Open and Safe

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Camp Harlam – Open & Safe

At the core of a successful camp experience for any child is their well-being. Each child should feel that they belong, are included, and bring value to the community. To achieve this takes intentional thought and action. The leadership of Camp Harlam has crafted the following statement that explains who we are and who we strive to be as a community. Our decisions and actions are guided by our Open and Safe Statement, and it is important that our community members – campers, staff, volunteers, and families – are familiar with and aligned with our philosophy.

To advance our efforts to create an open and safe community, we have approached this work in a holistic way that amplifies the voices of those who have historically been marginalized in our communities and is guided both by the unique needs of individuals with intersectional identities and the principle of Universal Design, where often accommodations for some are valuable for all.  Harlam has established a professional role for a year-round REDI (Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) and Camper Care manager to ensure we are building an intentionally welcoming community. In partnership with community members, educators and our professional staff, the work of this professional includes:  promoting racial and ethnic diversity, amplifying the voices of our LGBTQ community, including facilitating the accommodations of our transgender campers, planning for and accommodating campers with disabilities, supporting the MESSH of our campers and staff and so much more!

Our Mission

For generations, Harlam has been a place where any child or staff member can feel safe and supported to be the best version of themselves and thrive in a place that offers rich opportunities for connection, self-exploration, Jewish values and belonging.


As part of the URJ’s commitment to expand racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI) principles and practices, we are focused on examining systems of racial oppression and aggression within our camp community and working to create a culture shift that will enable racial diversity.  Camp Harlam families, staff, and alumni who are Jews of Color, and their family and allies, are an integral part of this work.  We are committed to constantly learning, challenging ourselves, and looking inward as an organization to dismantle the racism and unconscious bias that have influenced our society. We do this through our 20+ member strong REDI task force, as well as providing affinity spaces for JOC during the summer, and in the off season.


We continue to attract a diverse staff and train everyone in REDI work, including how to interrupt microaggressions, establish a safe and open environment in the bunk, and how to examine implicit biases and address them.

Universal Design

  • Our facility and programming are welcoming and inclusive, which benefit all members.
  • We offer programming at all ages that encourages learning, engagement, and exploration into topics of social justice.
  • We continue to design accessible spaces that work for all participants, regardless of disabilities.
  • We pledge to best support ALL children in the camp setting… not just children with special needs.

Our Unique Accomodations

The Harlam Staff is always following and creating best practices that allow campers to be successful at our camp. Over the years, we are proud to offer numerous accommodations on an as-needed basis.

  • Alternative Song Sessions
  • Earplugs/Headphones
  • Fidget Toys
  • Visual Signs
  • Chill Zone
  • Pocket Schedule
  • Rocking Chairs
  • Many more!


We are committed to ever-evolving inclusive and welcoming culture and community. Our ongoing facility and programmatic improvements consist of:

  • Accessible cabins and renovating buildings to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards
  • Avodah – a vocational education program for participants ages 17-28
  • Outreach to camper’s support team to build a toolbox of strategies to best support campers
  • A commitment to trying to bridge the accessibility divide, leading from a place of “yes”


We are a welcoming and safe community for all LGBTQ+ individuals and families. While campers are bunked by gender, we affirm camper and staff member’s identity by including them in the bunk of the gender they identify with. Harlam has successfully accommodated transgender campers for the last several years and continues to do so today. We welcome the opportunity to work with families to ensure that all personal needs are met for any camper. 

  • Gender neutral restrooms and privacy for showering
  • Individual changing rooms in each cabin
  • Camper/Staff Gender Sexuality Alliance
  • Off-season affinity groups for LGBTQ campers
  • The option of an all-gender bunk for a critical mass of campers
  • Signage that reflects our values and our diversity


Under the leadership of our year-round REDI (Racial, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Camper Care Manager, a REDI task force works to look critically at the inner workings of Harlam’s infrastructure.  The goal of the task force is to strive to make changes where they need to be made in order to maintain a safe haven where our campers and staff feel comfortable, welcome, and celebrated for being their most authentic and best selves each summer, and all year long.  Camp actively seeks feedback from campers, families, and staff throughout the year, as well as over the summer, to be able to respond to needs and address any wrongs.


The Mental, Emotional, Social and Spiritual Health of campers and staff alike is prioritized at Harlam in a way that helps people feel validated, heard and supported.  To that end, we allow campers to continue with telehealth appointments with therapists back home in our new Therapy Hut, allowing for privacy during the session.


Raising Understanding and Awareness of Campers at Harlam (RUACH) Team represents a pledge to provide the best training available to teach counselors how to best support children who present with challenges over the summer.

Our commitment is to drive a culture of acceptance and inclusion by providing a select cohort of staff with:

  • Specialized support
  • Ongoing training
  • Certification in YMHFA to an identified group of counselors and staff who are embedded in cabins throughout camp to provide positive interventions directly to kids


The creation of the Chill Zone stems from the realization that many kids have trouble maintaining their best behavior at camp, often because of sensory overload, constant stimulation, 24/7 communal living, and little down time. This can be hard for many campers at some point throughout the course of the summer- it is especially hard for kids who can have challenges living and working in a group setting.

The Chill Zone is a place to restore balance using the following resources:

  • Light and water features
  • Relaxation toys
  • Stress relievers
  • Sensory items
  • Opportunities for proprioceptive input

We offer a dedicated space to take a sensory break from camp so campers can recharge and rebalance themselves in order to enjoy their time at camp! If you think your child could benefit from time in the Chill Zone, please reach out to Lori Zlotoff, REDI and Camper Care Manager, at