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COVID-19 Protocols: What you need to know for Summer 2021

Updated: March 1, 2021 – This document will continue to evolve as we get closer to the summer, please continue to check back for updates. 

We are excited about the prospect of returning to camp this summer. We know our campers and staff feel the same way, and with that comes a level of enthusiasm as well as some uncertainty and caution. 

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp (JMSC) is committed to making camp a safe environment and positive experience for all campers and staff. We’ve created this document to address some of those concerns and to provide the specifics around how we plan to run the camp in a healthy and safe way. The information contained on this page is intended to inform our camper families about how JMSC is approaching the safe reopening of camp for 2021.

JMSC will closely monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines related to youth sports and program-related policies as well as review state and local protocols and regulations to ensure compliance. As state and local guidelines on gathering size limits and youth activities change, the JMSC policies and procedures listed below may change accordingly.

On that note, this is an evolving document. As we’ve all come to learn, the landscape of Covid, and the related rules of engagement, continue to change. We ask that you see this as a starting point and an indication of the level of seriousness with which we are taking the safety of your child and the sanctity of our community. We will continue to update this document and notify registered families as things change and our protocols evolve. Should you have any questions about the policies stated below or do not see the details you seek about a specific protocol or situation, please email camp to discuss.

Senior Director Josh Steinharter can be reached at or (415) 997-8844 and is more than happy to discuss the camp’s plans to keep campers, staff, and our entire community safe next summer.

Our general approach and decision making strategy +-


In considering these policies, it was important to our committee that policies kept health and safety at the forefront of our minds while also giving the appropriate weight to best practices, the burden on families, and the ability to achieve compliance. 

While there is no one method of protection that fully prevents the spread of Covid, the layered effect of several preventative methods has demonstrated to be effective. Further, should a positive case be discovered, we would be in a position to isolate the infected person, quarantine those in close contact, and continue to maintain safety for all others at camp. 

The method of applying many layers, each of which has strengths and weaknesses, or holes, is commonly referred to as the “swiss cheese” approach. Each strategy, when layered upon each other, blocks the holes of another, thereby creating more resistant protection from COVID-19. Those layers include but are not limited to pre-camp low risk behavior, testing, masking, distance, being outdoors, washing hands, and cleaning surfaces and facilities. The most significant mitigation protocols are wearing masks, employing social distancing, and being outdoors. Best practices say to abide by the “2 of 3 rule”, ensuring that at least 2 of these tactics are used at all times. 


Camp leadership is closely monitoring the pandemic and taking guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the leadership of the Oshman Family JCC (camp’s parent organization), JCC Association, Menlo College, and the American Camp Association.

Additionally, we have formed a medical advisory task force that is led by experienced medical professionals and leaders in the field of camping. 

Members of the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp Medical Advisory Task Force

  • Dr. Riki Alcheck, MD, Family Medicine
  • Dr. Sabrina Braham, MD FAAP
  • Deborah Meshel, RN 
  • Sharon Leslie, PT, DPT
  • Sally Flinchbaugh, COO, Oshman Family JCC 
  • Josh Steinharter, Senior Director, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp
  • Joel Swedlove, Assistant Director, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp
  • Eytan Graubart, Executive Director, Pinemere Camp

General changes this summer +-

  • Our traditional session structure of three 2-week sessions has been adjusted to two sessions of 18 and 21 days, creating fewer camper entry points and longer duration to establish a safe and healthy camp environment.
  • The daily schedule is being adjusted to centralize more consistently around cabin groups (cohorts of 8-12 campers), limiting large group activities, moving programs outdoors whenever possible, limiting activity in the dorms, and isolating cross-cohort activities to core sports, which will abide by the “2 of 3” rule.
  • Staff Week will be extended from 7 days to at least 10 days to allow us to establish a safe and healthy staff prior to the arrival of campers.
  • To ensure the safety of our campers and staff and do our absolute best to establish a Covid safe environment, staff will not be permitted to leave camp this year as they were in past years. Once a staff person arrives at Menlo College, their movement will be restricted, not permitting staff to leave for any reason, including time/days off, jogging, to get food in the evening, or shop at Target.

Vaccine +-

  • While we expect many of our staff may be vaccinated by the start of camp, we do not at this time feel that vaccines will be pervasive enough to have a substantial impact on the camp from a perspective of mitigation or spread. 
  • The expectations in this document will apply to all staff, regardless of vaccination status. That is to say; we do not expect there to be a change in behavioral expectations for vaccinated staff.
  • UPDATE: The content of this section was written prior to the recent advancements of the vaccine and before our committee has had the opportunity to discuss how our policies might change. This is an excellent example of the fast-moving nature of this situation and we expect to make alterations to certain parameters as vaccinations roll out and continue to be more readily available to adults.

Testing +-

  • Testing will be a significant part of our strategy for this summer and one of several layers in the “swiss cheese” approach.
  • In addition to all staff and campers being tested prior to camp and upon arrival, we are also optimistic that we will test each member of our community at least 2-3 times in the first 7-10 days of each session.

Pre-camp Expectations +-

  • ALL campers and their families will be expected to follow specific low-risk behaviors for 14 days prior to their arrival at camp, during which time they will screen for COVID-related symptoms. See “Pre-Camp Behavior – What is permitted and what is not” below for specific guidance on our expectations. 
  • Every camper must have a negative test within 3 days prior to arriving at camp.

Drop Off and Pick Up +-

  • Drop off and pick up will occur under social distancing protocols. 
  • Only campers will be permitted to exit their vehicle upon arrival at camp. 
  • All campers will be greeted by a member of cabin staff who welcome them to camp, assist with bags, and get campers settled in. 
  • All campers will need to be masked and will undergo a health screening, including a rapid response antigen test, before parents leave.
  • Parents will be required to stay in their car while these activities occur, and they wait for the “all-clear” on their camper entering camp.

Cohorts +-

  • Our campers will be grouped much like we’ve done with cabins in past summers, with campers of the same age. We expect these to be groups of 8-14 campers, depending on CDC, state, and county guidelines and restrictions, and  not to be limited by gender. 
  • This pod will be much like a family pod at home but will be required to wear masks at all times, even when indoors. 
  • Exception: When in their dorm room, with roommates only, masks may be removed. 
  • Group size will be based on state guidelines as well as age-appropriate breakdown of campers. 
  • Pods will live and eat together and participate in sports programming as well as traditional camp programs together, with the exception of core sports, see below. 

Core Sports +-

  • Campers will participate in core sports daily. All core sports, with the exception of basketball, will be outdoors and campers and staff will be masked and distanced while participating. We are researching the possibility of setting up an outdoor basketball court to minimize time spent on an indoor court. 
  • We understand that this will limit some of our traditional core sports programming and have begun working with our coaches to ensure the highest-level programming while still within Covid protocols.
  • The possibility exists that the afternoon segment of core sports, traditionally a time for scrimmage and gameplay, will change to allow us to continue to offer the more popular aspect of our camp, playing competitive games. More on this in the coming weeks. 

Camp Wide Programs +-

Whenever campers are interacting with anyone outside of their pod they will be masked, distanced, and outdoors as much as possible. With the vast and beautiful outdoor spaces available at Menlo College, we anticipate successfully holding many of our traditional all-camp programs outdoors (Shabbat, talent show, etc.).

Meals +-

  • Meals will be eaten outside this summer with each pod having a designated area to eat that will be segmented from other pods.
  • We are working closely with Menlo College to ensure smooth meal service, and expect the excellent food and food service to continue, safely, with campers enjoying meals with their pods on the beautiful Menlo campus
  • Foodservice at Menlo College is provided by Sodexo, a global company currently operating safely at hundreds of colleges, universities, and hospitals around the world. They have strict protocols that ensure the safety of their staff as well as those dining in their programs.

Dorms +-

  • As a general rule, the amount of time spent inside dorm buildings will be limited and more restrictive. 
  • Campers will not be permitted to hang out in dorm room hallways and will be limited to their rooms and designated pod lounges. 
  • Masks will be required at all times when in the dorms, except when roommates are in their personal bedroom. 
  • Pods will have pre-set shower times to avoid interacting with other pods in the dorms unmasked. 
  • Camp is working closely with Menlo College facilities staff to create a frequent and thorough cleaning schedule that will not conflict with the presence of campers. 
  • An additional consideration is being given to steps necessary to increase airflow in the dorms like keeping windows open and placing air purifiers strategically around each building. 

Campus +-

  • While we share a campus with others at Menlo College, we have been working closely with them to ensure that there will be no direct interaction with anyone on the campus from outside our camp. 

Menlo College has been operating in-person programming successfully in recent months, giving us great confidence in our partnership. Please see HERE for information on how Menlo College is approaching the pandemic

Staff +-

  • Protocols defined in this document will be applied to staff as well as campers, including a number of changes to overall structure and policies. 
  • Staff Week has been extended from 7 days to 10 days to allow for proper quarantine prior to the arrival of campers. Staff will follow all the same expectations of masking, distance, and outdoor programming as well as testing. 
  • All hired staff must arrive at the beginning of the summer. Staff members are not permitted to start part-way through the summer. 
  • Staff will all be required to physically stay on campus for the duration of their contract and not permitted to leave for time off. 
  • Expectations for behavior prior to arriving at camp are similar to those of campers and are defined below.

Will camp be maskless? +-

It is our goal, after following mitigation protocols and assuming there is no Covid-19 at camp, that we will be able to live maskless beginning Day 10 of each session, continuing through the duration of the session. Below is the timeline we project to achieve this goal. 

  • Day -10 – Low-risk behaviors implemented at home by camper and all members of the household, as described below. Camper and family members take PCR tests 
  • Day -5 – Camper takes PCR test 
  • Day 1 – Arrival at camp, take the rapid response antigen test 
  • Day 1 – 10 – Mitigation protocols begin, masks worn during all interactions except for when sleeping, eating, and bathing. Programs follow the “2 of 3” rule, implementing all 3 (mask, outdoor, and distancing) whenever possible. Each camper and staff tested 2-3 times, specifics to be determined. 
  • Day 10 – Camper takes rapid response antigen test 
  • Day 11- provided every member of the camp community has tested negative, relaxation of covid protocols to begin. Symptomatic and surveillance testing will need to be done after Day 10.

Pre-Camp Behavior - What is Permitted and What is Not? +-

Parents and other household members should only leave the house for essential activities or safe outdoor gatherings. While out of the house, they should wear masks, social distance and hand wash frequently. 

Safe outdoor gatherings are defined as follows – Campers, staff, and the members of their households will follow these principles when interacting with people outside of their household: 

  1. Masks: Always wear a mask. 
  2. Outside: Only interact with people from other households outside, never indoors except for essential activities. 
  3. Distance: Even when outside, you should be at least 6 feet from others, more when possible. 

Allowed for Campers/Staff

Being in your home – Interacting with members of your household – Taking a walk with members of your household – Visiting uncrowded parks, beaches – Essential medical visits (please schedule non-essential, routine visits outside of the ten-day quarantine period) – Local travel where you won’t interact with people outside of your own household (i.e. must have own shower and kitchen, remaining socially distant from people outside of the household, no lobbies, elevators, air travel, shared common areas) – Going camping – Socializing with small groups of people outside of your household masked (per county guidelines), outside and 6 feet apart

Not allowed for campers and staff

Socializing with people outside of your household indoors at all or outdoors without masks – In-person school – In-person graduation ceremonies – Large outdoor gatherings (more than two households, with a maximum of 10 people) – Going to work – Attending day camp – Visiting playgrounds – Sports practices – Non-essential activities out of the household e.g. restaurants, haircuts, gyms, nail salons, amusement parks, pools, etc

Allowed for Household Members (non-campers and staff who live with campers and staff) 

Leaving home for essential activities, but wear a mask and maintain social distance and practice frequent handwashing – Attending school or daycare – Attending day camp – Going to work – If household members are going to in-person school, work, daycare, or have frequent contact with people from other households, it is recommended that they also get tested in addition to the camper/staff

Not allowed for Household Members

Socializing with people outside of your household indoors or without masks – Non-essential indoor activities out of the household e.g. restaurants, haircuts, gyms, nail salons, amusement parks, pools, etc – recreational travel 

Families will be expected to sign an agreement to commit to adhering to these guidelines.

Are there any exceptions to this policy? +-

Any requests for exceptions to the policy must be approved in writing by Josh Steinharter and the JMSC Medical Advisory Task Force.