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 Jill’s June 2021 email to camp families.
Click here for Rabbi Jill’s May 2021 email to camp families.
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 on Monday, June 7 at 8:00 p.m.  A Zoom link will be sent to parents.  We will record the meeting and send the link to parents later that week for those that are unable to attend.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How many campers will be in my child’s kvutzah (group)?

A: The county has greatly eased restrictions around group size.  That said, we still want to keep the smallest possible group size that our program can sustain.  Each kvutzah (camp group) will have approximately 15 campers and 3-4 counselors.  This will be your child’s main unit.  We plan to “capsule” (that’s Hebrew for pod) two groups together for certain outdoor activities during the day, such as: swim, tefilah electives, and afternoon bechirot.  This will allow campers to have some choice of activities during their camp day and to make more friends.

Q: When will my child be required to wear a mask at camp?

A: All campers and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask at the following times:

  • While indoors 
  • While riding a bus
  • Outside during a camp-wide activity such as rikud & aseifat boker (morning gathering)
  • Outside during tefilah and/or shira (singing)

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.  We recommend each child brings a minimum of 3 masks daily along with two labeled Ziploc bags, one for dirty masks and one for clean masks.

Campers will not be allowed to board the bus in the morning without wearing a mask.

Q: When will my child NOT be required to wear a mask?

A: We are excited by the declining case rates in our area, which are now below 3 per 100,000 people.  As long as the numbers remain low, campers will not be required to wear a mask outside while with their capsule, in the pool or while eating. Of course, your child is welcome to keep their mask on whenever you, or they, would like.

Please note, if the case rate trend should increase, we will consult with our medical team to update any protocols and then communicate new decisions with families and staff. 

Q: How do you plan to handle the heat?

A: Your child’s safety is our number one concern! We currently have a number of heat mitigation plans in place. These plans include:

  • Daily water play or swim
  • Installing a BRAND NEW misting tent
  • Additional shade tents in camp
  • Rotating small groups into indoor spaces for heat relief
  • Taking many water breaks during the day

We need your partnership in keeping our kids cool this summer. PLEASE pack a full water bottle and sunscreen each day, and put sunscreen on your child before camp each morning.  We have scheduled times during the day when campers will reapply sunscreen. We also highly recommend that every person wear a hat and sun-protective clothing. 

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: Will there be daily symptom checks?

A: Yes, we plan to use an app called My MedBot.  We will go over how to do the screening and use the app during our June Parent Town Hall. For more information about the app, please visit: https://mymedbot.com/

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 swimming/swim lessons this summer?

A: YES!  We are thrilled to have received confirmation from the management of the Stratford Knolls pool that we will be able to swim there this summer.  This will include daily instructional swim. We are working out the details with our swim instructors, Joe Flaherty’s Dolphins,  and hope to have more information to communicate next week via email and during our Parent Orientation.

We will transport campers by bus to the Stratford Knolls pool. It is less than a five minute drive from camp. For our bus protocols, please read the Bus Transportation FAQ above.

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

A: Yes, we hope you can join us for an IN-PERSON “Meet the Staff” on Sunday, June 27th.  We will have two shifts to limit the number of people on-site at once.  The first shift (child last name A-L) will be from 1-2 PM and the second shift (child last name M-Z) will be from 2:30-3:30 PM. Please plan to exit the site by the end of your scheduled time block.

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.  Please make sure that you have submitted all forms and payment, if you have not yet done so. We will also need you to send your child to camp in a bathing suit and fill out the My Med Bot symptom screener every morning.  You will receive more information about the app in the next couple weeks.

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: 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 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.