This letter to OSRUI 2020 families was sent to parents today (Thursday, April 30th). See our 2020 Update web page for more information.
Dear Camper Families,
It is with a broken heart that I share our plans to cancel all in-person activities held on our site at OSRUI 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 OSRUI, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred value – the health and well-being of our children, staff, and faculty that 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 OSRUI.
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. All URJ camps and programs for Summer 2020 have made the same decision. 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 prayers for health to all in our community and the world. 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 time 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. I invite you to join me and members of our team at 5:30 p.m. Central Time tonight to hear a few more of my reflections and to answer questions.
The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” As a lifelong member of the OSRUI community, with the honor to serve as your Camp Director, I share in the heartbreak that this summer will not be a season for in-person gatherings in Oconomowoc. I am also confident that many seasons will come for us to gather again together, in-person, at camp, and look forward to being back together and experiencing the laughter of new friends, the joy of song, and the feeling of community in-person.
I hope you will join us this evening as our community comes together to support each other at this unbelievably difficult moment and we look forward to continuing our virtual time together throughout the months to come.
Scroll down for some additional information and resources:
Two Opportunities to Gather
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. There are two upcoming opportunities to come together in this moment.
Virtual Town Hall today, at 5:30 p.m. Central Time
Register here >
Havdallah and Folk Night Singing, Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Central Time
Register here >
Emotional Support for Campers, Staff & 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 know how hard it will be to process this news with your children and we want to support you through that process.
- Join us for a webinar with our camper care staff about helping your child through this situation.
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.
Virtual Camp Experiences – Bringing the Magic of Camp into Your Home
While we are sheltering-in-place physically, we see our 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 the 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.
For now, we hope you’ll join us tonight as we gather our community.
What do I do now?
- Join us for our virtual gathering tonight at 5:30 p.m. Central Time. Register here >
- Hug, listen, cry with your children
- Review resources about talking to your child
- 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.