We work hard to make sure every detail is in place so each camper can have the time of their life—every single summer.
This summer, in the midst of a global pandemic, there are more details than ever!
As we count down to Summer 2021, we’re hard at work planning for our best season yet … which, of course, will look different from any other summer we’ve experienced. (Don’t worry: all the important stuff – like being a place where kids can be fully themselves – will be just the same as always!) We know you have lots of questions about how COVID-19 will impact the camp experience. We hope this page — which we’ll update regularly — will help answer some of those questions.
- Great Minds: We have convened an incredibly talented, experienced, and insightful group of epidemiologists, pediatricians, nurses, public health officials, emergency planners, mental health professionals, and other parents and alumni to help guide us. Supported by resources from the American Camp Association, Foundation for Jewish Camp, and local health authorities, this COVID-19 Task Force is bringing the best science, medicine, and community practice to bear as we plan for the summer.
- Swiss Cheese: We love cheese … but this is really about the “Swiss Cheese Respiratory Pandemic Defense.” Think of it like this: just like a piece of Swiss cheese has holes, so too does any single layer of pandemic defense. The way to be most successful is to have a number of interventions, so that it’s harder for things to fall through the holes. If you’re a visual learner like us, here’s an image:
- Vaccines: Even as we hope that vaccine production and distribution will continue to ramp up, our plans currently assume that most campers and staff will not be vaccinated by the beginning of the summer.
- Work in Progress: Even as we’re putting lots of plans in place for how things will run this summer, we recognize that the trajectory of the pandemic is ever-changing and, as such, decisions may well need to be updated in the months ahead (including, potentially, while Camp is in session). We know that communication is key, and we promise to keep you posted as things progress.
What We Know
- Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions: Camps that operated successfully last summer note that their success was due in large part to what they have called “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” including wearing masks, physical distancing, and primarily being outside. All of our plans use these three interventions as a starting point.
- Pods: Each cabin will be designated as its own pod, or family … and most programming will be done with that core group. (Based on community health, testing, and prevailing medical guidance, we hope to be able to grow pod size over the course of the session.) Knowing that cross-cabin friendships are a central part of the Havaya experience, we’re working hard to find ways to facilitate those connections in responsible and safe ways.
- It’ll Be Different: Without a doubt, things will be different this summer. For example: instead of eating all together in the Hadar Okhel (Dining Hall), we’ll have multiple seatings … and we won’t be able to have our amazing salad bar. And instead of all hanging out together on Saturday afternoons, we’ll celebrate Shabbat in smaller groups. But even as things change, the core will still be the same: no matter what, we’ll always be all about the joy of summer camp with the freedom to be who you truly are.
What We Don’t Know (Yet)
- Testing: There’s no question that COVID testing will be a reality of the summer camp experience this year. We’re stilling working through the details of how and how often to administer these tests – and what type of tests are best for the camp setting. Given that the science of this is changing so rapidly, we expect it will be mid-spring before we have a specific testing plan in place.
- Pre-Camp Expectations: Will campers have to quarantine for two weeks before arriving at camp? Will we require a negative COVID test before arrival? What about a camper who is flying to camp? The quick answer to all of these – and so many similar questions – is: “We just don’t know yet!” What we can tell you is that we’re committed to being as thoughtful and stringent as possible about our health and safety protocols … while also being realistic about what we can expect with school, work, and life commitments this spring.
- Monthly Updates: Communication and transparency are among our key values, and we’re keeping them both front-and-center as we plan for the months ahead. We’re working on updates about program, food service, health and wellness, and – as the summer approaches – more specifics on testing and other COVID-related guidelines. You can expect to hear from us about once-a-month with new details.
- Community Covenant: We often say that we stand up for ourselves and our friends, take responsibility for our actions, and understand the part each of us plays in creating a joyful and welcoming community. Before the summer, we’ll ask every community member – including campers, parents, and staff – to sign a pledge that binds us together in this shared purpose, and a commitment to keep one another healthy and safe.
As always, please don’t hesitate to be in touch! To help make it easier to connect, we’ve set aside time specifically to answer your COVID-related questions; please call 267-635-0361 between 10 am and 12 pm EST on Wednesday mornings to have a one-on-one conversation with our Camp Director, Sheira Director-Nowack MSW. (Of course, feel free to reach out at other times as well!) We can’t wait to hear from you … and to have your kids with us for a wonderful, safe, healthy, and fun summer at Camp Havaya!
(Updated — February 2021)