Summer 2021 Plan, Details, and FAQ’s

This plan is the result of ongoing consultation 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 the pandemic began.

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

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

If you are considering extending your first session camper to stay at camp for the full summer, please fill out THIS form by May 15, 2021. Reminder: if your camper’s name is not on this list prior to May 15, you will not be able to extend….so, if you are even thinking about the possibility of extending, please fill out the survey!

Strongly Recommended - 10 days prior to Opening Day (June 20th)

Mandatory - within 72 hours prior to Opening Day (June 28th - June 30th)

All campers must produce a Negative result from a PCR test within 72 hours of the start of camp (This means the test must be taken NO EARLIER than June 28th and NO LATER than June 30th, 2021) Campers will not be permitted into camp without proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Pending results will not be accepted.

Also we strongly recommend that every camper gets a PCR test exactly 10 days prior to camp (Sunday, June 20th) as an additional precaution against asymptomatic cases. Even with a positive PCR test 10 days prior to arriving at camp, it is still possible that your child will be able to attend camp as planned (see below for information regarding protocols following a positive test.) A 10 day pre-camp PCR test will allow campers who unexpectedly test positive to finish their isolation requirement and, if symptom free, come to camp with the rest of the bunk on Opening Day. After Sunday, June 20th, a positive PCR test would require that your camper miss at least a portion of the camp season.

We are currently exploring securing specific testing locations and scheduled time slots in our regional community to help your family better plan and prepare for these tests. We look forward to sharing those details as we get closer to camp.

Campers are expected to avoid interactions with people outside their immediate household during the 14 days leading up to Opening Day (Beginning on Thursday, June 17th - July 1st) All interactions with members outside your immediate family must be outdoors, masked, and socially distanced. Parents and their campers are strongly encouraged to commit to a two-week period of limited contact with others prior to arrival for the camper. For example, attending group celebrations, family events, parties, etc., should be strongly discouraged. If these events are unavoidable, masks and social distancing are required.

Parents will be required to complete a daily health screening for their child 14 days prior to arriving at camp. If a camper or any household parent becomes ill/symptomatic during 14 days prior to camp, they must have their camper evaluated, tested, and must notify camp. Details on this system will follow closer to camp.

*Please note that the National Ramah Medical Committee continues to closely monitor the data and CDC recommendations regarding the efficacy of the vaccines as it relates to contracting and transmitting the virus. It IS POSSIBLE that we may have reason to adjust some of our Covid-related protocols and procedures as further data comes to light and is verified by medical professionals. For the time being, we continue to operate under the assumption that since the vast majority of our camper population will NOT be vaccinated by the start of the summer, we must adhere to our current protocols to ensure the safety and health of our community.

Testing at camp, especially during the beginning of the summer, is an important tool in ensuring the safest “Beginning” possible.

Testing upon arrival:

On Opening Day, Thursday, July 1st, we are planning on administering PCR tests to each camper upon arrival. These tests are not intended for immediate results. In fact, we expect the results of these arrival tests back within the first few days of camp, while we are in Stage One, “Tzrif”, the strictest of the four stages. After receiving these results from Opening Day, we will be able to determine if we can advance to Stage Two (Click here to review the four stages of our plan for kayitz 2021), or if additional precautions or targeted-group testing are warranted.

Additional Testing at Camp:

Currently, we plan on administering at least two additional PCR tests to each camper within the first 10-12 days of camp. The results of these tests will help us determine how to safely advance our camp community through the opening stages of the summer. Currently, we are not planning for additional mass testing after our controlled environment has been established. However we will be using rapid antigen tests for any symptomatic cases which present themselves at camp. If there is a positive rapid antigen test result, an additional PCR test may be sent to confirm the result, and testing may be necessary for close contacts of that individual.

Any camper who tests positive for COVID-19 during our initial testing period will be immediately isolated and cared for in a specific housing unit under medical supervision until the camper is picked up from camp (see below). This building, set aside for this purpose, allows for the use of private rooms with bathrooms for the individual, while still allowing for staff to live on site.

For the safety of both the individual and the safety of our camp community, our medical committee has decided that all campers who produce a COVID-positive test must be picked up from camp within 24 hours, and must be brought home for isolation and monitoring. Once they have completed a ten day isolation, and they are asymptomatic, they will be permitted to return to the camp community without further delay. Campers and staff who are close contacts with the positive individual will be ‘quarantined’ from the larger camp community, continually monitored for symptoms, and if need be, tested. Campers in ‘quarantine’ will continue to have a REGULAR DAILY SCHEDULES with their ‘podded’ group of counselors and specialists. They’re still going to Schiyah (Swim), Sport, and even Yahadut (Jewish studies!!), – a full camp experience. Once clearing that ‘quarantine’ period, that pod will be permitted to re-join their peers at the appropriate stage of our podding procedure.

In order to ensure the safest possible “Beginning” to our kayitz, we have decided that Opening Day will be Car Drop-Off ONLY on Thursday, July 1st. Two Important Transportation Updates:

1) In careful consultation with our medical committee we have decided that camper pick-up on Sunday, July 25th will be by CAR ONLY. Families of First Session Campers will receive information regarding camper pick up in June.

2) We are still exploring the possibility of bus transportation home at the end of the summer for our Full Summer campers; however, families should begin to make arrangements in case car-pick up becomes the safer or more logistically-appropriate option. We expect to be able to make a final decision on this issue before our Camp Community Town Hall in May.

Luggage to Camp: Due to our policy of mandatory car drop-off, This year ALL CAMPER LUGGAGE MUST arrive via Camp Trucking or UPS/FedEx. Campers may only arrive with hand luggage (backpack and/or small overnight bag. We cannot accept camper luggage on opening day.

By using Camp Trucking/Shipping Options in advance of OPENING DAY, we will be able to have all camper luggage sorted and pre-arranged in their Tzrifim upon arrival.

PLEASE NOTE: any camper luggage received on opening day WILL NOT be processed for several hours, and may result in a camper who is unable to get unpacked and settled for their first day or night of camp.

All camper luggage must arrive at camp through one of the following methods

- Camp Trucking

- FedEx

- UPS

If you are sending your luggage through Camp Trucking, please register by going to the Camp Trucking Website at as soon as possible. If you are using Camp Trucking, your camper luggage will be picked up from your home on the following dates:

  • For campers living in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York City, or Long Island (NY), your camper luggage will be picked up from your home on Wednesday, June 23rd 2021
  • For campers living in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, or Westchester (NY), your camper luggage will be picked up on Thursday, June 24th 2021.

We appreciate your flexibility regarding earlier luggage pick up dates for this year. This is due to the need to carefully separate out all luggage to ensure safety. If this is an issue for you, please feel free to schedule a UPS or FedEx delivery based on the dates below. If you are shipping luggage through UPS/FedEx: Please ensure that your camper bags arrive in camp no later than Monday, June 28.

Luggage Home from Camp: Options for First Session-Only Camper Families:

  • Round-Trip Camp Trucking: Your child’s bag will be picked up at camp on Monday, July 26th and delivered to your door within 2-4 days.
    This is the best option for families who may not have room in their car for camper luggage.
  • UPS/Fed-Ex: Families can arrange for pick up from camp on Monday, July 26th for home delivery.
  • Car Pick-Up: Families who can fit their luggage (and their children!) are welcomed to choose this option for pick up at camp on Sunday, July 26th.

Full Summer Families: As stated above, we will have final confirmation of our end-of-summer transportation plans by our May Town Hall. In the meantime, families can begin to operate on the assumption that if there is a bus home, all campers taking the bus would be required to send their luggage home via Camp Trucking/FedEx/UPS. Families picking their campers up from camp may choose from any of the options above.

Due to the ongoing pandemic and our goal to create a COVID-19 controlled environment, we will be operating as a closed campus this summer. As a result of this, we will not be receiving visitors at any time during summer camp. We are working on an opportunity for a “virtual visiting day” where campers will have the opportunity to speak with or even zoom with their parents. More details on virtual visiting day will be shared in June.

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. 

 

 

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