Below is a list of questions we anticipate many families will be asking as they decide to register and prepare to come to camp next summer. While comprehensive, this list is by no means exhaustive. If you have questions that are not addressed on this page, we strongly encourage you to contact camp leadership to discuss. We know that on any given year, the decision to attend camp is an important one and it is made even more challenging by the ramifications of the coronavirus.
Senior Director Josh Steinharter can be reached at email@example.com or (415) 997-8844, and is more than happy to discuss camp’s plans to keep campers, staff, and our entire community safe next summer.
What is your general approach to running camp in the age of Covid-19?
As a starting point, we are thinking about how to run camp as if it were taking place today. What are the protocols and procedures we need in place now, while anticipating how things might change by the time camp starts in June? While we certainly hope that the pandemic climate will improve by this summer, we will be ready for the most extreme scenario. That way, we can simply peel away layers of compliance as they become unnecessary once the situation improves.
As we look at all aspects of preparing for camp, there is nothing we are doing that does not have some element of covid-related planning.
Important to note, there is more time between now and the start of camp than since the start of the pandemic. Meaning, we have more time to prepare and can do so armed with more knowledge and understanding of what needs to be done to be safe.
What are the specific measures you're considering for the summer?
We have spent considerable time learning from camps and other similar organizations that have been successful in creating safe spaces and mitigating spread. The commonality they all share are established protocols and a culture of compliance that includes pre-camp shelter-in-place, pre-screening, periodic (if not daily) health screenings, PPE, distancing, altered activities (outdoor activities and small groups as much as possible), cohorts or podding, hand washing, testing, disinfecting and cleaning. Some have compared these measures to swiss cheese. Each measure implemented in isolation has holes, but when several measures are stacked together, the overlapping effect reduces holes until there are none.
Why have you decided to open camp?
Because we know camp is important, campers need it, and because we can! After what will be more than a year at home with limited opportunity to be with friends, we can’t think of anything more healthy and important than time at overnight camp. Since camp is already one of the most impactful experiences on the growth and development of a child, we think it’s even more so amidst the stressful climate of the pandemic. Camp is tremendously therapeutic for kids, staff, and everyone involved and an essential part of a child’s year-long learning landscape. That value is exponential this year!
Where are you getting information to guide your decision making?
We have been gathering information from a variety of sources including, but not limited to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Camping Association, (ACA), our network of Jewish camps in the SF Bay Area, Jewish and private camps nationwide (many who ran in 2020), San Mateo County Health Department, JMSC Advisory Committee, OFJCC Covid Task Force, and the JCC Association of North America.
Why have you chosen to run longer sessions?
We’ve made this decision for a number of reasons. Longer sessions have been on our mind for several years. Parents and campers have been asking for it and each year we see more and more campers attending multiple sessions. So on one hand, there is a demand for more camp. And while that is a good reason to run longer sessions, due to the conditions created by the pandemic, longer sessions are simply safer. Families will be asked to commit to a series of health compliance measures and in order for those to make sense and feel worthwhile, we feel a longer session is merited. Further, it is the recommendation of the CDC that any activity outside of school last for at least 3 weeks to limit opportunity for exposure. Our longer sessions meet this standard.
Why are there only two sessions in 2021?
It was important to limit the number of “start days” to as few as possible so as to avoid opportunities for covid-19 to penetrate our community. When everyone arrives at the same time, playing by the same rules and taking the same measures, we can drastically reduce the likelihood of an exposure. The more opening days, the more risk to exposure. Additionally, we have limited access to Menlo College due to their school calendar.
With regard to Covid-19, what does a successful summer look like?
Next summer may be challenging, but it is sure to be the most rewarding we’ve ever had. We know that the simple act of having camp will already position us for significant and meaningful success. That said, </span><b>health and safety remains our first priority</b><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>. We do not believe it is a reasonable expectation to enter the summer thinking we can completely avoid covid-19. It is reasonable, however, to implement protocols for safety and actions steps to be followed when and if a case arises. Our goal is to create an environment with the systems, protocols, and communication methods that allow us to recognize a case as soon as possible and prevent spread. In the end, aside from stopping anyone from getting coronavirus, the ultimate goal is to mitigate spread, contract trace should there be a case and ensure the community stays safe.
What is the refund policy if our family registers and changes our mind about attending camp?
All fees paid to camp for tuition, including the deposit, will be fully refundable until May 1.
What is the mask policy for next summer?
Much of this answer will depend on the status of the pandemic when camp occurs. We will utilize masks/PPE and other measures to ensure the safety of our camp community as they are recommended, and will likely go beyond the recommendations to ensure the safety of everyone at camp.
Will camp be structured into cohorts or pods?
Yes, we expect camp to be separated into small groups. How these groups will be determined and limited is still a conversation in progress but we do plan to operate within small pods. When and if those pods interact with other pods, as is permitted by the CDC and recommended by the ACA, we will follow the rule of 2 of 3 compliance measures or what has been called “mixing and masking”. Those measures include distancing, outdoors, and/or masking.
Do you expect to offer the traditional core sports as in past years?
Yes, we plan to offer the same sports as in past years though with more strict limitations on how many campers per sport. Additionally, volleyball will be 100% outdoors and we are exploring the facilities necessary to hold parts of basketball outdoors. Other sports like soccer, baseball, and tennis will incorporate a combination of masks and distancing as necessary.
How many campers will live in a dorm room?
We are in conversation with the leadership of Menlo College to determine the max capacity of each dorm building and room (square footage per person) and will make a decision based on the recommendations of the CDC and other guiding organizations.
Will my camper need to quarantine prior to coming to camp?
Yes, per CDC guidelines and the recommendations of other reputable organizations such as the American Camping Association and San Mateo County Health Department, we expect to require campers to shelter in place for 14 days prior to their arrival at camp. We will make alterations to this policy as the situation evolves.
Will you implement testing at camp?
It’s too early to answer this definitively but we do expect to use testing as a significant safety measure. By the time camp rolls around, it is our expectation that testing will be more readily available and affordable. If that is the case, at this time, we would expect campers to test within 72 hours of coming to camp, again when they arrive, and again a few days into the session.
Are campers permitted to attend more than one session?
Yes, campers are more than welcome to attend more than one session provided they agree to and are comfortable staying within the camp bubble for the duration of their time at camp, including the days between sessions. Parents will not be permitted to visit their camper on campus or take them off campus for lunch or any other activity.
With the longer session, will the daily schedule change?
Yes, we do expect to make changes to the overall session program as well as the daily schedule. We are in the beginning stages of a deliberative process to reshape our entire camp program based much on feedback from parents and staff and of course, our campers. Given campers will be at camp longer, one change campers can anticipate is a shift from 4 hours of core sports to fewer each day, likely closer to 3 hours per day. We will communicate any and all changes once they’ve been finalized.
Should a camper with a comorbidity attend camp?
This is a personal decision that can only be made by a family in consultation with their doctor. If you are unsure if your child should come to camp this summer, we strongly recommend that you call so we can talk through the specifics of your family’s situation.
How do I enroll if I chose to roll over tuition from Summer 2020?
First, thank you! If you banked all or part of your tuition from last summer to be credited to 2021, we will go ahead and enroll your camper for you. Please email <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a> to let us know which session and sport you’d like to enroll your camper.
Will you be running a day camp?
We will not be offering day camp at the same location as our overnight camp program. We may offer JCC Maccabi Sports Day Camp at the OFJCC campus or another location, to be decided at a later date.
What don't you know now that you plan to share with camp families prior to the summer?
We are committed to constant learning about covid-19 and the best practices with regard to preventing and mitigating the virus. We expect to have a relationship with a medical provider to serve as a real time consultant in the face of an exposure. We also plan to have more specifics around cohorting, daily compliance measures, and more.