Summer 2021 FAQs
We are grateful for the trust and support you have offered us, especially during this turbulent time. While we could not have imagined a year ago what 2020 would look like, our community proved its steady strength and resilience. We can’t wait to leverage our communal power as we come together for a summer like no other.
As we meaningfully consider every aspect of our program and operation, we have provided the following information to help you understand how we are planning for the summer ahead. The health and safety of our families has always been and will remain our top priority as we work to open camp safely. Living with the new reality of COVID-19, elements of camp life will look different, and we are committed to delivering the same level of excellence in programming and camper care as we always have.
We will be as transparent as possible as our summer plans continue to take shape. Stay tuned for updates throughout the year and please be in touch any time with questions you may have.
We are so excited to be planning for an amazing summer! We cannot wait to welcome you back to the Bubble!
What does the session structure look like for summer 2021?
Dates and Rates for Summer 2021 can be found on our website. Our session structure remains the same as previous years consistent with how camp has been structured 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 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 even regardless if the sessions of the sibling(s) were not changed.
One notable change for this summer impacts K’tanim 2 (our two-week session for second and third graders, which would start in the middle of camp’s first session). One thing that was consistent with camps that ran successfully this past summer was that everyone arrived on the same day — there were not any embedded sessions where campers arrived in the middle. Therefore, at this time we are not offering a two-week K’tanim program that arrives in the middle of first session. Rising second and third graders may come for the first two weeks of first session (K’tanim 1) and will have the option to extend their time at camp for the rest of our first session.
What unit will my camper be in?
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 2020-21 school year. Every camper (including Machon) will move up to their appropriate unit this summer.
How much does camp cost? What are my options for payment?
Our 2021 fees and payment schedules can be found on our website. 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 for 2021.
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.
Upon registering and paying the $350 non-refundable administrative deposit per camper per session, families will have three options for payment:
- Payment in full at the time of registration
- The three-payment plan described below (January 15, March 15, April 15)
- Monthly payments between December and April
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.
The URJ Camps payment schedule:
- January 28, 2021 – (150 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – 25% of tuition payment is due
- March 29, 2021 – (90 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – an additional 50% of tuition payment is due (75% of tuition paid)
- April 28, 2021 – (60 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – final payment is due
Should the session start date change, these specific dates would be modified to apply to the same schedule.
Families will have the option to purchase third party trip and travel insurance. More information can be found on our website.
What's the refund policy?
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).
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 29, 2021 (by 90 days or more prior to the first session start date) – 100% of tuition is refundable except for the non-refundable administrative deposit ($350 per camper per session).
- Cancellation between March 29-May 13, 2021 (90 days and 45 days prior to the first session start date) – 75% of tuition is refundable.
- Cancellation after May 13, 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.
Additional details on the refund policy can be found in our URJ Eisner Camp Terms and Conditions.
Are scholarships available?
Yes! We strive to make camp affordable for all families. Please note that scholarship awards from 2020 will not carry forward. Families who wish to apply for assistance will need to submit new applications for Summer 2021. Our scholarship application will be available upon confirmation of enrollment. You can find it on the Forms and Documents page of your CampInTouch account.
When submitting your camper application, all families are required to select one of the three payment options. New for this year: you will only need to submit one scholarship application per family, regardless of the number of campers you have enrolled. Scholarship applications are due by Tuesday, February 16th, 2021(tax return information and temple contribution form will not be due until February 2021). Once your scholarship application is received, we will manually update your payment plan based on the preferences indicated in your application. More information can be found on our website.
What precautions are you taking in light of COVID-19?
We are working to open camp safely and will be as transparent as possible as we further develop our summer plans. We anticipate that elements of camp will look different this year. Areas that are currently under examination include dining hall and health center procedures, capacity and spacing, programming, supply and equipment needs, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) usage (such as masks), limiting individuals coming and going from camp, physical distancing requirements, housekeeping protocols, and more.
We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving local standards and protocols. The URJ camping system is working with a team of medical experts, including infectious disease doctors, to guide our decisions and revamp our protocols and procedures. We are also working in close coordination with the American Camping Association and the Foundation for Jewish Camp to gather insights from the field. We continue to closely monitor Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as well.
Will camp run at full capacity?
While it is our hope to run camp at full capacity, as a precautionary measure, we will not be initially opening registration at full capacity. We are being mindful that COVID-19 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 accordingly.
Will there be off-site trips this summer?
Out of an abundance of caution, off-site trips (amusement parks, hikes, Machon rafting, Olim trip to Montreal, etc.) may not be possible this summer. Should conditions and restrictions allow, we will consider including trips in the schedule (with additional fees, such as camper cash).
Will guests be allowed at camp?
We are sensitive to the fact that any outside guests could present additional risks to the camp community. In addition, our hope is to allow our full–summer campers to enjoy some time with their parents in between sessions. Since we don’t know what COVID-19 protocols will be needed or mandated, it’s too early to know if we will be able to welcome any guests to camp this summer. We will update you as more information becomes available.
Will staffing look different this year?
We pride ourselves on having amazing staff whose focus is the care and wellbeing of our campers. This year will be no exception. We know that our staff are eager to return. Staff will be trained in the latest health and safety precautions, including COVID-19 training. Days off and staff excursions out of camp may have limitations. In addition, 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 regarding restrictions, work permit allowances, etc.
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 its anxieties and concerns. Our campers and staff have lived anything but normal lives over 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.
How can I stay connected with camp during the year?
We look forward to staying connected throughout the year. As always, we will be “visiting” congregations and running some year-round camper programs – albeit it largely virtual! Stay up to date with all that is happening through our website and social media channels.
We also encourage you to check out the URJ’s RJ on the Go platform, program which helps keep our community connected and offers amazing year round programming for families. One of the many benefits to you and your family when you join a camp community is that you are joining the broader URJ Reform Movement community, a global network of families like yours, synagogues, camps, scholars, artists, educators, leaders and organizations who are committed to creating a more just compassionate world through shared Jewish values.
I rolled over tuition to 2021 for my camper. What do I need to do?
You still need to submit a camper application. Having credits in your account does not automatically enroll your camper for Summer 2021. You will be able to request a session change once we have confirmed your camper’s enrollment.
Your 2020 credits can be applied to your deposit! If you rolled tuition over from 2020 greater than or equal to the non-refundable administrative deposit amount, you will not be charged when we confirm your camper’s enrollment — your credit will be applied to your camp tuition balance. The remaining balance due will be charged per the payment schedule you selected during registration.
You will still need to input a new payment method upon registering. This is a required field. Your payment method of choice will be charged the remaining balance (if any) after the credit is applied per the payment schedule you selected.
WHO ARE OUR CAMPERS?
Campers range from ages of 7 to 17 and are entering grades 3-12. A great many of our campers and staff members come from the greater New York and Boston areas, yet we have representation from all over the Northeast as well as from across the United States and overseas. Most of our overnight campers are members of Reform Jewish synagogues.
Eisner Camp strives to embody the “audacious hospitality” of the Reform Movement. We welcome campers and staff members from families of all kinds–including those with interfaith, same-sex or single parents–or those who themselves identify as LGBTQ.
Eisner and Crane Lake Camps are proud of our open, supportive and inclusive environments. The make-up of the URJ and our programs is as diverse as our population, therefore our communities represent that vibrant and colorful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. We are proud that our camps and programs are inclusive and designed for everyone in our community from LGBTQ to children with single, same sex or interfaith parents, to children of color. Our program is created to strengthen the self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community of all campers through the supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs.
What is the food like?
It’s pretty simple…our campers and staff love our food! Even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy our meals because of the variety we offer. We strive to serve all of our campers’ dietary needs by offering a wide variety of meal options that are kid friendly and healthy. Each day’s breakfast includes a favorite such as pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, waffles, eggs or croissants. Cold cereal, fresh cut fruit, Greek yogurt, milk and orange juice are also always available. Lunch favorites include pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches, and meatball subs. And dinner favorites are baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, brisket, chicken wings, and turkey dinner. At both lunch and dinner, campers are welcome to have fresh salad, soy nut butter and jelly and fresh fruit. We offer salad/breakfast bars at every meal. Campers enjoy a weekly outdoor barbeque with burgers and hot dogs, as well as an outdoor Shabbat breakfast buffet, and outdoor Shabbat lunch.
Vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free alternatives are always available. Eisner offers a safe environment for campers with food allergies and always have a complete list of ingredients of our meals on hand. See more about our offering here (link). Please call our office to discuss any specific food questions.
Kosher Style? What does that mean?
Meals are served kosher style, which means we do not serve milk and meat together. We are not a kosher facility, yet we do not serve pork or shellfish (or products containing them,) and they are not permitted on campgrounds. When meat is served, kosher and vegetarian options are offered, and a non-dairy dessert is served.
What am I supposed to pack?
Check out our Packing List!
Do you do laundry at camp?
Laundry is sent out once each week at camp (no additional fee). On the first day of the session, each camper receives an individual laundry bag. Each week, campers fill their bags and in 24 hours, we return their bags with clean folded clothes.
What is camp’s package policy?
After much conversation with our staff, the Eisner Crane Lake Board of Directors, and other summer camp directors, our camps will no longer accept packages. This includes boxes or large mailing envelopes of any size. Camp will only accept up to a standard #10 size business envelope (4-1/8″ x 9-1/2″).
Our experience through the years has shown us that our current system of accepting packages from families cannot be sustained. We believe this decision is truly in the best interests of our campers. Here’s why:
- The volume of packages that arrives in camp each day creates a community of “have and have-nots” and undermines our efforts to create a Jewish community in which each camper feels that he or she is valued and treated equally.
- Some campers don’t receive any packages, which leads to feelings of sadness and jealousy; others receive so many packages they literally cannot manage all of the “stuff” in their cabins.
- Our staff spends hours organizing and sorting hundreds of packages daily, giving them less time to spend with campers.
- Empty packages produce a tremendous amount of waste.
- Campers sacrifice much of their free time in the afternoon retrieving packages from the mailroom.
- With the current load of packages, UPS and Fed Ex trucks drive in and out of camp several times a day, forcing campers from the roads.
- Sadly, many parents do not respect our no-food policy, and others forget to share that policy with extended family members. The food, candy and gum that arrives in these packages (hidden or otherwise) must be taken away, disappointing the camper.
- Parents have told us that it is expensive and burdensome to fill and mail packages, and that they often feel pressure to do so.
- Other Jewish overnight camps which have instituted similar no-package policies report that the burden it lifted from parents, campers, and camp staff has been positively received.
Of course, we understand that sometimes sending items to camp will be necessary. If your camper has forgotten something (e.g., a teddy bear) or needs something new (e.g., running shoes or more sunscreen), you will be able to send those types of items. We will set up a dedicated email address so you can contact us in advance about these needs. Please note that this will be done on an exception-only basis. Unless we know a package is coming, we will refuse to accept it at camp. Full-summer and second session Olim campers should come to camp with all of their Maccabiah color garb and gear. More information on our new process will be included in the parent materials sent later this spring.
This new policy puts us in line with the policies of many other camps. We hope you agree that this is a positive change, and we are grateful for your cooperation. Thank you in advance for doing your part to ensure that Eisner and Crane Lake Camps live according to their values and principles.
Where is Eisner Camp located?
Eisner Camp is located in Great Barrington, a small town in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.
What are the cabins like?
All cabins have indoor plumbing with toilets, showers and sinks. Campers and staff sleep on bunk beds (all top bunks have bed rails). Storage units (cubbies) are provided in every cabin for campers to store their belongings. Campers participate in keeping their bunks clean each day, and camp’s housekeeping staff clean all of the bathrooms on a regular basis.
Health & Safety
What medical facilities do you have at camp? What happens if my child gets sick?
Our goal at camp is to maintain your child’s health. Our wonderful 24-hour Health Center is staffed by registered nurses and a physician, all of whom live on camp property and is equipped with supplies to deal with minor injuries and illnesses. Our medical staff coordinates and monitors all daily medication distribution along with any as-needed medications directed to campers. All over-the-counter or prescription medication (except in certain instances like asthma inhalers, nose sprays and creams) are locked in our medicine dispensary in the dining hall and are only available to campers as distributed by our medical staff. We have a great relationship with our local emergency service departments. If necessary, multiple local hospitals are close by, and emergency services are available immediately.
How do you deal with safety and security at camp?
We take safety and security at camp very seriously. All of the camp directors participate in extensive professional training to handle minor and major safety and security situations. In addition, all of our summer staff are trained to manage and handle safety and security situations during our pre-camp orientation. During the summer, we have 24-hour, on-site security staff that monitors and keeps camp safe. Access to camp is restricted and available only through a security gate. All visitors must sign in before entering the site.
Does my child need to be immunized?
Yes, the Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty must be immunized. For more information, read the URJ Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.
Who will be taking care of my child?
Our staff has been carefully selected by our camp directors. All staff members participate in an intensive training program before our campers arrive. This on-site training includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts. Our bunk counselors are Jewish college and university students who bring abundant warmth and energy to our camp community – nearly 80% are alumni. Our various sports, aquatics, arts, adventure and nature specialists are both college and graduate students from all over the world who share their particular areas of expertise with our campers. A rotating group of dynamic rabbis, cantors and educators from our URJ congregations comes to camp to teach, worship and have fun with our campers. These faculty members join our community for one or two weeks at a time. Our education faculty is an essential part of the Reform Jewish community at camp. Approximately 35 energetic Israelis join our staff each summer as well to bring the Israeli culture to camp. They work as sports and nature specialists, bunk counselors, art specialists and more. They organize our annual Israel Day program, teach us Hebrew, and add an Israeli “flavor” to everything we do at camp.
What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
Generally, we have at least one counselor for every five campers in each cabin. We position counselors to sleep in each of the corners of the cabin to ensure that campers can easily locate a counselor at night. We take great pride in our quality camper supervision; whenever campers are in their cabins, a counselor is there too. At night, when campers return to their bunks to go to sleep after their evening program, a counselor remains in the bunk to supervise the campers. All general counselors sleep in the cabin with the campers.
How are Eisner staff trained to care for campers?
Our staff has been carefully selected and intensely trained by our camp directors to keep our campers safe, happy and instill the values of Eisner Camp. Before our campers arrive, all staff members participate in an intensive training program. This on-site training includes workshops led by our camp directors, outside professionals, and industry experts. Our Leadership Team, who work as unit heads and department heads, arrive at camp three weeks before our campers. Our specialists, including coaches, art instructors, lifeguards, ropes course instructors, outdoor education and Limud staff arrive more than two weeks before our campers. They have ample time to train, get certified by outside professionals when appropriate, and set up their activity areas. Our general counselors arrive at camp eight days before the campers arrive, joining the specialists for Staff Training Week in which they learn about working with children and being an Eisner staff member. When Opening Day arrives, our entire staff is confident, energized, excited, and ready to meet our campers.