Camp Case: Camp Ramah in New England
By Rhonda Parker, Director of Development and Capital Campaign
About a decade ago, Harold Grinspoon came to visit Camp Ramah in New England (CRNE) in Palmer, Massachusetts - just a half-hour from Harold's home and office. CRNE was close to fifty years old at the time of Harold's visit. CRNE has long been known for its spectacular summer program that immerses young people in a warm and dynamic model of living Judaism that nurtures the next generation of educated and committed Jews. But by the time of Harold's visit, many of CRNE's older buildings and outdoor areas were in need of renovation. Also, the needs of camp had changed, and some new facilities were needed.
Beginning in 2003, CRNE participated in three generous matching programs funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). With the funds provided by HGF and the donors who participated in these programs, over several years CRNE was able to:
- Build alpine tower and climbing wall
- Renovate bunks
- Paint bunks and communal buildings
- Renovate large Bet Am Bet multipurpose building
- Make buildings handicap accessible
- Build large covered deck on lake, used for services and programs
- Renovate fields and installed sprinkler systems
- Build guesthouse
But HGF did more than provide the essential funds for these projects. With the invaluable support of HGF mentor Julia Riseman, CRNE has completed a strategic plan and is now implementing it. The camp's key staff members have become more comfortable in their fundraising roles through HGF's professional development opportunities. The technical infrastructure has been improved with the guidance of HGF tech consultants Kevin Martone and Joe Ruotolo. And CRNE launched a legacy program with David Sharken's support.
HGF's support helped CRNE to usher in a new era of vibrancy. Last summer, 740 campers - the most in at least a decade - enjoyed a summer at CRNE. In fall 2010, CRNE also launched Camp(aign) Ramah - The Campaign for Camp Ramah in New England, the most ambitious capital campaign in the camp's history. The campaign supports an exciting array of projects - encompassing both renovation and new construction - designed to improve housing, community space, and camp infrastructure. Already, the campaign has raised over $3.2 million. With these funds, CRNE has broken ground on a Bet Am Gadol, a large multipurpose building large enough for all campers to join together for theater performances and sporting events. Construction on the K'far Nivonim, a teen village for our oldest campers that also will be winterized for year-round educational programming, has also begun. Over the next several years, CRNE plans to build several other important buildings, including a new dining hall.
While HGF is not providing the funds for CRNE's current campaign, HGF helped to bring CRNE to this pivotal moment. HGF helped to "prime the pump" for an ambitious campaign that has attracted important gifts that will transform CRNE camp forever.