Throughout North America, the Ramah camping movement has flourished over the last 60 years. Ramah has helped strengthen Conservative Judaism and provide intensive leadership training for our own rabbis, cantors, educators and lay leadership, as well as the leadership of so many segments of organized Jewry here and in Israel. Now more than ever, with many challenges facing American Jewry, Ramah camping, with its proven record of success in building Jewish identity, can become a major Jewish force in the Southwest, partnering with Conservative organizations to inspire our youth.
The local Ramah Committee in Colorado, led by David Engleberg, Don Skupsky and other committed local leaders, has been searching for property for a number of years. Last May, committee members identified a site in Deckers, Colorado, and have been working tirelessly in Denver to broaden their committee and raise funds to purchase the land. During this process, the Ramah Committee and the leadership of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, together with their partners at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, which runs its own summer camp (The J-CC Ranch Camp), agreed that the JCC and Ramah would join forces to build two camps on the one new site. The cost savings for each camp will be significant, as Ramah and the JCC will jointly support the development of the site, as well as the ongoing upkeep of camp infrastructure. The two programs will remain distinct, with each camp retaining its own mission and operating its own portion of the camp site.
A joint lay committee of Colorado-based Ramah and JCC leaders has been working hard to raise money for the land purchase. The Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado has been a crucial partner. Some very generous lead gifts have helped to reach the goal of the $3.5 million needed to acquire the site. An estimated additional $15 million is required for initial site development, the next stage of the process.
The National Ramah Commission, working with the leadership of the existing Ramah camps, will decide in the coming months on the catchment area for Ramah in the Rockies. It is anticipated that a full-service Ramah camp with state-of-the-art outdoor education and equestrian programs, along with other specialized activities, will be established.
Currently, some families in Colorado and Texas send their children to Ramah camps in California, Georgia or Wisconsin. With the creation of a new, local Camp Ramah to serve these areas, the potential number of Ramah campers and staff members will soar. There is nothing as wonderful as the spirited voices of Ramah campers and staff returning to their communities.
We congratulate the local leadership of Ramah in the Rockies on this great accomplishment, and look forward to the continued development of this important venture.