Update About Summer 2020

The Camp Harlam Blog

Home » Update About Summer 2020

It is with broken hearts that we share our plans to cancel all in-person activities held on our site for summer 2020. If at any point new information emerges and conditions change that lead us to be able to provide in-person gatherings, we will do so as a top priority.

While we have continued to plan, prepare, pray, and hope for another transformative summer at Camp Harlam, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred value – the health and well-being of our children, staff, and faculty who attend camp – along with their communities back home. These risks also compromise our ability to provide the excellence in programming and participant care that are hallmarks of Harlam.

You might be asking, “Why are you making this decision now and for the full summer?” Our ongoing conversations with and learnings from local, regional, and federal medical authorities, The Centers for Disease Control, and many leaders in camping, along with deep exploration by our camp professional and lay leadership teams, have led the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) to the difficult conclusion that there are too many known and unknown risks for us to create an acceptable pathway forward for this summer. As soon as that became clear, we wanted to communicate to you, our community. We believe that you and your children deserve the clarity, that while painful, allows for grieving, healing, and moving forward towards hope, joy, and better days ahead. This also enables our team to transition to serving you in new, creative, and different ways through this unique moment in time.

While this news about camp is devastating, we also acknowledge the global suffering caused by COVID-19 and are sending thoughts and prayers to you and your community. We acknowledge the many weeks that we have already been sheltering-in-place and the related emotional challenges that all of us have faced in many ways. Please find resources below to support you and your children during this difficult time.

We hope you take a moment with your children to express sadness together; listen, embrace the loss, and savor the gratitude for the blessings of camp, which will continue through the summer and will sustain into the future. We know that our campers may want to reach out directly to their friends for support, but please ask them to wait until this evening so that all families have the chance to share this information appropriately. We will be hosting a webinar for enrolled families on Thursday, April 30 at 8:30 PM ET to provide a space for you to get answers to any questions you may have (see registration info below). On Friday, May 1 at 8 PM ET, we will join together as a community on Facebook Live to celebrate Shabbat with a Friday night song session.

As we all know, camp is about more than just the place. In the coming days and months, we will work to build, maintain, and grow the special connections made at Harlam so they’re even stronger the next time we can be together in Kunkletown.

See you this evening and we will look forward to continuing our virtual time together throughout the months to come.


Lisa David
Director | Camp Harlam

We know you may have questions about this decision and what comes next. Please read on for additional detail about emotional support for your camper, staying connected with camp virtually, information regarding tuition, and more.

Let’s Come Together as a Harlam Family

Dealing with news like this is hard under the best of circumstances. It is even more difficult in the current reality of social isolation and sheltering-in-place. In the next few days, we are providing the following opportunities to come together to process this news and find comfort as a Harlam family:

Thursday, April 29 at 8:30 PM ET, we invite enrolled families to a webinar to answer any questions you may have. Click here to register and the call-in information will be emailed to you.

On Friday, May 1 at 8 PM ET, we will join together to find comfort in the ritual of celebrating Shabbat. Join us on Facebook Live for the Shabbat blessings and a Friday night song session.

Emotional Support for Campers, Staff, and Families

Not having camp in person this season will be heartbreaking, and we want you to know that we are here for you. Our professional staff and lay leaders are working together to provide support to you and your family. We understand how hard it is to break this kind of news to your children and want to support you through that process.

  • We have curated some resources for sharing the news with your child. Read More >
  • How else can we support you and your family? Let Us Know >

Please consider joining us on Monday, May 4th, at 7:30 PM for a program with our Camper Care and Enrollment Manager, Cori Miller, and Inclusion Coordinator, Lori Zlotoff to support each other through this challenging time. This will be a great opportunity for children to share what they need and for parents to learn from their children and Professional Staff how to support through this challenging time. Click here to register and the call-in information will be emailed to you.

Virtual Camp Experiences – Bringing the Magic of Camp into Your Home

While we are sheltering-in-place physically, we see our Harlam at Home virtual experiences as bringing us together socially and in spirit. These experiences allow us to see the faces of our friends, hear their laughter, sing our songs, learn new skills, and grow in new ways. We will also continue to monitor health conditions and explore creative ways to gather in small groups and/or in different locations – this will be a priority for us. Our ongoing virtual community building, new friendships, reunions, growth, and learning together will make our in-person experiences that much sweeter in the future.

  • Check out our robust set of virtual offerings that are already available. Explore >
  • As we work on planning additional virtual camp programming for this summer, we would like to understand what your family would enjoy and find meaningful. Please complete the following survey to share your insight and feedback. Take Survey >

What is this Financial Impact of This Decision?

We made the decision to cancel in-person activities at camp this year based on our values, and with the health and safety of our campers and staff as our top priority. We know you have questions about the tuition you already have paid and about what this means for the future of camp. The financial ramifications of this decision are significant for all of us. Right now, we are focused on helping our campers and families process this news.

Next week, you will receive more details about opportunities to support one another and camp through this unprecedented moment. This follow-up email will include several options on how to handle your tuition, including options to make a donation that will be generously matched by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, to credit fees paid for use on future URJ programs, and/or receive a refund.

What do I do now?

  1. Join us for our enrolled families webinar tonight at 8:30 PM ET (Register Here)
  2. Hug, listen, cry with your children
  3. Review resources about talking to your child
  4. Look out for the email containing some logistical next steps, coming next week

You are in our hearts, and we are counting down the days until we can be together again.