URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute is part of the Union for Reform Judaism family of camps and youth programs. OSRUI is located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and sits on over 200 acres of land adjacent to Lac La Belle — a clear inland lake over seven miles around. Over the summer, more than 1,000 campers from North America and beyond attend OSRUI. Programs start at entering second grade through high school. Campers choose from six different program units at camp and two off-camp trips, according to their main area of interest and grade level. Camp sessions range from five days to seven weeks depending on the particular session. Our oldest campers have the opportunity to bike around Lake Michigan on the Tour La’Agam program or travel to Israel on Chalutzim Ba’Aretz.

What is a typical day like at Camp? Campers enjoy the day at camp with the other kids in their unit, each of which has their own schedule. Campers participate in the following activities regularly: swimming and boating, sports (including basketball, tennis, archery, volleyball, soccer, etc.), a Judaic activity with clergy and/or educators, electives (such as horseback riding, waterskiing, drama, sailing, cooking, art, sports, nature, etc.), Hebrew, evening recreational programs, song sessions and worship services. Campers also have the opportunity to try the Alpine Tower Challenge Course (including a zip line, high ropes course, and 55-foot climbing tower), go boating, play games, participate in the creative arts, build campfires, relax, celebrate Shabbat, and make lifelong friendships. For a typical Camp schedule, click here.  To watch a video about a day in the life of an OSRUI Camper, click here.

What is the main difference between Kallah and Tzofim? Kallah and Tzofim are our programs for grade-school age campers. Kallah campers live in cabins (with a wash house attached) and eat in our dining hall. Tzofim campers live in large tents (with a cement floor and bunk beds), use port-o-potties and sinks (with a stop at a wash house each day for showers), and eat their meals outside on picnic tables. Tzofim campers also tend a garden, take care of farm animals and help prepare their group’s meals. Both programs offer the same activities including waterfront, sports, Hebrew, etc. As a general rule, campers who do better with more structure tend to do better in Kallah; campers who are more independent prefer Tzofim.  See our blog for more information.

Can my child request to be with a friend? Campers may request one or two friends of the same grade on the Bunk Request Form. There are many factors that go into creating cabin and tent groups, and we will do our best to honor mutual requests. Please note that placement requests are not guaranteed.

How Jewish is OSRUI? At OSRUI Judaism comes alive in a special way for kids. Campers come home from camp signing songs from services, sharing new Hebrew words, and with a sense of what it means to be a part of the Jewish community. We strive to infuse Jewish teachings and values into our programming throughout the day. Additionally, campers have dedicated periods in the day for Hebrew and a Jewish studies topic that is engaging and age appropriate. We have services twice a day, usually in one of our outdoor chapels at camp; services are musical, and campers have a chance to participate in the leading of services during their session.

What if I am not a member of a URJ congregation? URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute is operated under the auspices of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). While we are a Reform camp, OSRUI is a place for everyone. About 15% of our campers are not affiliated with the Reform Movement and love their summers at OSRUI too.

Campers who are not members of congregations affiliated with the URJ pay a surcharge, which will not exceed $75 per week per camper, with a maximum of $500 per family per season.

Who are the counselors/staff at Camp?   More than two-thirds of our counselors have grown up at OSRUI as campers and staff. All counselors are college age or older and are required to submit recommendations and have a personal interview before they are hired. Specialists and unit heads are highly skilled professionals who in most cases have already graduated college. An extensive training program is provided at the start of the summer season and is ongoing throughout the summer. During the summer, staff are supervised and evaluated by members of our camp leadership team, all of whom have proven experience overseeing the work of staff members. For information about being on our staff, click here.
Does OSRUI provide scholarship assistance? URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute provides “campership” assistance through our Campership Fund to those in our community in need of financial support to attend camp. Camperships are based on financial need and are determined anonymously by a committee of the Camp Board of Governors. Families should begin by speaking with their congregational clergy and educator regarding scholarship assistance from their congregation and then contact the Camp office. Applications are available around October 15th and are due by December 1st for campers registering in October or November. Scholarship forms for campers registering after December 1st are due February 1st. Campers must be registered for a session (with deposit) in order to apply. Please contact us for information on OSRUI Camperships: 847-509-0990 or osrui@urj.org. Many cities also have Jewish Federations which provide additional funds. And the Foundation for Jewish Camp provides grants to 1st-year campers spending two or three weeks or more at a Jewish overnight summer camp (go to www.onehappycamper.org for information). Please see our Tuition Assistance page for more information.
What kind of clothing or equipment should I send with my child? A packing list with everything you need will be provided in the Family Handbook (which will be on your Forms Dashboard in CampInTouch).  It is not necessary to buy new clothing for your camper.  Campers in certain sessions (Moshavah, Tiferet) will get a supplementary packing list in the spring with some additional items they will need; Campers in Tour La’Agam get a separate packing list.

How will my child’s laundry get done? Campers should pack enough clothing with them to last at least 2 weeks.  Laundry service is provided at no additional cost for campers at camp 3 weeks or long.  The laundry goes out one day and comes back the next.  Please make sure to label all of your child’s clothing and linens.

How can I get an OSRUI t-shirt for my child? OSRUI gives every camper a camp t-shirt during the summer. Other camp “gear” is sold online through our pop-up eStore a few times a year. Limited gear can also be purchased on-site at camp on pick-up days.

How will my child get to and from camp? Parents may drop off and pick up their campers at camp in Oconomowoc.  Bus service is provided for a fee from the Chicago area and the Twin Cities.  And we provide shuttle service between camp and the Milwaukee Airport.
Will my child be safe while at camp? The safety and wellbeing of our camp community is our highest priority. We have 24/7 security at camp. Our professional staff has all gone through a week-long training led by an Israeli security consulting firm and everyone on our staff has security training as part of the staff training week. OSRUI conducts regular safety and security reviews and evaluation, and we work closely with local law enforcement officials.

Does OSRUI treat the grounds for mosquitoes and ticks? OSRUI is a certified camp with Ivy Oaks Analytics for mosquito, tick and poison ivy control, implementing their most advanced program.  Ivy Oaks Analytics specializes in tick, mosquito and poison ivy control in large commercial recreation areas.  They work with more than 100 premier summer camps.  All products used are EPA Approved for summer camps; the company prefers using natural products.  Their program also includes staff education for counselors.

What about food and food allergies? OSRUI’s child-friendly menu offers campers plenty to eat.  Salad bar is available at lunch and dinner and if meat is served, there is always a vegetarian option.  See the Meals and Nutrition page for more information.

In terms of food allergies, we do not serve peanut butter at camp and we do not cook with nuts or peanuts. Peanut butter alternatives are available.  (Note:  we do have products in our kitchen at camp that are manufactured at facilities that process nuts and peanuts.)  For campers with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten products, we provide a range of gluten free food (including bread, pasta, cereal and desserts) and parents are welcome to send other foods as necessary to be stored in the kitchen. We can accommodate other food allergies as well. When registering for camp, please indicate that your child has a severe food allergy and a member of our Camper Care Team will contact you.

Is the Camp Kosher? OSRUI uses only certified Kosher meat and does not mix milk with meat. You can expect that no milk or milk derivatives will be used at a meat meal. We do not use separate dishes, cutlery, or serving pieces. A vegetarian option is available at no extra charge.

What if my child gets sick at camp? OSRUI’s modern, well-equipped Health Center is staffed by medical professionals all summer long; typically one doctor and five nurses.  They dispense medication and see campers with symptoms of illness or injury.  If your camper spends the night in the Health Center or needs to leave camp for any medical treatment, we will contact you.  You’ll be able to tell us about any health issues on the Health History Form (online – parents fill this out) and the Medical Form and Immunization History (your child’s physician fills this out).

What if my child is homesick? It’s not unusual, at any age, for new and even returning campers to miss home.  Our counselors are sensitive to campers who miss home and work hard to keep kids as busy as possible. Unit heads, faculty, and our Camper Care Team can offer support and some extra TLC as well. In most case homesickness resolves quickly.  If homesickness becomes severe and interferes with the child’s overall camp experience, we will be in touch with parents to talk about strategies.

What if my child wakes up in the middle of the night? Counselors live in the cabins with campers and are always there to offer comfort and support if a camper wakes up in the middle of the night.  At least one counselor goes to sleep at the same time as the campers (the other counselors may come to bed later) so they are never left alone.

Does my child need to be immunized? Yes, the Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty must be immunized. For more information, read the URJ 2020 Vaccine Statement.

How do you celebrate birthdays at camp? We love birthdays at camp!  They are celebrated in the unit with singing and dancing and a cake for your child’s bunk!

How will I stay in touch with my child? Campers love getting mail!  Parents can write letters, cards and postcards; in addition, they can email their camper through our camp registration system, CampInTouch.  Emails are distributed with the mail.  Campers have required letter writing days throughout their session; they can also write reply emails (you’ll be able to send your camper with special stationery), which are uploaded to your CampInTouch account.  In addition to sending stationery and envelopes, we recommend sending your camper with labels for those family and friends you want them to write.

Can I send a care package? We have found that the subject of packages, including who receives them and what is inside, has become an unnecessary source of stress and competition among our campers. While some of our campers receive many packages, some receive none at all.  The reasons vary, but it still creates a sense of “haves and have-nots.”   We have also found that while packages are sent with the best of intentions the items are often quickly discarded, forgotten, and become another source of clutter and trash.

After much consideration and following the lead of a number of other summer camps, we have decided to make a change to our policy:  Beginning Summer 2020, OSRUI will implement a no package policy.  We will continue to accept letters and flat envelopes up to and including 9 x 12 size.  For more information about the policy and what you can send to your camper, see our blog.

Can I call camp to check on my child? Parents are welcome to call camp during the summer to find out how their child is doing.  After we receive your call, a member of the Camper Care Team will check on your child and call you back within 4 hours.

Can I visit my child while they are at camp? The only visiting day at OSRUI is for our Chalutzim campers, who are at camp for 7 weeks.  During Summer 2020, Chalutzim Visiting Day is Sunday, July 12th.  We look forward to seeing parents on opening and closing days.