By Judith Friedman
We’re living through unprecedented times and the impact of COVID-19 is echoing through every part of our lives. Everyone is stretched thin for both time and resources, from managing working from home and virtual schooling to maintaining friendships and connections through technology, and for some, navigating the complexities of job loss and financial uncertainty.
We know the cancellation of camp this summer was an added burden for so many. Even among many alumni who haven’t been at camp in years, the news of a summer without camp brought an emotional toll and a painful reckoning with a new reality for the current generation of Harlamites.
I’m the mom of two returning Harlam campers and my daughter, Maya, was scheduled to drive through the gates of camp for her first time as a camper this summer. So I know firsthand the devastation our Harlam family is experiencing at the loss of a summer in Kunkletown.
I’m also camp’s Development Director, and I am consistently blown away by the generosity, thoughtfulness, and dedication of the Harlam family. Whenever we are faced with hardship, this community rallies together and finds ways to move forward stronger and more closely connected than ever before. It is this commitment and resiliency that we need yet again as we face a new and different kind of hardship.
The financial impact of cancelling camp this summer is immense. We’ve already incurred $2 million in expenses in preparation for the summer, and with our revenue stream evaporated and our commitment to refunding tuition to our families, we now need to make up those expenses through fundraising.
While we’ve cut all spending at this time, you may be wondering why so many expenses have been incurred prior to the summer starting. Here are just some of the ways that money is spent in preparation for the summer:
- Professional Staff Salaries – Our year-round Professional Staff works all offseason to plan an amazing summer experience. They have already taken pay cuts and the URJ has laid off 20% of its workforce, with additional reductions and furloughs anticipated.
- Site Maintenance & Utilities – Our gorgeous 300-acre site requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep to ensure that everything is ready to go come summer.
- Recruitment – Our Professional Staff go to synagogues and events across the region to talk about camp, meet with families, and recruit the next generation of Harlamites.
- Staff Hiring – Our team travels around the world hiring the best and brightest young adults to work at Harlam and be incredible role models for our campers.
- Program Planning & Supplies – From the day camp ends, we are already thinking about program improvements for the following summer. Throughout the entire offseason, our team is planning and purchasing supplies for summer programming.
So while campers countdown 10 months of the year for 2 at camp, the work of camp is truly a 12-month endeavor and significant expenses are incurred throughout the entire year in preparation for the summer. We now need your help to ensure this work can continue.
Harlam has been influencing, inspiring, and shaping the Jewish community for more than 60 years, and it’s up to all of us to make sure that it will be here for the next 60 years and beyond. Donating to the Harlam Sustainability Fund today is an investment in the future of Harlam – in the kid who finds their voice in the camp play or the talent show; in the lifelong friendships started in the Chadar Ochel over pizza on Opening Day; in the next great camp romance that begins at a campfire and leads to a chuppah and second generation Harlamites; in the campers and staff who become rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators, shaping Jewish learning for the next generation; in the international staff who are exposed to a Jewish community for the first time and share what they’ve learned back in their home countries; in the shy, nervous camper who might someday become Director of Camp Harlam.
Donating to the Harlam Sustainability Fund today is an investment in them – each and every person whose life will be changed when they come through the gates in Kunkletown and experience the magic of a summer at Harlam.
For everything camp has given you and for all that we know camp will continue to give to others, I hope you will join me in supporting Harlam today.
Judith Friedman is Camp Harlam’s Development Director. She can be reached at JGFriedman@URJ.org or 610-668-0423, ext. 1035.