Frequently Asked Questions
Camp Mountain Chai is located in Angelus Oaks, California about 30 minutes from Big Bear, 2 1/2 hours from San Diego and about 2 1/2 hours from Los Angeles. Located at 7,400 feet in the spectacular San Bernardino National Forest. CMC is also less than two miles from beautiful Jenks Lake.
The camp season operates for eight weeks. Our campers have the option of attending camp for one or more sessions, making the options 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks. Depending on which session a camper attends the option to extend their stay is always available, space permitting.
Camp Mountain Chai provides a unique summer experience with an emphasis on excellence. Judaism is woven into the fabric of Camp Mountain Chai life. We appreciate the importance of connecting our campers to their rich Jewish heritage while understanding our collective responsibility to make the world a better place.
We are proud of our well-rounded program which combines required cabin and elective activities with extensive outdoor opportunities. Experienced specialty staff directs each activity area. Our staff training programs go far beyond the typical one week, pre-camp orientation to include weekly training sessions for all of our staff throughout the summer.
Most importantly, there are at least two full time, counselors and one specialist who reside in each cabin along with our campers. The counselors’ responsibility throughout the day is to be with their campers. They participate in all camp activities with their cabin group.
Your child’s counselors are there for campers all day long, knowing when to cheer them on or when to put an arm around their shoulder.
With warm days and cool nights, the weather in the San Bernardino National Forest is ideal for summer activities.
Your child can comfortably participate in all our outdoor activities and the fresh mountain air and low humidity enhance indoor activities such as cabin life, creative arts and dining. In addition, Mountain Chai attracts campers from throughout Southern California as well as from other parts of the country and Israel. This allows campers to meet and become friends with children from beyond their own neighborhood.
We maintain a Kosher kitchen operated by our professional chefs. Our carefully prepared menus are “kid-friendly” and varied. There is always something healthy and delicious to eat.
Breakfast always includes cold cereal and a hot entrée such as pancakes, eggs, or French toast. There is also a breakfast bar that includes an assortment of hot cereals and yogurt. Lunch and dinner entrees include various chicken and beef dishes, and dairy meals like grilled cheese and pizza. At lunch and dinner, there is a salad bar that provides a choice for campers who are looking for an alternative to the meal’s main course. If there is a meat meal, there will be a protein-based vegetarian option. At breakfast and dairy meals, fat free, low fat and chocolate milk, in addition to lactaid and soymilk, are available. We are a nut-free camp and any additional dietary needs or restrictions can be accommodated and should be communicated to the Director prior to camp.
Campers are served a snack in the mid-afternoon and in the evening. Additionally, fresh fruit is available throughout the day.
Each child is different when it comes to being “ready” for camp. Our youngest campers are entering second grade in the fall after their first summer at camp. Indications of camper readiness include: Is he/she looking forward to camp? Are they successful at sleepovers with their friends? Our Camp Director is happy to speak with you about these and other issues to make the best decision for your child and you.
Camp Mountain Chai takes pride in providing mature, professionally trained staff. We employ numerous teachers and educators with extensive experience working with children. Our cabin counselors are all college age. We personally interview every staff member, and we take pride in the rigor of our interview process. Staff members must have excellent references, impressive experience working with children and a willingness to dedicate their summer to the care and supervision of our campers.
Our cabin placements are typically based on the grade each camper will be entering in the fall. Campers will live with their peers and will be able to grow together as a group during their time at Camp Mountain Chai.
Additionally, before we make cabin assignments, we take great care to get to know your child’s needs and interests. We really listen to what you and your child tell us. Every camper (with help from parents) fills out a camper biography form before arriving at camp. This biography form is very important to us because it lets us know your child’s favorite activities and special goals for the summer. It also offers parents an opportunity to share their concerns with us. We review this form with your child’s counselors and Unit Leaders and use it to help place your child in the best cabin situation.
Friday morning follows our standard day-to-day schedule. After lunch, there is one activity period rather than the usual two. We have an extended shower-hour to prepare camp and our campers for Shabbat. The entire camp community participates in a special Friday night service and then enjoys a delicious and traditional Shabbat meal. After dinner, our camp celebrates Shabbat with Jewish songs and Israeli dancing.
On Saturday our campers get to sleep in and enjoy a buffet style breakfast. Shabbat services take place after breakfast. Saturday afternoon is highlighted by special activities when either the entire camp or cabin groups enjoy activities, often with Judaic content. After dinner, Shabbat concludes with a beautiful and meaningful Havdalah ceremony in which the entire camp community participates.
Camp Mountain Chai has a mission to combine the experience of living a Jewish life within a residential camp environment. Our goal is to establish a community of Jewish youth where we educate campers, allow them to explore their individual and collective Jewish identities, as well as their heritage and community. Simultaneously, we educate them for their role in the larger Jewish community. On Shabbat, campers participate in services as a community and demonstrate their Ruach (spirit) in Shira (Jewish singing) and Rikud (Israeli dance) performances.
Bus transportation is available from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, and Redlands. We also have group flights from Tucson/Phoenix and Las Vegas for certain sessions. Campers that arrive by air should schedule their flights in and out of Los Angeles International Airport. A member of our staff will meet our arriving campers at the gate.
Camp Mountain Chai’s health care staff consists of nurses and physicians that cover our health center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prior to camp, the health care staff review each camper’s medical history and medications. Sick call is held after breakfast and dinner, but campers who are ill may be escorted to the health center by their counselor at any time. Children receive routine medications at mealtime and bedtime according to the documentation on their health history.
Parents are always notified when a child stays overnight in the health center, needs to see a specialist or needs to be started on prescription medication. The parents or emergency contact is called immediately in the event of severe injury.
We dress informally at Camp Mountain Chai. Camp is primarily an outdoor setting and simple, modest clothing is the most appropriate. T-shirts with shorts or pants are great for day-to-day camp life. Sneakers and hiking boots work well on our mountain terrain, flip-flops and sandals my be worn to the lake or pool.
Your child is welcome to bring personal items, but please be aware that the Camp is not responsible for loss or damage of personal belongings.
A complete list of recommended clothing and equipment will be sent prior to camp.
Campers should have enough clothing with them to last at least 10 days. Linens and laundry are sent out of camp once a session and returned washed, dried and folded the next day. Please label ALL clothing and equipment with the camper’s name to properly identify each item.
Camp offers children and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill – letter writing. A card or letter arriving regularly can do great things for a camper. One-way e-mail service is available for parents to communicate with their children. Emails through your CampInTouch account are printed daily and distributed with the regular camper mail. Camp Mountain Chai has mandatory letter writing days twice per week and the counselors will encourage them to write more often than that.
Yes! At Mountain Chai, we take great pride in the fact that we have an excellent reputation for communicating with our parents. If you have questions or issues, please contact us. Families of new campers can expect to receive a call from the camper’s Unit Leader within the first 72 hours of camp.
While parents and other family members are welcome to bring campers to camp and to pick them up at the end of the session, parents and other visitors are not permitted to come to camp during the Camp sessions.
The single most important word to keep in mind is QUALITY. This can mean a number of different things: quality of care, quality of facilities and their maintenance, quality of staff, programs and instruction, and quality of the directors…the list goes on and on.
Camp Mountain Chai is a not-for-profit charitable organization and we welcome your support.
Please visit our Support Page for more information.
Yes. Camp Mountain Chai is an IRS designated 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
Every camper deserves the camp experience and we are proud to make Camp Mountain Chai accessible. Financial assistance applications are treated confidentially and reviewed thoroughly by a committee. Click here for more information on financial assistance.