Summer 2021 Plan, Details, and FAQ’s

This page lays out our plan for how we will safely operate in a summer where COVID-19 is STILL likely to be a major public health concern.

ENROLL TODAY

The information presented in this email is specific to our overnight program. Ramah Day Camp families will receive a separate update with those respective plans.

This plan is the result of months of consultations with medical and camp professionals, National Ramah, the American Camp Association, the Center for Disease Control, and our Board of Directors, and represents the most-likely scenario as to how we will safely operate in a summer where COVID-19 is STILL expected to be a major public health concern.  

Our medical, educational, and programmatic considerations were driven by two guiding questions:

  1. What medical protocols will need to be in place for us to operate safely and successfully this summer?
  2. How can we best amplify the ruach of Ramah within this safe, controlled environment, and give our campers and staff the closest thing to ‘normalcy’ since this pandemic began.

It is these conversations that have resulted in the following proposed plan:

Bubble Camp

Camp will operate as a 'bubble', based on the determination of The Medical Committee of the National Ramah Commission that:

“Overnight camps should create a camp-wide bubble environment to protect against the transmission of virus from outside and within the camp population. Once the proper protocol for screening and testing is followed and the initial 7-14 day quarantine period has been completed (definitive quarantine period to be determined), campers and staff members will be considered part of the bubble and will not interact with anyone outside of the bubble. Camp will be closed to outside visitors and guests.”

Podding Protocol

One of the most successful Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) proven to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in residential communities and day schools, is the use of ‘Podding’. We envision our Podding Protocol in several stages:

  • Tzrif (Bunk): For the first several days of camp, each bunk unit would be considered a ‘Pod’, able to freely interact with one another, while maintaining masking and social distance protocols when interacting with other groups of campers or staff. Campers will not need to be masked within their defined ‘pod’.
  • Tzrifim (Bunks): After initial testing within the first week, we would hope to expand these pods slightly to include a second bunk in a given edah, creating a larger pod, of around 32 campers and staff. These pods would function as a closed unit, until we are certain that we have passed the initial quarantine period.
  • Edah (Age Group): This next stage would expand the size of the pod to the entire edah, which would function as its own large pod for a period of time. This larger group could participate in programming, indoors and unmasked, together as a unit just as they would have in previous summers. Certain social distancing NPIs would still be required during interactions between these larger pods.
  • Machaneh: The ‘New Normal’ of Camp: Although there are likely to be continuing NPIs that we will maintain throughout the summer to ensure the safety of our camp community, we hope that at this stage, we could have inter-edah interaction and programming for the remainder of the camp season.

Extended Staff Week

In order to welcome our campers into the safest environment possible the medical committee recommends both pre-camp and on-site testing for staff and lengthening staff week to ten days. Based on this recommendation, our plan has staff week running from Sunday, June 20th - Wed. June 30th.

Slightly-Shortened Camper Season

To accommodate for a slightly longer staff week, and to ensure that each camper family has the time to establish a pre-camp quarantine routine, Thursday, July 1st will be the adjusted opening day of the camp season. Therefore, Full Session at Ramah Poconos will now run for 7 Shabbatot, from Thursday, July 1st - Sunday, August 15th.

First Session or Full Summer Only

We are beginning camp in the strictest of pods to ensure the effectiveness of the bubble. Then, and only then, we will gradually and conditionally expand these pods to incrementally larger cohorts (as mentioned above). We are anticipating that process to take several weeks into the First Session.

Introducing new Second Session campers at that point would necessitate re-starting all of the podding procedures and protocols, perhaps only a few days after we had achieved the safety of our bubble. Once again - we are driven by the guiding question of: How might we offer a Ramah experience that is filled with the ruach, socialization, and joyful Judaism as it would have been in any other summer? By offering only First Session and Full Summer enrollment, we will provide our campers and staff with the safest and most meaningful experience possible.

New Session Dates

Full Session: Thursday, July 1st - Sunday, August 15th

First Session: Thursday, July 1st - Sunday, July 25th (available to current 3rd-7th grade)

Tuition Rates

Our rates will remain the same for both Full Summer and First Session as they have been since we launched enrollment this summer. Despite the slight shortening of the Full Summer session, we anticipate significantly increased operational costs related to creating the safest possible environment for our campers and staff this summer. To that end, we are moving forward with significant physical improvements to the air flow and ventilation of all of our camper bunks and large indoor spaces. We will also be investing heavily in tenting structures which will allow us to operate outdoors as much as possible. Please note that due to our bubble protocol, there will be no tripping fees for this upcoming summer. 

Refund Policy

Due to the changes we have made to our summer sessions, and because we want to offer our families maximum flexibility, we will be offering full refunds to any family who wishes to withdraw before April 15th of 2021. Refunds can be requested through our registrar, Debbie Lacks

Scholarship

Our Scholarship Process is open and we are anxious to work with families to support their decision to send their child to Ramah this summer. Additional scholarships may be available for families making the move from a single session into the Full Summer experience. As always, our local Jewish Federation also has needs-based scholarships as well as the One Happy Camper grant for qualifying families.

Camp Ramah in the Poconos Scholarship Application 

One Happy Camper Scholarship

Unfortunately in the aforementioned plan, our COVID-19 protocols do not allow us to run the Taste of Ramah experience; the entirety of the program would exist in Stage 1 of our podding protocols and we do not feel this will allow for the best or most accurate first-time Ramah experience. For current 3rd or 4th graders signed up for Taste, we encourage you to reach out to Rachael Abrams, our Director of Camper Care, about the possibility of signing your child up for First Session this summer.

Sadly, this means that our 2nd grade campers will be unable to attend camp in 2021. We are heartbroken that there are any children who will not get to experience a ‘Taste Summer.’ We hope to facilitate virtual or regional, socially-distanced events during the summer aimed at establishing important friendships and connections to Ramah. We look forward to staying connected to our current 2nd graders throughout the coming year and to you joining us at Ramah Poconos in Summer 2022.

We are planning on running our Yedidim and Tochnit Avodah programs this summer, within the framework of the camp bubble described above. Current plans envision our Tochnit Avodah participants would live as part of the general Yedidim Pod during Stage 1, and then moving to appropriate housing that would allow them to begin the important work of gaining independent living and work skills within the camp community. There will also not be a second session available for Yedidim. If your child is currently enrolled for the second session or either Taste of Tikvah 1 or Taste of Tikvah 2 (our 2 week programs), please schedule a time to speak with Orlee Krass, Tikvah Director about appropriate/available options for this kayitz.  All other enrolled Yedidim and Tochnit Avodah families with any questions should also schedule a time to speak with Orlee through this link: Calendly.com/orleek

Will there be visitors at camp and on visiting day?

We are being extremely cautious with our approach to creating a bubble in order to maintain the health and safety of everyone at camp. As a result, we do not currently plan to have visitors at camp or hold Visiting Day this season. We are exploring options for a Virtual Visiting Day for our Full Summer campers.

Will camp provide bus transportation this summer?

Currently, we are asking parents/guardians to make arrangements for camper drop off as we will likely not have bussing on opening day. We are still considering options for bussing on the way home. Additional information will be provided as we know more about the guidelines from the state and federal authorities.

Will there be testing requirements at camp?

Yes, we are working with our medical committee on these exact protocols and will be sharing information with you in the coming months about how and when we plan to test to help ensure the health and safety of our camp community.

What will my child have to do before camp?

Pre-camp behaviors (quarantining before coming to camp) are expected from everyone attending camp this summer. More information on specific behaviors during the days leading up to camp will be shared in the coming months.

Is there going to be room for my child to switch sessions to the first session or full summer?

We will work with each family affected by these changes and do our best to ensure that every camper that is currently enrolled will have a space at camp.

What does this mean for scholarship?

Due to our generous donors, we anticipate being able to offer similar levels of scholarships that we have in previous summers; and we are also prepared to offer additional support to those families most affected by the pandemic. Additional incentives may be available to families opting into the FULL SUMMER experience from a single session.

Camp Ramah in the Poconos Scholarship Application

Why has the camper season been shortened?

To accommodate for a slightly longer staff week, and to ensure that each camper family has the time to establish a pre-camp quarantine routine, Thursday, July 1st is the adjusted opening day of the camp season. As a result, Full Session at Ramah Poconos will now run for 7 Shabbatot, from Thursday, July 1st  - Sunday, August 15th.

What happens if most of the country is vaccinated by the summer?

At this time, it appears that children under the age of 16 will not be vaccinated until after the summer months. Even if most adults are vaccinated by that time, there is still the potential for community spread unless we work to create and maintain our bubble. Therefore, at this time, medical experts are suggesting that we stick to our plan of testing, podding, and creating a bubble for our community this summer.

Will there be Ramah Basketball Academy (RBA)?

We are working to create a program for our campers who opt into RBA that will build skills and challenge their growth in basketball. We will share more information on our developing plan for this basketball program  in the coming weeks. RBA charges will be removed from your family bill, but basketball will still remain an important part of our camp program for those campers who are interested in this option.

Will there be Trips out of camp this summer for campers?

We are creating a careful and cautious approach to establish a bubble to maintain the health and safety of everyone at camp. As a result, we do not plan to run out of camp trips that would take campers to heavily populated areas. We are exploring outdoor experiences in nature including camping/hiking/backpacking. We will share additional information in the coming months.

Will programming look different at camp this summer?

It is our intention to maintain all of the cultural and traditional parts of the camp season. We know that modifications will have to be made, especially in the first few weeks of camp. However, we anticipate being able to offer a robust program this summer that will allow our campers to engage in all of the class Ramah Poconos camper activities.

What do I do if my child is currently enrolled for the Second session?

Please fill out the survey you received by email to indicate your likely course of action for the proposed session changes. We will then be in touch with any finalized changes and directions for confirming your enrollment for the summer.

How can I help my child prepare for what camp will look like this summer?
We will be sharing information, through a variety of formats in the coming months, regarding logistical and programmatic changes to camp so that you can help your children prepare. In the meantime, please help campers understand that during the initial podding period, they will be required to wear masks for significant portions of the day as well as undergo anterior testing several times throughout their time at camp. (If campers are unable to adhere to these requirements, they will be unable to attend camp.)

We Are All In This Together

We appreciate your continued trust and your patience, and we thank you for your flexibility as we work to ensure that Summer 2021 will not only be safe – but will be the most meaningful experience possible for your child. 

With the turn of the calendar to January, we can not only imagine being together at camp THIS year, for Kayitz 2021, but are well on our way to creating a summer full of joyful Jewish experiences that we all know our kids need and deserve most of all right now! 

ENROLL TODAY

 

 

Thank you for always being our partners in raising this next generation of Jewish leadership at Camp Ramah. May we celebrate together in Summer 2021!


  • Rabbi Joel Seltzer

    Executive Director

  • Rachel Dobbs-Schwartz

    Overnight Camp Director