FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions

What's included for the price?
Are linens supplied?
Does it get cold at night?
Is there indoor plumbing?
Are there non-smoking rooms?
Are there private bathrooms?
Is the food kosher?
What if I have a special diet?
Is there an eruv?
Will there be religious services?
Is this a "religious" weekend?
What is Camp Ramah?
What should I bring?
What should I not bring?
What do people wear?
What's the age range?
Where do people come from?
Are discounts available?
Is there Internet access in camp?
  What is the weekend's history?
Why the name Wingdale University?
Where do the weekend's profits go?
Who is running the weekend?
Can couples attend?
Can I bring my children?
Can I bring my dog?
Can I just show up?
Can I come for only a day or two?
Can I suggest an activity?
Will there be mixed dancing?
How many people are coming?
What is the gender ratio?
Are there ticks at Camp Ramah?
Is there Poison Ivy at Camp Ramah?
Can you describe the various accommodations?
Is there cell phone service in camp?
What if I have another question?

What's included for the price? Your registration fee includes all lodging, food and activities (and there is no tipping). The only major item not covered is transportation to and from the camp.  Also, Camp Ramah logo'ed merchandise may for sale.

Are linens supplied? - Yes. The camp will provide a fully made bed (sheets, pillow, blanket, pillowcase), towels, toilet paper (some of you have asked!) and soap.

Does it get cold at night? Camp Ramah is located in a beautiful and pastoral area (i.e. there are farms and various small and quaint New England towns nearby) about 75 miles north of Manhattan.  It can get much colder there at night than in New York City. Since it is a summer camp, the cabins are not winterized or heated.  Extra blankets will be available. Check the weather forecast online for "Wingdale, NY" before you come to get a sense of what the weather will be like. In past years we have had Memorial Day weekends which have been quite hot and others that have not.

Is there indoor plumbing? Yes.  All cabins have indoor plumbing (toilets, sinks, and showers) with hot and cold running water.

Are there non-smoking rooms? Smoking is not permitted inside of any building in camp (most buildings are made out of wood and have wooden floors).

Are there private bathrooms? As this is a children's summer camp, there are extremely few private bathrooms in any of the bunks or cabins (including places where there are doubles and singles). While selecting a double or single does increase the likelihood that you might get one, there will be no guarantees made regarding this.

Is the food kosher? All food served is kosher and is under the supervision of the mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, the camping arm of the Jewish Theological Seminar of America. As a consequence, no (personal) food or utensils may be brought into the dining hall.

What if I have a special diet? We will easily be able to accommodate most vegetarians (make sure you indicate that you are a vegetarian on the registration form). If you have a special diet then please contact us to discuss your needs before you register for the weekend.

Is there an eruv? - Yes. There is an eruv around the camp (an eruv allows people who are strict Sabbath observers to carry on Shabbat).

Will there be religious services?  Services held daily, no waiting! Shabbat and daily services (three a day!) will be held throughout the weekend. There will be two minyans, one egalitarian and one not when possible. (There will only be a joint service on Friday and Saturday evenings.). Services are optional and may sometimes conflict with other activities.

Is this a "religious" weekend? This weekend is designed to appeal to people with a wide variety of religious backgrounds, observance levels and preferences. It should be a comfortable environment for those who attend Conservative synagogues (i.e. B'nai Jeshurun or Ansche Chesed), those who are modern orthodox (the food is kosher, there is an eruv for Shabbat and activities on Shabbat are "Shabbat friendly") and those who consider themselves not at all observant (as long as you are comfortable being at a Shabbat dinner and similar activities).  On Shabbat there will be many activities available such as swimming, basketball, softball, volleyball, and tennis.  The weekend is being run under the auspices of a summer camp that is part of the Conservative movement. Certain activities will not happen on Shabbat and (optional) religious services will be held throughout the weekend. While on Shabbat it would be considered "bad form" to blare a boom box outdoors in camp or to drive your car inside the camp, no one will stop you from listening to your iPod (and BTW, if you park your car outside of camp then that is your business). Please contact us if you have any questions.

What is Camp Ramah? - Camp Ramah in the Berkshires is one of a multiple of Ramah summer camps in North America run by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (or the University of Judaism in California for the Ramah camp located there) and is part of the Conservative Movement. There are other Ramah camps located in Latin America and Israel. For more information go to http://www.ramahberkshires.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Display.Page/page/about.cfm.

What should I bring? Sports gear (softball/baseball glove, tennis racket & balls, sneakers, etc), inline skates, bicycle, sunglasses, sunscreen, hiking boots (if you intend to go hiking), backpack for hiking, board games, bathing suit, talit (there are none in camp), prayer book with English translation (the ones in camp may not have an English translation), an umbrella (hopefully never to be needed), clothes you can layer (if it gets cold),  sleeping bag (in case it gets cold at night - Camp Ramah is in the country and the bunks are not heated - extra blankets will be available),...

What should I not bring? - Expensive jewelry (there is no place to lock up valuables), stiletto high heels (only parts of camp are paved), sport jackets, ties, suits (it's camp and we're not that formal),...

What do people wear? Camp is informal.  If the weather is warm then a T-shirt and shorts or a bathing suit is fine.  If it is cold then layer up.  Typically people get a little more dressed up on Friday evening and sometimes also on Saturday morning (but nothing too fancy). For guys who want to know what most other guys wear for Friday night services I would suggest cotton khaki type pants (or wool suit type pants) and a button down shirt.

Are discounts available? - Yes, see the Help Wanted page as well as the Rate page where group discounts are discussed.  You can even come for free if you sign up enough of your friends.

What is the weekend's history? The weekend started in 1991.  It was a small venture back then and only 55 people attended that first year.  It grew as the years went by to an attendance of about 175 people in the late 90's.  The attendance has been smaller in recent years (about 120 in recent years). We haven't kept track but we do know that there have been at least three marriages (as of January 2010) resulting from people who met at the weekend including one involving a couple who met at the 2008 weekend and another that met at the 2009 weekend. In additional a second couple who met at the 2009 weekend is now engaged.

Why the name "Wingdale University Post Graduate Seminar"? The weekend's first year (1991) was different than all others that came after it in regards to sponsorship. In 1991 Michael Brochstein rented the camp and ran the weekend as a private event.  Since the camp was not a sponsor of the weekend that year, he couldn't use the camp's name other than to say that Camp Ramah was where the event was taking place. As Camp Ramah in the Berkshires is located in Wingdale, NY, the first word of the name is obvious.  Wingdale, NY is a fairly rural small town (notice the local farms etc) and does not contain any school of higher learning beyond that of the local high school. Given the character of the town, the name Wingdale University sounded humorous as it seemed absurd on some level given the local reality.  In 1991 the weekend was called the "Wingdale University Happiness Clinic". Say what you will about the name but it seemed to sound like much more fun (and having one's tongue planted firmly in cheek) than "Just Another Singles Weekend Run By Some Guy From NYC". The main graphic element of the Wingdale University Happiness Clinic logo was an ear of corn which hopefully conveyed how corny the whole endeavor was (it was also a lot of fun!).

In 2007 when Michael Brochstein again became the Weekend's Director after a 12 year hiatus it was apparent that the weekend needed to be "rebooted".  In the mid-2000's attendance at the weekend had fallen off sharply and it was decided to both "reboot" the weekend and to give it a new name (rebranding it?) to help people realize that the weekend was going to be different than it had been in the recent past. In the intervening years (after 1991) it had simply been called simply the Memorial Day Weekend at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Michael resurrected the Wingdale University name and moved himself and everyone else who attended the weekend along, academically at least, so that now the weekend's name is the Wingdale University Post Graduate Seminar (note that the ear of corn is still in the logo). If nothing else, most people seem to like the T-Shirt which had the new logo on it (check out the nifty burgundy colored, for 2007, T-shirts with the yellow and white logo that people are wearing in the photos in the Photo Gallery). The 2011 weekend's director will be Josh Smith.

Where do the weekend's profits go? Camp Ramah in the Berkshires is a non-profit organization.  Profits (hopefully!) will help to fund the camp's activities.  To learn more about Camp Ramah please go to http://www.ramahberkshires.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Display.Page/page/about.cfm.

Who is running the weekend? The weekend will be run this year (2011) by Josh Smith. Josh worked on the weekend for the last few years as part of his fulltime job with Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.  Josh knows that there are many single Jewish people in the Greater New York City area (and in Brookline, MA among other places!) in their 30's, 40's and 50's looking for an easygoing Jewish singles weekend that offers many (all optional) activities and a great environment in a pastoral setting to hang out and meet each other. He knows it is important to make everyone feel welcome and is sensitive to the needs of people who vary from "not observant" to modern orthodox in practice.

What's the age range? In recent years guests have been in their 30's, 40's and 50's.

Where do people come from? In recent years (2007 - 2009) attendees to the weekend have come from the following states; CT, DC, FL, IL, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VA, VT.

Can couples attend? Yes. Please contact us for details.

Can I bring my children? We're sorry but we are unable to accommodate children on this weekend.

Can I bring my dog? We're sorry but we are unable to accommodate pets on this weekend.

Can I just show up? No. Walk-in's will not be allowed and will be turned away. Under no circumstances will we permit anyone who shows up without a reservation to remain in camp.  Trespassers will be escorted off of the (private) property.

Can I come for only a day or two? In general the answer is no but if you have a very special situation that makes it impossible for you to attend the entire weekend but would still like to come for a portion of it then please contact us before registering. We will try (no promises) to accommodate you.

Can I suggest an activity? Yes, suggestions are appreciated. Please contact us.

Will there be mixed dancing? We certainly hope so (though no one will be forced to).

How many people are coming? Almost everyone asks this question and the answer is that as a group singles wait until the last possible moment to sign up so it is only at the very end of registration that we really know how many people are coming. In 2007 and 2008 we had about 120 people each year.

What is the gender ratio? It is typically more equal than not. More specifically is that in most years the gender ratio is no more unequal than 55% to 45%.  Some years it is much much closer to 50-50.  In 2007 the gender ratio was 48% men to 52% women and in 2008 the gender ratio was 48.4% men to 51.6% women. If you could tell us exactly what the weather will be like on Memorial Day weekend in Wingdale (this is being written in January) then you probably know better than us what the gender ratio will be.

Are there Lyme Disease carrying ticks at Camp Ramah? - In 2007 someone found a tick on herself after getting home from the weekend. She subsequently went to the doctor, was tested for Lyme Disease and was found not to have it (not all ticks carry Lyme Disease). Since many of us do not spend extended time outside of a "concrete jungle" the following might be very relevant as a "word to the wise";

Generally a tick (which can be as small or smaller that the period in the text of a newspaper) needs to be attached to you for 24 or more hours before it will/can transmit Lyme Disease to a person (you will not sense this happening as it happens!).  If it does this then it will drop off of that person by them self.  Typically, but not always, a bulls-eye shaped rash will appear within 2 weeks and then fade. If you think you may have been bitten by a tick then it is very important to see your doctor as soon as possible.  There are antibiotics to treat Lyme Disease but it is very important to start with them as soon as possible if you have bitten by a tick.  Failure to treat Lyme disease in a timely manner can result in serious and non-trivial long term health issues. 

Just to answer a question you may have; Is Camp Ramah a hot spot of Lyme Disease carrying ticks? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that this whole part of the country is (okay, probably not Manhattan).  In 2005 there were over 5,000 reported cases of Lyme Disease in New York state (and in the state of Connecticut, whose border is 3 miles from Camp Ramah, there were 1,810 cases reported statewide in 2005, and 2,336 cases in Massachusetts).

Lastly, an anecdote; A friend of mine who lives in a well populated and typical (fairly green, not concrete) suburb of NYC has gotten Lyme Disease twice.  Each time they were treated quickly with antibiotics and they appear to be fully cured.  Since they, and many many others, live in the suburbs in this country, they will always need to be on-guard until which time a fully effective and safe vaccine for Lyme Disease is developed (there is none today but one is being worked on) or they move to Montana (which had zero reported cases of Lyme Disease reported between 1993 and 2005).

For much more information about Lyme Disease there are many resources on the web including Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyme_disease and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/Lyme/.

Is there Poison Ivy at Camp Ramah? - Yes. Poison ivy is as common at camp as it is in almost every other suburban and rural area in this country. Generally, Poison Ivy is a plant relatively low in height with "almond" shaped leaves in clusters of three (generally green) leaves. This configuration has given rise to the phrase "Leaves of three, leave them be". FWIW, the author has spent many summers and weekends at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires and has only gotten Poison Ivy once. For much more information about Poison Ivy there are many resources on the web including Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poison_ivy and the National Institutes of Health: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000027.htm.

Is there Internet access in camp? - Unfortunately the camp does not have Internet access and we know of no Internet access nearby.

Is there cell phone service in camp? - Cell phone coverage is probably not as good as wherever you are from as the camp is located in a sparsely populated rural area. Anecdotally there is some coverage from Verizon and the author (MAB) has no experience with other carriers.

Can you describe the various accommodations? There are three types of accommodations available, "Camper Cabins", "Doubles" and "Singles". A Camper Cabin is a cabin that during the normal summer season may be used to house 12 to 15 campers and counselors (and has that many beds in it).  For the Memorial Day weekend we will house only five to seven people in a cabin.  The bathrooms of Camper Cabins generally contain two showers, two sinks and two toilets and all can be used at the same time.  A Double is a room, typically in "staff" housing or a "guest cabin", in which there will be two people assigned to use during the Memorial Day weekend. A Single is similar to a Double except that only one person will be assigned to the room.  In the case of Doubles and Singles the bathroom may be private or it may be shared with others from other Singles and/or Doubles.  These bathrooms are typically one-person "full" bathrooms (with a sink, toilet and shower). When trying to imagine the accommodations please keep in mind that Camp Ramah is a children's summer camp. It is not a hotel and none of the buildings are winterized or have heat or air-conditioning. There are photos of the camp's buildings in our Photo Gallery.

More questions: Contact us!

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