Trying to decide whether Jacobs Camp is right for your child? According to the American Camp Association, the best way to proceed with choosing a camp is:

  • Involve your child in the selection process. Review your child’s preferences and let your child ask questions.
  • Review brochures, videos & websites with your child. (And, if you’ve found this page, you’ve already begun that process!)
  • Get answers to some key questions – which we’ve taken the liberty of giving you our answers below!
  • Speak to the Director or a camp representative – by phone, online, or when they come to your community.
  • Ask for references of families who have had their child attend the camp. Speaking with these families can give you valuable insight about the camp and the families that send their children there.

We’ve tried to respond many of the questions we are asked most frequently. If you have a question that is not covered below, please email us and we’ll get back to you with a response. (And, who knows, maybe your question will make the “frequent questions” page!)

TELL ME ABOUT THE CAMP DIRECTOR.
Anna is so excited to be the Director of the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp. Anna grew up in Dothan, AL, and began attending the Henry S. Jacobs Camp at age 11. In addition to being a camper, Anna also was a counselor and unit head. Following graduation from the University of Alabama, she became the assistant director at Jacobs, after which she served as a congregational youth director and as the assistant director of the URJ Meetings and Conventions Department. Anna then transitioned to the assistant director of business operations for the URJ’s camping system. In this role, in which she partnered with our 14 URJ camps across North America, she gained a wealth of camping knowledge.

Throughout, she remained connected to Jacobs Camp as a lay leader, serving as the Camp Committee – Development Committee Chair. She also met her husband Nadav at Jacobs Camp, and last fall, surrounded by family and many friends from Jacobs and the URJ, they were married at the chapel on Lake Gary.

Anna is thrilled to be returning home to lead the Jacobs community, and to inspire generations of future campers to create Jacobs “magic” every summer.

WHAT ARE THE CAMP’S GOALS AND PHILOSOPHY?
The URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, the Reform Jewish Movement’s summer camp serving the Deep South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Western Tennessee & the Florida Panhandle. Since 1970, Jacobs Camp has provided a caring Jewish community that builds young people! A summer at Jacobs is an unforgettable religious, cultural, recreational and emotional experience.

The Jacobs Camp is one of thirteen Union for Reform Judaism Camps located throughout North America. It is the Mission of the URJ Camping System to provide high quality and wide ranging Jewish Experiences in a Reform context to North American Jewish youngsters through a network of Camps and Israel Experiences. These experiences take place in a safe and healthy environment in which all qualified children have access to the most outstanding camping facilities and equipment.

Our Responsibility. When it comes to taking care of your children, we take our responsibility very seriously. As you know, raising a child requires a great deal of energy & effort and the willingness to send your child away for the summer takes a great deal of trust & confidence. We consider ourselves to be your partner in raising your child. When your children are at Camp, you can be assured they will be safe and secure, and we will do what it takes to meet their social, emotional, spiritual & developmental needs. We also hope to develop in them a range of skills & abilities, and instill in them a greater level of personal independence & self-sufficiency. When your children return home, we hope you will find them to be more self-aware & self-confident, and better able to make their way in the world.

Our Counselors are the Key. We believe that every moment at camp has the potential to be a Jewish teachable moment. Counselors who are positive Jewish role models are central to our mission.

The feeling that is created in cabins and the values of that community contribute significantly to the success of the camp experience. We train our counselors to use cabin time in a meaningful way to reflect on what it means to be part of a Jewish community, especially with regard to how campers relate to one another. Rest hour discussions, late night “cabin prayers,” Shabbat cabin programming, the use of Hebrew and camper conflict resolution are all important elements of our Jewish message. We are committed to fully engaging and empowering our cabin counselors and our entire staff as modelers of Jewish behaviors and values. This deep commitment emanates from the recognition that from our camps will emerge the next generation of leaders for our congregations and our Movement for whom the joys of Jewish living and learning and community are defining elements of their lives.

WHAT IS THE FACILITY LIKE?
Situated on 267 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, with a picturesque lake as its centerpiece, the Jacobs Camp’s grounds provide a relaxing, natural setting to experience the summer. And our modern facility, including more than 35 buildings (almost all of which are air-conditioned) and a diverse range of recreational spaces, insures we have a place for everyone to have a great time!

All of our facilities are within easy walking distance of each other, and campers are often seen interacting with friends of all ages as they transition between activities during the day. Our residential facilities encircle Lake Gary. Our primary community gathering places – the Dining Hall, the Breezeway, the Cultural Center, and the Chapel – are all clustered in the center of camp. And our main recreational facilities line the road from the “main camp” on back. Visitors are often astounded by the beauty & condition of the facility – it really is a “jewel” in the backwoods of Mississippi.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM LIKE? IS IT A STRUCTURED PROGRAM OR ONE THAT EMPHASIZES A LOT OF FREE CHOICE?
The most important aspect of Camp is its program. In our activities we offer a wide range of experiences; we want each child to grow while at Jacobs, not only sharpening skills brought to Camp, but introducing new areas to learn and master. The Camp schedule is set up to require a certain amount of exercise-time and outdoor-time each day. The daily schedule reflects this attempt at balanced programming.

We pride ourselves on our high level of staff supervision, and on the high quality of our recreational and educational offerings. Within the limits of the daily schedule, though, campers are given many opportunities to pick-and-choose their activities – whether it’s Chugim (one-hour week-long specialty activities), Specialty Camps, or Shabbat afternoon free time. While we want to provide a safe, secure environment in which to experience camp, we know our campers like to have choices, and we look to provide them whenever we can.

HOW WILL I STAY IN TOUCH WITH MY CHILD?
Camp offers kids and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill – letter writing. We strongly recommended that parents write to their campers at least every-other-day. A card, letter or e-mail, arriving regularly, does more for camper morale than anything else. If a camper receives no mail from a parent for five days, we will call home. The camp tries to ensure that campers write letters or postcards to their parents at least twice each week. It is a required activity. Your letters or cards from Camp may be short, but they will be regular.

WHAT IS THE CAMP’S POSITION ON ELECTRONICS?
Camp provides our children with a break from “the real world” in favor of the natural world. That is why we forbid campers to have mobile phones, pagers, portable televisions, etc. – these items may be part of the day-to-day life of your child, but they have no place at Camp. All electronic devices – cell phones, PDAs, pagers, laptops, etc. – are forbidden at Camp. We ask that parents take these away from their children before bringing them to Camp. If parents want to know how their child is doing, they can just call the Camp and we’ll provide an update.

That does not mean camp is technology-free. We have a terrific Digital Media program that has become very popular with campers. We sometimes use videos and powerpoint presentations to complement our programs. Also, music of all types often provides the soundtrack to camp life.

DO CAMPERS TAKE FIELD TRIPS?
In a typical summer, field trips are taken by campers in our Maskilim, Talmidim & Chalutzim camper units.

Maskilim usually takes a day trip, visiting attractions in and around Jackson, Mississippi. Talmidim takes a three-day two-night trip; we have alternated between “adventure” trips to a nearby outfitter, and trips to cities within easy driving distance of Utica. Chalutzim embarks on a week-long trip to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina, where they do whitewater rafting, hiking & mountain biking in an incredible outdoor setting.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WEATHER IS BAD?
We don’t let a little bad weather get in the way of the fun at camp! Because we have such a wide-range of indoor facilities, we are able to keep our recreational activity program going rain or shine. And, for those activities that can only happen outside (like swimming), our counselors & specialists always have a “rain plan” – fun activities that can take the place of what campers are missing.

If the weather gets extreme, we have detailed protocols in place to make sure all campers are kept safe until the weather passes.

WHERE WILL MY CHILD LIVE? HOW ARE CABIN ASSIGNMENTS MADE?
Each of our air-conditioned camper cabin sleeps twelve to fourteen campers and two staff members in bunk beds. Every camper is assigned a set of cubbies for storing personal items. Two cabins share a bathroom – all newly-renovated. Each bathroom has 7 sinks, 7 showers, and 7 toilets. All top bunks are equipped with bed rails. Each cabin is equipped with a smoke detector. Bunk assignments are made on the basis of religious school grade and/or chronological age, geographic distribution, and social and emotional maturity.

HOW DO YOU SELECT, TRAIN AND SUPERVISE YOUR STAFF? WHAT IS THE STAFF-TO-CAMPER RATIO?
At Jacobs Camp, a great deal of pride is taken in the members of its staff, who provide a stable and caring home for campers all summer long. The staff is comprised of college students, graduate students, and professionals in various fields. Each year, we look for competent and energetic young adults to fill our staff positions. While many have grown up at Jacobs Camp, others join us from across the country and around the world – all bringing their own special gifts to share. 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. Jacobs maintains a 1:5 staff-to-camper ratio.

WILL MY CHILD BE SAFE WHILE AT CAMP?
All of the URJ Camps are dedicated to providing safe and secure environments for our campers and staff. Jacobs conducts regular safety and security reviews and evaluation, and works closely with local law enforcement officials to make sure our safety standards and practices are the best they can be. During the summer season, a safety officer is on duty 24-hours a day. The health and welfare of our community will always be our top concern.

WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING SHOULD MY CHILD BRING TO CAMP?
We dress informally at Camp, and it is not necessary to buy new clothing for your child. Camp is primarily an outdoor setting and simple and modest clothing is the most appropriate. Girls usually wear T-shirts or blouses with casual shorts, pants or skirts, or sundresses. Boys usually wear T-shirts with shorts or pants. High-heeled shoes, designer clothes and expensive jewelry are neither necessary nor encouraged. We strongly discourage campers from wearing “inappropriate attire”: Clothes that are intentionally tight or revealing should be left at home. All clothing and personal belongings should be clearly marked with the camper’s full name. One of the most distinctive times at camp is our observance of Shabbat. In keeping with our tradition, we ask that our camp community dress in white tops, and either white or khaki bottoms for Friday evenings.

WILL MY CHILD NEED LOTS OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FROM HOME?
During the course of the session, your child will have many opportunities to learn or develop new skills. In almost all cases, the camp supplies the necessary equipment and supplies to participate. In particular instances where your child is seeking mastery of an activity, he/she may desire his/her own special equipment; be selective, and remember that the Camp is not responsible for loss or damage of personal items.

HOW CAN I GET A JACOBS CAMP T-SHIRT FOR MY CHILD?
A Jacobs Camp T-shirt will be provided to every camper.

HOW WILL MY CHILD’S LAUNDRY GET DONE?
Campers should have enough clothing with them to last at least 10 days. At least once every 10 days, cabins will have a scheduled laundry day. Our laundry staff will pickup laundry bags from the cabins, wash and dry the contents, and return the clean clothes and linens at the end of the day.

HOW WILL MY CHILD GET TO AND FROM CAMP?
Parents are encouraged to bring their campers to camp on opening day, and pick them up on closing day. Bringing or picking up your camper provides an opportunity to see the Camp, meet the Director, the staff, and your camper’s bunk counselors. If there is enough interest, the Camp offers closing day charter bus service to Memphis, Baton Rouge/New Orleans, and Birmingham. We will also pickup campers who fly into Jackson, MS.

HOW WILL I STAY IN TOUCH WITH MY CHILD?
Camp offers kids and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill – letter writing. We strongly recommended that parents write to their campers at least every-other-day. A card, letter or e-mail, arriving regularly, does more for camper morale than anything else. If a camper receives no mail from a parent for five days, we will call home. The camp tries to ensure that campers write letters or postcards to their parents at least twice each week. It is a required activity. Your letters or cards from Camp may be short, but they will be regular.

CAN PARENTS CALL THE CAMP TO CHECK ON THEIR CHILDREN?
Parents are welcome to call the Camp during the summer to find out how their campers are doing. After we receive your call, our Camper Care Director will call you back, usually the same day.

CAN I VISIT MY CHILD WHILE THEY ARE AT CAMP?
While parents and other family members are welcome and encouraged to bring campers to camp and to pick them up at the end of the session, parents and other visitors are not allowed to come to camp during the Camp sessions.

HOW’S THE FOOD?
Jacobs’ kid-friendly menu offers campers plenty to eat – and our campers have great things to say about the variety, the quality, and the taste! Almost all meals are served family-style in the dining hall, with bunks eating together at assigned tables. Breakfast includes a hot item and cereal. Lunch and dinner include a hot entrée, as well as the option to visit the salad bar. Whenever meat is served, a vegetarian option is offered. We make accommodations for campers on special allergy- or health-related diets. The Jacobs Camp is not a kosher facility, and we do not have a kosher kitchen or kosher plates and utensils. However, we do not serve pork or shellfish, or products containing them, and do not permit such products on camp grounds. At least one snack is served every day.

WHEN WILL MY CHILD GET TO VISIT THE CANTEEN?
Each night, prior to bedtime, campers have the opportunity to visit the Camp Canteen to pick their own late-night snack. We offer a wide selection of delicious snacks – from granola & cereal bars, to low-calorie cookie & treats, to candy bars and more.

ARE CARE PACKAGES ALLOWED?
All campers like to receive packages from home every now and then. The occasional package can contain film, books, magazines, clothing – in fact, almost anything except food or chewing gum. With three meals a day, plus a snack and a visit to the canteen, we think campers will get plenty to eat.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CHILD GETS SICK WHILE AT CAMP?
It is our hope that every camper will remain healthy and fully able to participate in all aspects of camp life all summer long. Just in case, though, Jacobs Camp has a range of systems in place to manage health care issues that may arise. The Camp’s modern, well-equipped infirmary is staffed by medical professionals all summer long – usually a doctor and a nurse. We supervise the dispensing of medication four times a day. A Medical Form with comprehensive information will be all we need to take great care of your child while at camp.

WHAT IF MY CHILD’S BIRTHDAY OCCURS DURING CAMP?
Birthdays that occur during the Camp session will be celebrated. This observance is not only a treat for the camper, but a lot of fun for everyone. Ever had a birthday party with 300 friends in attendance? Please do not send food of any kind for your child’s birthday, as we will provide a delicious cake to celebrate his or her special day.

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 Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.