Tawonga Summer Program FAQs

We hope the FAQs below help to answer your questions about Tawonga’s upcoming season. This page provides our best answers at this time. We will keep content on this page up to date and our Camp families closely informed. 


 Registration & Programs

🗓️ Registration and program dates

Registration is Now Open to the Public!

✔️ Who’s Eligible? Anyone! Open to the entire community
✔️ New to Tawonga? Get started here.
✔️ Returning to Tawonga? Get started here.

Click here for 2024 registration FAQs including details about the registration process and financial assistance.

Visit www.tawonga.org/dates-rates to view 2024 program dates.

❓ Why did you change the Camp schedule from previous years?

In the past five years, we have seen a significant increase in demand for three week programs. Additionally, we have found that high school-aged campers often need to return to school earlier than other students due to sports, leadership commitments, and orientation. In order to simultaneously meet our community’s requests for more three week programs and to accommodate the most campers at Camp, we are offering two identical 3-week programs, three 2-week programs, two weeklong opportunities to get a Taste of Camp, two teen leadership programs, multiple Adventure Quests and a wonderful lineup of adult and family weekends. Learn more about 2024 program offerings here.

🌲 Adventure Quests

Check out questions specific to Quests here. We are offering a full slate of Quest trips – click here to learn more.

🏳️‍🌈🏕️ All-Gender Cabins

In 2024 we are pleased to offer all-gender cabins for rising 8th-9th graders during Session 2 (June 16-July 5) and for rising 9th-10th graders during Session 3 (July 7-26). If there is sufficient interest in other sessions or amongst other age groups, we will consider adding additional all-gender cabins as well. We have found that there is a lot of interest in all-gender cabins for the older campers and currently not enough demand to warrant offering all-gender cabins for rising 2nd through 6th graders. However, ALL of our counselors are trained on how to create a safe and welcoming space for campers of all genders in EVERY cabin.

If you have any questions, please email shoshie@tawonga.org.

Click here to learn more.

🌟 Teen Leadership Institute

Teen Leadership Institute (TLI) is a bridge between the traditional Tawonga camper experience and 12th grade staff in-training program. This unique program will enable teens to take the Tawonga mission on the road and then return to Camp to give back as leaders.

Participants in TLI will fly together to Portland, Oregon and will engage in leadership development, community building, and adventures as they travel from Portland to the Eastern Sierras and then to Tawonga. For more information about the program, click here.

General Summer Camp Questions

💖 Are Tawonga staff prepared to work with my child’s needs?

Yes! We carefully train our staff to meet your child’s social, emotional, recreational and physical needs. We know how to treat each child as a precious individual, and, at the same time, facilitate the kind of immersive group living and bonding experiences for which Tawonga is renowned. Each session, a total of nearly 200 counselors, supervisors, specialists and support staff serve 300 children — a staff to camper ratio that ensures excellent, dedicated care. The minimum certification for any Tawonga staff member working with children is CPR and First Aid, and Wilderness Leaders are certified as Wilderness First Responders.

If you have any questions about specific accommodations that your child might need, you may email Ashley Costello, Senior Director of Camper Care at ashley@tawonga.org or Shoshie Flagg, Director of Family Engagement at shoshie@tawonga.org.

💬 My kid is nervous about going to Camp, do you have any advice?

This is common! Click here for tips to prepare your child for Camp.

Join an orientation session in the spring for parents to learn more about what to expect and get questions answered.

Access your program roster by logging to your CampInTouch account or Campanion app. Click “Forms & Documents” and then click to download. You can use this to connect with other families in your area before the session to set up some meetups.

Join an optional parent’s Facebook group to engage with fellow Camp parents in your child’s session, ask other parents questions and set up playdates (not applicable for SCIT and TLI teen programs). Find session specific links to join here.

For new families interested in checking out Tawonga before sending your child to Camp:

  • Join an at-Camp tour over Memorial Day Weekend, offered May 26, 2024. Click here or email registration@tawonga.org to sign up.
  • Join our Spring Family Retreat: May 3-5! We are thrilled to introduce this “pre-camp visiting weekend” – a  special program that will give you an opportunity to spend time in nature connecting with your family, making new friends, celebrating Shabbat and getting a taste of Tawonga. With your family as your “bunk” you’ll go on a camp tour, participate in an at-camp Q&A, make special pre-camp art projects, and more. This program is excellent for first time campers and their families. Space is limited!

If you have further concerns and want to brainstorm ways to prepare your child for Camp, email info@tawonga.org to schedule a call with a director. We’re happy to help!

Having cold feet and considering canceling?

Before making the decision to cancel your child’s registration, please call us! We see our role as a partnership with you and want to ensure we provide you the support you need to navigate feelings of nervousness. It is normal for children to feel mildly anxious or apprehensive about Camp, especially if they’re going away for the first time (though we know that even seasoned campers have these feelings from time to time). We’d love to make a plan with you to avoid your child missing out on a transformative camping experience, if possible!

🏠 Missing home & missing your camper

Missing home

Coming to Camp may bring up feelings of “homesickness.” We consider this a normal, healthy occurrence for children, and refer to this as “missing home” to help disassociate missing home from a sickness. Counselors are trained to be aware of each child’s moods and emotional adjustment. If a child is missing home, our counselors will listen empathically, try to help the child understand that these feelings are natural, and then encourage them to get involved in cabin activities because having fun and making friends are the best remedies for missing home. Experience tells us that within two or three days the camper will be busy having fun with new-found friends and their counselors. If needed, your child’s bunk counselor will get additional help from unit heads, inclusion counselors, camp therapists and directors. If your child is missing home intensely, we will reach out to you to brainstorm together the best ways to support them. We are ready!

Some parents receive a “homesick letter” from their child within the first few days of a session. These letters may range from saying “I’m homesick, come get me” to “Camp isn’t any fun!” What should you do if this happens? First of all, don’t panic. The letter most likely was written within the first 24-48 hours of arriving at Camp.  By the time you receive the letter your child has probably already adjusted to Camp and is having a good time. We strongly encourage you to write an encouraging letter or email right away. If you receive a second letter that sounds unhappy, call us at 415.543.2267; we will follow up with our staff at Camp and let you know how your child is doing within 24 business hours. Our staff are trained to provide loving care and support for your child, prioritizing their physical, mental and emotional well-being. You will be contacted if your child is struggling with missing home for an extended period of time.

Missing your camper

Sometimes a child’s departure for summer camp can also produce feelings of anxiety for a parent. While campers may feel “homesick,” some parents feel “campersick.” This is a normal part of your family’s summer-camp experience. We encourage you to project confidence and excitement to your child as they prepare for Camp, even though you may feel nervous or anticipate missing your child. Often a child’s attitude about leaving home mirrors the attitude of their parents. You can contribute to the success of your child at Camp by encouraging the camper to have a great time. During the course of the summer, we invite you to embrace the concept of a healthy separation, the belief that no news is good news, and the beauty that your child is going to have the time of their life!

💧🛏️ Bed wetting

Each child develops at their own pace, and we know that for some campers bed wetting can be a challenge. We handle bedwetting sensitively and confidentially, with an individualized proactive plan that allows campers to feel comfortable while at Camp. Typically, we implement a plan that includes having an extra sleeping bag in a cabin for sporadic bedwetting, and a pull-up plan for campers who wet the bed nightly. If your child needs a bed wetting plan to be put into place, please call our office at 415.543.2267 and speak with a director.

🆕 New campers

My child has never been to Camp and doesn’t know anyone. Is this typical?

Yes! Every session has a mix of new and returning campers. Tawonga has built its reputation as a warm, welcoming place for every child by paying careful attention to the emotional experience of each camper. We create a non-competitive environment in which there is no hierarchy between kids. Our group-centered philosophy brings kids of diverse experiences and backgrounds together and facilitates deep and lasting friendships. Remember, everyone has a first summer at camp.

How do I know which program is best for my child?

Each of our programs is grounded in our deep-rooted traditions and mission-based philosophy. Sessions at our Yosemite location offer the quintessential “camp” experience, including hiking, swimming, boating, campfires, sing-alongs and arts and crafts in a group-centered environment. Our Adventure Quests take Camp on the road for the ultimate adventure-based road trip.

Whether your child attends a week of summer camp or three weeks on an Adventure Quest, our staff will provide a safe environment for campers to feel great about themselves while deepening their independence, exploring Judaism in a beautiful, natural setting and developing a sense of belonging in our warm, inclusive community.

Typically, the best indicator of how much time away is appropriate is the child; a desire to go away to camp is an excellent place to start. For some, sleepovers and time away from home is still new, and one or two weeks can be a good start. For others with more comfort and/or experience being away, or for those with a heightened sense of adventure, programs lasting two weeks or longer will be a good fit.

Remember that it’s normal for campers (and their parents!) to feel nervous about being away from home, and this is a natural part of the overall camp experience.To discuss your child’s particular needs, please call our office to speak with a director. We’re happy to help!

📚 Information sessions and orientations

Click here for more information and to RSVP for upcoming information sessions and orientations.

🏕️ Cabin life

Tawonga offers boys cabins, girls cabins, and all-gender cabin options. Click here to learn about cabin life at Camp including physical cabin and bathroom details, days spent with the cabin group, cooperation amongst bunkmates, cabin assignments and inclusivity.

🚌 Transportation

Families have a few options for getting campers to and from Camp depending on their enrolled program. Options include charter buses, driving to/from Camp with family or carpooling with another family attending the same session.

Click here for more information about transportation.

👀 Can parents visit Camp?

We do not allow family members to visit campers while they are attending a session. This would interfere with you and your child making a healthy separation, which is a big part of the way kids gain confidence, independence and maturity at Camp.

However, your whole family can visit Camp in the following ways:

  • Join a Family Camp weekend program at Tawonga to meet our wonderful staff, see our beautiful property and get a taste of the Tawonga experience.
  • Sign up for a tour of Camp with one of our directors during our Memorial Day Weekend on May 26, 2024.
  • Join our Spring Family Retreat: May 3-5! We are thrilled to introduce this “pre-camp visiting weekend” – a  special program that will give you an opportunity to spend time in nature connecting with your family, making new friends, celebrating Shabbat and getting a taste of Tawonga. This program is excellent for first time campers and their families.

✡️ Judaism at Camp

Judaism is infused into daily life at Camp, from the Hebrew blessings we sing at every meal to the mindful way that we treat each other, rooted in Jewish values, to rich Shabbat celebrations. Your child’s Jewish experience will come through exploring Jewish values, customs and traditions. The approach to the Jewish experience at Tawonga is a joyful blend of culture, ritual, inclusion and inviting campers to experience spiritual and Jewish moments that resonate personally with them.

Tawonga campers include kids who are highly affiliated with their Jewish communities (through synagogue, JCC, or day school), kids for whom Tawonga is their primary Jewish experience, kids from interfaith families and kids who are not Jewish. They all share great Jewish experiences because we offer – and never force – a positive, fun, inspirational and uplifting “buffet” of Jewish experiences.

Shabbat is a highlight at Camp during our 2+ week programs, starting with a delicious Friday night dinner followed by joyful singing and dancing. Kabbalat Shabbat and Saturday morning Torah services are held outdoors against the gorgeous backdrop of tall trees, blue skies and the Tuolumne River. Your child will come home with a new appreciation for the beauty of our Jewish heritage and a deepened sense of pride in their own identity.

Whether your family attends synagogue regularly or never at all, Tawonga is a warm and welcoming Jewish home for your child. You can learn more about Tawonga’s approach to Judaism and spirituality here.

🍲 Meals

Our meals are served family-style and are nut-free and kosher style. Our Alternative Foods kitchen ensures we have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available at every meal and are able to accommodate a variety of food allergies. Our food is prepared fresh on-site and is both delicious and nutritious. In addition to our main meal, we always have options available for picky eaters like hot and cold cereal at breakfast, a sandwich and salad bar at lunch and dinner, plain pasta, string cheese, and other kid favorites. We will work with your child to ensure even the pickiest eaters never go hungry and there is always something they like to eat available to them at each meal.

After a few seasons eating outdoors in a dining pavilion due to COVID-19, starting in 2024, meals will once again be served inside of our newly expanded dining hall!

Learn more about food and nutrition at Camp here.

⏰ Daily schedule

Click here to see an example of a typical day at Camp this summer.

📱🚫 Technology policy

Camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to unplug from technology and develop deep relationships and communication skills without distractions. Tech gadgets compete with the immersive experience that sleep-away camp creates for the campers. In addition, devices have a way of getting lost, broken, and unfortunately, sometimes even stolen at Camp.

Please do not allow your child to bring electronic items to Camp. This includes, but is not limited to the following: cell phones/smart phones, iPods, laptops, electronic games, DVD players, electronic readers and cameras with internet-uploading capability.

🎉 Birthdays

Birthdays at Camp are very special. Our counselors will spend the day giving the camper opportunities to be celebrated, culminating with a community-wide birthday “schtick” and singing of Happy Birthday. Please note that we are only able to celebrate birthdays that occur during the session your child is attending. Click here to learn more about birthdays at Tawonga.

🥾 Backpacking & day hikes

All campers get to experience Yosemite National Park or Stanislaus National Forest with our highly trained and certified wilderness leaders. Campers attending for one week go on a day hike, and campers in our 2+ week long sessions participate in an overnight backpacking or camping trip.

🎒 Packing

Click here for packing lists and other helpful resources.

Laundry: Laundry is done once during two week programs and twice during three week or longer programs. Laundry will NOT be done during the one-week sessions, except in extenuating circumstances.

Bedding: Each cabin contains twin-sized bunk beds with thin mattresses. We recommend your child bring a fitted twin-sized sheet, top sheet, and sleeping bag to Camp (rated at 20 degrees or below), as well as a pillow and pillow case. Some campers choose to bring a heavy blanket to use in the cabin and save their sleeping bag for the overnight trip (for sessions that are two or more weeks).

Luggage: We recommend you pack two mid-sized duffel bags, one that contains the camper’s clothing items and one that contains bedding, towels, etc. to make the unpacking process easier. Space inside the cabins is tight, and we do not recommend hard-sided trunks. Each camper has two small shelves in cabin cubby storage systems, as well as space underneath the twin-sized bunk beds (roughly 16” x 75”, shared by two children).

📬 Mail

Children love receiving letters from home while at Tawonga, and it is essential that your child receive letters from you. Please write as soon as your child leaves for their session (or in the few days leading up to their departure) and continue writing one to three times each week. Please do not send mail in the last three days of any program, since it will not arrive in time for your child to receive it. We encourage campers to write regularly — though, not hearing from a camper often means that they are too busy having fun to write!

Tawonga does not allow care packages. Believe it or not, an old-fashioned letter is often the most treasured gift received by children in the Camp setting. We encourage you to write letters to your child frequently, taking into account that it can take three to five days for mail to arrive in a bunk’s mailbox (from the Bay Area).

Tawonga also utilizes a one-way email system for parents and loved ones to send messages to campers. Emails are sent using electronic “CampStamps,” which are available for purchase within your CampInTouch account. These messages can be sent through your CampInTouch account (where you register and complete camper forms) or through the Campanion app.

Learn more about one-way emails and how to access Tawonga’s mailing address here.

📸 Summer camp updates & photos

During your child’s summer camp session, you will have the opportunity to follow along and catch a glimpse of their Tawonga experience through photos posted in your CampInTouch account and Campanion app as well as through blog posts on Tawonga’s website. The goal of these touch points is to provide some assurance and comfort that your child is safe and having a good experience, to help you better understand how your child is spending their time at Camp, and lastly, to offer a peek into the Tawonga magic and our mission in action.

Over 300 campers attend each session, and we only have one summer blogger/photographer to capture it all. Our intention with the photos and the blog is to capture authentic Tawonga moments while still providing an unplugged, immersive experience for campers. We are only able to guarantee that you’ll see a couple of pictures of your child per week – and one of those instances will be in a group bunk photo. It’s possible you’ll see more photos of them, but we appreciate your understanding of these intentional expectations. More info on Camp photos, Campanion, blog and more here

Adventure Quests

Due to the nature and structure of Adventure Quests, we will not post Quest content on Campanion or CampInTouch. Instead, Quest families will receive an email following the Quest program with a link to an album of photos. Following some Quests, we will post Quest content on Tawonga’s blog, in which case those Quest families will receive a link to the blog via email.

Health & Safety

🦠 What resources does Tawonga have in place to respond to illness at Camp including COVID-19?

  • The safety of our community is our top priority. Our fully-equipped health center is staffed 24 hours a day. Our medical team includes a doctor, nurses, and medical assistants. Our volunteer physicians rotate throughout the summer, and specialize in emergency medicine, pediatrics, or family medicine.
  • Tawonga works closely with our Health and Wellness Committee, a team of experts who advise us on a variety of health-related topics in order to keep our health center up to date on best practices.
  • We built a brand new Health Center completed in 2021 with upgraded amenities to better meet our campers’ health needs. This facility includes numerous isolation rooms to use as needed. We also have additional spaces available for isolation if necessary.

💉 Vaccinations

Every child must be up-to-date on the standard childhood vaccinations in order to attend Tawonga: polio series, measles, mumps, rubella and tetanus toxoid. Tawonga strongly encourages being up to date on the COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations as well as having a negative TB test within the past 24 months. If your child has not been vaccinated, please contact our San Francisco office to speak with a director.

🌡️ Arrive Healthy

To keep all illnesses out of Camp, children must arrive healthy. Please let us know by calling or emailing the San Francisco office if your child is experiencing any symptoms – even if they are testing negative for COVID – so we can figure out the best way to get them to Camp safely. If you’ve been sick in the week leading up to Camp with a virus (COVID or any other virus that causes fever, a very runny nose, congestion, stomach virus symptoms, cough, aches, etc.), please contact our office for next steps. We may ask families to delay the start of Camp if they have been sick. Your cooperation and partnership will support the health and safety of our entire Camp community.

🏥 Illness at Camp

Tawonga has worked closely with our Health and Wellness Committee to minimize the spread of illness at Camp. We do everything we can to prevent illness from entering Tawonga by asking families to have children arrive healthy. At Camp we promote good hygiene by ensuring campers wash their hands frequently throughout the day and go to the Health Center if they aren’t feeling well.

If campers do come down with a fever, more serious cold, upper respiratory infection (COVID or otherwise), stomach virus, or anything that causes them to need to spend the night in the Health Center, we will help them rest and recover until they are better, and their parents will be contacted.

When campers are feeling better, 24 hours fever-free and on the mend, they may rejoin their bunks. In some scenarios, campers may be well enough to be released from the Health Center but still have mild, lingering symptoms. Based on the discretion of the Head Nurse and volunteer doctor, campers may spend a couple nights sleeping on the porch of their cabin and/or masking inside of their bunk to help prevent their bunkmates from getting sick.

This plan was created by the Health and Wellness Committee in alignment with current standards, recommendations, and caseload statistics, and like everything we do, with the experience and safety of the children centered in our thinking.

📞 How will you keep us up to date on the health and wellbeing of our children?

We will call you if your child is ill or having difficulties adjusting to Camp. Otherwise, no news is good news! You are welcome to reach out to us for an update on how your child is doing by contacting us at info@tawonga.org or calling our San Francisco office at 415.543.2267. We will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours during normal business hours. You are also welcome to follow the blog for updates from Tawonga – subscribe here.

💕 Mental/emotional health support and programming

We are prepared and ready to support campers with their mental health. Our counselors go through a week long training which prepares them to handle situations that may arise. This includes a training from our therapists around supporting campers’ mental health. In addition, we have a team of inclusion counselors, unit heads, directors and therapists that are ready to support as needed.

Some children will meet with a Camp therapist during their stay at Camp if we think it will help them have a more positive experience. If your child is currently seeing a therapist, please fill out the Consent to Release Confidential Information form located in your CampInTouch account or Campanion app. If your child is seeing a mental health professional at home on a regular basis, we encourage and support kids having a Zoom or phone therapy session with their own therapist. If you have any questions regarding the Camp therapists or other mental health supports available at Camp, please contact the San Francisco office before your child’s program begins.

We are committed to creating a physically and emotionally safe Camp experience for your child(ren) this summer!

🔥 What precautions has Tawonga taken to protect Camp from wildfires?

Tawonga has spent over a million dollars on fire prevention on our property in the last decade. We remove dead and fallen trees and brush annually through prescribed burns, reducing fuel load and increasing defensible space. We have our own wells and water tanks and store a million gallons of water on site for fire fighting. Our lake can be used as a dip site. Our property is inspected annually by CALFIRE. The CALFIRE Division Chief in the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit told us that he wishes everyone managed their property as well as Tawonga does.

In addition, Tawonga has undergrounded all of our PG&E electrical wires.

🌬️ What plans are in place in the case of a nearby fire or unhealthy air quality during a Camp program?

  • Tawonga has developed guidelines that follow both the EPA’s and the Tuolumne County Health Department’s recommendations for when to limit activities based on air quality.
  • Tawonga’s Dining Hall has been upgraded to allow cooling and air filtration and can be used to shelter in place during poor air quality events.
  • When air quality is unhealthy, we are prepared to take the following actions: monitor campers, modify activities, cancel outdoor activities that require heavy exertion, shelter in place in the Dining Hall, and consider evacuation.

🔒 What is security like at Camp Tawonga?

  • Camp Tawonga places the safety and security of our campers and staff as our top priority. We follow a comprehensive set of best practices to create a safe environment, which includes thorough background checks for staff, robust emergency protocols, and regular training in safety procedures.
  • We have well-established emergency protocols in place to address a variety of situations, including medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other unforeseen events. These protocols are regularly reviewed and updated to align with the latest best practices in emergency management.
  • The physical site at Camp Tawonga is equipped with appropriate security measures to protect campers and staff. Access to the camp is controlled, and perimeter security measures are in place. These measures are continually assessed and updated as needed.
  • In addition, Tawonga’s site is not easily identifiable as Jewish. There is nothing in our name or in our facility that identifies us as Jewish, and our location is remote and largely unmarked.

Weekend Programs


Weekend offerings

In 2024, we will be offering nine Family Camp weekends! Our weekend family programs are designed to combine all the best parts of a summer session at Tawonga into an extended three or four day weekend for the whole family! We welcome infants through grandparents for a unique blend of classic Camp activities, campfires, song sessions, a festive Shabbat celebration, family bonding and fun!

In addition to these programs we will be running a NEW Spring Family Retreat (a fun pre-camp visiting weekend for first time campers and their families) and our Spring Service Weekend, Women’s Weekend, Men’s Weekend, Divorce and Discovery and Teen Winter Retreat programs.

Click here to see dates and rates.

Can I sign up with another family?

You can try to register for the same weekend with friends. However, we can not guarantee you will get into the same weekend. We have limited spaces and want to make it fair for everyone.

Each family needs to register separately. The only exception to this rule is that additional adult family members, such as an uncle or grandparent, can be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.

An au pair or nanny can also be added to your registration. They will be housed in your cabin.

Family Camp FAQs

Click here for more Family Camp specific FAQs. You can also see an overview of all weekend programs here.

Financial Information

Cancellation policies

See our 2024 cancellation policies here.

Trip insurance

We know that Camp is a financial commitment and trip insurance is a great way to mitigate financial risk for families who want that extra layer of protection. To receive the full benefit of the insurance and to ensure you are covered for as many possible coverages within the policy, most plans require that you purchase the insurance within 15 days of making your first payment. In the case of Camp Tawonga, your first payment is your deposit.

It is important to read trip insurance policies before purchasing them; many do include COVID-19 and other medical coverage. It is also critically important to review the policy exclusions to make sure you understand what the policy does not cover. Camp Tawonga is not offering or endorsing specific policies. Below are some websites that offer comparisons of the wide range of trip insurance products:





Financial assistance

We know the cost of Tawonga’s programs might feel intimidating, and we are committed to ensuring that participating in our programs is an option for all individuals and families, regardless of financial constraints. Due to increasing operating costs annually, Tawonga has to increase our rates incrementally each year. Our financial assistance program helps ensure that campers, adults and families from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and circumstances can experience the transformative Tawonga mission.

We offer a wide range of need-based assistance and need-blind grants, as well interest-free payment plans. In 2023, nearly 30% of all Tawonga program participants received financial assistance. We encourage anyone, regardless of their income, to apply for financial assistance if the cost of Camp feels out of reach this year. Read our new Demystifying Financial Assistance Guide and learn more about our financial assistance program here.

Does applying for financial assistance affect my chances of getting into Camp?

No! Our financial-assistance process is kept entirely confidential and separate from the randomized registration mechanism. We encourage anyone, regardless of their income, to apply for financial assistance if the cost of Camp feels out of reach this year. Families who participate in our financial assistance program will have 14 days from the date of their final award to accept the award or cancel and be eligible for a full refund, less the non-refundable deposit.

Camp Tawonga’s Approach to Israel

Tawonga fosters a culture of unconditional love, support and inclusion. The Israel-Hamas war has sparked strong emotions. We are heartbroken over the ongoing loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives and are praying for peace and for the swift return of the remaining hostages in Gaza. Recent tensions within our community are compelling us to clarify that as a Jewish camp, Tawonga has a long and cherished relationship to Israel – to Israelis, to its culture and language and to the rich diversity of Israel’s people – and this will continue. Click here to read Tawonga’s statement affirming Tawonga’s mission in this moment and our approach to Israel for campers. Read on for commonly asked questions on the topic.

Israel Programming

We will continue to run impactful Israeli-inspired programming, as we have in past summers. Campers will have the opportunity to learn Israeli dance and music, make foods popular in Israel (think shakshuka!), learn about the country’s geography, learn some Hebrew and phrases in other languages spoken in Israel, learn about the diverse groups of people living in Israel through multiple narratives and more.

We will hold new family orientations via Zoom in the spring to answer general questions about Camp and share more details about our Israeli-inspired programming and approach to Israel.

Summer Staff & Personal Politics

All hired staff are required to uphold a clear code of conduct that includes keeping personal political beliefs private (along with other private matters). All staff will understand Tawonga’s relationship with Israel and will not discuss their political views with campers. Staff will remain focused on delivering transformative, mission-centered experiences throughout the summer and supporting the mental and physical well-being of every camper.

Shlichim (Israeli staff) & Staff Dialogue About Diverse Views on Israel

Part of the camper experience is understanding Tawonga as part of a “global Jewish family,” which includes Israel. One way that we foster a connection to the culture and people of Israel is through bringing Israeli staff (“Shlichim”) to work at Camp as part of our summer staff. Tawonga has brought Shlichim to Camp for 40 years.

All hired staff will need to understand that to work at Tawonga, they must live in a cooperative community with all members of the community, which includes our Shlichim. “I respect my colleague” is a fundamental expectation of all hired staff – it’s covered in the interview, training and throughout the summer. During staff training, we will provide workshops focused on respectful dialogue across differences, active listening and non-violent communication skills. We will also create opportunities for dialogue so that staff who feel the need to share their viewpoints with other staff can opt in to doing so in a facilitated manner.

Tawongans4Palestine Group

The Tawongans4Palestine group is a private coalition of individuals that does not represent Tawonga. This group has organized a petition calling for Tawonga to call for a ceasefire. On December 15, 2023, we clarified on Tawonga’s social media channels that these individuals do not represent Camp Tawonga, even if they use “Tawongan” in their language.

Why isn’t Tawonga calling for a ceasefire?

Camp Tawonga is not a public policy or advocacy organization. Camp Tawonga does not make public statements that advocate on issues of public policy (political issues that are the authority of local, state, national or government decisions/legislation). Thus, Tawonga will continue to focus on planning and running our mission-centered programs.

Tawonga cares deeply about Israelis and Palestinians. We are heartbroken over the loss of life in this war and pray for the swift return of remaining hostages in Gaza. Tawonga wants peace and safety for people in Israel, Gaza and surrounding areas.

Additional Questions?

We know this is a lot of information to take in, and we are here to support you! Feel free to email info@tawonga.org or call us at 415.543.2267 to speak with a member of our year-round team. We’re happy to help!

New enrolled families are also invited to join an orientation to meet with Tawonga directors and ask specific questions. Learn more and RSVP here.

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