Blog  2020 Updates: Letter to Families

2020 Updates: Letter to Families

Dear Camp Coleman Family,

It is with broken hearts that we share our plans to cancel all in-person activities held on our site for summer 2020. If at any point new information emerges and conditions change that lead us to be able to provide in-person gatherings, we will do so as a top priority.

While we have continued to plan, prepare, pray, and hope for another transformative summer at URJ Camp Coleman, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred value – the health and well-being of our children, staff, and faculty that attend camp – along with their communities back home. These risks also compromise our ability to provide the excellence in programming and participant care that are hallmarks of URJ Camp Coleman.

You might be asking, “Why are you making this decision now and for the full summer?” Our ongoing conversations with and learnings from local, regional, and federal medical authorities, and many leaders in camping, along with deep exploration by our camp professional and lay leadership teams, have led the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) to the difficult conclusion that there are too many known and unknown risks for us to create an acceptable pathway forward for this summer. As soon as that became clear, we wanted to communicate to you, our community. We believe that you and your children deserve the clarity, that while painful, allows for grieving, healing, and moving forward towards hope, joy and better days ahead. This also enables our team to transition to serving you in new, creative, and different ways through this unique moment in time.

While this news about camp is devastating, we also acknowledge the global suffering caused by COVID-19 and are sending thoughts and prayers to you and your community. We acknowledge the many weeks that we have already been sheltering-in-place and the related emotional challenges that all of us have faced in many ways. Please find resources below to support you and your children during this difficult time.

We hope you take a moment with your children to express sadness together; listen, embrace the loss, and savor the gratitude for the blessings of camp, which will continue through the summer and will sustain into the future.

As we sing at camp, “Hineh mah tov umah na'im shevet achim gam yachad” – how good it is for us to be together, and how thankful we will be when we can be together again.

Shalom,
Bobby Harris
Camp Director
URJ Camp Coleman

Emotional Support for Campers, Staff & Families

Not having camp in person this season will be heartbreaking, and we want you to know that we are here for you. Our professional staff and lay leaders are working together to provide support to you and your family. We understand how hard it is to break this kind of news to your children and want to support you through that process.
  • We have curated some resources for sharing the news with your child. Resources here
  • How else can we support you and your family? Let us know

Virtual Camp Experiences – Bringing the Magic of Camp into Your Home​

While we are sheltering-in-place physically, we see our virtual experiences as bringing us together socially and in spirit. We would like to create experiences that allow us to see the faces of our friends, hear their laughter, sing our songs, learn new skills, and grow in new ways. We will also continue to monitor health conditions and explore creative ways that we might gather in small groups and/or in different locations – this will be a priority for us. Our hope is that our ongoing virtual community building will yield new friendships, personal growth, and learning together and will make our in-person experiences that much sweeter in the future.

  • Check out our robust set of virtual offerings that are already available. Explore them here
  • As we work on planning additional virtual camp programming for this summer, the URJ camp system would like to understand what your family would enjoy and find meaningful for virtual programming - we urge you to complete the following survey. Your specific camp leaders are building a customized program for Coleman and your feedback will passed along to them. Take the survey now

What is this Financial Impact of This Decision? 

We made the decision to cancel in-person activities at camp this year based on our values, and with the health and safety of our campers and staff as our top priority. We know you have questions about the tuition you already have paid and about what this means for the future of camp. The financial ramifications of this decision are significant for all of us. Right now, we are focused on helping our campers and families process this news.

Next week you will receive more details about opportunities to support one another and camp through this unprecedented moment. This follow-up email will include several options on how to handle your tuition, including options to make a donation that will be generously matched by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, to credit fees paid for use on future URJ programs, and/or receive a refund.

What do I do now?  

  1. Hug, listen, and be together
  2. Review resources about talking to your child
  3. Look out for the email containing some logistical next steps, coming next week

You are in our hearts, and we are counting down the days until we can be together again.