The overnight camp OSRUI has been updating itself in anticipation of summer 2022, with a new teaching kitchen and the restoration of an original building, among other projects.
OSRUI is the Reform movement’s summer camp in the upper Midwest. Over the past several years, OSRUI has taken on a variety of projects aimed at providing campers new opportunities and improved accessibility, according to according to executive director Solly Kane.
The camp restored the original building on its grounds known as the Bayit, which is Hebrew for “house.” Kane said the Bayit was built in 1903, well before OSRUI opened in 1952. The camp updated the building’s exterior to reflect its original appearance.
Another project underway for this summer is an expansion to the camp’s high ropes course.
“It gives kids a chance to push themselves and challenge themselves in a safe environment,” Kane said.
In addition, OSRUI is adding a teaching kitchen so it can offer a cooking elective and a cooking intensive for a middle school program. For the latter, Kane said students would spend two hours a day for a month learning about cooking. The kitchen will be outfitted with residential-style equipment so kids see pieces they would use at home.
Some cabins now have renovated and expanded bathrooms, he said.
With grant support, OSRUI also is updating some of its amenities with improved accessibility. Funding from the Yashar Initiative, created by the Foundation for Jewish Camp with financing from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation backs multiple projects, Kane said. With two grants from Yashar, Kane said OSRUI added disability-accessible bathrooms in buildings around the campus and added height-adjustable backboards to its basketball courts, among other projects.
Beyond grant funding, Kane said donations have supported the upgrades at OSRUI, and the camp continues to accept contributions for its facilities work. Over the past four years, Kane said the camp has invested more than $6 million into its facilities.
In 2019, OSRUI marked the opening of the $4 million Heichal HaTarbut Kaye, also known as the Kaye Cultural Center. Named for long-time camp director and head nurse Jerry and Paula Kaye, the facility plays host to both performances and worship services.
“Our community has repeatedly and continually stepped up again and again,” Kane said.
Donors can support not only the facilities upgrades but other needs, such as general operations and scholarships, he said. Last year, OSRUI allocated more than $300,000 in scholarships to campers.
Also known as the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, the camp annually hosts about 1,000 kids who participate in programs ranging from five days to the full summer season.
More than 60 buildings spread across 250 acres comprise the camp, according to executive director Solly Kane. The camp is always looking to update the grounds for the kids and the rest of the community that uses OSRUI, he said. In addition to its summer activities, OSRUI is open year-round for events, such as retreats and weddings.
“We have a lot of land and property that our community is really generous to help care for and constantly strive to improve,” Kane said.