Summer Camps in a Pandemic?!

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    Dear American Jewry,

    We understand that summer camps are an important part of American Jewish life, but please consider how campaigning for summer camps looks at the moment.

    We are in the midst of a global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people have died, 1000s of whom are fellow Jews.

    The pandemic is not over, our communities should still be in crisis mode. Surely day camps or family vacations are a more modest and appropriate option for this summer?


    While I understand your reasoning, it is not “american jewry” campaigning for this. The camps joined together after consulting with medical professionals and others on how to conduct camps under the current conditions. I am also not sure if we should be in crisis mode like we were a few months ago.

    meir G

    the crisis in the frum community has been over for many weeks now. u may ask what are the indicators. here is a few
    1. hatzoloh covid calls- listen to a scanner
    2. # of daily levayos- & chesed shel emes
    3. yiddish yenta type sites ( like i velt..) these are sites with 10, 000 users with up to the minute info on anything imaginable
    4. anecdotal what people are saying..

    Luna Lovegood

    “the crisis in the frum community has been over for many weeks now”- the number of covid-19 cases are down due to rigorous social distancing. If we start opening shuls/schools/camps too fast and too soon then numbers will rise.
    Camps are great, but not necessary. And under the current circumstances, possibly deadly.


    Dear Lower,
    Agreed. We are not in crisis mode. We should be in empathy and mourning mode.


    Dear Mkylb,
    I agree. The optics are terrible. I do not think our community is cognizant of our appearance.


    Dear Meir,
    The crisis has abated for the moment. We took a big hit. Do not pretend that everything is normal. Lack of coronavirus was never an indicator of communal strength or happiness.


    Dear Luna,
    Maybe. The CDC put up guidelines for camps a month ago.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Nom – in this context what would you like empathy and mourning to look like. Specifically in regard to summer programming.

    Mkylb – i disagree about your health assessment and so do many of the ny residents who happily took to the streets, beaches, airshows, parks (shall i go on?)
    I assess the present worry-level based on facts but have relatives and friends living the fear factor. I encourage them to research a bit more. Talk to doctors, check the dept of health websites.

    When a 90 year old driver is driving down the street at 18 miles an hour and you “zip” past him going 25, he will see you as reckless based on where his senses are functioning. Those who believe we are in the midst of a pandemic in ny may be doing the same. Check it out.


    Dear Syag,
    I agree with you about getting out. People should get out now. Especially if we have another shut down later in the year. I side with the OP that the community fighting for camp seems out of place.
    Empathy and mourning. Make it seem like it was a big deal, even if you made the best of it. Some yidden got the worst of it.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Nom- you’re agreeing with me about getting out but i don’t remember saying that. And you seem to have omitted the explanation about how making sure our children have a healthy way to spend their summer is misaligned with mourning. When i sat shiva after months of attending to a very sick dad, i worried more about arrangements for my children than i would otherwise. This isn’t about recreation, it’s about mental health, social development and spirituality.
    My additional point is that your and her vision might be skewed regarding where we are at right now, influenced by emotion. Or not. Worth researching.

    Little Froggie

    These nincompoops in power have to realize that keeping kids on the street is a bigger danger, both to the kids and to society. Do you think the “demonstrations” happened by itself? The firecracker pandemic? “Defund the police?” It’s a whole segment of people with plenty of time on their hands.. As the Mishnah states boredom leads to idiocy, insanity. And we are seeing it right before our eyes. If this continues, America will be taken dismantled… Actually it IS coming apart!

    So the question is do we kill the people in order to save them?!? These haughty “professionals”, “experts” are, at best, single minded individuals who know nothing out of what their field is or was. They may know something about how the virus spreads (actually we see daily how little they know, things change so fast back and forth. The latest of their findings change direction almost DAILY!). But they don’t know what the effects of locking people up, especially children, for endless month. Made to stare at the ceiling from morning to night, seven days a week. One month. Two months. Three months. And counting!!!

    Second note – the camps actually submitted an excellent proposition and plan how the camps would operate; they stated that they would quarantine IN CAMP, and not let any contact with the campers. To any sensible person that’s far better than having a day camp where children mingle AND THEN ARE SENT HOME DAILY – to further spread the virus. Only an individual with a head screwed on backwards – OR SOMEONE WITH AN AGENDA – thinks that quarantining in camp is worse than letting it out.

    I don’t know why the Jewish Camp Association doesn’t get me to fight for them. I’d let those who think they’re in power have an earful – and then some!! SOMEONE HAS TO SOUND OUT!


    1- teenagers were/are not affected by the virus. So there is no reason for them not go to camp. the chances of any of them getting seriously sick is almost nil.
    2- teenagers need something to do with their time. People with total lack of seichel make decisions that don’t include this very obvious fact.
    3 – Why would day camps be more safe? In camp, they will be quarantined in a productive environment, while day camp they will be going home and about and more likely to spread the virus (provided they can and are still spreading it..
    4 – Most teenagers, if not all, in NY were already exposed to the virus more than a month ago.
    5- vactions is a better option? Are you kidding me?


    Was the Agudah advised before their lawsuit by the moetzes? Isn’t it cognizant of the fact that it’s promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes that there are two sets of rules, one for us and one for everybody else? And another stereotype that says we Jews can get away with anything by crying religion?


    “I’d let those who think they’re in power have an earful – and then some!! SOMEONE HAS TO SOUND OUT!”

    We can sound out from today until tomorrow, while fun (that’s why I’m here) “sounding out” is not what will change anything. court cases might.

    That said, the camp owners should absolutely go to court and ask to be allowed to operate. I don’t see how anyone can dispute that point, they have medical professionals on their side, a reasonable plan, and of course significant livelihood.
    however, I am more hesitant about making it a “community” issue with organizations getting involved. Their argument that Camp is a religious necessity (this is the thrust of the argument that camps should be allowed to operate as the yare protected by as religious expression under he constitution sounds stretched at best. (although it might work becasue courts tend to be hesitant to decide what is and isnt “religious expression” the question will hinge on whether the state has a compelling indication to prevent this “religious expression” and if it is being evenly applied.)

    As for the argument that Sleep away camps are safer than day camps, this misses the point.
    Allowing things to open/close is not solely based on safety. It i a balance of safety vs necessity.
    The example Iv’e been using is say a family is 1000 over budget in their monthly budget. What should the cut sooner their $1000 rent or their $200 restaurant bill. Obviously it would be foolish to argue they should sooner stop paying rent since that would save them more than the restaurant. Cuts are not just about what saves more money.
    Same here allowing things to open is not JUST about risk. Every time people leave risk goes up, indoors is worse than outdoors, many is worse than few, longer period together is worse than shorter etc. However the relative necessity of the actions in question must also be factored in. This is why they allowed protests but not businesses to open. Its not that protests are safer its that as Deblasio said “You cannot compare 400 year s of oppression to the need for business” (I’m paraphrasing) this is what he meant.
    Now I don’t think it the State’s place to decide whether protesting or say shul is more important, but that is what they meant.

    Back to camps, even if sleep away camp are safer, the bottom line is day camps are needed so people can go to work. sleep away camps are a luxury. It is not just a question of which is safer.

    That said, I hope Camps can open enough already.

    Voice of Reason

    There is another way to look at this. Everyone will agree that kids with no program for the summer has potential for disaster. Crime rates have already risen, and kids can get into lots of trouble. In contrast, children benefit souch from camp in so many ways. I am so happy that my son’s yeshiva found a way to take them to a hotel.

    I think we look like a community that cares about our children. It all depends on what glasses you are wearing. Can you try to see it that way?

    meir G

    mkylb- one more indicator is the recent protests- you had 10,000’s protesting shoulder to shoulder screaming w plenty of droplets , shvitzing… plus many from other states and its 20 days now with ZERO UPTICK. ( I CHECKED 2 HOSPITALS IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOODS) ( KINGS COUNTY & WOODHULL)
    nomesorah- the optics is an issue BUT at what cost?, what would you say to a goy if he asked you why your 12 yr old daughter CANNOT HAVE A DRINK on a hot summer day? because 3000 yrs ago the temple burned?
    point 2 – sure we took a big hit & it was disproportionately very good people, did you notice that the hardest hit communities are precisely the ones ready to go forward…we are not all crazy
    I UNDERSTAND THE GOVERNER, how could we expect goyim to comprehend concepts of emunah , death is decided on rosh hashana…bitachon, hashem is tov… lofty ideals that we alll strive to on some level


    Dear mklyb: this virus was never a threat to young people (and the fear mongering  (edited) you’ve been watching over the past few months which highlight exceptional cases in young people is just feeding you fiction premised on statistical nullities). An environment where young people are detached from those as risk and placed in their own protected bubble is the ideal way to move forward safely making sleepaway camps much safer than day camps.


    Facts are less then 1% of people in NY area test positive theses days, its basically over, why not open camps


    shnitzel bigot: do you realize that rabbi zweibel does not take a step without conferring with member(s) of the moetzes? If goyishe camps dont want to fight this restriction that is there business. While I personally am not sure that AJCO will prevail (as I dont know if camp is essential as a “religious” right), I also dont see how they are emphasizing anti semitic stereotypes. Were you also upset by the lawsuits in other states bought by the goyishe ministers?


    Mr. Tuition, a mashal, imagine if a Jew cut a line at wherever, and when people start giving him dirty looks he replied oh as an Orthodox Jew I cut the line as a “religious right”, what do you think would happen?

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Nothing cuz that’s a dumb mashal


    You know what, maybe I’m wrong. Is agudah asking for Jewish camps to open or all camps?


    Regarding the moetzes: You are probably right. I was hoping that wasn’t the case since I was upset by the lawsuit.

    Regarding the other camps: The reason they are not fighting it is (a) they have no chances of winning (b) they acknowledge that the Governor has to make all these decisions based on many factors that many on this site are refusing to consider, and they agree with the governor that there’s no wrong decision. I am tired of the dumb “if this is allowed, why isn’t this allowed” arguments. Most sane people understand that there are different risks unique to every situation and if the Goyishe lobby respects the difficult situation that the Governor was in then good for them.

    Regarding the other ministers – that was different. I thought they were wrong and acting like cavemen, however they weren’t saying that their blood was redder than everyone elses, to borrow secular Israel’s line for שביון בנטל.

    Regarding if the AJCO will prevail: I don’t care if they would. We’ve had a messed up supreme court make messed up case law based on messed up legislation from a messed up Congress. The gap between what’s right and what’s legal is so wide.


    Its already July. The camps will not have time to recruit counselors, dining room staff, nurses etc. for the 2020 summer season. These staff are not just sitting home ready to jump on a bus tomorrow. Preparations for the new protocols would take weeks and most camps have NOT been willing to make those investments without knowing whether they would be allowed to open this year. Hopefully by next summer we will have an effective vaccine which should be a prerequisite for any kids allowed to attend camp. My biggest fear now is that with all the conflicting information and condensed test timeline, many parents will be reluctant to vaccinate their kdis.

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