June 2 Updated Summer Information
There are four major elements in our strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in camp:
Pre-Camp Precautions. The CDC recommends that you stay with your family for the 14 days prior to camp if you are unvaccinated. We strongly encourage even vaccinated people to stay home for at least one full week prior to camp. We do not need to let ANY viruses into camp, especially this summer.
Vaccination. Every one of our staff members are vaccinated and we encourage all members of the camp community who are twelve years old and older to get vaccinated. It significantly increases our odds of keeping COVID-19 out of camp this summer. Let us see if we can vaccinate 100% of age-eligible campers!
Program. We continue to review all our camp activities and events to ensure that we have a great time while still being careful.
- Pods: Campers and staff begin their session in “pods” that go through the day together. As we test the first week to ensure we are COVID-free, those groups could begin to mix once all the samples are confirmed negative following the initial surveillance period – the first week of camp.
- Masks: As per updated CDC recommendations, many outdoor activities will be mask-less. The session will begin with masks for most indoor activities. After we clear the surveillance testing period the first week, we can reduce indoor mask use.
*UPDATED! Testing. Our testing plan has been modified to both increase the accuracy of our tests and to decrease the amount of testing. We are aligned with the industry’s current best practices:
- We recommend a PCR test 12-14 days prior to the start of your session to ensure that any asymptomatic cases are caught early and do not impact your child’s ability to attend camp. If this test is positive, please notify camp immediately. You will need to quarantine at home for 14 days before entering the camp community.
- We require a negative PCR test done at a home hospital or clinic within the three days prior to your Opening Day. You can upload the results document to your CampInTouch account or bring it with you.
*NEW! We have arranged with Northshore Clinical Labs to perform this test and a home kit will be mailed to your family automatically by Northshore. If you would like to use it, swab at home three days prior to your session, FedEx their mailer back to them at their cost. Results will be sent to you and to us.
- On Opening Day, we will screen all campers for COVID-19 using the Abbott Binax Now Rapid Antigen Test. If you are flying to camp, we will send you a test to self-administer at home before flight.
- Twice during the first week of camp, each camper will receive a PCR (molecular) test.
*NEW! We are partnering with Northshore Clinical Labs of Chicago to administer our testing program and provide professional testing crews on our site. Samples are collected via Anterior Nares swab – a simple front nostril swab (not the “brain-tickler” you may have seen before). You may receive an “Explanation of Benefits” (EOB) from your health insurance company for tests conducted at Camp. There is nothing you need to do. It is not a bill. All costs for testing are being paid, whether your insurance company pays the claim or not.
Please note that if one of your camper’s bunk mates tests positive during that first week, we will let you know by email. The bunk will be tested by our medical team for a week, with rapid antigen testing, to keep an eye on any spread of the virus. If it is your camper who tests positive, we will let you know immediately by phone.
For more information on these four topics, see below FAQs. We really appreciate the patience of our campers, families, and staff as we navigate this summer together. We have heard from the CDC that there may be more summer camp guidance as we get closer to the opening day. We will keep an eye on the shifting landscape and stay as close as we can to best industry practices.
Thank you for partnering with us this summer (and always!) to make camp a safe, healthy, fun place for our campers and staff. We cannot do this without you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer, especially, we remember that “Kol yisrael aravim zeh b’zeh” – all of Israel is responsible for one another. The importance of taking public health this seriously this summer means that each of us knows that our actions will impact the entire community
We would like to thank the URJ Camps Medical Advisory Team for their help & advice in generating our strategy.
May Refund Policy Update
As we prepare to return to camp this summer, we are committed to open, honest, and ongoing communication with our camper families.
We know that we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and that there may still be challenges related to COVID-19. Therefore, we are updating our current policies to reflect COVID-19-specific cancellations because we know this summer is unique, because we want to be fair, and because we are in this together. As always, the health and safety of our camp community is our top priority at all times, without compromise. And rekindling the love of camp and joyful Judaism is our shared goal and responsibility.
The existing URJ Camps Cancellation Policy states that if there is a cancellation within 45 days of the beginning of camp, no refund will be issued to the camper family. That would include both deposit and tuition. Because of the unusual circumstances we are once again presented with this summer, we are amending that policy for circumstances specifically related to COVID-19.
April Policy Update
We are so proud that the URJ Camping system is 15 camps strong across North America. Our shared commitment to health and safety remains at the forefront of everything we do, and we are grateful to our camper families for their patience as we navigate the safe reopening of all of our camps this summer. As we move into spring, we are encouraged by the ongoing updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as our remarkable team of doctors who are working with us to create universal medical protocols for this summer. Meet our Medical Advisory Team! With cautious optimism, we want to share some of the protocols being established. Please know this continues to be a work in progress, guided by science and with health and safety always our first priority.
All year-around and seasonal adult camp staff, visitors, and contractors on camp property, are REQUIRED to complete the COVID-19 vaccination series prior to entering camp and to provide proof of vaccination, in order to avoid posing a direct threat to the health and safety of our camp community members.
In preparation for the summer, please begin purchasing disposable masks for your camper(s). In order to ensure the highest level of protection, we ask that campers come prepared with disposable masks, rather than cloth masks. We ask that you send six disposable masks per day for your camper.
PRE-CAMP ISOLATION EXPECTATIONS
As you are aware, CDC guidance continues to evolve and change, sometimes daily! Please remember the CDC guidance is generally designed for an individual and their family and not the communal setting of a residential summer camp. Thus, our guidance may at times be slightly more restrictive out of an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of our communities.
May 5 Update: To the extent possible, we would prefer that no unvaccinated family members attend day camps during the pre-camp quarantine period. Additionally, no air travel during the 14-day pre-camp isolation period except for travel to camp. We understand that many summer plans have already been made based on the previous guidance. Please adhere to these recommendations for additional plans you are making for this summer.
For the 14 days preceding your camp session you need to quarantine and remain in your family COVID “bubble” only. This means you and your camper need to…
- Avoid any indoor unmasked exposure outside immediate family, even to vaccinated people
- Participate only in school, daycare, or camps that follow CDC guidance including universal masking, hand hygiene, spacing, small group cohorting and contact tracing
- If above school, daycare, or camp experiences are discretionary, we will avoid scheduling them the week before camp to minimize exposure risk
- Avoid all public gatherings of more than five people outside of your household
- Avoid indoor restaurants
- Avoid team sports
- Avoid hosting overnight guests in your home who are not routine visitors/family in your home
- Avoid staying overnight in someone else’s home who is not a frequent visitor/family in your home
- Avoid travel outside of your home region
- Avoid socializing outside of school and workplaces
- Avoid businesses and locations that do not follow COVID health/safety guidelines
This means that you and your camper need to…
- Minimally follow the most up-to-date CDC guidelines
- Maintain six-foot separations from others in outdoor public spaces
- Wear masks outside of your home
- Practice diligent hand hygiene
- Arrival by Car. It will be required that any camper(s) arriving by car show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of travel to camp. Campers who will be driven to camp will arrive within the prescribed timeframe and may only be accompanied by one parent or guardian. Upon arrival, the camper(s) will be administered a rapid COVID-19 test, and must remain in the car until the test comes back negative. Upon a negative test result, the camper will go through the check-in process, and will be acclimated into their pod. The parent or guardian will not be tested, and will be asked only to exit the car for a quick good-bye hug and kiss. Camp staff will ensure that all of your camper(s) belongings are transported to their camper cabin or housing pod. Every person in the car should be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth throughout this process.
- Arrival by Bus. It will be required that any camper(s) arriving by bus show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of travel to camp. The same protocol as arrival by car will take place until the time the camper(s) enter the bus. One parent or guardian should drive the camper(s) to the bus meeting point. Camper(s) will remain in the car until a negative rapid test result is reported on site. Once all of the campers for each bus have arrived and been cleared, each bus will be loaded individually. The parent or guardian will not be tested, and will be asked only to exit the car for a quick good-bye hug and kiss. Camp staff will help move luggage from cars to the bus. Appropriate social distancing will be implemented on the bus, and buses will run at 40% capacity. It will be required that the bus driver show proof of vaccination and must take a rapid test on site. Every person in the car and on the bus should be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth throughout this process.
- Arrival by Plane. It will be required that any camper(s) arriving by plane show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of travel to camp. Once the campers arrive at the airport, camp staff will meet them and the same protocols as travel to camp by bus will be followed. Camper(s) will get a rapid test before being able to take transportation to camp. Appropriate social distancing must be maintained throughout. Each person should be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth throughout this process.
The URJ Camps’ medical protocols around COVID-19 for this summer are being developed by our Medical Advisory Board, a team deeply committed to and connected with our camping movement.
- Testing for COVID-19 will be a key element of how we safely open and operate URJ camps this summer. We will be using the following approaches, together, for maximal protection of our campers and staff.
- Pre-Camp – All campers will be required to undergo PCR testing 3 days before camp, and the results must be available and negative before arrival.
- Any PCR that is positive at that time will require at least 10 days of recovery before arrival, and the details of that recovery time will be determined by medical staff on a case-by-case basis.
- Because PCR tests can remain positive for many weeks after recovery from COVID-19 infection, optional testing may also be performed 12-14 days before camp. If this test is positive, the remaining days before camp will satisfy the time requirement before arrival, and repeat testing is unnecessary. If this test is negative, repeat testing is still required 3 days before arrival.
- Arrival – All campers will be tested at camp using Point-Of-Care (POC) antigen tests. These have the very significant advantage over PCR in providing instant results, whereas PCR can take days to learn that somebody tested positive.
- Ongoing Surveillance – All campers will be tested every 3 days on a rotating basis while at camp using POC tests. Instant results are critical to help camp isolate and quarantine any cases that might arise. Although PCR tests are somewhat more sensitive, the delayed results render them less effective at promptly identifying and responding to cases. Repeated testing with POC is considered a safer strategy overall, and one that we have adopted.
All of these protocols are being developed to ensure the safest summer possible for our campers, staff, and faculty. We are so looking forward to bringing our camp communities back together to celebrate in joyful Judaism. We believe that following these protocols will help ensure the safest complete summer experience possible. Thank you in advance for your partnership in making the magic of camp happen this summer. We will continue to be in touch with updates on a regular basis, and appreciate your flexibility as these guidelines may evolve as more information becomes available to us.
FAQ (updated may 25, 2021)
Why do we still have to quarantine before camp, even if we are vaccinated?
- There are still “break-through” cases, and we want to help make sure that you are not one of them.
- There are other viruses out there that are not COVID-19. If you come in with one of those, we will probably have to rule out COVID-19 by isolating you and your bunk while we test to see what you have.
- Many viruses present with COVID-like symptoms. Quarantining with your family not only keeps your immediate family safe, but also helps to safeguard our entire camp community against COVID and other viruses that may make their way into camp.
- Thank you in advance for doing your part to help keep our community healthy this summer.
Why Seven vs. Fourteen Days?
Fourteen days is the CDC recommendation for unvaccinated individuals. We believe that seven is sufficient for fully vaccinated individuals to keep other viruses out of camp.
What if my camper had COVID-19 within 90 days before the start of their session?
Please contact us at email@example.com in advance and bring the test results with you. After 90 days, if the camper is still in camp and if the camp is still in its testing week, the camper will pick up the same testing schedule as the camp.
What kinds of COVID-19 tests do I have to do before my Camp session?
See “Testing” section for specifics. All pre-Camp tests are PCR tests. If your test comes back positive, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there different Opening Day and Luggage Policies this summer?
Opening Day procedure will be sent you directly via email.
Is the URJ recommending that we vaccinate our camp 12 years old and older?
Yes. The FDA has approved under an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15. This adds to the EUA for teens and adults 16 and older. Vaccinations will provide an important tool to mitigate the risks of COVID at Camp this summer.
Our URJ Camps Medical Advisory Team strongly encourages the families of all who are eligible to join our fully vaccinated staff. The higher our percentage of vaccinated individuals becomes, the better for the camp community.
What if we cannot get both Pfizer doses for our 12+-year-old campers prior to the summer?
- The ideal situation is to get both doses, three weeks apart, with the second dose administered two weeks before your session’s Opening Day. This will be easier for later-starting camps and for those campers arriving second session.
- If you cannot get the second shot, you are still protected two weeks after your first shot. The second dose can be given after camp.
Why do vaccinated campers need to be on the same testing schedule as non-vaccinated campers?
- While vaccines are incredibly effective, they are not 100% effective.
- The camper community is also not 100% vaccinated. Of the 2-dose Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, some eligible campers have had two doses pre-camp, some have had one dose pre-camp, and some have chosen not to vaccinate.
- Because of the recent approval of the EUA, campers who have been vaccinated may not be fully immunized until partially through their camp session.
Is camp going to look different because of COVID?
- To be careful, we will begin the summer with most activities taking place in a “pod”. These are like a “household” in which many masking and social distancing rules do not apply. A group of pods the same age is a “Unit”. As the summer moves along, and our testing program yields some answers, we hope to loosen our cohorts, mask policy, etc.
- Certain activities deemed to be “high risk” for disease spread will be limited to cohorts.
- Large group programs indoors will not take place or will happen under physical distancing conditions.
How do you decide what guidelines are needed to keep camp safe and when to change them as CDC guidance changes?
There is a group of staff members at the URJ responsible for developing guidance for URJ Camps. They work together with subject-area specialists.
Who is advising URJ on Medical and Behavioral issues as we plan for the summer?
- The Medical Advisory Group is a team of five doctors who have experience or specialization in public health and infectious disease.
- They meet regularly to review and modify system policies.
- Each camp has a local Camp Medical Director in addition to the physicians and nurses serving on-site during the summer.
What does it mean for GUCI to be in a bubble this summer?
- During each session, all campers are expected to arrive on time and not leave the camp grounds for non-emergency or non-business-oriented reasons. There will not be any out-of-camp field trips for campers.
- If circumstances allow or the CDC recommendations change, we will review this policy.
Wherever we can, we will have fun outside. This enables us to not only enjoy our environment, but relax some of our masking and distancing, especially during Week One of camp.
Speaking of Masks…
- During Week One, we will follow State and Federal masking guidelines. We have been told to expect that all Summer Camp guidelines could change at any time prior to or during camp.
- Within Pods: Indoors no mask is needed. Outdoors no mask is needed
- With Multiple pods within a unit: Indoors masking and physical distancing. Outdoors no mask and physical distancing between pods.
Why does the camp community need to mask outside?
- Week one is in pods. After that, depending on the group and the activity, campers and staff need a combination of 1) masks, 2) physical distancing or 3) take place outside.
- Once we finish week one with no positive tests, most outdoor activities within a unit will not require masks.
Will all staff be living in Camp or will some be going home at night? How are you limiting that risk?
Some of our staff are from the local community and will be “commuting” to camp. Our staff vaccination rule applies to them, as well. All of them will be tested regularly throughout the summer, as opposed to staff in residence who are only tested at the beginning.
What if a camper or staff member must leave camp for a medical emergency like an x-ray or dental problem?
Our designated camp driver, a vaccinated staff member, will be present the entire time. Both will wear masks, observe physical distancing, and visit a medical facility where strict COVID protocols are in place. They will be allowed to return to their bunks on return.
Will siblings and other relatives in different pods and units ever get to see each other?
Many of these connections happen in a very organic way, but with our COVID restrictions, it might be harder than usual. Our staff will make sure that COVID-safe opportunities abound as well as make sure that our younger campers can take advantage of them.
We are having trouble finding a PCR test three days before opening day that will guarantee results by opening day.
We have arranged with Northshore Clinical Laboratories to mail all our families a home test kit for each camper.
- Swab three days before camp.
- Send the samples via pre-paid FedEx to the lab.
- They will receive the next morning, run the test, and send the results to us and you.
- There is no charge.
What if FedEx does not deliver to the lab in time to get the test results on opening day?
There is an extra day built into the process, but if FedEx cannot get the sample to the lab, we will make arrangements for you to go to a local lab, or you are free to wait in town for the results to come back. It will be easy for you to track the sample to the lab through FedEx.
What if our camper is flying in for Opening Day?
- If campers are leaving their parents at the airport and flying in, we will send you an Abbott Binax Now rapid antigen test for you to administer at home. It is authorized for home use. Take a photo of the negative test and upload to your CampInTouch account.
- If campers are flying in with you or are being picked up and brought to camp by friends or relatives, your camper can go through the regular Opening Day testing procedure.
What happens if my camper had COVID-19 within the past 90 days, but is testing negative for COVID-19? Do they still need to be in the same testing protocol as non-vaccinated individuals?
Contact us at email@example.com in advance and bring the test results with you. After 90 days, if the camper is still in camp and if the camp is still in its testing week, the camper will pick up the same testing schedule as the camp.
What happens if my camper tests positive for COVID-19 during Opening Day?
- You will not be able to enter camp. We will give you the address of the local clinic or hospital that has the capacity to conduct a PCR test so that you can obtain a negative test and return to camp.
- If the PCR test confirms that your camper has COVID, we will try to make or find space for a later session.
What happens if my camper tests positive for COVID-19 during PCR surveillance testing during the first week of camp?
- You will be notified by the camp by phone and asked to pick up your camper. We will forward the lab results of the test to you.
- All positive test results are reported to your state of residence.
What happens if someone in my child’s bunk tests positive during PCR Surveillance testing or later if someone in their bunk tests positive?
- You will be notified by the camp by email.
- We will begin to test the other campers in the pod for a week.
- The pod will participate in a “shadow program.”
If a bunk needs to go into quarantine, what restrictions need to be placed on the vaccinated staff members working with that bunk?
The vaccinated staff member will need to wear a mask during the week of quarantine and surveillance testing.