Our campers start at age 9; our oldest campers, at 15 & 16, are Counselors-In-Training (CITs.) Many are from New York; most are from the east coast; but we have groups of children from the west coast and always have some international children.
Camp Kinderland was founded in 1923 as a secular Jewish camp, and more than half of our children are Jewish or have one Jewish parent. Camp is completely secular with no religious observances or rituals of any kind. We are also a relatively diverse community, that diversity embracing race, nationality and sexual orientation, celebrated through the culture of the camp in its bunk names, arts projects, folksongs and festivals and overall camp philosophy.
Most of our campers come back year after year—more than 85% of eligible campers return. That said, Kinderland is extremely welcoming to new campers, even those who are older, and our staff are conscientious about integrating newcomers.
We generally have 165-185 children in camp at any one time, for sessions lasting 2 weeks (for 1st time younger campers), 3 weeks in August, 4 weeks in July, or the full 7 weeks. They are grouped based on their birthdates, with approximately 10 – 16 children in a bunk, usually two bunks (one girl’s, one boy’s) in a group. Boys and girls generally do all activities together.
Camp Kinderland has an 8 bed infirmary staffed at all times by two live-in nurses. We have a decades-long relationship with a pediatric group in Great Barrington, Mass., and with Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington and Winsted Memorial in Winsted, CT. Camp has a dedicated driver for doctor’s visits. Camp nurses dispense all daily medications at the dining room or between meals as needed, and will be in contact with families of any child who needs medical care outside of first aid and minor medical situations,
Children are responsible for keeping their cabins and areas clean, but a maintenance crew follows up on a regular schedule with more substantial cleaning. All cabins have indoor plumbing, hot water and electricity. Counselors monitor tooth brushing and hand washing, and campers have showers on their scheduled programs to make sure younger campers in particular shower regularly. A camp mom or dad “inspects” the bunks every day, checks the clotheslines, re-distributes lost and found items, and pays special attention to health and hygiene issues among the younger campers. Laundry is sent out once each week.
The Camp Kinderland dining room offers a generally kid-friendly menu. Breakfast is a hot entrée (pancakes, French toast, eggs) with hot and cold cereal available and items like yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit and granola on the breakfast bar. Lunch may be sandwiches, salads, tacos, pizza, mac and cheese, etc., again, salad bar supplements like soup, fresh vegetables, fruit, etc. Dinner might be a stir-fry, burgers, pasta, chicken, etc., with supplementary salad bar. Approximately 1/3 of the campers and staff are vegetarians, so a vegetarian entrée is available at every meal. Our kitchen works hard to accommodate many special diets and allergies: gluten free, vegan, kosher, lactose intolerant, soy or rice milk, nut allergies, etc.
Camp Kinderland has consistently met all requirements of the Massachusetts and Tolland Boards of Health, and is regularly inspected by and monitored by the local Fire Department and Electrical Inspector. There is huge overlap with American Camping Association standards and therefore we have not sought ACA accreditation.
Kinderland’s program is based on a social group model; children travel with their age groups through most activities and through that model form exceptionally strong relationships with campers, counselors and supervisory staff in their groups. The daily program exposes children to skills-building workshops (arts and crafts, swim instruction, sports, folkdance, drama, singing, nature, hikes, low ropes, etc.) taught and supervised by specialists, where they may experience activities they might not ordinarily try or pursue. There is also time in each day for electives, where campers choose a more intensive involvement with the activities they especially like: sports clinics, special art projects, cooking, hiking, guitar or other musical instrument practice and jamming, and other electives limited only by the abilities and imaginations of our staff and special guests. Every group goes on at least one out-of-camp trip planned specifically for his/her age group, and progressively longer for older campers. There are also many shorter out-of-camp excursions: overnight hikes and sleepouts, berry-picking, amusement parks, state forests, rainy-day bowling and movies trips, etc. Every group has a certain amount of built in supervised free time, where children can rest, relax, enjoy group games and bunk time.
Camp Kinderland was founded in 1923 by Jewish activists and socialists as a retreat for their children from the tenements of NYC. While Kinderland is not affiliated with any political party or organization, it remains true to the vision of its founders. Kinderland campers encounter ideals of social justice and peace. History, culture, activism and concern for the world are integrated naturally and easily into the regular camp program. Kinderland campers might find themselves singing “This Land Is Your Land,” or a Yiddish labor song; they might tie dye a t-shirt or paint a mural about Democracy; they might write and perform a satire about bunk life, or a play about putting an end to war. They might commemorate resistance in the Holocaust or on The Underground Railroad. At Kinderland it is okay to think, to care, to question and to act. There is nothing quite like it; and it works because the values of community and culture, of justice and righteousness, are inextricably integrated with the friendship, the joy, the beauty, the sheer fun and adventure, of life at sleepaway camp.
Many families drive their children to camp. There is also a camp bus that leaves from, and returns to, the Bronx at the start and end of each session. Special arrangements can be made to meet campers at Bradley International Airport.
The best way to communicate with campers is by regular old fashioned mail. Nothing beats getting a LETTER! That said, many parents choose to send emails through the camp office, which are printed and placed, like letters, in the bunk mailbox. However, children are not able to send email, so please send them with writing materials, envelopes and stamps.
For the first week of camp we discourage phone calls home, to give campers a chance to acclimate and adjust to life at camp. After that, campers may make up to 2 calls a week during free time after dinner.
If a child is extremely homesick or having other significant issues in the first few days at camp, chances are we will be on the phone to you seeking guidance and possibly engaging you in the adjustment process. And, if you must speak to your child because of a family issue or emergency, while we cannot bring a child to the phone immediately, the office will make every attempt to locate your child and bring him or her to the phone to receive a phone call at a prearranged time.
Cell phones, electronic games, and other electronics are not permitted in camp for reasons explained in detail in the information packet sent to all registered families. Food packages are discouraged, and guidelines for packages that explain our camp philosophy are also provided in the pre-registration period.
Visiting Day is always on the third Saturday of the July session.
Tuition for Camp Kinderland averages $1025 per week, $925 per week for 7-weekers.
There is a $250 discount for each additional child per family registering for 7 weeks; $150 for 3 or 4 weeks. Additional fees include $35 each way bus fee for campers on the camp bus; trip fees of $75 – $425 depending on camper’s age and length of out-of-camp trip.
CIT’s (campers 15 & 16 years old) register at special rates.
All families are eligible for payment plans to help manage camp tuition. Partial scholarship is available and is awarded according to need, as determined by family circumstances and review of current tax returns. Contact Mike@Kinderland.org to request a scholarship application.
Additional questions? Please don’t hesitate to call/contact us!