March 17, 2020
Dear Camp Stone Community,
We strive, as stated in our mission statement, to support our “campers and staff members to develop the humility and confidence to lead the next generation of the global Jewish community.”
We write to you today with a deep sense of humility regarding the current global pandemic: COVID-19. We are filled with uncertainty and a degree of worry and unrest about what the future holds for all of us. At the same time, we feel a sense of responsibility to continue taking a thoughtful and planful approach as we prepare for the summer.
With God’s help, we pray that the drastic measures that many countries have taken will help propel us to a position where medical professionals are able to handle this crisis. We pray for the speedy recovery of all those that are afflicted, and we pray that everyone around the world remains healthy and safe.
Now, let’s talk about camp 🙂
We have received a number of questions in the last few days, and we wanted to address them:
Question #1: Will Camp Stone happen this summer?
Answer: YES. Now let me qualify that. As we stated in our first letter – we are working with 4 organizations and government entities to determine what actions to take in order to open camp in a safe and healthy way this summer: (a) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (b) American Camp Association (ACA), (c) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), and (d) our designated medical consultants in Cleveland, Ohio. As this situation evolves, much will change in the next three months, and hopefully in favor of conducting summer camp in a safe and healthy way. Session I and Session II will be assessed independently, and we will do everything in our power to make both sessions happen, in partnership with the advice and counsel of those organizations and government entities listed above.
Question #2: Will I get a refund if there is no camp this summer?
Answer: YES. We know how important every dollar is to our parent body. We value that deeply, and if we cannot open camp this summer, we are committed to refunding your money to you. Therefore, from a financial perspective, there is no reason to make any decisions about camp right now, unless you haven’t registered your children yet, in which case you should do so with confidence as soon as possible 🙂 As an additional important point — enrollment is even stronger than last year, and many bunks are already full. Therefore, it is also critical that you continue making monthly payments for camp going forward because failure to do so may jeopardize your child’s spot in the bunk, and you could risk forfeiting the money that you have already paid thus far, pursuant to our existing cancellation policy.
Question #3: Should I make travel plans for campers and staff members?
Answer: YES. If you haven’t done so already, now is an excellent time to purchase airline tickets for camp because prices have dropped. That said, it is certainly a personal decision that each family has to weigh and determine based upon its circumstances. If you are purchasing tickets, it would be wise to ensure that your tickets can be changed without a fee, and to consider purchasing trip insurance, but this current situation should not stop you from purchasing airline tickets. Quite to the contrary, it should motivate you to do so in strategic ways.
Question #4: If summer camps open, is Camp Stone a safe place for my child this summer?
Answer: YES – and that sentiment is echoed by the words of Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, in the article cited below. We have the benefit of being located in a very remote part of western Pennsylvania where our nearest neighbor is over a mile away, and the local population has dipped below 400 residents in Sugar Grove itself. We have no visiting day; we take very few trips outside of camp; our hikes on Friday are local to our property; we have over 500 acres of land; and we have very few Shabbat guests. We are self contained, and limit outside traffic during the week to food deliveries. Furthermore, the entire camp, due to our mission, is run by emerging adults. With the exception of approximately 9 families, everyone working at camp is under the age of 25. All of these factors benefit us tremendously. Finally, we will, of course, make the appropriate adjustments to our schedule, program, and policies, if the situation requires us to do so.
Below is an excellent article that gives a broader perspective on Jewish summer camps in North America in general and how everyone is grappling with the same issues:
The article can also be read here:
The next communication on this topic will be sent out on or before April 20th, 2020. We look forward to staying in touch.
Yakov & Estee Fleischmann, Co-Directors
p.s. Stay tuned for a virtual slow shira and other programming that will take place in the coming weeks!