Important Kochavim (2 week program) Update 

In consultation with our Ramah New England Medical Committee and camp psychologist, we have reached the decision to modify our Kochavim offerings for this summer. We feel that a two-week option is not the right program offering in a COVID-19 environment. We are offering the opportunity to everyone in Kochavim, both current 2nd and 3rd graders, to come for a full four-week session.

We know that this change may be complicated and hard for many of you. We want to invite you to a Zoom meeting on Monday, December 7, at 8 p.m. to meet with our leadership team to discuss this change and answer questions. (Please contact us to request access to the Zoom.)

We are well aware that coming to camp for four weeks is more expensive and impacts family budgets for this summer and that it also will impact other summer plans. Our policy is to make sure that every family can afford to come to camp. Our Scholarship Committee will take into account this additional financial burden and we will work with every family to make camp financially feasible. Depending on where you live, there also may be additional new camper incentives for four-week camping. We will provide full refunds for families that decide not to make the switch to a four-week session. We will explain the financial aid process at our meeting on Monday.

Here are some of the reasons and key points we want to share in advance of our meeting:

  • Why are we making this decision now?
    • Our medical team has met and determined that it is very likely that the first week of camp will require everyone to observe strict masking, social distancing and “podding” (campers/staff in smaller groups). After testing and the first week has passed, they anticipate we will be able to run camp more normally. This is impactful on Kochavim for two reasons:
      • First, our camp psychologist feels that our campers will need time to adjust to our COVID-19 safety procedures this summer. We are confident that the kids will have a safe and fun experience. However, he feels that each camper’s cumulative experience will be greatly enhanced once we move to the second level of protocols and that having only a week at that level will not allow them to fully adjust and enjoy that aspect of camp.
      • Second, for Kochavim Bet and Daled (which traditionally start in the middle of our four-week sessions), the Medical Committee feels that introducing new campers to camp would force the entire camp to return to this initial “podding” protocol. We do not feel that is a tenable position for the camp to take.
    • Southwest Airlines just announced they are releasing their flight schedule through mid-August next week. This is a month earlier than originally expected. Because many of our campers fly to camp from the DC area on Southwest, we want to make sure families can make their travel plans as early as possible. We didn’t want Kochavim families to purchase the wrong tickets. We are sending a transportation update later today.
    • We want to give families as much time as possible to adjust their summer plans so they can make four weeks at camp work for their campers.

We greatly value our relationship with our camp families and appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we find the safest and best ways to bring back the Ramah experience this coming summer. We know that families may have questions and concerns about whether their camper is ready for a four week session. Our camper care team and staff selected to work with our youngest campers are trained to help each camper succeed. We will address this at our meeting Monday night and are happy to discuss individually after that. We want both our parents and campers to be comfortable that this will be a great experience for them.

After our meeting Monday, Talya Kalender, our Director of Camper Care, will be happy to speak to families individually about their camper. Right now, we have room to accommodate every Kochavim camper switching to a four-week session. We are asking you to let us know your choice by December 15 by emailing our registrar, Marggi.

Thank you and see you Monday night.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ed Gelb

CEO, Ramah New England