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.
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, allowing them 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 and are 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. Our camp doctor is always on call.
Emotional safety is supremely important as well. Our Camper Care Team is staffed by professionally trained mental health providers, 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 at Eden Village.
My camper has food allergies. Can you accommodate them?
Our chefs work to accommodate various dietary needs including diets free of lactose, gluten, soy, nuts, and other allergens. You will have the opportunity to speak with our directors and chefs to make sure your camper’s needs are met.
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.
What are the living areas like?
We live in a beautiful dorm-style building. All rooms have sinks, closets, and built-in drawers. Bathrooms and showers are located on each hallway.
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, electronic games, e-readers, and electronic music players are not allowed. We do have recording equipment, so campers can record their own live music in groups and individually.
Is everyone Jewish at Eden Village West?
Almost all Eden Village campers and most 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.
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.
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!
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 a time called Modeh Ani (“I am grateful”) where campers get to choose between a variety of morning practice options including song session, dream sharing, spirited morning shacharit (prayer), waking up the animals on the farm, yoga, morning river mikveh and more.
Blessing food at mealtimes is also 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.
Can I come to camp with my child as a work-trade?
Maybe! We typically work-trade with parents who are Registered Nurses, Doctors, and Social Workers. 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 regardless of financial constraints. Parents who do work-trade at camp cannot live with their children, and all children must be old enough to live in a bunk with their peers. We do not have a gan (pre-school) for non-camp age children.
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.
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!
How does Eden Village celebrate my camper’s summer birthday?
Camp birthdays are always special at Eden Village. Expect honors at dinner: 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.
What if I need to reach Eden Village West 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 email@example.com.
What opportunities are there for financial support to make camp work for my family?
Our goal is that no camper is turned away for financial reasons. We accomplish this through discounts, connecting you to grants and scholarships in your community, and by providing financial assistance to ensure that camp is affordable for every family. For more information, please check out our discounts, grants & financial aid page, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to be in touch.