Over the past two months, we have worked to determine whether camp could be operated safely during the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve consulted medical and camping advisors and explored various scenarios of modified sessions and camp activities. We are heartbroken to have reached the conclusion that it would not be possible to run camp this summer.
Yahli, Natasha, Quinn, Lili, and Eliza prepared this video for you and your children. We hope it gives your family a chance to talk about the joys of camp and the sadness that comes along with this news.
Challenges & Considerations
As we struggled with the question of how to safeguard the health and wellness of our community, we took into consideration the degree of risk to the population at camp and to the community, problems of camp logistics, and whether we could adjust programming to meet the restrictions and recommendations published by national authorities (CDC, etc.). We considered known, as well as many unknown, risks.
Given the high value Habonim Dror puts on communal responsibility, we were troubled by the possibility of the virus spreading at camp and endangering the health of anyone in our camp community. Moreover, had the virus spread at camp, as camp ended, we would have been sending campers who might be asymptomatic, but still contagious, back to their homes, putting parents, grandparents, and the general community at risk.
It’s common for kids and tzevet to get minor colds at camp. However, with COVID-19 having similar symptoms to the common cold/flu, the camp nurse and medics would have had to consider every cold, cough, fatigue, etc. as potentially this dangerous virus. Campers would have needed to be immediately tested and isolated and kept separate until results were received. Their kvutza, or at least those residing in the tzrif (cabin) with them, would have had to be tested and quarantined as well. Camp’s operation, programming, and ruach (spirit) would have greatly suffered, as a significant number of campers and tzevet would have been quarantined and unable to participate on any given day, and our mirpaa (health center) and isolating rooms would become quickly overwhelmed.
As we saw the first drafts of the CDC’s recommendations for childcare programs and schools (for example, keeping children six feet apart and completely restricting contact between age groups) we realized further that these would simply not allow for a meaningful overnight summer camp experience.
As mid-May approaches, we have run out of time. Answers and solutions will not be available in time for us to safely prepare for camp. We do not even know if or when San Bernardino County’s Department of Environmental Health will allow camps to be held (right now they do not even have a timeline to consider it). With the time it will take to prepare camp to be ready to welcome your children, even with adjusted session dates, we need a confident green light within the next few weeks. It is clear to us that this will not happen in time.
Given these considerations, we felt that waiting longer, and continuing to plan for multiple scenarios, not only drained our human and financial resources, but the uncertainty also weighed heavily on kids, families, and staff. We felt it was best to have a clear answer and begin working on alternate programs that have a real possibility of coming to fruition this summer and will be part of rebuilding for next year.
Remaining Connected & Supporting Our Community
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be celebrating the Gilboa spirit and supporting one another through conversation, song, and fun Gilboa traditions. Join us for:
A Community meeting - Parents, get answers to your questions, connect, and dream together about what our virtual and in-person gatherings will look and feel like. Join us on Zoom: Wednesday, May 13th, at 8:00pm
A Community Havdallah and Medura - please come as a family, greet the new week, sing along, share your talents, and celebrate the joy of Gilboa. Join us on Zoom: Saturday, May 16th, at 7pm
As you know, a new ED was brought on right as COVID-19 began to unfold. During this time of crisis, we realized he wasn’t the right fit for this job, in this moment. We count ourselves lucky that Dalit, who was still transitioning and training him, is able to remain in the role of Executive Director and guide us through these complicated times.
Additionally, as Josh Bloom finishes his tenure at Gilboa, we celebrate how Josh nurtured and supported the Eizor, Tzedek, outreach, and Maagal these past two years, and the way he integrated these programs so beautifully to work together as parts of a whole. This is a testament to his vision, dedication, and hard work. We welcome Lili Mandl, our new Tzedek Coordinator.
Stay healthy, everyone –– We can’t wait to be with you and your children soon!