An Important Camp Update

Friday, May 8, 2020
Posted by: Joel Dinkin, CEO and Michelle Fingeret, Chair, Children and Day Camp Commiittee
Dear Members,

Thank you for your patience as we continue to evaluate and plan for the upcoming summer at the J. Our ongoing discussions have focused on how we can provide a meaningful summer experience to fulfill families’ child care needs in a safe and healthy environment. It remains our goal to provide such summer programming, though it will be very different from a typical summer.
Jewish Community Centers throughout North America have a special and unique brand that has developed and evolved for years. The brand is known for high quality early childhood educational experiences and summer camp programs. J Camps are one-of-a-kind. We recognize that many of you are returning to work and that summer child care will be a critical need; for many that has traditionally been met at the J in one of our camp programs. Last summer, J camps had 1300 children participate from more than 30 zip codes in a variety of traditional camps and specialty programs. 
Due to Covid-19 and our commitment to implementing essential health and safety guidelines for the J, we have come to the disappointing realization that we will not be able to offer J Camps this summer; however, we remain hopeful that we will be able to offer a 2020 summer recreational program at the J with the underlying goal of supporting families who have a critical need for childcare. This decision was one that did not come lightly, but we recognize that we will not be in a position to provide our J Camps families with the J brand summer experience we are known for and you have come to expect. Many of our camp group sizes and activities, which involve bringing together large groups of campers traveling to outside venues and interacting with an array of third-party vendors, are not conducive to existing social distancing guidelines.
In place of J Camps, we are currently developing a 2020 SUMMER FUN at the J program for children ages 3 years old through 5th grade. This program is being designed to provide fun activities for children in small groups with health and safety in mind. We plan on re-opening the Bertha Alyce and West Houston Early Childhood School programs for our year-round families once we have direction from our elected officials. 

How will the SUMMER FUN AT THE J program operate?  
Within the next 7-10 days we will provide you with a comprehensive update on this program which will include health and safety measures, anticipated start date, hours of operation, activities being offered, fee structure and enrollment information. We appreciate your continued patience as we work to develop a program that adheres to local, state, and federal guidelines, recommendations from the American Camping Association (still under development), and guidance from the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Medical Advisory Committee.  

What does this mean for families currently enrolled in J Camps?
All families currently registered for J Camps with children aged 3 years through 5th grade will be eligible to enroll in our 2020 SUMMER FUN AT THE J Program. Priority will be given to families based upon when they initially registered for J Camps. If you enrolled in any of our camp programs and opt not to enroll in our 2020 SUMMER FUN AT THE J program, 100% of your fees will be refunded to you. Please note that the J will not be processing May EFT payments for those families with such payment plans in place. 

We would encourage you to wait to learn more about our 2020 SUMMER AT THE J program prior to making a decision about your summer plans. Please hold off on requesting any camp refunds until you receive further correspondence regarding the 2020 SUMMER FUN at the J Program as this will include an online form to request a refund. This correspondence will be sent within the next 7-10 days. Please note that families that receive financial assistance from the J should participate in the re-enrollment process. Once it is complete, Nohemy Vasquez will follow up with you.

What does this mean for teens? 
Due to capacity and space limitations, we will not be able to offer our 2020 SUMMER FUN AT THE J Program to teens (6th grade and up). All families enrolled in J teen camps will be provided with a 100% refund. Please stay tuned, however, as we are working to develop alternative in-person programming for teens and will offer priority enrollment to families who had registered for teen camps. We anticipate more information on teen programs will be available in June.  

Thank you for your support and patience. We understand this is a trying time for our J families, the community, and the world at large. We are striving to do all we can to continue providing a nurturing, safe and fun place for kids to spend their summer. 

Joel Dinkin, CEO

Michelle Fingeret, Chair, Children and Day Camp Committee
Category: News