Where will my child live? How are room and hall assignments made? Campers and staff live in dorms and are grouped into “halls” based on age and gender. Dorm buildings are identified as either being a “boys” or “girls” dorm. Transgender campers or staff members are housed in the space that affirms their gender identity and non-binary campers and staff are given the choice of living where they are most comfortable.  Counselors live on each hall to supervise, mentor and engage their campers throughout the day, both when in the dorm and when at activities. Each hall is assigned by unit, and staffed by counselors who live on the hall and travel with their campers to meals and activities throughout the day. Rooms are mostly doubles, with some triples and one or two quads. Roommate assignments are made based on grade and mutual requests.

Can my child request to be with their best friend? As long as they are in the same grade and the same dorm, we do our best to accommodate one mutual roommate request per camper. After you submit your registration, you will be sent a housing info and roommate request form to fill out where you can put this request.

Will my child need lots of special equipment from home? We will provide all equipment that is necessary for all activities at camp, including both STEM and recreational activities. Campers may choose to bring non-electronic games and sports equipment (such as their personal tennis racket), but we encourage you to leave anything expensive at home. Please also see our Personal Technology Policy for more information on personal electronics at camp.

How can I get a 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy t-shirt for my child? All campers will receive a 6 Points Sci-Tech t-shirt at camp. Additional shirts and camp clothing and gear can be purchased at our online camp store.

How will my child’s laundry get done? Campers will have their laundry sent out to a local wash-and-fold service about halfway through each session. Campers staying multiple sessions will also have their laundry done during intersession. We encourage you to also label each article of clothing to help ensure everything makes it home!

How’s the food? Amazing! The food service is provided by The Governor’s Academy, in their new, air-conditioned dining hall. The dining services staff are year-round professional employees of the school (many of whom live on campus), who are highly skilled in preparing tasty, nutritious meals for kids. Most meals are served buffet-style with multiple options. For more information about food service, see our Facilities and Food page.

What if my child’s birthday occurs during camp? We love birthdays at camp! It is a special day for a camper, and we celebrate as a community by singing happy birthday in the dining hall and giving the camper a birthday cake to enjoy with their hallmates. During the Boker Big Bang that morning, the camper gets to participate in the experiment of the day, and counselors make it an extra special day for their campers by decorating their door or hall. Our birthday campers also get their own star named after them in the Sci-Tech Star Registry! We know that birthdays are a difficult time for campers to be away from their families, so we also schedule a special phone call so that you can wish them a happy birthday, too!

How are the different grades organized at camp? At Sci-Tech, campers are divided in three ways: Upper Camp (grades 8-11) and Lower Camp (grades 5-7), by camp unit, and by hall. Day-time activities, like Workshops, Chugim, Sababa, and Kinesthetic Sciences are grouped by Upper Camp and Lower Camp. Meals and hall nights are grouped by dorm hall. Evening programs and special camp traditions/milestone moments are grouped by camp unit. Grades at camp are determined by the grade a camper would be going into for the following school year (i.e. a camper who is currently in 4th grade would be a 5th grader at camp).

What are the different camp units? Our five units at camp are Kiloybytes (Grades 5 – 6), Megabytes (Grade 7), Gigabytes (Grades 8 – 9), Terabytes (Grade 10), and a special 3rd session only 11th-grade unit called the Yottabytes. We also have a full-summer 12th-grade leadership and CIT program called Machon.

Will campers repeat their 2020 unit? We know that missing out on a whole summer at camp was challenging. While much was missed, campers should register for the unit that they should be in based on their current grade for the 2020/2021 school year. Every camper will move up to their appropriate unit this summer regardless of missing out on last summer.

Can 11th graders come to camp in Summer 2021? We are creating a brand new, 3rd session only unit specifically for the rising 11th graders who missed out on their 10th-grade year in 2020! This unit will be called the YOTTABYTES. All yottabytes are encouraged to register for the Sci-Techkun Olam: Teen Leadership Incubator workshop, which is specifically designed for teens. However, if leadership in STEM is not something that appeals to your family, Yottabytes are welcome to register for the other upper camp workshops with the understanding that they will be in workshops with the other upper camp units in grades 8 through 10.

The Yottabytes are a totally new unit, meaning that 11th graders will not be repeating milestone moments associated with the 10th-grade Terabytes unit. Instead, we will build new traditions and new meaningful moments specifically designed for our oldest teens.

Can 11th graders going on Sci-Tech in Israel also come to camp as a Yottabyte during 3rd session? Due to the two-week quarantine period required when traveling internationally due to COVID-19, it would not be possible to attend both Sci-Tech Israel (run by NFTY in Israel) and the new 3rd Session Yottabytes unit. If this changes and it becomes possible for Sci-Tech Israel participants to ALSO attend camp as a Yottabyte, we will let you know right away!

We highly encourage families who can attend Sci-Tech in Israel to do so, as it is an adventure of a lifetime. However, we recognize that the Sci-Tech Israel program is not accessible to everyone, and we wanted to make sure that all our 11th graders have a chance to be with their Sci-Tech community this summer whether in Byfield or in Israel!

Can 12th graders who are going on the Sci-Tech Israel trip attend the Machon Teen Leadership Program? Unfortunately, the Sci-Tech Israel trip overlaps with the dates for our Machon Teen Leadership program. Our Machon Program is a full-summer, immersive teen leadership and Counselor-In-Training experience and it is not possible to start the program later in the summer. Additionally, because of the two-week quarantine period required when traveling internationally due to COVID-19, it would not currently be possible to attend both Sci-Tech Israel (run by NFTY in Israel) and the final weeks of our summer program in Byfield.

We know that this is a hard choice for our rising 12th graders who are going to Israel in Summer 2021 due to the Summer 2020 Israel trip being canceled due to COVID-19. We highly recommend you attend Sci-Tech in Israel if you are able, as it is a truly unique and incredible experience. As we look towards the future, we are actively seeking ways to provide leadership opportunities for the rising 12th graders who go on the Sci-Tech Israel trip so they feel prepared and excited to come back as staff in Summer 2022! Please also know that attendance in the Machon program is not a pre-requisite to becoming a staff member at Sci-Tech East in the future.

Do you offer financial assistance? All children who have never before attended an overnight Jewish summer camp are eligible to receive up to $1,000 off tuition via the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper incentive grants program. Need-based scholarships may be available on a limited basis; please contact us for more information. For the most up-to-date information on current discounts, please visit our Discounts and Financial Aid page.

Is my child ready for overnight camp? We believe that all children are capable of having a rewarding overnight summer camp experience. Our two-week sessions are a great choice for families looking for a shorter experience. Our camp professionals are happy to discuss preparing your child for their first summer at camp to ensure it will be a successful experience!

Can we visit and tour the camp? Currently, due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, we are not able to tour our host site, Governor’s Academy. However, we still would love to meet you! Please visit our Virtual Parlor Meeting page for more information and to register today!

Can we arrange a home visit to meet the camp director? Currently, due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, are not doing home visits. However while we can’t make it in person, we can always be there virtually—we love video conferencing using Zoom! Please contact our camp office today to schedule your visit!

My camper takes medications and/or over-the-counter medications/vitamins/supplements. How do I get those to camp? To ensure the best possible quality of care in our Health Center, we require all campers who take prescriptions, supplements, vitamins, and/or over-the-counter medications (OTC’s) to enroll in our pre-packaged pharmacy service. We will not accept any medication, vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications on Opening Day. For Summer 2021, we will use a new pharmacy service provided by Lenox Village Integrative Pharmacy (Village Pharmacy). We are excited to work with Village Pharmacy, a company lauded by other overnight camps that have contracted with them. We are confident with the use of this pre-packaged pharmacy we will see high efficiency, low risk of error, and exemplary customer service.

The deadline for submitting the 2021 Village Pharmacy camp form and sending prescriptions is Saturday, June 5th, 2021. Enrolled families can find a Camp Pharmacy FAQs packet in their CampInTouch accounts.

What if my child has allergies? We strive to accommodate all allergies at camp so that all campers can participate in our program. Our professional dining services team has experience dealing with many allergies, like gluten/wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame, and fish allergies. We are able to accommodate most dietary needs – if your camper’s allergies are not on the list, please do not hesitate to inquire. Campers who need medication to manage environmental allergies will receive their medication from our nurses at mealtimes or before bed. We have Epipens on hand in the dining hall and health center and are sent with our staff on any out-of-camp trips. Our entire staff is trained in the use of Epipens.

How do you select, train, and supervise your staff? What is the staff-to-camper ratio? Our counselors are more than just supervisors – they are mentors, friends, and role models! Counselors are selected based on their past experience working with children, their dedication to our Jewish values, and their passion for science and technology. All staff go through a rigorous week-long staff orientation prior to the first day of camp, which features training in child care and development, informal Jewish and scientific education, and camper safety. Our staff who run STEM programming begin prepping months ahead of time, in partnership with our STEM advisors and education consultants! We maintain at least a 5-to-1 camper-to-staff ratio.

Will my child be safe while at camp? URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy East complies with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and is licensed by the local board of health in addition to being certified by the American Camp Association.

There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of your child, both physically and emotionally. The following mechanisms are in place to ensure that your child remains safe while at camp:

  • The Governor’s Academy has a 24/7 professional security presence on campus. They regularly patrol the facility and work closely with us to ensure our safety.
  • All our staff members go through mandatory safety training, which includes procedures for a variety of safety situations, such as medical and weather emergencies.
  • All of our leadership staff members are trained in First Aid and CPR, and all carry cell phones or walkie-talkies to ensure a fast response time in the event of a medical problem.

We have camp nurses on campus and on-call 24/7 to respond to any medical problems. We work with a local doctor as well as a local hospital and urgent care center to provide additional care when needed.

What kind of clothing should my child bring to camp? Campers at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy will be outside and moving around for much of the day, so we recommend comfortable clothes such as shorts and t-shirts. Closed-toed shoes are required (no sandals or flip-flops). For Shabbat, many choose to dress a little nicer (such as khakis, polo shirts, skirts) and we request that all campers wear a white top to bring our community together as one kehilah kedoshah (holy community). A full packing list is provided closer to the beginning of camp as part of our Family Guide. If you’d like to see the packing list from previous years prior to registering, please reach out to the camp office.

What happens if my child gets sick while at camp? Our professional medical team, which includes nurses and local doctors, are here to help ensure your camper’s wellness! In most cases, sick campers stay in our Health Center until they are able to re-join camp activities. In the event of an overnight stay, a hospital visit, or if our medical staff prescribes or changes any medication, the parents will be notified as soon as possible.

Where is the closest hospital? Anna Jacques Hospital, a full-service community hospital (including emergency medicine) in Newburyport is less than 6 miles away.

Will my child be inside all day? We design our programs specifically for the camp environment, which means they include active, outdoor learning experiences. Campers also participate in an hour of recreation time each day, when they can play games like gaga (Israeli dodgeball), explore our 450 wooded acres with their counselors, and engage with each other in a variety of outdoor sports and games. We believe that active minds and bodies are necessary for a complete camp experience.

How are activities scheduled? We have three types of activities at camp:

  1. Workshops: Campers attend their workshops every day of the session for a total of 2½ hours a day. You register for their workshop when you register for camp (although we’re happy to switch prior to camp starting if they change their minds!). Topics are the same for each session during the summer, but the projects change from summer to summer so returning campers can return to explore their passion year after year. Most campers choose a workshop that they already have a strong interest in or want to learn more about. Due to the curriculum staying the same each session during a summer, campers who stay for multiple sessions must choose a different workshop per session enrolled per year.
  2. Electives (chugim): Campers have two elective periods a day, and the electives change halfway through the session. Unlike workshops, campers select their chugim AT camp and not before. Campers select their electives throughout the session, and most campers use electives as a way to explore new interests and subject areas.
  3. Kinesthetic Sciences: This hour-long period is an opportunity each day to be active! Campers can choose to participate in a different recreational activity each day. Activities include field games like capture the flag, recreational sports like basketball and tennis, and even playing gaga!

What do you do on rainy days? We are fortunate to have many functional indoor spaces, including:

  • All science classrooms and laboratories on campus in our Technion Building
  • The Kaiser Visual Arts Center, including its video lab and photo lab
  • The hockey rink, which serves as a massive indoor area for sports or programs during the summer
  • The gymnasium complex, which includes four basketball/volleyball courts and other all-purpose space
  • An all-purpose activity room in the Frost Building
  • The Performing Arts Center, with rooms for digital music production and dance
  • Dorms and common rooms

Our program coordinators and activity specialists plan ahead to ensure that all programs can be moved indoors if need be and that campers never miss an activity!

Who teaches the various activities? Workshops are taught by our lead instructors – professionals in the field and/or educators with a deep passion for the field of study and in teaching children of camp age. Chugim (electives) are taught by counselors, typically young adults studying science or technology at universities with experience teaching and working with children.

What does 6 Points mean? Our name reflects the 6 Points of the Jewish star (Magen David). As our program is built upon a foundation of Jewish values, so too does our name signify the important role that Jewish tradition, culture, history, and scholarship plays in our daily lives. It’s also the number of Core Values we have!

How will I stay in touch with my child? We strongly encourage parents and campers to be in touch throughout the session, and we know how much campers love getting mail (and parents, too)! Email can be sent to campers via our CampInTouch service (and campers may respond through their electronic letter-writing service). Regular and electronic mail is delivered daily to campers during rest hour.

Can parents call the camp to check on their children? We love hearing from parents, and love telling you about your child’s camp experience! Please feel free to contact us if you have any concerns, or just to check-in. We’ll check with your child’s counselors and tell you all about their camp experience! Parents can also expect a letter from your camper’s instructors at the end of the session—we want you to know all the great stuff your camper is up to!

Can I visit my child while they are at camp? Parents are encouraged to drop off and pick up their campers at the beginning and end of each session and see our wonderful camp facility. In between, however, Camp is closed to parents. This helps us to ensure a safe environment and a smooth program.

Are care packages allowed? We do not allow packages at camp. We do this to avoid creating a culture of haves and have nots. When some campers get packages and others do not, it creates feelings of jealousy and puts undue pressure on parents to feel the need to send packages. If during the summer your camper(s) has forgotten or lost an item of necessity that needs to be mailed to camp, please call our office to let us know, so that we can expect this item. We will only accept #10 size envelopes or smaller. Please do not send items in padded envelopes or anything larger than a #10 size envelope.

How is Judaism infused into daily life at camp? The values of Reform Judaism are at the core of everything we do. They drive our work in science and technology, from the way we respect each other’s ideas, to the way we choose projects that will benefit our communities. See our Jewish values in action in our Jewish Life at Sci-Tech video created in Summer 2019! We also create an environment where it’s cool to be Jewish, highlighting famous Jewish scientists and innovators through our dorm names, singing in lively song sessions, and developing a connection to the State of Israel through programs and personal relationships with Israeli staff. Our campers create the content for Shabbat services, sharing thoughts about our core values and how they find their own personal connections between science and Judaism. You can learn more about Jewish Life at camp on our Jewish Life page.

My child will require bar/bat mitzvah tutoring this summer. Is it available? Our Jewish Life Director and visiting faculty (rabbis, cantors, and educators) are happy to meet with your child each week to assist with Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. Campers preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah are expected to come with their materials (including recordings) so that we can help keep them on track.

Does 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy have a religious affiliation? Yes, we are a Jewish camp that is part of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). In addition to representing 900 Reform congregations and their over 1 million members, the URJ operates 16 summer camps and a number of youth Israel programs. Last summer, over 10,000 campers attended our camps! We believe in a progressive, inclusive, egalitarian approach to Judaism, and a vibrant, living Jewish community. It is the URJ’s mission to create a more whole, just, and compassionate work. At Sci-Tech, we accomplish that by supporting the next generation of scientists, inventors, and innovators!

What is the payment schedule for 2021 tuition? You can find our dates and rates on our website.

Upon registering and paying the $500 administrative deposit, families will have several options for payment:

  • Pay in Full at Time of Enrollment via eCheck – The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your eCheck account for the full amount owed at the time of enrollment.
  • Pay in Full at Time of Enrollment via Credit/Debit Card –The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your debit/credit card for the full amount owed at the time of enrollment. There is a non-refundable 2.75% processing fee that will be added to all credit card transactions.
  • Standard Payment Plan via eCheck – The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your eCheck account for three checkpoints: 1/3 of the tuition on or about January 15th, 1/3 on or about March 15th (2/3 of total tuition paid), and the final remaining balance on or about April 15th.
  • Standard Payment Plan via Credit/Debit Card – The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your debit/credit card for three checkpoints: 1/3 of the tuition on or about January 15th, 1/3 on or about March 15th (2/3 of total tuition paid), and final remaining balance on or about April 15th. There is a non-refundable 2.75% processing fee that will be added to all credit card transactions.
  • Monthly Payment Plan via eCheck – The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your eCheck account on or about the 15th of each month, beginning December, or the month following enrollment thereafter and continuing through April.
  • Monthly Payment Plan via Credit/Debit Card – The Union for Reform Judaism will automatically charge your debit/credit card on or about the 15th of each month, beginning December, or the month following enrollment thereafter and continuing through April. There is a non-refundable 2.75% processing fee that will be added to all credit card transactions.

We have standardized payment deadlines across all URJ camps to create a more uniform policy.

  • January 30, 2021 – (150 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – 25% of tuition payment is due;
  • March 31, 2021 – (90 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – an additional 50% of tuition payment is due (75% of tuition paid);
  • April 30, 2021 – (60 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – final payment is due.

This payment schedule articulates payment deadlines, which may look different than payment plans. Your payment plan will meet the deadlines, but your payment schedule will reflect the option you choose during registration.

If your family registers after one or more of these deadlines have passed, you will be responsible for the tuition percentage that reflects the current date. Should the session start date change, these specific dates would be modified to apply to the same schedule.

Every year the tuition at camp increases due to rising operating and rental costs and ongoing improvements and upgrades to our program. This year, we also anticipate additional expenses related to COVID-19 around staffing, equipment, testing, and more.

What if I rolled over tuition from 2020? We are so grateful to those who were able to roll over their paid tuition towards 2021 enrollment. As long as the amount rolled over is equal to or above the enrollment deposit, those funds will be counted as your 2021 deposit and you will not need to pay an additional deposit fee when you enroll. Everyone, regardless of whether they forwarded credit or made a donation, will pay the 2021 fees and is required to submit a camper application (including payment method) for 2021.

What forms of payment do you accept? Deposits and electronic payments may be made by E-check (ACH), debit card, or credit card (we accept Visa, Mastercard, and Discover). A non-refundable 2.75% credit card processing fee will be added to all credit card transactions. To avoid credit card processing fees, families can choose to pay by E-check or debit card. E-Check will allow tuition to be deducted directly from either your checking or savings account.

Why is there a credit card processing fee? URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy East, as part of the Union for Reform Judaism, is a not-for-profit organization. We strive each summer season to provide excellence in Jewish STEM camp programming. The tuition at camp increases each year due to rising operating and rental costs, ongoing improvements to our science and technology equipment, and upgrades to our program. One of the highest costs we incur is credit card processing fees.

In order to continue developing our excellent programming and maintaining our equipment, we are forced like many other not-for-profits, academic institutions, and government agencies to update our payment policy. Families that choose to pay by credit card will incur a non-refundable 2.75% credit card transaction surcharge.

However, we are committed to offering ways for our families to avoid this surcharge. Families can choose E-check at the time of check-out or pay with a debit card, neither of which incur credit card surcharges. E-Check will allow tuition to be deducted directly from either your checking or savings account. Both E-checks and debit cards can be used with our payment plan options.

Have rates increased since Summer 2020? Every year the tuition at camp increases due to rising operating costs and ongoing improvements and upgrades to our program. This year, we also anticipate additional expenses related to COVID-19 around staffing, equipment, testing, and more.

What are the 2021 refund policies? We will remain nimble and responsive to ever-evolving local standards and protocols. If Camp is unable or elects not to open camp due to government regulations or if camp chooses not to open at its own discretion, you will receive a full refund, including the deposit, without penalty.

If camp is required to make a change to a camper session prior to summer, families will be notified in writing. Camp will provide an opportunity at that time for families to cancel their registration without penalty (including the return of any deposit).

Full refunds will be given without penalty (including deposit):

  • If Camp is unable or elects not to open because of government regulations, orders, or guidelines.
  • If Camp is required to cancel the session of a child with a pre-existing health condition.
  • If Camp is unable or chooses not to open at their own discretion.
  • For campers on a “Waiting List” (those not able to be placed in their desired session at camp) if at any time they choose to be removed from the list or are ultimately unable to be placed.

Refunds will not be made if Camper has attended any portion of the session at Camp. This covers all circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • Camper’s homesickness
  • Camper’s refusal or inability to participate in the normal activities at Camp
  • Camper’s violation of any rules, regulations, or policies at Camp for which Camper has been provided notice, and as described in “Camper’s Participation and Camp Program Expectations” section of the terms and conditions.

Additional details on the refund policy can be found in our Terms and Conditions upon registering.

What are the 2021 cancellation policies? Should a family decide to cancel on their own, all normal cancellation policies will apply.

The URJ Camps refund policy states that:

  • Cancellation before March 31, 2021 (by 90 days or more prior to the first session start date) – 100% of tuition is refundable except for the administrative deposit ($500).
  • Cancellation between March 31, 2021, and May 15, 2021 (90 days and 45 days prior to the first session start date) – 75% of tuition is refundable.
  • Cancellation after May 15, 2021 (by 45 days or less prior to the first session start date) – no refunds will be given unless stated below.
  • Camp reserves the right to refund any eligible refund in multiple installments as determined by Camp.

What about COVID-19-specific cancellations? We know that we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and that there may still be challenges related to COVID-19. Therefore, we are updating our current policies to reflect COVID-19-specific cancellations because we know this summer is unique, because we want to be fair, and because we are in this together. As always, the health and safety of our camp community is our top priority at all times, without compromise. And rekindling the love of camp and joyful Judaism is our shared goal and responsibility.

The existing URJ Camps Cancellation Policy states that if there is a cancellation within 45 days of the beginning of camp, no refund will be issued to the camper family. That would include both deposit and tuition. Because of the unusual circumstances, we are once again presented with this summer, we are amending that policy for circumstances specifically related to COVID-19. Click here to read more about our COVID-19-specific cancellation policies.

Is there Travel Insurance available? Yes! We partner with a third-party insurance provider to help our families protect their investment and plan for the unexpected. Our group travel insurance policy can be selected and paid for as part of your 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy East camp registration. For more information, please check out our Travel Insurance webpage.

How are you planning for camp? We remain committed to sustaining the URJ’s seventy-year history of holding the health and safety of all our participants (campers, staff, faculty, and visitors) in the highest regard, and this commitment remains paramount in our planning and operations. The Jewish values of pikuach nefesh, the protection of human life, and al tifrosh min ha tzibbur, not separating oneself from the community, inspire us to rise to the challenges created by the presence of COVID-19. This has been a scary time for all of us. Nevertheless, we believe that we can mitigate and adapt for the majority of the risks of exposure and transmission of the virus if we appropriately prepare before and during our camp sessions. In late February, the URJ created a Covenant of the Camp Community – Brit Kehilah Machaneh for our families and community, which can be found in our family’s CampInTouch Account after registration.

Our COVID-19 protocols follow guidelines established by the American Camp Association (ACA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and our local and state health departments. We have assembled a world-class team of doctors, including pediatricians, epidemiologists, intensivists, and infectious disease specialists to advise us on decisions we make as a camp-wide system. These doctors are deeply committed to and connected with our URJ camps across North America, and want us to succeed in reopening all of our camps this summer. There will certainly be modifications to how camp runs this summer, and we are confident we can run a safe and healthy program in partnership with our camp families. We are committed to sharing honest and ongoing communication. As we get additional clarity on policies and procedures as the summer gets closer, we will continue to communicate updated information to you.

Do we believe we can operate camp safely? With guidance from a medical team deeply connected and committed to the URJ camping system and informed by robust resources from the American Camp Association, we do believe we will be able to operate safely for the summer of 2021. We are currently developing a set of best practices to share this spring that will help us lower the risk of presence or spread of COVID-19 within our camps. We will continue to be in regular communication with our local and state/provincial health departments as the summer draws closer.

How will the camp program change in 2021? Our session structure remains consistent with how camp has been structured for the last few summers. Should Camp need to make a change to any camper sessions prior to the summer, families will be notified and have the opportunity to cancel a session without penalty (including the return of any deposit). You will also be eligible for this change of session refund for all children in your household who are registered at Camp regardless if the sessions of the sibling(s) were not changed. Dates and Rates for Summer 2021 can be found on our website.

Several new protocols will be implemented this summer in partnership with our skilled medical, program, and facilities teams. Campers will receive daily health screenings and there will be intermittent testing done throughout the session. Hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer, physical distancing, and wearing masks outside the pod are expectations of every member of the camp community. Living spaces and program areas will be cleaned daily. Community spaces, like the dining hall and large gathering spaces, will be disinfected on a regular basis daily following each use.

We’re hard at work developing the daily program and accommodations for this summer. While we don’t have it 100% finalized, we do know that we will be able to run all of our workshops, though some might look a little different. Our chugim/electives always look different from year to year based on the passions and skills of our counselors, and this year we will be creating and developing our chugim with an eye towards COVID-19 and safety. We’re eagerly awaiting Massachusetts state guidelines, which will be the primary factor in determining what our program ultimately looks like.

Will campers have to wear masks and be in pods? Yes, although we are working out the specifics of when, where, and with whom. We ask that all families send 6 disposable masks per day for their camper in their camp luggage. As of right now, we’re looking into and researching the best way to “pod” our campers and staff in their living units (aka their halls) to create the best possible experience for campers. Specialty camps like ours are looking into how to create pods while also making sure campers have full access to their specialty/workshop area, with some possibilities being plodding by age/grade or plodding by their workshop, among others. Campers who are in their pods likely won’t need to be masked inside their halls, at meals, or even outside engaged in an activity by themselves. However, when a pod is mixing with other pods, campers and staff will need to observe at least two of three NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions): wear a mask, be outdoors, and be physically distanced (6 feet apart). We’ll fine-tune these protocols after we receive final guidance from Massachusetts and as summer nears.

Will Camp open at full capacity? Due to Governor’s Academy policies and best practices, we will not be initially opening registration at full capacity. We are being mindful that COVID protocols may necessitate the need to maintain additional space in camp. We will be monitoring our numbers and our needs on an ongoing basis and will make adjustments as needed. If our capacity changes and we can admit more campers, we will certainly do so!

Will Camp be limiting “outside camp” interactions? Yes. As we learned from the camps that ran successfully last summer, one of the key ways we can keep our community healthy is to limit interactions with the “outside world.” This means we, unfortunately, won’t be able to host visitors, summer tours, Shabbat guests, or leave camp for Trip Day. We’ll miss welcoming so many friends, alumni, and prospective campers, but we know it is the right thing to do for the health and safety of our community.

What about out-of-camp trips? Since we are limiting interactions with the world outside of camp, out-of-camp trips (Workshop Trips, Museum of Science, Intersession, pool party, Machon trips, etc.) are not possible this summer. Should conditions and restrictions allow, we will consider including trips in the schedule (applicable fees, such as trip day cash, may then apply).

What will Opening Day look like? Limiting interactions with the “outside world” also means that Opening Day is going to look a lot different from years past. There are many moving parts to Opening Day, from camper health screenings (which will include a rapid COVID test along with a lice check) to camper check-in and move-in. We’re examining every step of the process through a COVID lens and will make decisions that will serve the best interests of establishing a healthy campus for our campers and staff. We’ll keep you posted as our plans take shape.

What is your testing policy? The URJ Camps’ medical protocols around COVID-19 for this summer are being developed by the URJ’s Medical Advisory Board, a team deeply committed to and connected with our camping movement. Testing for COVID-19 will be a key element of how we safely open and operate URJ camps this summer. We will be using the following approaches, together, for maximal protection of our campers and staff.

Pre-Camp – All campers will be required to undergo PCR testing 3 days before camp, and the results must be available and negative before arrival. Negative results will need to be provided and available to camp staff on Opening Day.

      • Any PCR that is positive at that time will require at least 10 days of recovery before arrival, and the details of that recovery time will be determined by medical staff on a case-by-case basis.
      • Because PCR tests can remain positive for many weeks after recovery from COVID-19 infection, optional testing may also be performed 12-14 days before camp. If this test is positive, the remaining days before camp will satisfy the time requirement before arrival, and repeat testing is unnecessary. If this test is negative, repeat testing is still required 3 days before arrival.

Arrival – All campers will be tested at camp using Point-Of-Care (POC) antigen tests. These have the very significant advantage over PCR in providing instant results, whereas PCR can take days to learn that somebody tested positive.

Ongoing Surveillance – All campers will be tested every 3 days on a rotating basis while at camp using POC tests. Instant results are critical to help camp isolate and quarantine any cases that might arise. Although PCR tests are somewhat more sensitive, the delayed results render them less effective at promptly identifying and responding to cases. Repeated testing with POC is considered a safer strategy overall, and one that we have adopted. It is possible that these testing protocols may change as we approach the summer. We will be in touch with families if our surveillance testing changes. 

Will campers who stay multiple sessions leave during intersession? Due to URJ testing requirements, all campers enrolled in back-to-back sessions must be enrolled in the appropriate intersession, even if parents/guardians are vaccinated. Since URJ policy requires getting a PCR test and receiving negative results in the 72 hours before arriving on campus, there is not enough time during intersession for campers to leave campus and come back while also fulfilling that testing requirement.

Will staff be vaccinated? All year-around and seasonal adult camp staff on camp property are REQUIRED to complete the COVID-19 vaccination series prior to entering camp and to provide proof of vaccination in order to avoid posing a direct threat to the health and safety of our camp community members.

Will you have faculty? Right now our plan is to have Jewish faculty live at camp, though their role at camp will look different than years past. Faculty such as Rabbis, Cantors, and Jewish educators will be expected to follow the same closed campus guidelines and other COVID-19 safety precautions as our hired staff.

Will you have international staff members? We pride ourselves on having amazing staff whose focus is on the care and wellbeing of our campers. This year will be no exception. Each year we hire amazing international staff, from Israel and beyond, who bring a wealth of skills and experience to our community. We are working closely with our international staffing agencies to continue this process. We will follow their lead with regards to restrictions, work permit allowances, etc. Work permits and entry to the United States will depend on border restrictions for camp counselors and could if required, include a quarantine or pre-camp isolation period. Our international staff members, just like our domestic staff members, are required to be vaccinated.

What are the pre-camp expectations for camper families? As you are aware, CDC guidance continues to evolve and change, sometimes daily! Since CDC guidance is generally designed for an individual and their family and not the communal setting of a residential summer camp, our guidance may at times be slightly more restrictive out of an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of our communities.

For the 10 days preceding your camp session you need to quarantine and remain in your family COVID “bubble” only. This means you and your camper need to…

  • Avoid any indoor unmasked exposure outside immediate family, even to vaccinated people
  • Participate only in school, daycare, or camps that follow CDC guidance including universal masking, hand hygiene, spacing, small group cohorting and contact tracing
    • If above school, daycare, or camp experiences are discretionary, you should avoid scheduling them the week before camp to minimize exposure risk
  • Avoid all public gatherings of more than five people outside of your household
  • Avoid indoor restaurants
  • Avoid team sports
  • Avoid hosting overnight guests in your home who are not routine visitors/family in your home
  • Avoid staying overnight in someone else’s home who is not a frequent visitor/family in your home
  • Avoid travel outside of your home region
  • Avoid socializing outside of school and workplaces
  • Avoid businesses and locations that do not follow COVID health/safety guidelines

This means that you and your camper need to…

  • Follow the most up-to-date CDC guidelines
  • Maintain six-foot separations from others in outdoor public spaces
  • Wear masks outside of your home
  • Practice diligent hand hygiene

What about transportation to and from camp? We will be closely examining our transportation procedures. Health screening, camper arrival and departure by car, camper arrival and departure by airplane, and parent pick up during intersession will all be considered. Our most up-to-date information on traveling to camp (including arrival windows) can be found in the CampInTouch Account of registered families. We anticipate some changes to our typical process and will keep families up to date as this becomes clearer. We also know that you likely have questions about traveling to camp and pre-camp isolation. Travel guidelines and isolation periods are decided by a combination of federal and state policies, as well as our and Governor’s Academy best practices. Those guidelines are changing regularly at this point, but we anticipate having information for you by mid-April.

My camper takes medications and/or over-the-counter medications/vitamins/supplements. How do I get those to camp? To ensure the best possible quality of care in our Health Center, we require all campers who take prescriptions, supplements, vitamins, and/or over-the-counter medications (OTC’s) to enroll in our pre-packaged pharmacy service. We will not accept any medication, vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications on Opening Day. For Summer 2021, we will use a new pharmacy service provided by Lenox Village Integrative Pharmacy (Village Pharmacy). We are excited to work with Village Pharmacy, a company lauded by other overnight camps that have contracted with them. We are confident with the use of this pre-packaged pharmacy we will see high efficiency, low risk of error, and exemplary customer service.

The deadline for submitting the 2021 Village Pharmacy camp form and sending prescriptions is Saturday, June 5th, 2021. Enrolled families can find a Camp Pharmacy FAQs packet in their CampInTouch accounts.

How are you supporting the camp community? We recognize that while a return to camp life is much anticipated and exciting, it also brings with it anxieties and concerns. Our campers and staff have lived anything but normal lives over a number of months, some of whom may have suffered their own losses due to COVID-19. Changes to our camp program and routine will bring some unfamiliarity and adjustment. Our staff will be trained in supporting our campers and building community at this unusual time.

Our top-notch Community Care Team will provide additional support to campers and staff. As always, we will communicate and partner with families as challenges arise. We know that the connection, routine, and support that camp life offers will be eagerly welcomed and is exceptionally important today for our campers and staff.  

Additionally, we are lucky to be recipients of the FJC’s Yedid Nefesh grant, which gives us access and resources to information, training, and staff focused on the mental, emotional, and social health of both our campers and our staff members. 

Planning for a “closed camp” also means that we’re planning a summer where staff who live with and interact regularly with campers and other staff members will stay on camp for their days off and hours off rather than leaving campus. We’re working hard to make sure that our staff members have their own space and that there’s enhanced staff programming and amenities available so that they’ll have the opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge. We’re also finding ways to bring the outside world to them so that they can have their coffee, get their routine shopping done, and so forth. We’re planning this for the world we live in now, but if things change and we can relax these protocols, we will certainly do so!