Here at GUCI, we are proud of our affirming and inclusive environment. We strive for our camps to be a safe havens where our campers and staff feel affirmed and celebrated for being their most authentic and best selves each summer, and all year long. 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 staff and programs.
We are committed to building vibrant communities rooted in Jewish values and bringing the transformative power of Jewish summer camp to every child and family who come through our gates.
OUR COMMITMENT TO RACIAL EQUITY DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION (REDI)
We are committed to maintaining an inclusive and welcoming culture and community. In order for our Jewish community to be truly whole, we must recognize and embrace the diversity within it, ensuring that it reflects the identities of Jews from all backgrounds and lived experiences, and work collectively to make our spaces more equitable and inclusive.
We are constantly looking to grow and improve in this area.
jews from diverse backgrounds
GUCI is part of the Union for Reform Judaism – as a Movement, we’re committed to Audacious Hospitality and creating welcoming communities where everyone is not just included, but celebrated. We believe diversity makes our Jewish community stronger and more vibrant, and that there is more than one way to be authentically Jewish.
We strive to engage more children and families who are often unrepresented and under-served in Jewish spaces, transforming our camp community into a space of belonging for all who wish to call it home.
Your child – any child from an interfaith family who is being raised as a Jew – has a place at our camp. Rabbi Rick Jacobs has stated, “Creating pathways for Jews and non-Jewish partners to create active Jewish homes is a blessing.”
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, 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?
WILL IT BE A PROBLEM IF MY CHILD HAD LIMITED OR NO KNOWLEDGE OF HEBREW?
WILL MY CHILD FEEL EMBARRASSED IF THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DO SOMETHING JEWISH?
WHEN MY CHILD RETURNS HOME, WILL THEY BE LESS COMFORTABLE WITH MY NOT BEING JEWISH?
Camper Care and Inclusion
Our Camp Care Team is composed of mental health professionals, social workers, and teachers that help children of varying abilities adjust to life at camp. We have found that campers with the following diagnoses can be successful at camp, with the right supports:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Cognitive delays
- Executive functioning delays
- Mental health diagnoses, such as depression and anxiety
- OT/PT needs
- Learning disabilities
- Hearing loss
We work with parents, teachers, and other professionals on an individualized basis to determine if our program is appropriate for your child, and figure out the types of accommodations needed. Families work in partnership with our Camp Care team to ensure the camper’s success for the summer. This may include a more comprehensive intake, collaboration with professionals who work with your child, and maintaining regular communication throughout the off season as we prepare for the summer.
For more information, please reach out to Jillian, Senior Assistant Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUCI is proud to affirm campers, staff, and family members of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Every child is unique and we want to learn more about your camper so we can ensure a safe space for them to be their authentic selves at camp.
We recognize that gender is a spectrum and each summer at GUCI:
- We welcome campers and staff who are transgender and gender non-conforming.
- We place campers in housing that affirms their gender identity and allows them to experience a sense of belonging in our camp community.
- We offer all-gender community restrooms and use all-gender terminology whenever possible. For example, we have renamed our living areas as Darom and Tzafon so that bunks do not need to be identified by gender.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE TRANSGENDER?
Some children are born into the body of a boy, but in their hearts and minds they are girls. Others are born into the body of a girl, but in their hearts and minds they are boys. Those raised as boys for the first few years of their lives make it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be girls. Likewise, those that are raised as girls for the first few years of their life made it increasingly clear at a very early age that they understand themselves to be boys. Their social development and patterns are aligned with other children of their age.
WHAT ABOUT PRIVACY?
Our transgender campers and staff may choose to be private about the ways in which they are different from other children their age. At camp, we teach all of our campers and staff to have a sense of modesty and to respect one another’s privacy. We will continue to reinforce this message. Our bath houses all have stall showers, each with its own curtain. All toilets are in stalls with doors. Outside the cabin, all of our public restrooms have stalls which enable privacy around camp. Every child and staff member thus has privacy when showering, changing and using the restroom.
WILL MY CIS-GENDER CAMPER BE SCARED OR CONFUSED?
Probably not, but if they are, help them understand that this is just one of many ways in which their friends may be different from them. Try not to assume that your kids will think this is weird or confusing. They may just accept it at face value and move on. It’s a good idea to ask if they understand and if they have more questions. As always, there are staff and resources at camp for your child to turn to in times of need.
The Reform Movement’s recognition of transgender rights dates back to 1978. The Movement has an explicit policy of non-discrimination regarding transgender people and has even developed blessings for the changing of gender. Through the years, the URJ has been a fierce advocate of LGBTQIA+ rights and equality both within the Movement and in the wider community through the resolutions of the Commission on Social Action and the work of the Religious Action Center. In November 2015, the URJ adopted a movement-wide “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.” View the the full text
HOW DO I EXPLAIN TRANSGENDER CHILDREN AND GENDER VARIANCE TO KIDS?
One way to explain gender variant and transgender children/adults is to use the concept of gender being on a spectrum. Draw a line and on one end write male (or draw a male), and do the same for female on the other end of the line. Have your children list “typical boy” and “typical girl” behaviors, likes, characteristics, etc., and write them on either end. Think about the toy and clothing sections of Target! Describe how people tend to fall on the end of the spectrum that matches their body parts, but not always. You can locate, with your child, where on the spectrum some friends and family fall – what cousin is a tomboy, what male friend likes dolls, which girl friend is a “girly-girl” who doesn’t like sports, etc. Then you can say that some children have a boy’s body but inside feel far over on the female side, and some children have a girl’s body but inside feel far over on the male side. This also presents a teachable moment about gender roles in general, to teach children that there are many ways to be a girl and to be a boy.