Camp YavnehCamp Yavneh
May 11, 2020

COVID Update – May 7, 2020

Author - Camp Yavneh

May 7, 2020

Dear Yavneh Community, 

The strength of Yavneh has always been our community. Never has this statement been more evident than over the past seven weeks. 

What once seemed hard to fathom is now our new normal. Our children are learning–and demonstrating– resilience from so many examples–the medical community, teachers, rabbis, public servants and most of all parents.  It is heartening to witness and hear of the numerous ways that the Yavneh community has come together, whether virtually or spiritually.  We are holding each other up.

We remain hopeful that we will be able to gather together at camp this summer. The safety and health of our summer community continues to be our number one priority.  The American Camping Association (ACA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are developing a set of standards for camps to operate this summer. In addition to following both the ACA and CDC guidelines, we also take our guidance from the State of New Hampshire. Governor Chris Sununu will be heeding the advice of his state government agencies (most importantly the Department of Health and Human Services) who work in and for New Hampshire communities on a daily basis. Yavneh has also assembled a COVID-19 Task Force composed of health professionals who are leaders in the field, staff, and board members. This Task Force is helping Yavneh develop additional protocols for a safe and healthy summer at Yavneh.  One of the Task Force’s key recommendations is that in order to open camp safely, everyone who will be at camp must test negative for COVID-19 using an approved test.  

Our hope is to find a way to hold camp this summer, so we are planning for multiple contingencies. Working together, we have currently identified the two most likely summer scenarios which include: 

  • Camp opens with a modified calendar/schedule sometime between July 1-5, 2020. This includes Na’aleh, summer in Israel. 
  • Camp is unable to open this summer.

Given all the information that we have today, it is clear that we cannot open on our anticipated start date. The earliest we could start camp would be some time between July 1-5, 2020. Additional information about what it would mean for camp to open can be found in this FAQ

Tuition Refund Policy Updated for Summer, 2020

If camp cannot happen this summer, we all will be devastated. It will be a loss for campers and everyone who has been looking forward to camp since last summer. We want to assure you that should this be the case, we will be granting a 100% refund to all families.  

With that assurance,  this is when we need you the most. We need your thoughtful commitment to our beloved Camp Yavneh. As many of you know, the tuition of our campers covers a full year of preparation to bring about our magical summer months. Yavneh has a number of fixed expenses throughout the year, before the camp sessions even begin. We have year-round staff who are working to enhance programs, care for our land and buildings, train leaders, and meet with families to listen and learn. All this is to ensure that each summer is even better than the year before.        

Because of the investments we have already made toward Summer 2020, a potential year of lost revenue will create a significant shortfall. Due to strong financial stewardship, we have a small cushion of savings and have secured an SBA loan. However,  if we do not run camp this summer, this will not cover costs to keep camp running. We need your support to ensure that Yavneh can survive this challenging period. 

If your family is able, we ask that you consider donating back some or all of your refunded tuition. Your gift will help defray this enormous hit to our budget. In fact, whatever you give will be worth twice the value as it will be matched up to $117,000 by a generous All Together Now grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. We hope you’ll take this incredible opportunity to make a difference. 

We have begun to reach out to some families and have received some generous commitments already. We hope you’ll join them. Now is the time to go deep and give back to the place that many of our children call their second home. We are sensitive to the fact that for some, this is a very difficult time, with lost or reduced jobs or extended illnesses. Please know that we understand and we are here for you. 

Alternatively, if you are unable to fully donate your child’s tuition, another option is to roll your tuition over for summer, 2021. While we are going to need camp families’ generosity, we also know that rolling over tuition dollars may be a better choice for some families. We are aware that for some of our families neither donating nor rolling over tuition is an option and that each family will have different circumstances.  We anticipate that and absolutely want to support them by issuing a full refund. The mutual support of our community, especially when times are tough, is what makes Yavneh such a special community.   

Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with our community. There are multiple next steps that we are looking to take. Many of you have offered to help because we know how important this community is to all of us. We have attempted to answer some questions you may be asking in our updated FAQ. 

If information changes, we will be communicating decisions to the parent community. As of now, we will be back in touch the week of May 17, with either more progress updates and/or a decision about this summer. 

In the meantime, we ask one parent from each family to fill out this brief survey to give us a sense of your current thinking as it pertains to this summer.  Your answers will help us as we continue to research and plan for pathways toward a mission and health-driven summer. 

Stay healthy and safe,


Bil Zarch                                                     Debbie Shapiro Katz