Frequently Asked Questions

If your questions aren’t answered here, just give us a call! 510-560-5610.

FAQ

Who are your staff and where do they come from?

Our staff are the key to bringing our mission to life. Because our focus areas and values appeal to a growing number of young adults, we receive an extraordinary number of staff applications, and our hiring is highly selective. Our counselors and specialists tend to be older than those at most sleepaway camps. We thoroughly screen all staffers, and their training includes pre-camp reading and videos, an immersive 10-day training, and ongoing supervision and mentoring. Specialty staff members are professional educators in their fields, with extensive education backgrounds and current certifications. Counselors are selected for experience and talent for caring for children. The majority of our counselors and specialists come from the U.S.; some hail from Israel and other lands. Many of our staff have served as educators with the Teva Learning Center, Urban Adamah, Wilderness Torah, American Jewish World Service, Jewish Funds for Justice, and other Jewish environmental initiatives around the country.

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How does Eden Village address the health and safety of its campers?

Safety is our #1 priority.

We maintain an outstanding 2:1 camper:staff ratio, and counselors are “kid specialists,” with few responsibilities outside their bunks, so as to focus on each of their campers. We work closely with the American Camping Association and our county health department, and surpass the basic standards in many areas. During orientation, all staff are trained in our fire-department-approved safety and security procedures. Assigned staffers ensure that all visitors report to the camp office on arrival, appropriately escorted. Our specialists maintain proper certifications for lifeguarding, waterfront safety instruction, ropes course, wilderness first aid, and more.

One or more registered nurses is available 24/7 in our health center, which exceeds American Camping Association standards for best practices. A doctor is always on call.

Emotional safety is supremely important as well. We select our counselors for emotional intelligence, and train them in connecting effectively with each of their campers. Our positive, supportive environment is the foundation of everything here.

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My camper has food allergies. Can you accommodate them?

Our chefs work to accommodate various dietary needs including diets free of lactose, gluten, soy, and nuts. Peanut butter is sometimes offered among lunch options. You will have the opportunity to speak with our chefs to make sure your camper’s needs are met.

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Are we Kosher?

Yes. Our full-time, live-in Mashgiach (food supervisor) oversees our strictly Kosher kitchen as directed by the supervision of Rabbi Yisroel Finman of Chai Kosher. We’re glad to share our Kosher certification if you like. Please feel free to call for more details.

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Is there a visiting day? Can I drop in and say hello?

For multi-session campers, parents are welcome to visit during Intersession on the dates and hours listed in the Parent Manual. We strongly discourage families from dropping in and saying hello. A surprise visit often can not only disrupt a camper’s experience at camp, but also that of their bunkmates. We work hard to make sure that all campers adjust to camp life as quickly as possible and enjoy their daily routine. Parents are welcome to call the office and hear updates about their campers. We make sure that campers send letters at least twice a week.

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What are the living areas like?

We live in a beautiful dorm-style building with indoor bathrooms. In the application, you can let us know whether you prefer a top or bottom bunk!

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Electronics at camp?

At camp, we unplug from electronics so that we can plug into community and ourselves. Cameras are welcome, provided that they do not also operate as phones or internet. We strongly discourage cameras with video capabilities. Phones and electronic games are not allowed. We do have recording equipment, so campers can record their own live music in groups and individually.

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What does it mean that this is a new camp?

Eden Village Camp in New York has been profoundly uplifting kids’ lives for eight summers; major funders took notice and granted us over $1.5M to launch a new Eden Village campus in California. At Eden West, you’ll get the benefit of an established organization, infrastructure, program, and even many Eden Village staffers – which will allow us to launch at the highest levels of safety and excellence. At the same time, you’ll get the benefits of pioneering a new culture and community. Our campers need not assimilate into a new culture – they get to help create it! This sense of ownership is seldom possible in everyday life.

Director Casey Yurow comes with years of prior camp-directing experience, and we pride ourselves on our seasoned, responsible, older-than-average staff. Our startup grant includes membership in the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Specialty Camp Incubator, which provides an intensive 5-year training program and A-list mentors on call.

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Is everyone Jewish at Eden Village Camp?

So far, all Eden Village campers and almost all staff are Jewish. Our program is designed to build Jewish leaders and strengthen Jewish identities, and we hope everyone leaves with a stronger sense of Jewish community and peoplehood. At camp, we often talk about “our” Jewish tradition, “our” culture, etc. This said, we welcome all campers and staff, who are expected to participate in all activities. If you’re interested in coming to camp and identify as non-Jewish, let’s talk to make sure we’re a good fit.

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How do we keep Shabbat?

Shabbat is a highlight of our community. We aim to create a comfortable and supportive environment for our campers and staff, who vary in their customs.

Campers spend much of Friday preparing: cooking, arranging flowers, setting the dining hall, preparing Words of Wisdom and parts of the service. In the afternoon campers have an extended shower time, and we encourage everyone to wear white, which beautifully heightens the festive mood. A musical parade leads us from our homes to our outdoor gathering space where we bring in Shabbat. After candle-lighting, we put down our instruments and celebrate with our voices. We close the evening with a true feast and spirited song session, interspersed with campers’ Words of Wisdom (WOWs).

On Saturday morning campers choose among service options, then we all come together for a theatrical Torah experience. In the afternoon, campers pick various activities during structured free time. We don’t farm, travel, turn electricity on or off, or cook food during Shabbat.

At sundown, our Havdallah (ceremony to bring in the new week) often turns into a big dance party!

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What about prayer?

Regular davvening (holding sacred space) helps us foster a sense of connectedness, joy and appreciation. In the mornings, we all start the day with shacharit (morning services), where campers choose among various options like traditional egalitarian, song-based, and active-movement-based. A Yahadut (Jewish life) specialist organizes optional davening in the afternoons and evenings as well.
Blessing food at mealtimes is an important way in which we heighten appreciation and awareness.

Our Jewishly-rooted wilderness, farming, culinary arts, and other programs offer rich opportunities for Jewish learning and practice as well.

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Can I come to camp with my child as a work-trade?

Thanks for your interest! For this summer, this may be challenging because we have limited housing, especially private accommodations, and many of our specialist positions are filled. However, all are welcome to review the staff page and complete a staff application if you see a position that fits. We are glad to talk about scholarship possibilities for your camper – we want to make it possible for them to come.

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What if my child has special needs?

As Eden Village grows, we will become able to accommodate more and more people. As of now, we have a committee who helps us determine case-by-case what needs we are able to accommodate properly. Please call and let’s talk.

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What is your policy on sending packages to camp?

We don’t allow care packages – camp itself is the gift! This is so as not to create a culture of “haves” and “have-nots” within camp. But letters are always very appreciated!

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How does Eden Village celebrate my camper’s summer birthday?

Camp birthdays are always special at Eden Village. Expect honors at lunch: we’ll lift you in a chair while everyone counts out your number of years (we’ll ask beforehand if that works for you); we ask you to share a wish for the world with all of camp; you’ll be serenaded with our camp birthday songs; and your whole bunk group gets a yummy celebration! Parents may send a birthday package and talk by phone with their camper.

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What if I need to reach Eden Village Camp after regular office hours?

During the summer, you can call us at (510) 560-5610 at any time. From 6p to 8:30a, you’ll get a voicemail system, where one of the options is an emergency extension that puts you directly through to the Camp Director. If it is not an emergency, you can leave a message or email welcome@edenvillagewest.org.

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