May 6, 2020
Dear Camp Stone Community,
We have been working around the clock to figure out how we can run camp this summer in a safe and healthy manner. We have learned a lot, and with that information, we have made certain important decisions. We want to share all of that with you. We hope that the questions and answers below provide some clarity to you as we continue to work towards a final plan for summer 2020.
Question:Why hasn’t a decision been made yet about camp for summer 2020?
Answer: We are awaiting critically important information.
The American Camp Association (ACA) is working on creating guidelines for all residential summer camps based upon recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The ACA originally indicated that those guidelines would be available by the end of April. As of today, the ACA has published a table of contents, but they have not yet populated it. Our latest information is that it will be available in its entirety by the middle of May. The ACA is working with both the American College of Pediatrics and a consulting firm specializing in environmental health in publishing these guidelines.
To provide some context, in speaking with our insurance agent last night, I learned that they insure over 600 summer camps and that, thus far, only 12 of those camps they insure have cancelled. The vast majority of summer camps are awaiting more information prior to making a final decision.
Question: What will you do with the guidelines once you have them? You are camp directors, not physicians!
Answer: We will consult with our medical team.
As we have indicated in our prior communications, we have a team of doctors that we consult with at Camp Stone. All of them have worked at Camp Stone during the summer, and the group includes physicians that specialize in both pediatrics and infectious disease. Once the guidelines have been published, this team of doctors will review them and determine if there is a safe and healthy path forward for opening camp this summer.
Question: Will Camp Stone open on June 16th as originally planned?
Answer: Sadly, it will not.
This is the hardest thing we have had to tell our wonderful Camp Stone community to date. At this stage, given that we do not have enough information to develop a healthy and safe approach to opening camp, and given the lack of testing available, and a lack of knowledge regarding when Warren County, Pennsylvania will allow businesses to re-open, and when campers and staff members from other locations will be allowed to travel to Camp Stone, and by what mode of transportation, we will not be able to open on time.
Question: Is Camp Stone Summer 2020 cancelled?
At this point we have decided not to cancel camp entirely. We remain hopeful that we will still be able to run programming in a portion of the months of July and August. As we have indicated before, that program will be available to both sessions, but at this time, we do not yet know exactly when we will be able to start, the length of the sessions, or how many children will be able to attend. If there is a restriction on the number of campers permitted in each bunkhouse, as we are expecting to hear, then we will likely design an experience that prioritizes the older campers who stand to lose the most programmatically by not being in camp this summer.
As soon as we know more information, we will share that information with you. We will continue to operate with complete transparency. Rest assured, no final decisions have been made.
Question: What is the current status of Warren County, Pennsylvania?
A: Yellow – which is good news. 🙂
Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, set forth a three phase plan for re-opening the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The three phases are “Red-Yellow-Green.” In a statement on Friday, May 2nd, Governor Wolf moved 24 counties in northwestern and central Pennsylvania (including Warren County where Camp Stone is located) from Red to Yellow. Thank God, Warren County has only 1 confirmed case of Coronavirus and no deaths. When will Warren County, Pennsylvania move to the Green phase of the plan? Unfortunately, that information is not yet known.
Question: If I want to cancel now, what is the process for doing so?
A: Email Randi.
If you would like to cancel, the process is simple. You must send an email to Randi Mashmoor, who all of you know well at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will log it and provide me with a list. I, Yakov, will then call you to have one final discussion and then process the cancellation.
Question: Yakov, why do you want to speak to all the parents that cancel?
A: I thought you would never ask 🙂
Since our tenure as directors began, I have made a point of speaking to all parents that cancel. Thankfully, each year, that has been a relatively small number. Naturally, this year, given the circumstances, I will be making more phone calls. It’s extremely important to me that I have a chance to speak to my parent body, and this provides an opportunity to do so.
Question: Did you get a portion of the $10 Million that the Harold Grinspoon Foundation is giving to Jewish Summer Camps?
Answer: Yes! Harold Grinspoon is a hero!
Harold Grinspoon and his foundation, which is responsible for PJ Library, One Happy Camper, and JCamp180, a major initiative in support of Jewish summer camps, launched its latest initiative “All Together Now.” This matching grant program will help Jewish non-profit camps through these extremely difficult financial times.
We are eligible to receive:
A) $1 from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for every $1 that is donated back to Camp Stone from tuition dollars after March 30, 2020 up to our matching grant allocation; and
B) $1 from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for every $2 that is donated to Camp Stone after March 30, 2020 up to our matching grant allocation.
One Final Important Note:
We stand to lose a tremendous amount of money if we do not open AND we stand to lose even more money if we do open in a modified fashion.
So why are we trying so hard? The answer is simple.
Camp Stone is a very unique place. It is one that provides campers and staff members with leadership skills for life and transformative Jewish experiential education at the highest level. As we have told many of you in person at open houses and otherwise – sending your children, as both campers or staff members to Camp Stone, is a sacred bond. It’s a partnership between us. We are not merely a third-party service provider, and you are not merely a consumer. We are raising the next generation of global Jewish leadership. Together.
For many campers and staff members at Camp Stone, camp is everything. It is what grounds them, it is what keeps them healthy and strong, and it is where they are at their absolute best. We cannot give up on that dream just yet, not when there are 1,500 neshamot depending on it. So much has happened so quickly over the last two months, and so much more will happen in the next 4 weeks, and no one has a crystal ball.
We may see the guidelines published (hopefully this week or next) and determine with our medical team that there is a path forward to bring us all back together at Camp Stone this summer. Alternatively, we may review the guidelines and decide that we truly cannot make it work at Camp Stone this summer. That would be very sad, but it would be a new reality that we would have to face, and we would do so with our heads held high. BUT, we aren’t throwing in the towel now. We are going 12 rounds. That is who we are and that is how we are built.
We love all of you and we are proud to be the captains of the ship even in such turbulent and murky waters.
May God grant a Refuah Shleimah to all that are sick, and may we emerge from this pandemic braver and stronger.
Yakov & Estee