COVID-19 FINAL UPDATE: MAY 19TH
With agony in our hearts, but clarity in our minds, we will not be opening camp this summer. We have been planning for Solelim 2020 since the buses left Sudbury last August and have not stopped during these uncertain times. The mandate to close is very sad, but also a confirmation that the risks COVID-19 poses to our campers and staff, our greater Solelim family and the community at large, are too numerous to operate safely this summer.
The government’s decision is based on guidance received from experts in both the camping and medical fields. The message of how important camp is to campers and their parents was relayed and heard. Our advocates at the OCA conveyed to the Ministry of Health what a lost summer means for our campers: the friendships, the memories, the safe space to explore who they are and a unique culture that allows them to grow. Just like us, they too, had to assess the benefits with the risks.
The government’s concerns echo the ones we encountered as we consulted with health care and camping professionals to consider the different options. With each possibility we explored, we reached the same upsetting conclusion: COVID-19 cannot be managed at Solelim right now. The questions are many and the solutions either are unknown or unavailable. The risk of opening a communal living facility under such uncertainty is far too great.
We have been preparing for the possibility of a shut down order along with investigating all the other alternatives for this summer. We are committed to the Camp Solelim community — not just during the summer but throughout the year and especially in this moment. In this short video and this document, you will find information that can help navigate you and your children through this painful news. On Thursday, May 21st at 8:00 pm, our camp social worker, Gaela Mintz, is hosting a webinar providing strategies to parents talk to their children about the challenges of summer 2020. Today, your children also received an email from us informing them about the closure and inviting them to their own exclusive zoom gathering this Sunday evening so they can be together with our staff to comfort and support one another. The email was sent to the email address you listed on your application. In case they can’t find it, we will send a copy to you tomorrow so you can relay the information.
Right now, we are focussed on processing the loss of summer 2020. Next week, you will receive an additional email outlining your options for handling any fees paid to date along with answers to frequently asked questions. Full refunds will be offered: we remain committed to our families and their financial security.
Our team has already begun to direct their passion and creativity towards providing a new experience for Solelimnicks this summer. There is no replacement for being at camp, but we can provide opportunities for campers to apply the traditions and values they gain at Solelim at home and in their communities. We are not going anywhere: we will continue to be there for them, to empower them with chances to grow and to help connect them with each other. A more detailed plan and schedule will be shared within the upcoming weeks.
Solelim is a family and a community. We will get through this. The traits camp has cultivated in your children – creativity, resilience, kindness, confidence and self-love – are the same qualities that will enable them to live without it this summer. My heart and thoughts are with you, my Solelim family. We will be together again.
Chazak Ve’amatz – with strength and courage,
Shauna Waltman Adam Larry
Camp Director Chair
COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub
UPDATE: MAY 14TH
Almost two weeks have passed since my last email and we find ourselves in the same holding pattern. In this time, we’ve seen more camps announcing full or partial closures and the government extend the emergency order in Ontario through June 2nd.
The purpose of this email is to let you know we are still waiting, having discussions and monitoring the situation. This is not where we want or like to be. It’s frustrating for us as I am sure it is for you and your children. While we recognize the situation is fluid, we are aiming to make our decision by the end of the month.
The overwhelming message we are getting from our families is “hold on as long as you can” and we are doing our best to honour that. We recognize the window we have between now and when we need to start getting camp ready for the summer is shrinking. Our campers and their families also need time to get ready for camp. We have posted and will continue to post all our COVID updates on our website, and have also added some resources at the bottom of the page for parents and campers that we hope you will find useful.
It is hard to sit and wait. Please, hold on and be strong. In the meantime, we are in this together: please do not hesitate to reach out if you have a question or a request. We will be in touch within the next two weeks with more information. Stay safe.
UPDATE: MAY 1ST
I hope this email finds you all healthy and safe. My thoughts are with all of you.
Yesterday, Camp George, along with several affiliated camps in the United States, announced the heartbreaking decision not to run camp this summer. You may hear of more reports regarding additional North American camps’ closures over the next few days or weeks. Solelim has always been, and will continue to be, transparent regarding our decision making process for the summer of 2020. Today, we are not prepared to cancel camp.
Given our timeline for getting ready for camp, we are comfortable waiting a little longer for more guidance from public health and the government. We continue to hope for more information, knowing that it still may lead to the conclusion that we cannot operate safely this summer. Ultimately, our capacity to provide a safe environment for campers and staff will be the framework for our decision-making. If we cannot operate camp, we will be offering full refunds or credits to our families.
Please understand every camp or national organization will need to make their own decisions based different realities: location, affiliations, local regulations, financial stability and community needs. It doesn’t imply one decision is better than the other. We support our colleagues in camping through this unprecedented and painful time.
We continue to be there for you and our campers. More than ever, we remain committed to supporting our community as we navigate together through these difficult days.
With strength and courage,
UPDATE: APRIL 24TH
I hope this email finds you and your families safe and healthy. Whether you are suffering from illness or loss, struggling with the financial impact, on the front lines or worried about someone who is, overwhelmed by our new realities or still in shock from all the changes, my thoughts are with you.
It was my hope that after Passover, I would be able to email you with a plan for Camp Solelim this summer. Unfortunately, as we know, restrictions, testing, and guidelines have been developing and changing by the week. I cannot give you an answer today. Our intention remains the same: we will move heaven and earth to bring our campers to their happy place, but only if it is safe.
There are extensive collaborations underway between the Ontario Camps Association and multiple levels of government intersecting with all relevant local governmental agencies, health units, and medical specialists. Our board’s Pandemic Planning Committee continues to meet regularly to discuss and prepare for the various scenarios that may evolve including delayed starts, a shorter session and the cancellation of camp altogether. Because we do not know when we will hear from the government or Public Health, we cannot speculate on a decision deadline right now. We will continue to suspend all payments until we know more information.
Understanding how to safely run an overnight camp in the time of COVID-19 is extremely complex and challenging. We are still faced with many uncertainties, but we are committed to doing whatever is in our capacity to provide a safe summer camp program in 2020. We understand that camp, and all it offers, is more important than ever this summer. Our campers are craving the friendships, fresh air, independence, growth, laughter, break from screens and community that Solelim has to offer. Yet, all these benefits must be tempered under the overarching context of safety.
Every day, we are monitoring the situation. We are in it, fighting for our campers’ summer. We hope to have more answers in the upcoming weeks and we are committed to being transparent as the situation unfolds. You can expect an update every ten days to two weeks.
We know these are difficult times and we are here for you. Please follow @campsolelim on Instagram and @campsolelimofficial on Facebook to keep updated on virtual opportunities to connect to camp. I have been deeply moved watching campers and their families enjoying Zumba-rikud, participating in our Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony and sharing their love for camp through earth day posts and other social media campaigns. It reminds me that, even while we are physically separated, the spirit and community of Solelim is very present.
My thoughts remain with you, my Solelim family. If you need me in any way, please reach out.
Chazak Ve’amatz – with strength and courage,
UPDATE: APRIL 7TH
This Passover, the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” takes on a whole new meaning. During a time when we are meant to be celebrating our freedom, we are confined to staying at home. Technology notwithstanding, it will be difficult not to feel the absence of people we love. This is hard.
These days are filled with uncertainty and I wish I had definitive news to share about camp. Like many of you, I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Programming and planning for the summer continues. At the same time, I am also working with our camp’s medical committee as well as with our partners in camping to monitor the recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
I will be sending an email to our campers (copying you) tomorrow reminding them of ways they can stay connected to camp. Please look out for it and feel free to tune into the many opportunities we are making available.
I know you may have questions about when a decision will be made about the summer and our refund policy. We are considering many different possibilities: from a shorter camp session to virtual programming. I expect to communicate more information after Passover when we have more clarity on the situation. We are working closely with the other Canadian Young Judaea camps and our goal is to be consistent with them as we know so many of our families have campers in multiple places.
Passover is a story of hope and rebirth. We tell the remarkable story of how the Hebrew slaves evolved into the Jewish people, a nation that has thrived for over two thousand years. COVID 19 has taught us all that we are capable of adapting in ways we never thought possible. We will emerge from this, and I hope that when we do, we will all be kinder, more resilient people.
Wishing everyone a Happy Passover. Stay health and stay safe.
Chazak Ve’amatz – with strength and courage,
UPDATE: MARCH 25TH
I hope this email finds you and your families healthy and adjusting to your new normal. Six months ago, when registration opened, I never could have imagined this is where we’d be today. And yet, here we are.
“Will we have camp this summer?” is the question on many campers’, parents’ and staff’s minds. After consulting with both members of the camping and medical communities, the best answer we can come up with is that time will tell. If the past few weeks have shown us anything, it’s that things can change dramatically very quickly.
As a result of all this uncertainty, we have decided to delay our April payment deadline to May 1st. Additionally, we will not cash any more post-dated cheques or pre-approved credit card payments. Closer to May, we will re-evaluate the situation and determine if we need to extend the deadline further.
Our camp office may be closed, but that hasn’t stopped us from working hard from our respective homes to prepare for the summer ahead. Please reach out by email if you have any questions or concerns.
We cannot predict how the situation will unfold, but I am committed to being transparent with you. At the same time, we want to provide hope and positivity for our campers. To that end, you’ll find that our communications with you will have a more serious tone while our social media as well as camper communications will aim to spread joy and connection.
We conclude our daily mifkads (flagpole) with the Hebrew words, Chazak Ve’amatz: strength and courage. We wish our entire Solelim family the strength to make it through these challenging times and the courage to remain hopeful for the future.
Chazak Ve’amatz – with strength and with courage,
UPDATE: MARCH 8TH
The health and safety of our campers and staff is always at the forefront of everything that we do. With the recent developments in the spread of coronavirus, we want to reassure our families that we are already in the process of working closely with experts in the area to ensure that we take all the necessary precautions to maintain a healthy summer for our campers and staff.
Protocols and recommendations to you and your family in assisting us with ensuring a healthy summer will be shared with you in the coming months, as they will be largely informed by the developments observed as the weeks unfold. Being that we are still months away from the summer, we want to communicate that we are both monitoring the situation while cognizant of the reality that much can change between now and June. As always, 's health will remain our top priority.