April 24, ’20
Dear Romimu Family,
I hope all is well with you in these very troubling times. May Hakodesh Boruch in His infinite kindness lift this challenge from upon us and allow us to serve him as a united Klal Yisroel with increased fervor and achdus and may He bring the Geulah Shleimah.
I love camp and look forward to it all year. As this situation has unfolded, I have had so many people express to me how much camp means to them, how much they look forward to it all year and how much they love camp. The connections and relationships that are developed are life-changing and precious. I am very proud of our staff for creating, on their own initiative, several different Zoom learning, schmoozing and connecting opportunities. See zoom-learning. I am also proud of the many boys who join me nightly for [email protected] (see [email protected]) and Erev Shabbos for Likras Shabbos (see Likras Shabbos).
I wanted to take the opportunity to update you with what is happening in camp. As an executive board member of AJCO (Association of Jewish Camp Operators), consisting of 60+ frum camps, I have been very involved in communications and meetings with the President of the ACA (American Camp Association), the Executive Director of ACA NY/NJ and the President of NYSCDA (New York State Camp Directors Association). These organizations encompass thousands of camps and service millions of campers.
In short, we are cautiously optimistic that camp WILL be open this summer. When I say “we,” this is the sentiment of all the above organizations.
Background (for those who want all the details):
Camps need a NYS Department of Health (DOH) Permit to operate. That is the only permit that is required. Our local town, Town of Thompson, does not have authority over anything camp related except for building permits for new construction. The DOH has recently sent out Camp Permit Applications so that the process can go forward smoothly. They informed us, however, that ultimately the decision will be made by Governor Cuomo.
The ACA and NYSCDA have been in touch with Governor Cuomo personally. Cuomo has specifically declared camps as essential businesses and is interested in allowing camps to open if it is safe. He has allowed pre-camp maintenance and construction work to continue in anticipation of camp being open. I have personally spoken with an ACA camp director who is very influential in the Democratic party and is a personal friend of Governor Cuomo. He told me that he personally spoke with Cuomo and was told that Cuomo would very much like to see camps open. Additionally, AJCO has many askonim who are well connected in Albany.
The ACA has hired a group of prominent, nationally-recognized medical professionals and camp experts who will be developing a protocol of best medical practices that would be implemented in all camps nationwide. They are working with the CDC and plan to submit their recommendations to the CDC in approximately ten days. Once the CDC is satisfied with the recommendations, they will forward these guidelines to the governors.
Keep in mind that the recommendations may alter the way camp operates. Will we be able to have trips? Visiting day? Will we need to start camp late? We have no indication yet on what the recommendations will be. There may be no restrictions at all – we simply do not know. Anything that you may have heard is purely an assumption and not based upon any CDC recommendations.
All of this is predicated on COVID19 cases continuing consistently to decrease, along with a significant increase in testing capability.
Preparations for Camp:
Preparations for camp continue throughout the year. We have a staff of three full time caretakers and a full time Operations Manager working on the facility, in addition to our office staff in Far Rockaway.
This year we took on one of our most significant capital improvement projects in our 32-year history. See new for ’20:
- Cleared approximately one acre of forest for four NBA regulation-sized basketball courts with professional lighting
- Two new learning group rooms
- Three new volleyball courts
- Two new regulation sized baseball diamonds
- New football field
- New professional barrier system for our go kart track
- Renovated hockey court with new professional boards and netting
- Renovated family bungalows
- Bunkhouse bathroom addition
- Expanded lakefront beach area
We are working diligently to have our beautiful and welcoming facility in tip-top shape for the boys’ arrival and are excited to have the boys enjoy all these improvements.
What we need from you:
Over the next weeks we will be sending out bunk requests confirmations, updated medical information, transportation forms, learning forms, T-shirt forms, etc. Please do not wait until the last moment to submit these important forms. In order for camp to open in the organized and safe way that you have come to expect, we need to have this information in a timely fashion.
Given the financial strain caused by the corona virus, we have decided not to charge any further payments until we have a clear decision from the governor. If you specifically want the payment charged, please let us know. Once we get the green light, we will notify you before any payments are processed.
If, chas v’sholom, we are not permitted to open camp, we will issue a full refund of all monies paid including the deposit and application fees. I do not feel comfortable keeping any payments if camp is unable to open. You will be fully reimbursed.
I am looking forward to greeting your son personally in camp. Im Yirtzeh Hashem, THIS will be the greatest summer ever!!
Rabbi Shlomo Pfeiffer