As you know, we have been closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 since the onset of this global pandemic. We have examined countless possible scenarios and contingency plans. We have engaged multiple task forces and committees and have considered an array of perspectives and guidelines from the medical community, camping community and state officials.
It is with deep sadness and profound disappointment that we announce the cancellation of all scheduled sessions and programs in the 2020 summer Camp season.
At this time, State of Georgia ordinances do not permit us to operate. We understand that regulations may continue to “open up” presenting the possibility to be legally permitted to run Camp later in the summer. However, the guidelines provided by medical professionals, industry experts and government authorities all indicate that any camps opening in Georgia (or anywhere else in the country) this summer must plan to experience some level of infection. Ramah Darom’s Medical Committee has recommended, and our Board of Directors has agreed, that we cannot operate this summer expecting to manage a COVID infection in Camp. We have deemed the many risks involved with exposure to COVID untenable.
Other summer camps are able to delay their decisions, but our early start dates compel us to make this decision now. We work closely with two networks of camps: our sister Ramah camps and the other Jewish camps based in Atlanta. We have the utmost respect for these camps’ professional leadership and have confidence that they are making the best decisions in the interest of their own communities according to their own timetables.
Parents entrust us with that which is most precious to them in the entire world. This trust is a blessing to us and the foundation of the partnership we have with all our families.
We always attempt to return that trust with transparent communication. As such, we are planning a series of Community Zoom Meetings to discuss this difficult decision and related topics. Camp parents and guardians are invited to join us for our first meetings this Sunday, May 3. The full schedule can be found on our Summer 2020 Cancellation Resource Page. We have also prepared a guide to help parents and guardians help children cope with this disappointment and loss, as well as self-care reminders for parents/guardians and tips for staff.
In about a week, all Camp families will receive an email with instructions on how to redirect tuition payments into a donation, refund or payment towards Summer 2021.
We assure you that making this announcement does not mean that we have given up. We love camp, live camp, and know that our kids need camp now more than ever. As soon as we are able to safely bring people together at Ramah Darom, we will! This could consist of aidah reunions, special retreats, and other new experiences throughout the year. When things change, even if it is later this summer, we will pivot immediately and be in touch with you to share plans for alternative programs.
In the meantime, we pledge to continue to work to keep our Camp community connected and communicate frequently, beginning with Sunday’s Camp Parent/Guardian Zoom Meeting.
With prayers that we may safely and soon be together –
Geoff, Wally and Ben
President, Board of Directors
The financial implications of canceling Camp are serious. Ramah Darom’s business model relies on Camp fees to cover not just our summer costs, but also our year-round operations. Thanks to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, all Camp tuition reallocation donations will be matched 1:1* and all other donations will be matched 2:1.
*We will be sending more information to Camp families about tuition reallocation options soon.