Health and Safety in 2022
We are thrilled to be welcoming over 850 campers and nearly 150 staff and faculty members back to Porter Creek Rd. in Summer 2022. After an incredible, in-person, and perhaps most importantly, a completely Covid-Free summer in 2021, our dedication to health and safety remains paramount as we prepare for Summer 2022. In addition to requiring all campers, staff and faculty at camp this summer to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, please see below for some FAQs about our Health & Safety Protocols for Summer 2022.
We are so proud that the URJ Camping system is 15 camps strong across North America. Our shared commitment to health and safety remains at the forefront of everything we do, and we are grateful to our camper families for their patience as we navigate the safe reopening of all of our camps this summer. As we move into spring, we are encouraged by the ongoing updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as our remarkable team of doctors who are working with us to create universal medical protocols for this summer. Meet our Medical Advisory Team!
We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving standards and protocols both within the camping industry and as required by our federal and local governing bodies and will be as transparent as possible as our summer plans continue to take shape.
As we meaningfully consider every aspect of our program and operation, we have created the following FAQs to answer some of the questions you may have. We will continue to update this information as it becomes applicable as we work to welcome us all back to Porter Creek.
Covid-19 Health and Safety FAQs
These are the questions that you may be asking. We will keep this page up to date with any new questions that arise and with changes to the answers as our knowledge improves.
Pre-Camp Precautions & Vaccination Requirements
IS THERE A VACCINE AND BOOSTER MANDATE?
Yes, all URJ program participants and staff must be fully up-do-date with their vaccinations, including those for COVID, including (when eligible) a booster. You are “up to date” with your COVID vaccines when you have followed the current CDC recommendations, which you can find on the CDC website. The required vaccination schedule will be different depending on your age, your health status, and when you began your vaccination series.
Camp is all about having fun, making connections, immersing in joyful Judaism, and becoming your best self. All of this can only happen when individual safety and public health remain at the center of every aspect of camp. Reducing the risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses from entering camp is the single most effective strategy to protect public health. This goal can be accomplished only through the appropriate vaccination of all members of our camp and programs. Please refer to our 2022 Vaccination Statement for more detail.
WHAT IF MY CHILD BECOMES ELIGIBLE FOR THE NEXT DOSE IN THE COVID VACCINATION SERIES IN THE 2 WEEKS PRIOR TO THEIR CAMP SESSION OR DURING CAMP?
The URJ Vaccination Statement requires that all participants and staff are up to date as of 2 weeks prior to their program or camp session. If your child becomes eligible for the next dose in their vaccination series during the 2 weeks prior to their session or during the session, they are still considered up to date without that additional dose. The two-week time frame is in place to minimize potential vaccine-induced symptoms and any added stress in the immediate pre-camp period. Additionally, if you are up to date by 2 weeks prior to your session, there will be no requirement to obtain subsequent doses during a camp session. Please reach out to Rabbi Allie Fischman (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any individual questions about this situation.
UPDATE: Based on the recent amendment from FDA, we strongly endorse and recommend the booster dose of COVID vaccination for children ages 5-11, at least 5 months after completion of the primary series. At this time, it isn’t operationally feasible for us to require this booster dose for ages 5-11 for 2022 summer camp, as we are merely weeks away from the start of the summer camp season.
WILL THERE BE PRE-CAMP BEHAVIOR GUIDELINES (COVID BRIT) THIS YEAR?
Yes, we’re asking campers to agree to a COVID behavior Brit, though it will be less stringent than last year based on current conditions. The 2022 COVID Brit will include guidance on how to minimize your camper’s COVID exposures in the week prior to coming to camp (for example, by masking in indoor public environments). It will not limit your camper’s ability to attend school, travel or participate in other camps in the days preceding their camp session.
HOW ARE HEALTH AND SAFETY DECISIONS MADE WHEN IT COMES TO COVID?
An experienced team of URJ staff is overseeing the development of COVID guidance for URJ programs. They work with our URJ Medical Advisory Team, who have expertise and specialization in public health and infectious disease and also rely on the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for best practices. These teams are working closely with camp leadership to develop guidelines and protocols that preserve the camp experience, protect our communities, and use evidence-based best practices.
WHAT IF MY CHILD CANNOT RECEIVE ALL OR PART OF THE COVID VACCINATION SERIES DUE TO A MEDICAL CONDITION?
This is one of the rare circumstances that may be an exemption from the vaccine requirement. In this case, current documentation from a licensed Physician (MD or DO), or a Pediatric/Family Practice Advanced Practice Nurse (ARNP or PNP) who is not related to the individual, describing the reason for exemption from immunization must be submitted. URJ Leadership and medical advisors will review and decide on each request on a case-by-case basis.
You can submit your vaccination exemption requests using this form.
After completing the form, The URJ Integrated Wellness Director will communicate directly with you to gather the appropriate documentation and follow-up information needed to process each request. We rely on the expertise and guidance of our URJ Medical Advisory Team in this process.
While at Camp
WILL MASKS BE REQUIRED AT CAMP?
Yes, please send your child to camp with 1 high filtration mask (N95/94 or KN95/94) per day for the length of their camp session. Campers and staff will wear masks when inside the dining hall getting food or using the bathroom, during any programmatic times in indoor spaces, at all-camp activities like Shabbat services and song session, and, for a minimum of the first 6 days of camp, when they are mixing in close proximity to campers and staff who are NOT living with them. Masks are not required in living spaces, showers, in the pool or while eating meals.
We know that by increasing some layers of COVID mitigation, we may decrease others. By requiring that our camp communities are fully up-to-date with COVID vaccinations, we are hopeful that we can create a camp environment that feels more typical to a pre-pandemic summer season, including a shift toward using masks as sparingly as possible and in response to any changing conditions.
Are there any changes planned to this summer’s program?
- Yes. To be careful, we will begin the summer with most activities taking place in a “pod”. These are like a “household” in which many masking and social distancing rules do not apply. A group of pods the same age is a “Unit”. As the summer moves along, and our testing program yields some answers, we hope to loosen our cohorts, mask policy, etc.
- Certain activities deemed to be “high risk” for disease spread will be limited to cohorts.
- Large group programs indoors will not take place or will happen under physical distancing conditions.
How will you use space this summer - indoors vs. outdoors?
Wherever we can, we will have fun outside. This enables us to not only enjoy our environment, but relax some of our masking and distancing, especially during Week One of camp.
Will all staff be living in Camp or will some be going home at night? How are you limiting that risk?
Some of our staff are from the local community and will be “commuting” to camp. Our staff vaccination rule applies to them, as well. All of them will be tested regularly throughout the summer, as opposed to staff in residence who are only tested at the beginning.
WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR IF YOU ENCOUNTER COVID SYMPTOMS AND POSITIVE TESTS AT CAMP?
To protect our community from further spread, and to simultaneously ensure that any COVID+ community member receives appropriate care during their isolation period, we are requiring that all camp families plan for retrieving their family member(s) from camp to isolate at home (or elsewhere off campus) if they test positive for COVID at camp. We can discuss any specific challenges around this individually. We are requiring families to retrieve their family members to isolate off campus, because housing and caring for COVID+ community members is operationally incompatible with our camps’ capacities (facilities and staff).
COVID+ community members can return when they test negative for COVID by rapid antigen test, on 2 consecutive days. They can begin testing daily after 5 days of isolation and can return to camp once 2 consecutive days produce negative RA test results. The COVID Leader at each camp will discuss this isolation plan individually with each affected family. Information about the potential return to camp will be individualized based on variables such as session length.
Additionally, we will follow leveled protocols for COVID decision-making, and agility based on changing conditions both on and off campus.
WILL CAMPERS GO ON TRIPS OUTSIDE OF CAMP THIS SUMMER?
We will be taking only trips that meaningfully contribute to the camp experience AND present exceedingly low COVID risk. We will use added layers of mitigation when appropriate.
WILL I RECEIVE SOME TUITION CREDIT IF MY CHILD MUST LEAVE CAMP FOR A PORTION OF THE SESSION DUE TO COVID?
Under ordinary circumstances, we are unable to provide refunds/credits for campers missing partial days of the summer. URJ camps/immersive staff work year-round to plan for a joyful, meaningful, and safe summer season and fees cover expenses for staff, programming, facilities, operations, and more. However, we acknowledge the challenges COVID poses to summer 2022. In recognition of this, and as a thank you for your partnership, trust, and commitment, we will provide $50.00/day as a credit for future programs in the event your child misses a portion of the summer due to them testing positive for COVID while at camp. We also encourage you to explore program protection insurance and/or other types of insurance to provide extra protection. You can find information about that here: https://campnewman.org/summer/travel-protection-plan/
If the cancellation is non-Covid related, the standard cancellation policy applies.
WILL UNITS AND BUNKS BE COHORTED LIKE THEY WERE IN SUMMER 2021?
We know that by increasing some layers of COVID mitigation, we may decrease others. By requiring that our camp communities are fully up to date with COVID vaccinations, we are hopeful that we can create a camp environment that feels more typical to a pre-pandemic summer season, including a less stringent focus on cohorting in camp, while remaining agile and ready to pivot with any changing conditions.
WILL THERE BE ONGOING SURVEILLANCE TESTING AT CAMP?
Like last summer, there will be a COVID testing regimen at the start of each camp session. We plan to complete this arrival testing regimen by the end of the first week of each session. There will be ongoing surveillance testing for the adults and staff on camp, who are allowed to take time off outside of campus (pending COVID conditions). Additionally, we will test any community member exhibiting symptoms of COVID infection. Our testing regimens will be responsive to any changing COVID conditions.
What if a camper or staff member must leave camp for a medical emergency like an x-ray or dental problem?
Our designated camp driver, a vaccinated staff member, will be present the entire time. Both will wear masks, observe physical distancing, and visit a medical facility where strict COVID protocols are in place. They will be allowed to return to their bunks on return.
WILL STAFF BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE CAMP FOR TIME OFF?
Last summer, we “put the Bubble in a bubble” – this means that no staff came or went from campus during the entire summer season. In this way, we were able to keep COVID out of camp, using a stringent and layered mitigation approach. While that was appropriate last year and played a significant role in our success in keeping COVID out of camp, it was incredibly hard on our camp staff. This year, staff will be allowed to leave campus for time off. We will put multiple layers of mitigation around this practice to minimize the risk of COVID entering camp. Our protocols will utilize the CDC Community Risk Level Tool to guide staff on how to safely spend time off camp, and we will be ready and agile to make adjustments to this plan based on changing COVID conditions.
WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR IF COVID CONDITIONS CHANGE SIGNIFICANTLY DURING THE CAMP SEASON?
If the COVID conditions outside of camp change during the summer season (for example, a new COVID variant or surge takes place during the camp season), we will follow our protocols for elevating our mitigation efforts. These changes in mitigation levels will be determined by the URJ team of staff and medical advisors and the guidance of the CDC and AAP for best practices. For campers, we do not anticipate any programmatic changes unless we encounter COVID inside camp.
WILL THERE BE VISITORS ALLOWED AT CAMP THIS SUMMER?
We know that by increasing some layers of COVID mitigation, we may decrease others. By requiring that our camp communities are fully up-to-date with COVID vaccinations, we are hopeful that we can create a camp environment that feels more typical to a pre-pandemic summer season, including welcoming visitors to camp in a limited way. What we do know for sure, is that if conditions allow us to safely welcome visitors to our camps this summer, we will use the available layers of mitigation around these visits as appropriate and based on current COVID conditions (rapid tests on arrival, staying outside, masking and distancing, and more).