PHOTO ABOVE: Lindsay and Todd Pellegrino with their younger son, Reece, at the BHY Consecration. Not pictured: older son Maxon.


The Althea Stroum & Pat Glazer Memorial Family Camp Weekend is made possible by philanthropic support that offsets the cost of attendance for families with financial need. If you’d like to learn more about supporting programs like Family Camp, contact Julia George at

After moving to Santa Barbara in the summer of 2021, my youngest son, Reece attended his final year of preschool at Beit HaYeladim, and as we made acquaintances with some of the other BHY parents we started to hear rumors about Family Camp. I have to admit, maybe because we were brand new to the community and still feeling slightly overwhelmed after our recent move, we decided not to attend that first fall.

However, it seemed as soon as the summer came around the talk of CBB’s Family Camp arose again, and we often heard comments like “You have to attend!” “It’s so much fun!” and “just dress warm.” So at this point it seemed we were really missing out on something special if we let another year go without seeing what all the talk was about. And after attending, I’m happy to say I think our family has found a new fall tradition.

On Friday afternoon, November 11, we packed up the car and enjoyed the scenic drive up to beautiful Ojai Valley, where a short caravan of other cars was pulling into Camp Ramah. Greeting a few familiar faces and meeting a lot of new ones, we unpacked while the kids jumped on their bikes and went off to play with friends. And there were plenty of them, as I’m pretty sure there were just as many kids (if not more) than adults. The activities soon began with an outdoor Shabbat service, where we were “transported to Israel,” followed by dinner. And no sooner after that, we dropped the boys off at “Jen’s Nightclub” so all the moms and dads could relax with other parents and unwind with a drink. Now I love my boys, but they are in fierce competition with my love for childcare.

The rest of the weekend was filled with activities, learning about Israel, racing paper boats, picking oranges, a picnic lunch, learning a new (yet familiar) dance and getting a lot of time just enjoying our time together as a family. And we did this without a device anywhere in sight. Yes, no devices, no WI-FI, and barely a signal to make a call. At first, there could be the tendency to reach for your phone, but eventually you’ll forget it’s there along with all the other anxieties of being digitally connected.

That afternoon, it was time for the kids to do their own activities. Some people played tennis, some went for a hike, and I’m sure a few just napped, but my wife Lindsay and I were able to sit down with Rabbi Daniel and a few others to discuss Israel. I have to admit there is a lot I could learn about Israel, but listening to the discussion about the current politics and the importance of cultivating a love for the state in our children was fascinating. Now you’d think the evening adult parties would have taken the cake, but for me this was actually the highlight of the weekend. Yes, a discussion with the rabbi. I know, I’m kind of shocked myself. But it was so nice to have an adult conversation (usually home conversations are overtaken by kids), and hear different perspectives on a very important matter. I swear, I think I’d make a much better student now than I did 20+ years ago.

Finally, that evening we had Havdalah by the fire, s’mores and lots of song. Sitting under the brilliant stars and watching the embers dance into the night sky, and getting to join in with Cantor Mark’s guitar was a great way to bring it all to an end. And I’m so glad I listened to whomever said “just dress warm” because it was cold! But the warmth of the fire and service kept us snug. The kids went off to do activities, the parents got their time too, but after a few rounds of pool, Lindsay and I decided to call it a wrap. It was a wonderful day, but one that required a good night’s rest when it all came to a close.

The next day after the closing circle and saying our goodbyes, it was a rush back to little league, catching up on calls/emails, and we all felt the natural surge of rejoining the world. But we were able to do it a little more refreshed. Reflecting back, I felt so welcomed. The warmth and friendliness of the CBB community is one I am so happy to have joined, and I know it will be one we’ll be a part of for the years to come.  And I have a feeling as summer comes around, we’ll be the ones saying, “You have to attend!” “It’s so much fun!” and… “just dress warm.”