Important Camp Update

An update from Rabbi Ed Gelb, CEO, Ramah New England (May 13, 2020):

Shalom Ramah Families,

As promised, we are providing an update on our planning for kayitz 2020 for our Palmer overnight and DC Day camps. We hope to give a definitive answer on our status by June 2nd. We strive to be clear-eyed and transparent in all our communications.

How are we making the decision about whether there will be camp?

Right now, we are doing our best to see if we can operate either of our programs safely. We have spent countless hours planning many different scenarios that would allow camp to open, developing possible procedures and creative options. Our biggest current stumbling block is that the CDC has not produced guidelines on which our local/state governments can base their operating procedures for camps. Without these, we do not know whether we can run camp even in modified forms. We want to give this process a little more time. It is also possible that the guidelines published will be impossible for us to implement. If we don’t have clear answers by Memorial Day, we will have to make decisions because we would need to make serious investments in facilities, supplies and staff to continue preparing our camps. We appreciate your patience in what we know is a stressful situation.

What happens if our camps cannot open?

If our camps cannot open, we will send an email announcing the decision and offering town hall meetings via Zoom so we can come together as a community, explain our decision and what we hope to offer over the summer, fully fill you in on our financial situation and explain the refund process. We would, over the following days, offer Zoom meetings for different age groups as well as make available support programs to help parents navigate what will be a difficult time for our camp families.

As we have stated, once we have determined our camps’ status, we will offer full refunds. No action is required now as we will not process refund requests until we know the status of camp for everyone. Once decisions are made, we will send everyone an online form with options for refunds, donations and signing up for 2021.

We want to briefly explain our financial situation so you understand both the short- and long- term health of Ramah New England.

Our fiscal year started on October 1, 2019 and runs through September 30, 2020. Our total budget is over $6.3 million, mostly funded by tuition revenue. We spend half of our money in the ten months outside of the summer planning for camp, running programs, recruiting staff and campers and maintaining and preparing our camp properties, among many other things. That means that even if our camps don’t run, we will have spent over $3 million in a good faith effort to prepare the best experience possible.

Once the COVID-19 crisis emerged in March, we reduced our expenses wherever possible and obtained loans through the federal Payroll Protection Program and from our local bank. If our camps cannot run, we will make dramatic cuts: our summer staff will not be hired, food and other supplies that we use during the summer will not be ordered, and we will undergo significant layoffs and pay cuts for our year-round staff members. With these difficult steps, we will cut our annual expenses in half, from $6.3M to $3.1M.

We are committed to meeting our families’ needs during this uncertain time. However, tuition refunds represent an enormous cash drain – if we receive requests to refund this full amount (including deposits and tuition), we will have a major cash shortfall of $1.3M in the fiscal year that ends September 30 – a devastating financial situation for our organization.

We are hoping that everyone will agree that they should donate some portion of their tuition in recognition of the work Ramah has already undertaken for our families.

We are hoping that many more of our families will be in the position to give even more generously so that Ramah can meet all of its financial obligations and be able to survive and thrive and begin planning for kayitz 2021.

We hope this information is helpful and we will be back in touch when we are able to make announcements about the summer shortly after Memorial Day.

If there is anything we can do to support you and your families, please do reach out to us.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ed Gelb
CEO, Ramah New England

 


Categories: Announcements, Community
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