Letter from our Director

Dear Camp Shalom Families,

As we all know, the world continues to grapple with uncertainty, infections and new information related to COVID-19, and because of that sad reality, the government and public health officials have made the heartbreaking decision to cancel summer camp.

We all feel the sting of that decision.

While we all agree that nothing is more important than health and safety, and we understand why this must happen, it doesn’t make it less disappointing.

The privilege and opportunity to attend camp is an experience that can not be replicated in any other way. Cancelling camp is undoubtedly a huge disappointment and loss for children, staff members and families.

While campers and staff are probably feeling the typical reactions to this decision, such as devastation, sadness, worry, confusion, anxiety, stress, frustration and anger, parents are likely feeling a host of similar and also different emotions as they process the reality of the necessary changes and need for alternate plans for the upcoming summer.

Yes, loss certainly reminds us of the value and worth of things.

Sending children to overnight camp is not only a break for parents, but it is an incredible way to give children a social, recreational, enriching, traditional and adventurous experience, like no other – to learn, develop, live with other people, discover, grow, trust, evolve.

While we as parents strive to do all we can to protect our children, we also know that hurt and disappointments are part of life. These letdowns can range from minor to major, and while it is painful to watch our children suffer with hurt and disappointment, we can do our best to teach them how to manage the experience and bounce back, a life lesson to help them so they can cope better with future letdowns. By arming them with some tools and strategies, you’re helping them learn about resilience, providing the cushion they need to fall back on when loss strikes again, which unfortunately is a reality of life.

CYJ will be hosting a Zoom Webinar on Thursday May 21, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Our special guest speaker will be Gaela Mintz MSW, who over the past 15 years has worked with many CYJ camps as a social worker. Here is the link so you can register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vuOsXYm9SWOx3_SXwnJYKw

Please submit any questions or concerns to me, that you would like to have addressed, by Thursday at noon so that they can be addressed during the webinar. The plan for the tone of this webinar is about coping with the disappointment, and discussing the growth and learning opportunities. Attached to this email is a resource page that may be helpful to you.

One of the most important strategies we use at camp as the “summer parents” is keeping the lines of communication open and honest. The experts with whom we have been consulting throughout these past few months have reminded us about the importance of not using phrases that kids simply don’t have the capacity to understand. Terms like ‘the right thing to do’ or ‘for the greater good’ are hard to grasp when, developmentally, kids are in a stage when their world centers around them, their family, and their friends.

The experts further remind us that kids don’t need to be watching news stories about death tolls and community spread, but they will definitely benefit from a discussion about the reasons why cancelling camp is a safer choice for everyone.

Camp Shalom is all about community and bringing people together. I believe that we have all gained some comfort in knowing that we are not alone in this global crisis. Now that this decision has been made, we believe it is crucial for us to stay as connected as possible throughout the upcoming months, to support each other and to find creative, reassuring and meaningful ways to get through this together.

Since 1948, Camp Shalom has been inspiring pride and love of Jewish living, a deep connection to the land of Israel, fostering a strong sense of responsibility, trust and independence, and creating and shaping memories to last a lifetime — all predicated on cheering together, celebrating, singing, playing, laughing, hugging . . .

We will be sending an email next week with information on refunds, credits, etc. Please bear with us as we work towards creating systems to efficiently deal with this closure and return money as fast as possible. We will also be in touch with all of you with some virtual programs and unit gatherings and encourage you and your families to remain connected to your camp community.

We are already looking forward to creating the best-ever camp program for 2021, and we know that when we’re back together, we will pick up right where we left off!

The messages and emails received from many of you have truly validated for me that Camp Shalom is a community filled with absolutely amazing people!  We are all in this together!