COVID Updates & FAQ’s for Summer 2021

Kayitz 2020 reminded us what a gift camp is to our children and families and we are excited to announce that registration for Kayitz 2021 is now open!

We recognize that our world is significantly different than it was at the beginning of 2020 and how difficult it is to plan for summer during continued uncertainty. Please read the FAQs below about how we are preparing for a successful summer. Do not hesitate to reach out to Camp Assistant Director, Sharon Rosenberg Safra, with any additional questions or concerns.

Communication Updates:

Click here for Rabbi Gelb’s March 2021 email to camp families.
Click here for Rabbi Gelb’s February 2021 email to camp families.
Click here for Rabbi Gelb’s January 2021 email to camp families.
Click here for Rabbi Gelb’s November 2020 email to camp families.
Click here for Rabbi Gelb’s October 2020 email to camp families.

Informational Sessions:

Our first informational session for camp families was held on Sunday, April 11.  Click here to watch the recording of this event.

An additional info session for Ramah Day Camp families will be held in June (date TBA).  Please watch your emails or check this webpage regularly for more details!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Are you currently planning any COVID or capacity related changes for 2021?

A: We have launched registration based on the plan of being able to operate safely and at near-full capacity. We know that we will likely need to adjust our protocols and programming to ensure the safest summer possible in 2021. We will be closely following local and national health guidelines as well as licensing requirements. We will also focus on group size, travel arrangements, increased sanitation, and programmatic needs as we engage in our 2021 planning process. In true camp fashion, we will be flexible, creative, and safe always keeping the most important thing in mind – our campers!

We anticipate that groups will stay consistent throughout the day and week, or be in “pods.” Group size will be determined according to the county guidance we receive in advance of summer. We will do our best to provide campers some programmatic choice during the day. Given our vast amount of outdoor space, we also believe we can safely include morning rikud and some edah-wide activities, with appropriate distance.

We also know that being outside is the safest option for our camp day.  We are blessed with an abundance of outdoor space at Wellspring and intend to do much of our programming outside.  We know that heat is also an issue and will provide extra tenting and ways to keep our campers cool.  We are currently working on our inclement weather plans and will update you with specific plans.

We promise to continue our pattern of regular, open communication to our camper families regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact Ramah Day Camp.

Q: Will campers and staff need to wear masks at camp?

A: All campers and staff will be required to wear a mask, covering their nose and mouth, the entire camp day except during meals, swim, and scheduled mask breaks.  If your child is not currently used to wearing a mask, we highly recommend you start acclimating them to mask wearing prior to camp. Parents will need to supply their own masks, but we will also have extra disposable masks on hand as needed. Campers will not be allowed to board the bus in the morning without wearing a mask.

Q: Will staff be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination prior to camp?
A: Yes. The Screening and Testing section of the National Ramah Commission Medical Committee’s “COVID Guidelines and Recommendations” was updated in March 2021.  It now requires a COVID vaccine for all eligible staff members who will be employed at Ramah camps and Israel programs this summer. Staff members are asked to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to camp. This includes all international staff.

This recommendation assumes that the vaccine will be available and accessible to the staff member.  Individual circumstances regarding availability and accessibility, and other exceptions for medical exemptions will be addressed by the Camp Director in consultation with the camp medical advisor(s). 

Q: Will the Day Camp require any COVID testing for campers or staff?

A: The Ramah New England Medical Committee is not currently recommending any regular COVID testing. Since we are a day camp, and people come in and out, testing only gives a picture of a particular moment in time; it does not necessarily reduce COVID spread. To our knowledge, no studies have shown that mass screening of asymptomatic people in schools has decreased cases or transmission.

As of now, we anticipate testing will be required only in the following cases: if families or staff travel and the state of Maryland requires it as part of a travel advisory; if there is a positive COVID case in camp and the county recommends testing as a result; and/or in the situation where a camper may be exposed to COVID or in quarantine, they would require a negative test prior to returning to camp, consistent with state guidelines. Please keep in mind that guidelines could change as we move closer to summer.  

It is also important to note that since camp is primarily outside, the risk of the spread of COVID is relatively lower than it would be in a school situation. We will be focusing our mitigation efforts on the proven strategies of masking, distancing and outdoor ventilation. 

Q: How do deposits work for 2021?

A: Families are asked to pay a $100 deposit per camper, per week. If there are extenuating financial circumstances, please email Director, Rabbi Jill Levy. Please see our next FAQ for how to apply your 2020 tuition refund to your 2021 account.

Q: If I authorized Ramah to keep a portion of my 2020 refund to use toward my 2021 fees, how will that work?

A: Families who chose to apply a portion of their 2020 tuition refund to this year’s account need to first complete their online application. The refund will then be applied directly to your child’s camp deposit. (Your credit card will not be charged twice.) If the portion applied to 2021 is less than the total deposit amount, the remaining amount will be charged to your credit card or your eCheck account. If the portion applied is more than the total deposit amount, the balance will automatically be deducted from the remaining charges on your statement.

Any questions about tuition refunds should be directed to our Finance Associate Ken Milgram.

Q: What is your 2021 refund policy?

A: While it is our greatest hope to run camp in Kayitz 2021, we realize that there are still many unknowns for this summer. As a result, we have modified our normal refund policy (found on the bottom of the “Dates & Rates” webpage) to plan for various scenarios.

• In the event that camp cannot run again in 2021, all families will again be eligible for a full refund of their deposits and registration fees.

• If camp opens but it is not medically safe for your child to attend (due to his/her health or a family member’s), those families will be able to cancel their child’s enrollment and receive a full refund. COVID-related medical information is required by March 15th on our COVID information camper form.  It is critically important this year that all forms are returned to our office by the stated deadline.

• In the event of Ramah Day Camp being cancelled before or during the session for reasons for which the camp is not responsible (e.g. force majeure), tuition paid will be refunded less non-recoverable expenses as determined by Ramah.

• We understand many families rely on camp-provided transportation to send their children to Ramah Day Camp. If we are unable to offer busing during Kayitz 2021, those families who are not able to transport their children to camp may cancel their enrollment and receive a full refund.

• In the event we need to make programmatic changes to align with local health guidelines, our standard refund policy (found here at the bottom) will be in place. (Please see the FAQ below about our Sha’ar Hebrew immersion program.)

• Please visit our Camp Ramah New England COVID FAQ page for additional information regarding our refund policy at our sister overnight camp.

Q: How do scholarships work?

A: We know that some families may be concerned about their ability to pay for camp. As always, we are committed to working with our families to make sure that everyone can afford to attend camp. We ask that families please register first and then apply for financial aid. Scholarship applications are now being reviewed on a rolling basis.  For questions about the scholarship process, please email Sharon Rosenberg Safra, Assistant Director.

Q: Will Ramah Day Camp be providing bus transportation this summer?

A: We know that families rely on bus transportation to get their kids to camp. We will adhere to CDC and local regulations as we make our transportation decisions. Currently, the guidance states that there should only be one child per seat, unless children come from the same household.  Everyone should also be masked and windows should be open.  Seats will also need to be assigned and busses disinfected between trips. It is imperative this year, more than ever, that parents fill out their transportation form on time when it becomes available in the spring. In the unlikely event we are not be able to provide bus transportation, and you cannot bring your child to camp, we will provide a tuition refund if requested.

Currently, we are planning to bus campers to the swimming pool as we have done in past years.  The pool is less than a 5-minute drive from camp.  The same procedures listed above will be implemented for the bus rides to/from the pool.

Q: Will there be Sha’ar for 2021?

A: We are planning a Sha’ar Hebrew immersion program for Kayitz 2021. Should we be unable to proceed with Sha’ar, families will have the option to continue in our general camp program (with a Sha’ar fee refund), or to withdraw completely from camp (with a full refund).

Q: Will there be swimming/swim lessons this summer?

A: We hope to provide as much swimming as possible for our campers this summer (including our usual swim lessons). We are still awaiting county guidelines on this matter. If for some reason we are unable to offer swim, we will find other ways to offer water play. Options may include: sprinklers, a misting system, and/or splash pools.

If we are able to offer swim at our Stratford Knolls swimming pool, we will transport campers by bus to this location. It is less than a five minute drive from camp. For our bus protocols, please read the Bus Transportation FAQ above.

Q: What do we need from our families for a safe and successful summer?

A: We will expect all families to adhere to any Maryland state travel advisories for the summer.  If you anticipate you may need to switch weeks because of travel plans, please email Linor Shemesh, Registrar & Program Coordinator, and she will assist you.

We also need our families to read and fill out all of their forms as they become available.  We have two new forms, including our COVID Health Form and our Friend Request.  The COVID form will inform us of any social-emotional, mental and/or physical health changes your family has had this year.  It will help us in planning for summer, assessing individual camper needs, and working with you should you have a medical reason to withdraw from camp.  This form is due by March 15th.  Parents with children in both camps will need to fill out both COVID forms.  Second, we will have a friend request available in the spring where you can request one buddy for your child’s pod.  This will be due May 3rd.  Please help us by only submitting your friend requests via this form.

Q: Why is there a waitlist for some weeks of camp and what is your process for enrolling people?

A: We are thrilled that so many families want to register for camp. At the same time, it is painful for us to have to turn anyone away. Currently, there are several weeks when we are at capacity.  These numbers are determined by several factors. First, the Wellspring Conference Center limits the number of people that we can have on our property at any one time. Additionally, due to COVID, we have to be extra cautious to ensure that we have adequate space during inclement weather. Finally, we have not yet received COVID guidelines from the county, making it especially difficult to predict group size and configuration.

We are adding people to our waitlist in the order that registrations are received. If additional space is made, we will notify people in application order. There may be other factors, including age group and program type (Sha’ar or non Sha’ar), that may affect who we are able to enroll. We appreciate your patience with us as we try to navigate the demand.

Q: Who is advising Ramah Day Camp as we make plans and decisions for Kayitz (summer) 2021?

A: We are carefully coordinating with a number of different agencies as we make plans and decisions for kayitz (summer) 2021, including but not limited to:

  • Maryland Department of Health
  • Montgomery County (MD) Department of Health and Human Services
  • The American Camp Association – The ACA is working with a private company, Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc., to develop a Field Guide for Camps. Additionally, we work directly with the ACA New England office.
  • The MASS Camping Association
  • The Chesapeake Camping Association
  • The Foundation for Jewish Camp
  • SKIER Insurance, Inc.
  • The National Ramah Commission Contingency Planning Task Force, overseen by National Ramah Director Rabbi Mitch Cohen
  • The National Ramah Business Managers Group
  • The National Ramah Commission Medical Committee, chaired by Dr. Cliff Nerwin
  • Ramah New England’s Medical Committee
Q: Who leads Ramah New England's Medical Committee?

A: Dr. Steven Schwartz and Dr. Michael Agus.

Steven M. Schwartz, M.D.
Dr. Steven M. Schwartz is a family physician, the Medical Director of Potomac Physician Associates, and the Chief Medical Information Officer of PPA. Dr. Schwartz received his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University and his M.D. at Tufts University School of Medicine in 1994 and completed his residency in Family Medicine at Georgetown University. He is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Schwartz is the former associate dean and Director of Medical Student Education at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Schwartz currently maintains his association with Georgetown University and is a volunteer associate professor. Dr. Schwartz special interests include sports medicine, dermatology and integrative medicine, and he provides comprehensive primary care to newborns, children, and adults.

Michael Agus, M.D.
Division Chief, Division of Medical Critical Care; Endowed Chair in Critical Care; Medical Director, Medical Intensive Care Unit and Intermediate Care Program; Co-Medical Director, Biocontainment Unit
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
• University of Pennsylvania, 1990 , Philadelphia, PA, Medical School
• University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 1995, Philadelphia, PA, Internship – Pediatrics
• Boston Children’s Hospital, 1996, Boston, MA, Residency – Pediatrics
• Boston Children’s Hospital, 1998, Boston, MA, Fellowship – Pediatric Critical Care
• Massachusetts General Hospital, 2002 , Boston, MA, Fellowship – Pediatric Endocrinology
• Boston Children’s Hospital, 2002, Boston, MA

Q: Will there be an opportunity to see Ramah Day Camp at Wellspring Conference Center?

A: We know how important it is for families to see camp prior to the summer. We are offering virtual open houses with lots of pictures so families can get a real sense of what makes Ramah DC Day Camp so special.  If you are interested in attending a virtual open house, please email Assistant Director, Sharon Rosenberg Safra.  Not on our email list? Have friends who might want to hear about these opportunities?  You may also email Sharon to be added.

Q: How will I stay updated on your plans for Kayitz 2021?

A: We promise to continue our pattern of regular, open communication to our camper families regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to impact Ramah Day Camp, and our plans for summer 2021. We will communicate our plans via email and post them here at the top of this webpage.

We will continue to update this webpage with more information about Kayitz 2021.  If you would like to see how Camp Ramah New England, our sister overnight camp, is planning for Kayitz 2021, please click here.  To read any of our communications or information pertaining to this past summer (Kayitz 2020), please click here.