. The women at camp understood. Four years old, people! But everyone survived.

I wouldn’t ask my kids to do anything that I personally am too chicken to do myself, so here goes:

It's harder than it looks. People on the ground are yelling stuff like, "Just move your arm over the other rope to the side with the railing," and you're like, "What??!! I'm trying not to DIE here."

I couldn’t figure out what these funny metal things all over camp were until Scott told me they are frisbee golf holes. We didn’t play, but some other families did.

It was HOT in Ojai. Swimming was wonderful.

I polled many kids and kept hearing that one waterslide was "faster" than the other. Turns out what they meant is that while both hurtle you down at the same speed, one is more feet long than the other, so the overall ride takes a longer time. My main priority in a waterslide is to not lose my suit.

Jane loved this fun playground with mini rock wall behind our lodge.

Jane enjoyed the "only child experience" this weekend, though she did miss Eva. I'm curious to see how she'll be when Eva's at camp for two weeks this summer.

I am not kidding when I say every last bench at camp has a donor's name on it. This building is typical of the charming rustic architecture of camp.

Gaga is the Jewish camp version of dodgeball. I was having serious middle school flashbacks everytime we walked past the gaga court.

What a beautiful spot to pray in nature.

A rousing game of Candyland in the lodge. Eva joined us for a few moments to take a shower in the comparative luxury of our private lodge bathroom. We also brought Uno, regular playing cards, Memory, Monopoly, and Parcheesi.

Family craft time included friendship bracelets, lanyards (remember those?), collages, and these thankfulness trees.

View of baseball field from the hiking trail up to the treehouse. On Sunday morning Eva was with bunkmates and Jane was in the gan (nursery) so Scott and I took a hike.

The kids hike up to this treehouse on a nighttime "trust hike."

A typical Ramah breakfast. Every morning in traditional Israeli fashion there were pitchers of fresh squeezed orange juice. In addition to meals, there were frequent snack opportunities. Breakfast on the morning we left included croissants (both plain and chocolate.) One of the counselors told me: "This is the best breakfast at Camp Ramah!"

The last night, we had a campfire with singalong. Included in our goodie bags were telescoping marshallow toasting sticks, so we were surprised when they passed out brownies at the campfire instead. People started putting brownies onto the sticks (since they had a marshmallow-y topping) and trying to toast them over the fire, but since they were brownies (duh) they kept falling into the fire. Fail.

Sunken fire-pit...for toasting brownies?

Eva was exhausted by Sunday night. I took this picture and showed it to her. "Eva, you look like your boyfriend just broke up with you!" her little friend Daniella said. But she really was happy...just tired.

Jane gets crazy when she's tired. Note the multiple friendship bracelets and telescoping marshallow toasting stick. Ah, camp.

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