Now that you have been accepted into BCI, there are several forms that must be submitted to complete your enrollment. Other information is also provided to help ensure you have the best experience possible. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by emailing bciaju.edu.
Pre Summer Information Form
Please submit the: Pre Summer Information Form.
- Participant Agreement and Release
Community Expectations Contract
Please submit the: Community Expectations Contract.
You may have read about the increase in the number of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States over the last several years and specifically in California with the recent increase of Measles and Pertussis cases. The best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases is broad vaccination coverage. We believe that in a setting like BCI, this is crucial to the overall safety and well-being of everyone on site. Our vaccine guidelines follow the requirements established by the California Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Therefore, in order to attend BCI the following vaccines MUST be current with dates received listed in your medical form:
- 2 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- 1 tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine booster dose within the last 10 years
- 2 varicella vaccine doses
- Hepatitus B vaccine 3 dose series
- Meningococcal vaccine
We firmly believe that requiring up-to-date vaccinations establishes the safest and healthiest environment that we can provide for everyone in our community. At any given time, that community may include a range of individuals who – for a variety of reasons – may not have been fully vaccinated. This includes infants, who are too young to receive certain vaccinations, and others who have compromised immune systems and therefore cannot be vaccinated. Individuals who choose not to vaccinate may bring a disease into our community that can threaten their own health and well being, and the health and well being of others. For this reason, BCI does not accept Personal Belief or Religious Belief exemptions.
Please contact Myra Meskin, BCI Director, if you have any questions about our vaccination requirements, or if there are particular challenges to acquiring your medical records or to accessing/updating vaccines. Myra can be reached at bciaju.edu.
We look forward to a healthy, safe, and enriching summer ahead.
Please submit the: Medical Information Form.
During the Week:
- 8 pairs of socks
- 4-5 pairs of shorts
- 4-5 long-sleeved shirts
- 8 underwear
- 8 t-shirts
- 2-3 sweatshirts/sweaters
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 1-2 bathing suit(s)
- 1 pair of nicer pants
- 1-2 casual dresses/skirts
- 1 warm jacket/coat
- 1 pair sneakers
- 1 pair sandals/flip-flops
- 1 pair nice shoes
The weather is hot during the day, cool at night. Weekday dress is casual and should be clothing that you're comfortable getting dirty, moving around in, etc.
- 2-3 all-white outfits (these should be white, not beige or tan or ivory)
- 2-3 nice outfits for Shabbat afternoon/evening
On Shabbat at BCI we wear ALL WHITE both on Friday night and Saturday morning through lunch. Please be sure that all clothing is appropriate for Shabbat. Since evenings can be cool, you may want to bring a white sweater or jacket. On Shabbat afternoon, we wear nicer (non-white) clothes.
Beddings and Linens
BCI will provide sheets, blankets, bath towels, and pillows for all participants.
- Alarm clock (if not on your phone)
- Laundry bag
- Beach towel (optional)
- Small day pack/backpack
- Pens, stationary, stamps (if you are the type who writes letters)
- Toiletries (including sunscreen and soap)
- Laundry detergent
- Prepaid calling cards (if necessary)
- Computer, tablet, smart phone, etc. (optional), including all cords
- Passport (if coming from outside the US)
Special Clothing Needs
We start almost every day with Avodah projects that give back to the community. You may want to bring clothes/shoes for Avodah that can get dirty!
At the end of BCI we have a special night called Hagigah that celebrates the work we do together in Arts Workshops. The tradition is to dress nicely at Hagigah.
At BCI, one way we give back to our community is through Toranut (shifts in the kitchen/dining room). In order to enter the kitchen, you'll need a good pair of closed-toed shoes (note that you'll need 1 pair of closed-toed, “Shabbat” shoes as well because everyone has will have one toranut shift that takes place on Shabbat).
Optional Items (based on Alumni suggestions)
- Tennis racket/balls
- Musical instruments
- Pens/pencils Journal/diary
- Flash drive
- Extra batteries
- Snacks (if necessary)
One Final Note:
In the past, some participants have shipped heavier items to BCI ahead of time. Some have also ordered items - like toiletries - to be sent directly to BCI. You may ship items in advance to BCI to the below address:
1101 Peppertree Lane
Brandeis, CA 93064.
We can’t wait to see you at BCI!
We’ve prepared additional program information for you with details about our schedule, services, etc. Much of the information below came from previous participants who wanted to pass information on to you, future BCIers. Please read through the materials carefully and feel free to call or email us if you have any questions (bciaju.edu).
FOOD @ BCI
Our delicious kosher meals are prepared under Orthodox Rabbinic supervision (Glatt, Lubavitch Shechita, cholov yisroel), with healthy variety in the menu each day. If you choose not to eat red meat, chicken or fish, we always provide vegan and vegetarian options to those that request it. Our kitchen and dining room are also nut free. In addition, we are also able to provide dairy-free and gluten-free options. Please be sure to carefully complete the question regarding dietary restrictions on the Pre-Summer Information Form if you have any dietary concerns or limitations. Please note: if your particular dietary needs require additional sources of nutrition (i.e.: nuts, protein bars, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, etc.) you should bring enough to satisfy your nutritional needs. For kashrut reasons, outside food is not allowed in our dining hall, but you can certainly consume them elsewhere throughout the day. We will also provide you with a BCI water bottle, so there is no need to pack your own.
MONEY AND VALUABLES
Our insurance policy does not cover loss or damage of personal belongings. Having said that, we do invite you to bring your laptops, tablets, phones, e-readers, etc. with you as we believe there will be times that they will be useful (our campus is wireless). Although of course we encourage you to use BCI as a “break” from technology and the demands of the real world, we also realize that many of you need to stay in contact with friends/family/work/school, etc. while you are at BCI. All rooms can be locked. When you arrive, there will also be the option to place certain valuables and/or funds (cash, traveler’s checks, and passports) that you wish to have secured in our office safe – which we encourage. These valuables will be accessible on a limited basis during the session and will be returned to you on the last morning of the BCI program. You may want to bring some additional money for our one day out of BCI in Los Angeles (food will be provided).
VISITORS, MESSAGES AND MAIL
There are no visitor days during BCI summer programs. Please let friends and family know this ahead of time. We are happy to accept important phone messages, but we recommend written correspondence through the postal service. Cell phone service may be sporadic at BCI (AT&T service is particularly unreliable), although we do have Wifi (no password necessary). Mail is sent and received once a day, Monday through Friday. If you would like to order items to be shipped here (even in advance of your arrival) you can do that as well. Your mailing address is:
1101 Peppertree Lane
Brandeis, CA 93064
BCI Emergency phone number: 757-617-7656
You have received a list of suggested clothing and other supplies. It is only a guideline. As you pack, keep a few things in mind:
- In general, BCIers dress very casually and comfortably. BCI is located in a desert climate. The mornings and evenings are usually chilly while the days are hot. Daily temperatures can range from 60 to 100 degrees.
- BCI can be tough on clothes. Many activities are outdoors, and many will cause clothes to become dirty (especially Avodah). Our advice is to not bring anything which you think might not be “camp friendly.”
- There is also one evening program, toward the end of BCI, called Chagigah – it is a celebration of the Arts. Since we will ask you to dress nicely that night, please be sure to pack special clothes for that night as well. Also, some of the Arts Workshops ask their participants to dress in all black when it is their turn to take part in Chagigah (so everyone can dress in a similar way). It is not required by every workshop, but you might want to pack a black top/bottoms just in case.
CLOTHING ON SHABBAT
The casual nature of dress during the week makes Shabbat all the more special. On Shabbat, we all dress fully in white (from Friday night through Shabbat lunch). Please be sure to bring completely white clothes for Shabbat (shoes, belt, and other accessories excluded), and please try to avoid off-white, beige, or any other color that might be considered “white-ish.” For most people that means packing 2 white outfits. Shabbat afternoon dress is casual, but we do ask that everyone dress nicely for Havdalah as we end Shabbat together. As you search for your white clothes, please remember that – while we do not have a dress code – we do ask that you bring clothes that are both appropriate and comfortable.
Washing machines and dryers are available for use during your free time, free of charge. BCI will provide standard laundry detergent and dryer sheets. If you prefer a special kind of detergent, please plan to bring it with you or order to BCI.
Please bring with you a one-month supply of all medications and/or personal health items you need. This includes all prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, eyewear prescriptions, and personal hygiene products (tampons, shampoo, cold medicine, aspirin, soap, other toiletries, condoms, etc.). There will not be opportunities to purchase additional toiletries – although you can always order things to be delivered (from places like Target, soap.com, Amazon, etc.). In an emergency situation, we will be able to refill your prescriptions at the local pharmacy at your own expense. Please remember to bring your medical insurance card with you as well.
In order to attend BCI every person must show proof of medical insurance. Please make sure to include it with your medical form.
Pluralism, the belief in the validity of a diversity of views and practices demonstrated in a deliberate, intentional, and mindful effort to see other points of view, is one of BCI’s core operating values. While the value of pluralism applies to many parts of our diverse community, where it is most apparent is in the area of religious observance. Our facility is under Orthodox kashrut supervision and there is an eruv. When we come together to pray on Friday nights and on Shabbat morning, it is in an egalitarian setting (both men and women count in a minyan) with mixed seating. Please note that there is no daily minyan. If your personal religious practice requires daily prayer, there is time to be found before/between the official parts of the daily schedule to pray.
BCI is a smoke-free facility. That is, you are not allowed to smoke anywhere, except in the specifically designated BCIer smoking area in the parking lot. This is both for health reasons, as well as safety, as the summer is always high fire danger season. Smoking is not permitted during programming hours. Please note that you will need to bring all the cigarettes you’ll want with you when you come. There will be ONLY one opportunity to purchase additional cigarettes on our day “off” in Los Angeles half-way through the program.
BCI HISTORY, SCHEDULE, ETC.
Many of you are joining us this summer because you heard about BCI from a friend, relative, etc. If you would like additional information about the program, please be sure to spend time exploring our website. There is a section on our 70+ year old history, in addition to a sample schedule, alumni near you to contact for additional information, etc.
Some thoughts for BCI 2023 from BCIers past...
At the end of BCI we ask every BCIer what they wished they had known about BCI before they came. Some of their answers are below (with BCI staff commentary afterwards):
“I wish I had known to bring…” (in addition to the items on the Packing List)
- A bath mat/towel for stepping out of the shower
- Antibacterial liquid hand soap
- Snacks that I crave
- A flash drive so I could download, share files
- Books to read
- A journal
- Clorox wipes
- Tide to-go/Stain stick/pods (all laundry suggestions)
“I wish I had known more about the climate.”
Most summers, the days at BCI are warm/hot and nights are cool. Cool nights mean that most of you will feel more comfortable wearing an extra layer (sweatshirts, pants, etc.). Because you are adults, we try to give solid advice on the packing list, but we also leave it to your discretion because you know yourself best.
“I wish I had known more about the arts workshops before I came.”
There is a basic overview of all of the arts workshops we have offered in the past few years in the Creative Arts section on our website. The real power of our arts workshops lies in our incredible arts educators, who we want you to get to know in person at BCI. Each artist will have a chance to present their art and workshop to you, and then you’ll have a chance to select the workshop that speaks to you the most. Like other parts of the program, we are happy to provide any explanation in advance of the summer, but we really want you to enjoy BCI in the moment, at camp, once we are all together.
“I didn’t realize how Jewish the program was going to be.”
Yes, BCI is a Jewish program. Not everything we do will “feel Jewish” but we are most definitely a Jewish program set in a Jewish context with Jewish staff, Jewish values, etc. We all come from different backgrounds, so the Jewish community we create together may feel foreign to some of you – comfortable to others. Creating our own new Jewish community together is one of the best parts of BCI!
“The program is so structured!”
We’ve provided the daily schedule for you on our website so you can see just how much we do every day. There is so much we want to do with you and we only have 27 days, so yes – the days are pretty full. Don’t worry – there is down-time too, and we encourage you to catch your breath, relax, nap, hang out with friends, or go for a swim, a hike, or a run when you can!
“I really didn’t know how many other people there would be, or how many people I’d be living with.”
In a typical summer, in addition to the staff, there are usually around 60 BCIers from all over the world. You all will be living in cottages with heat/air conditioning, indoor bathrooms, carpet, and closet space. 3-4 people live in each room.
“I didn’t realize all the times I’d need to dress nicely (not including our Shabbat whites).”
At BCI we ask for nicer clothes only a few times – Shabbat afternoons and Chagigah. When we come together late on Shabbat afternoon (after a long afternoon of free time) we ask everyone to be dressed nicely for dinner, Havdalah, and our Saturday evening program. We also ask that you dress nicely for a program we call Chagigah. Chagigah is a celebration of the arts program and it takes place on one of the last nights of BCI.
You can wear any shoes you want at BCI. You should probably bring at least one pair of solid sneakers or hiking shoes (you know yourself best) for programs like Avodah (when you’re likely to be in the dirt), the overnight, other hikes, etc. We do have a regular kitchen rotation (called Toranut) and the health department requires everyone who goes in the kitchen (everyone on Toranut) to wear closed-toed shoes. You will have Toranut once a week and on one Shabbat (BCI 2012 suggested that you may want to pack 1 nicer pair of closed-toed shoes for when you have Shabbat Toranut).
Over the years, BCI Alumni have been asked what else they wanted you to know – off the record. Here were their answers:
- Prepare yourself like you’re going on a retreat. Ask friends and family to appreciate that you won’t be able to update them/social media in the way that you usually do… and it will be a good thing. (Rachel Nilson, BCI 2013)
- Pack awesome snacks – your roommates will love you. (Elyse Schunkewitz, BCI 2015) If you’re coming from abroad, bring international snacks with you. It’s a nice way to share something about your home! (Sol Dabbah, BCI 2015)
- Be so open to exploration there – the 27 days go too quick. Also, keep a notebook handy (especially useful for Hillel pros who might miss out on a great quote or idea otherwise) (Amy Zylberman, BCI 2015)
- Cherish the opportunity, every second of it. (Jesse Bernstein, BCI 2015)
- Keep a journal! (Sarah Garfinkel, BCI 2015, BCI Staff 2017)
- A watch is really helpful. It makes it so much easier to check out from your phone and still be on time. (Andrew Lustig, BCI 2011, BCI Staff 2013-2017)
- Be open to finding comfort in discomfort. If there is anywhere to allow barriers to be expanded and to discover oneself it is at BCI. Also be willing to make a fool of yourself. In the end it will be worth it and allow for a transformation in self-acceptance and understanding. (Mitchell Harris, BCI 2015)
- While there is space to share and observe your own religious customs/practice, be open to experiencing Judaism in new and different ways. (Larisa Klebe, BCI 2009)
- Don’t feel the need to be social all the time. Many of my best BCI moments were in solitude. (Allison Ginsburg, BCI 2014)
- Journal! So much happens in such a short period of time. (Avital Pessar, BCI 2009)
- You can’t always fully prepare for the unexpected moments that will challenge and change you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Put down your cell phone and use your senses to enjoy the moments. I don’t have a single picture of my most meaningful moments from summer 2002 and yet I remember them clear as day. (Lisa Weiss Silverman, BCI 2002)
- Fall in love… with yourself. (Erica Golin, BCI 2015)
- Try and have as many one-on-one conversations as possible and have one key take-away from each one. (Alexi Biener, BCI 2009)
- Bring an open mind and heart and just take it all in. (Matthew Hartmann, BCI 2012) Don’t be shy, express yourself the way you feel it. Open all of your senses. (Marisa Sztajer)
- Journal! (Anise Simon, BCI 2015)
- Don’t check your email unless of course you really have to. Try to connect with someone on an individual basis who you have not had a chance to talk to. Keep a journal. (Ben Wacks, BCI 2011)
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. Do your best to disconnect from technology. Realize this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! It is such a gift! (Rachel Sabes, BCI 2015)
- Don’t bring fancy clothes since you’ll be sitting on the ground, working in the garden, painting things, etc. Bring a watch so you’re on time for things (be respectful – others don’t like waiting for you). (Mina Szpiro, BCI 2009)
- Always smile, be positive, make more friends, get out of your comfort zone, express yourself, play music, sing, and dance! (Victor Gez, BCi 2014)
- Melaveh Malka. Do it. (Marc Harris, BCI 2009, BCI Staff 2014)
- Give yourself time AFTER BCI to process what’s been rearranged within you, and take it seriously. Evaluate what’s no longer serving you and get rid of it. Don’t feel the need to spread the “BCI word” to everyone you know… it’s okay to let the experience be yours and yours only. (Kyla Sokoll-Ward, BCI 2012)
- Be willing to open yourself up and get out of your comfort zone. Also make sure to bring pajama bottoms. (Alana Solomon, BCI 2016)
- You’re going to get dirty, so bring some outfits you don’t mind getting gunked up. Also snacks. (Harry Abraham, BCI 2016)
- Spiritual: bring a journal and a commitment to something for yourself – whether it be using less technology, focusing on the present, learning something new about Judaism, etc. (Claire Perelman, BCI 2015, BCI Staff 2017)
- Try to leave your cell phone on airplane mode as much as possible. If you love a sport, bring the equipment (or a pump), such as soccer or basketball. (Naomi Rich, BCI 2016)
- Always carry a notebook, bring an apron/something you don’t mind getting paint on, allow yourself to love and be loved and give yourself time to fall into the rhythm of BCI, the first couple days can be tough and overwhelming (especially for introverts) but super worth it by the end. (Hannah Yerington, BCI 2016)
- Remember that it’s ok to spend time by yourself. Bring an eye mask for the overnight. Wake up to see the sunrise (try to find east). Also, Amazon Prime is an incredible blessing. (Lauren Silverman, BCI 2017)
- Don’t think, just DO and you won’t regret it. Also, tell friends to send mail!!!!! (Leah Marquis, BCI 2017)
- Tell friends ahead of time that you might not have time to connect. But make sure you give them the address. It’s always fun to get mail. (Sarah Pottebaum, BCI Staff)
- Bring your journal with you throughout the day because there are so many moments which you will want to write down feelings/thoughts… also, you won’t be able to connect with everyone there, it’s just too much to handle, but at least try to have one meaningful conversation with as many people as you can. View all of your peers as people to learn from. (Dan Pelberg, BCI 2015, BCI 2017 Staff)
- Start taking Emergen-C now so that you don’t get sick before BCI starts. You want to be at peak health! (Misha Clebaner, BCI Staff)
Please call or email if you have any questions… bciaju.edu