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Frequently Asked Questions
Who will be in my child's cabin group?
Camp Ben Frankel is an inclusive community that welcomes many new campers every year. We look forward to meeting and welcoming your child into the Camp Ben Frankel community.
Nearly 90% of campers return yearly, well above the 79% average for all jewish camps (according to Jdata.com). Most of our campers advance through our age groups, become counselors-in-training (CITs), and then staff.
At last count we had campers and staff from more than 25 states as well as Israel, England, and Canada. We have concentrations in St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, Columbia, MO and throughout the Southern Illinois region.
All campers of the same grade are grouped together and there is only one boys and one girls cabin group per age. Depending on the size of the age group, a few grades may be combined into one group or may live together in the same physical cabin, with separate counselors and programming for each group.
Can you tell me about the staff?
Our philosophy is that a great camp experience for your child requires having great camp staff.
Our Leadership Team is comprised of experienced and talented adults -- many of whom are also Camp Ben Frankel alumni. This group includes many working professionals that make time each summer to return to camp and provide mentorship and guidance to our camp counselors.
Our camp counselors exude unmatched passion for providing the same amazing experience they enjoyed. Many grew up attending Camp Ben Frankel as children before graduating from our counselor training program.
All staff members undergo a rigorous screening process including interviews, reference checks, and background checks. Training consists of 30 hours of pre-camp online training as well as 1-2 weeks of on site training before the campers arrive.
CBF is proud to participate in the Cornerstone Fellowship, which offers Jewish educational training and professional development to exemplary returning camp staff. The Cornerstone Fellowship is a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp made possible by the generosity of the AVI CHAI Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Marcus Foundation, and The Morningstar Foundation.
Our professional staff includes an experienced and attentive team of medical professionals, certified aquatics and waterfront staff, and trained and experienced kitchen staff.
Please check out the staff page on the website to learn more about our amazing staff!
My child has so many options in the summer, why should I send them to camp?
Camp provides your child with many immersive (real life, screen free!) experiences they may not be able to receive during the school year. At Camp Ben Frankel, campers experience a safe and welcoming Jewish community.
We focus on providing opportunities for your child to actively engage with the world, including adventure activities and experiential learning in everything ranging from Judaics to sports, arts, outdoor adventures, and music. Our staff and adult instructors provide campers with access to specialists in music, nature, art, science, sports and much more.
Our campers return year after year, progressing to become counselors in training and staff members. CBF provides opportunities for leadership experience and professional advancement.
What are your safety and security measures?
Your child’s safety while at camp is of the utmost importance. This section provides an overview of our safety measures, however we encourage you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-235-1614 if you are a prospective or current family and would like to know more specific information.
Local law enforcement routinely and visibly monitors our site throughout the day. We enjoy a close relationship with them and they know many of our staff and campers. Our site enjoys restricted access via a security gate and our staff are trained extensively on safety procedures for both in and out of camp activities.
Additionally, all of our staff members are thoroughly screened before being hired (see elsewhere in the FAQ for more detail) and a benefit of our intimate size is that all of our staff are familiar with everyone who is permitted to be on our campsite.
Why are there so many pictures of your staff at conferences?
Throughout the year, our staff and board members work with several programs and organizations to make sure we are providing your family the best experience this summer.
We attend professional conferences let by groups such as JCamp 180, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and the American Camping Association in order to make sure we are up to date on best practices and emerging trends related to all matters involving running camp.
Why are there different tuition options? What do they mean and what should I choose?
Camp Ben Frankel is a charity that strives to ensure that no child is denied the opportunity to experience a life changing summer at camp.
We understand that every family has a different financial situation. To help Camp Ben Frankel remain accessible to all children, we allow families to choose the price they pay from amongst three "tiers" -- choosing a price is completely confidential and in no way influences the experience a child has at camp.
We ask for a $250 deposit to reserve your camper’s spot and offer many payment options.
For more detail please see the "Dates and Rates" section of our website.
Are there discounts or other ways I can save on tuition?
Yes. The discounts we offer are:
Early Bird Registration: $75.00 discount per child for returning families who register during our early registration period.
Referral: $150.00 for each camper you refer and who attends camp (referral credit applied the following year).
Sibling discount: $50.00 for each sibling for those families sending more than one child to camp this summer.
Pay in full: 2% off the entire tuition for families who pay in full with a credit card before December 31
One Happy Camper
In addition to these discounts, your camper may be eligible for a scholarship from an outside source. The FJC’s One Happy Camper scholarship (www.onehappycamper.org) is available for first time campers upon application. Many local synagogues and organizations also offer partial scholarships and incentives to help with your child’s camp tuition.
Dependent Care Account
If your company offers a dependent care account program, you may be able to set aside pre-tax earnings to help pay for tuition. If offered by your employer, this could amount to a considerable savings.
Can I stop by and visit while I am in the area?
Other than camper dropoff and pickup on the first and last days of camp, parent visits are not permitted. For the same reason that we don’t allow phone calls, parent visits can be incredibly disruptive to the campers and the camp program.
How can I see what is going on at camp during the summer?
Yes, photos are posted regularly online on a private site. Invitations are sent to all parents/guardians after registration.
Can my child choose their activities?
Yes, we pride ourselves on offering a wide range of sports, music, art, water, adventure, and many more activities. Campers participate in three activities of their choice each week. Campers fill out an activity request form each week at camp and activities are assigned based on their interests.
Can campers pick their cabin?
All campers of the same grade are grouped together. There is only one cabin per age group. In rare instances, the number of campers may exceed the number of beds in the cabin, in which case the campers will be split into separate physical cabins but still be considered one cabin group. Additionally, depending on group sizes, grades may be combined for living purposes into one physical cabin.
How much clothing needs to be packed?
Camp laundry will be done twice during the camp session and the costs are included in your camp tuition. For a suggested packing list, including recommended quantities for clothing, please refer to the Parent Manual.
Does my child need to bring any money to camp?
There are no activities or programs for which your camper will need money. Additionally, campers are prohibited from purchasing food and drinks when off the camp grounds.
How does Camp Ben Frankel’s screen-free electronic device policy work?
In such a connected world it is easy to default to electronic devices during down time, or even when other activities are going on. American adolescents spend more than 7.5 hours a day using electronic devices - camp is a great opportunity to put the screens down and keep our heads up!
Please leave all expensive electronics at home. These devices have a way of getting lost or broken at camp.
The only electronics allowed at Camp Ben Frankel are screen-less music players (e.g. iPod shuffles, CD players) and digital cameras. We are not responsible for lost, damaged or stolen electronic devices. They are brought and used at their own risk.
All other devices with screens such as phones, music players, ebook readers, portable game devices, and video players are not permitted.
Camp is one of the few places throughout the year where kids can truly unplug and we have made this decision to both honor and recognize this space and as a result of direct parent feedback.
Our professional staff and Board of Directors have come to this decision to:
- encourage our campers to spend more time off their beds and outdoors
- promote socialization between campers
- remove the divide between “the haves, and the have-nots” in each cabin
- reduce the stress associated with the damage to and theft of electronics
- give campers a much needed break from the world of technology
- allow campers to fully embrace the connections they make with other campers
- ensure that our campers are not exposed to age inappropriate material
Is tutoring available?
We offer tutoring for bar/bat mitzvah lessons and Hebrew language. If you would like your child to participate in the bar/bat mitzvah tutoring program, we request that you tell us this before camp so we can arrange the appropriate number of tutors for this program. There is no fee for tutoring.
What’s the food like?
Our campers and staff love our food! Our chefs, Leah and Nick, have been with Camp Ben Frankel for many years and oversee all our meals. When they aren't at camp, they operate the wonderful and successful restaurant: Cristaudo's Cafe, Bakery, and Catering. Our kitchen team does an wonderful job of listening to the campers, watching what they like and dislike, and carefully planning the menu to balance taste and nutrition.
We always have a salad bar with many tasty ingredients and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives are always provided to the appropriate campers and staff and our camp is completely peanut-free. We ask that you let us know about any allergies and dietary restrictions prior to camp so that our chefs can anticipate your camper’s needs. We take into consideration all food allergies and dietary restrictions.
Is the food kosher?
Yes. Camp Ben Frankel keeps a kosher kitchen with different dishes for dairy and meat. We provide nutritious and balanced meals with great desserts, afternoon and evening snacks, and a weekly trip to our canteen to get candy, soda etc. Every camper’s birthday is celebrated with a special dessert.
Can food be sent to camp for my child?
We do not allow outside food and request that you do not try to send your camper with food or send them food during camp. To help ensure a pest-free environment, maintain a kosher camp, and in consideration of all allergies and dietary needs, we open all packages prior to delivery and confiscate food or candy.
How will I be able to communicate with my child at camp?
Parents are encouraged to write letters to their campers. Mail is delivered and sorted daily basis except during Shabbat. Parents may also send emails that are printed out and delivered with the mail. Check our parent manual for details.
Campers are able to send snail mail and we encourage you to send your camper with stationary, envelopes and stamps. Campers are not able to access email while at camp. Neither phone calls nor in-person visits are permitted as they can encourage homesickness.
What is the Jewish programming like at Camp Ben Frankel?
Jewish learning and values are woven throughout our programming. Sunday through Friday, all of our camp members start the day by choosing a brief morning service, or Shacharit. There are options in Hebrew and English, including a guided meditation service, a drum circle service, and a traditional communal service with the option of wearing tefillin and/or tallit.
Beginning Friday evening we celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat with services followed by a delicious and festive dinner. Saturday mornings include a camper led service with a reading from the Torah. We conclude Shabbat with a camp favorite: a beautiful Havdallah service beneath the vast starry night sky.
Campers also participate in one elective Hebrew or Judaic activity each day, based on their interests and experience. These electives include Hebrew lessons, Torah study, Israeli dance, bar/bat mitzvah tutoring, Jewish music, discussion sessions, and much more.