April 19, 2020
Dear Camp Stone Community,
We hope that all of you had a safe and meaningful Pesach. So many wonderful things have happened since our last communication. I want to highlight our slow shira for a moment. For all those that were able to participate, it was truly inspirational watching over 550 people in the camp community connect over Zoom, Facebook Live, and Instagram Live. We were not sure how a Zoom slow shira would work. Would people sing? Would they connect? It was unbelievable! The Camp Stone spirit soared 🙂 People sang along, people harmonized, people played instruments in their homes, people requested songs, people even stayed after it ended for 2 or 3 encores!! We were so incredibly proud of everyone involved.
Ok, now let’s discuss the summer. As all of you know, the COVID-19 situation is rapidly and dynamically changing with each passing day. Therefore, we continue to monitor it and study it and work with our team of medical professionals, the American Camp Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to create a game plan. We remain committed to running camp this summer, if we can do so in a safe and healthy manner. We remain hopeful and optimistic and wanted to take this opportunity to answer a few more questions that are on the minds of so many of you out there.
As always, thank you for partnering with us on this journey. Our next communication will be on or prior to May 10, 2020.
Yakov & Estee Fleischmann, Co-Directors
Question #1: Will Pennsylvania determine if Camp Stone may OR may not open this summer?
The threshold issue remains the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Camp Stone is considered a “non-essential” business, and therefore, by mandate of Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, we are not currently allowed to be open and operating. Thankfully, camp does not need to be open right now 🙂 I have personally spoken to the following individuals to determine what approach Pennsylvania will take this summer: (1) Kathy Rapp, State Representative, House of Representatives for Pennsylvania – our direct link to the Governor’s Office; (2) Michelle Scroggins, our liaison to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Harrisburg, PA); (3) Ken Klakamp, Sheriff, Warren County Sheriff’s Office; and (4) Ken McCorrison, Director of Public Safety, Warren County. They are all confident that businesses will reopen, but none of them yet knows exactly what Pennsylvania will determine regarding the timing and the nature of the reopening of businesses. I am scheduled to have follow up phone calls with them at the end of April. I have a personal relationship with all of them, that dates back long before COVID-19. These are people that are deeply invested in Camp Stone, and understand how important it is both to our community and to their community as well. It is a symbiotic relationship and they are doing everything in their power to help us.
Question #2: Are other summer camps in the same position as Camp Stone?
We have been meeting regularly with many groups of camp directors: (1) directors of summer camps affiliated with the FJC (Foundation for Jewish Camp), (2) directors of summer camps affiliated with JCamp180 (The Harold Grinspoon Foundation), (3) directors of summer camps accredited by the ACA (American Camp Association) – both on a national level as well as the Midwest Region, and (4) the directors of the other Bnei Akiva summer camps. As many of you know, within the Bnei Akiva movement, there are 5 overnight summer camps, several day camps, and Mach Hach Baaretz. Everyone (from all of the above mentioned groups of camp directors) finds themselves in essentially the same position – every director wants to run camp if it can be done in a safe and healthy manner, and everyone is awaiting more information at the state and federal level. Truth be told, there are some camps in North America that have already made the decision to close for the summer, but the vast majority have not.
Question #3: Even if Camp Stone is allowed to open, will it be safe to open camp?
In a letter released on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, the American Camp Association indicated that they have had an opportunity to speak to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to request that they develop COVID-19 guidelines for summer camps. We don’t yet know when those guidelines will be released, but rest assured that we will communicate with you once we hear from the ACA, and a more concrete health plan is developed for summer camps. If, and only if, the guidelines released by the ACA are achievable and our team of medical professionals believes that there is a safe and healthy manner in which to open camp, then we will set forth a plan, and at that juncture, parents will have the opportunity to opt in or opt out, depending upon a whole host of factors and variables to be enumerated at a later date.
Question #4: If Camp Stone has to delay opening, will First Session be cancelled?
Answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT 🙂
It remains unclear whether Camp Stone will be able to open on time. However, we are committed to providing all of our campers with the same extraordinary experience. Therefore, if we have to delay the start date of camp, we will divide the remaining time equally between the two sessions. We are not yet at a point where we are ready to make that decision, and therefore, we will be in touch in the coming weeks with more information.