Where is Camp Gesher located?
Like Summers 2019-2022, Camp Gesher is located at Gold Creek Center, beautifully tucked away at the foot of the magnificent mountains of the Angeles National Forest, just 20-30 minutes from the heart of the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and Santa Clarita and less than 45 minutes from the Conejo Valley and West Los Angeles. The 270+ acres include a pool, ball fields, basketball courts (indoor and outdoor), air-conditioned indoor program spaces, and the activities and fun you are used to from camp in Malibu.
Are there trips out of camp?
In a typical summer, everyone goes on trips out of camp. As campers get older, the trips get more extensive and more plentiful. Out of camp trips may be reconsidered for summer 2023, or may be modified to comply with COVID safety protocols.
How is Judaism expressed at camp?
Our Jewish program is fabulous! It is designed to be fun, interesting, child-friendly, and has multiple entry points for campers with little Jewish background. Camp-style services on Friday evening and Saturday morning are awesome, full of music, singing and spirit. Each age group has age-appropriate Russian and Jewish cultural programs: activities, games, songs, skits, etc. Camper’s have a great opportunity to connect with their Judaism in a way that has meaning for them.
How often do siblings see one another?
If they are in the same age group, siblings will see each other several times every day. If they are in different units, they will see each other a couple times a day and during mealtimes.
How big are the cabin groups?
Most cabins have between 6-12 campers and at least two full-time counselors dedicated to that cabin. Please feel free to call the registrar and find out how many campers are in the cabin with your child.
Can you tell me about your counselors?
For Camp GesheЯ, the youngest counselors must be 17, a high school graduate, and have RSJ (Russian-Speaking Jewish) roots. Most are college students. Our staff comes from North America, Europe and Israel. All are personally interviewed, references are checked, and there is a one-week orientation prior to camp. Supervisors are mature adults with supervisory experience and special training. For each staff person we verify references and run a background check.
How is the food and what food options will there be?
Our food is great! We take great pride in serving healthy and delicious food. Many of our kitchen staff have been with the camp for over a decade. Our carefully prepared menus are “kid-friendly” and varied. There is always something healthy and delicious to eat.
Breakfast always includes cold cereal and a hot entrée such as pancakes, eggs, or French toast. There is also a breakfast bar that includes an assortment of fresh fruit and yogurt. Lunch and dinner entrees include various chicken and beef dishes, and dairy meals like grilled cheese and pizza. At lunch and dinner, there is a salad bar that provides a choice for campers who are looking for something in addition to the meal’s main course. Every meal has a vegetarian meal option available. At breakfast, soy milk is part of our milk alternative options. Camp GesheЯ is a nut-free camp. We have gluten-free and dairy-free options. Special dietary needs or restrictions can be accommodated and should be communicated to the Director prior to camp. Campers are served a snack in the mid-afternoon. Additionally, fresh fruit is available throughout the day.
Can I request to be bunked with someone?
Yes. No guarantees, but almost always honored. Because we realize that camp is all about lifelong friendships, we will “move mountains” to make sure friends are together in a cabin. Please register earlier than later to avoid the issue of full cabins.
Will my child be with all new campers?
Groups are balanced to include both new and returning campers. Groups and counselor assignments are completely rearranged at the beginning of each session to avoid any disadvantage to newly arriving campers.
How do you handle homesickness?
Homesickness is natural and does occur in many new campers. We are experts at handling it. Staff is trained during orientation, and Head Counselors, who are essentially camp guidance counselors, provide professional care if needed. We work with campers to help them get past their homesickness and are successful almost every time. Part of our technique is to NOT put them in touch with their parents. We’ve found that this can greatly increase their anxiety, and typically results in the camper going home. Please read the parent handbook which has some suggestions on how to prevent homesickness before camp starts or watch our YouTube video. We will also address this topic and many more at a new family orientation.
My child has an ongoing prescription during camp. How is that handled?
If your child requires medicine to be administered during the camp, please bring the medicine to camp in the original labeled prescription container along with specific directions. Both the prescription bottle and the note must contain your child’s full name, the prescribing doctor’s name and phone number, and directions for daily usage. In order to ensure the medication is delivered to the camp office, please give it to one of the directors. Do not give the medication to your camper or a counselor. If you send medication to camp, please take responsibility for refilling the prescription yourself. Camp will not be responsible for notifying you if your prescription runs out or expires.
If your child has any special need, please notify camp as early as possible. Early notification opens up the lines of communication and allows our staff to prepare for situations or modifications, if necessary.
My child’s birthday occurs during camp. What does the camp do for birthdays?
Birthdays at camp are fantastic. Imagine celebrating your birthday with 150-200 friends. That’s what it feels like at camp. We call a camper up after dinner and sing “Happy birthday” to them. Then we give them a birthday cake and have them make three wishes. One wish for yourself, one wish for camp and one wish for the WHOLE world. (This is actually a Jewish teachable moment as Rabbi Hillel once said, “Wish for yourself but also for the whole world too.”) Afterwards, we have them skip around the dining hall with their counselors, and eventually we put them up in a chair. Most campers wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on their birthday!
What do we do with laundry?
There is no laundry service. Please pack accordingly.
Can I call or visit my child?
Sorry, camp Gesher is a “parent-free zone.” We feel that calls and visits can be disruptive to our program and the spirit of camp as an experience away from home. Many camps have the same policy. We feel that the best parts of camp are that we can focus on our deep relationships that are built free from distraction from the “outside world.” We encourage parents to write frequent letters or emails (which we print and give to the campers), and to send packages. Also, parents can always call and speak to their child’s unit supervisor. Since supervisors work are typically with kids all around camp and not in an office, the office will usually take a message and have them return the call as soon as possible.
When the campers want to communicate with you, they can do so the old-fashioned way… using pen, paper and a stamp!
Are care packages allowed?
Camp GesheЯ does not allow care packages. You are welcome to send your campers letters in the mail or take advantage of our free one-way email system to send notes to your camper.
How much spending money will my child need in camp?
None. Camp provides everything your camper will need, including snacks. Part of our goal is to treat all kids equally. A decent portion of the camp population comes on scholarship, and a “camp store or canteen” can allow some kids to spend money where others cannot. This is one of the reasons there is no place for campers to spend money while at camp. There is a camp “shuk” that is open on the last day of camp so parents can buy camp gear when they come to pick up their campers.
Who will take care of my child if she gets sick or is injured?
Camp Gesher’s medical team consists of three nurses that cover our health center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prior to camp, the health care staff reviews each of our camper’s medical history and medications. Campers who are ill are escorted to the health center by their counselor at any time. Children receive routine medications at mealtime and bedtime according to the documentation on their health history.
Parents are always notified when a child stays overnight in the health center, needs to see a specialist or needs to be started on prescription medication. The parents or emergency contact is called immediately in the event of severe injury.
That being said, we won’t call you every time your child visits the health center
Do you offer financial assistance?
Yes. Financial assistance is available. At the end of the online application, you will find a request for financial assistance application. Once your completed camper application and deposit are received, we will send you the necessary financial assistance forms. All financial assistance applications are treated confidentially and reviewed thoroughly by our scholarship committee. Financial assistance is determined by the “full picture.” For more information, please contact the camp office.