Frequently Asked Questions

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Summer 2021 FAQs

We are excited to be planning for an in-person program for Summer 2021! 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, but we are committed to delivering the same level of excellence in programming and camper care as we always have.

We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving standards and protocols both within the camping industry and as required by our federal and local governing bodies and will be as transparent as possible as our summer plans continue to take shape.

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. We will continue to update this information as it becomes applicable as we work to welcome us all back to Maple Lake for Summer 2021.

Dates and Session Structure

Our session structure remains 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 regardless if the sessions of the sibling(s) were not changed.

Fees, Payments and Cancellations

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. 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 April 5, 2020 (by 90 days or more prior to the first session start date) –100% of tuition is refundable except for the administrative deposit ($600).
  • Cancellation between April 5, 2021 and May 20, 2021 (90 days and 45 days prior to the first session start date) – 75% of tuition is refundable.
  • Cancellation after May 20, 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 Terms and Conditions.

The URJ Camps payment schedule is:

  • Feb 4, 2021 – (150 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – 25% of tuition payment is due;
  • April 5, 2021 – (90 days prior to Camp’s first session start date) – an additional 50% of tuition payment is due (75% of tuition paid);
  • May 5, 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.
Payment Plans

Upon registering and paying the $600 deposit, families will have three options for payment:

  1. Payment in full at the time of registration
  2. Payment in three instalments – January, March and April
  3. Monthly payment between November and April
COVID-19 Precautions


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 centre procedures, hygiene protocols, capacity and spacing, programming, supply and equipment needs, PPE availability, limiting individuals coming and going from camp, physical distancing requirements, housekeeping protocols, staffing, etc.

We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving local standards and protocols. We are 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 Ontario Camps Association and the Union for Reform Judaism to gather learnings and insights from the field. We continue to closely monitor Health Canada and CDC guidelines.

Registration Capacities

As a precautionary measure, we will not be opening registration at full capacity. We are being mindful that COVID protocols may necessitate the need to maintain additional space in camp. We will be monitoring our numbers and our needs on an ongoing basis.

Scholarships

Applications for fee assistance will be accepted. Scholarships awarded from previous years will not carry forward. Families who wish to apply for assistance will submit new applications for Summer 2021. This applies to both the Camp George scholarship process and any One Happy Camper Grants. Please note that changes to the One Happy Camper Grant program for the Greater Toronto Area have been made. More information can be found on our fee assistance page.

Grade and Unit Placements

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 2020/2021 school year. Every camper (including CITS) will move up to their appropriate unit this summer regardless of missing out on last summer.

Trips

Out of an abundance of caution, out of camp trips (canoe, trips, beach day, bike trips, etc.) may not be possible this summer. This also includes the annual CIT Rafting and Ottawa trip. Should conditions and restrictions allow, we will consider including trips in the schedule (applicable fees may apply).

Visitor's Day

To protect our campers, staff, and our families, we will not be planning to host Visitor’s Days this summer. We will look forward to welcoming our families back to camp in a future summer!

Guests and Faculty

We are sensitive to the fact that any outside guests could present additional risks to the camp community. We will be evaluating all our visiting guests’ practices and policies and will update families as we have more information to share.

Staffing

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 to Maple Lake. Staff will be trained in the latest health and safety precautions, including COVID training. Days off and staff excursions out of camp may have limitations. 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 with regards to restrictions, work permit allowances, etc. The same holds true for our American staff. Work permits and entry to Canada will depend on border restrictions for camp counselors and could if required, include a quarantine period.

Mini Mensch Program

Registration for our Mini Mensch Program does not open until mid-January. We will wait until the new year to determine if it will be possible for us to run the program. Space limitations and our capacity to welcome new campers mid-way through a session will all be considered.

Transportation

We will be closely examining our transportation procedures. Health screening, camper arrival and departure by car, parent pick up for shorter sessions, and camper groupings on buses will all be considered. We anticipate some changes to our typical process and will keep families up to date as this become clearer.

General FAQs

 

How long are the camp sessions?

We have two main 3 1/2 week sessions. Within those sessions, we have shorter options for our younger campers.

  • Campers in Grades 2 and 3 have a 7 or 10-day option.
  • Campers in Grades 4 or 5 have a 14 or 17-day option.
  • Campers in Grades 6 and 7 have a 17-day option ONLY during our second session.
  • Campers also have the option of registering for our Six Week Session or for the Full Season.

Visit our dates and fees page for more detailed information.

Who comes to our camp?

While a great many of our campers and staff members come from the greater Toronto area, we have representation from all over the Northeast Lakes, as well as from the United States and overseas. Many of our campers are members of Reform Jewish synagogues, but many are Conservative or are not affiliated. Campers range from ages of 8 to 17 and are entering grades 2-12. Camp George embodies the “audacious hospitality” of the Reform Movement. Campers and staff come from diverse families – including those who are interfaith, families of colour, same-sex or single parents, LGBTQ – every self-identified Jewish family is accepted and welcome in our community.

At Camp George, we respect and celebrate everyone’s ways of identifying themselves. The make-up of the URJ and our programs is as diverse as our population, therefore our communities represent the vibrant and colourful fabric that makes up the Reform Jewish population. We hope that our campers and staff strengthen their self-esteem, Jewish identity, and connection to the Jewish community through the supportive nature of our people, staff, and programs.

How does my child’s luggage get to camp?

Campers from the Toronto area drop off their luggage at our luggage drop a few days prior to the start of the session (in Toronto). Out-of-town campers may bring their luggage to the camper buses on departure day. Luggage is delivered by our staff to the camper cabins. Luggage drop off details will be available in the spring.

Can I call/email my child at camp?

Although we encourage you to write letters, you can also email through your CampInTouch account (additional fees may apply). Parents cannot call their child at camp but can contact the camp at any time to get an update on their child’s progress.  The camp’s professional team will be in touch should any concerns arise.

Can my child call/email home?

Campers are encouraged to write letters home.  Parents can also take advantage of our Bunk Notes system and purchase Camp Stamps and request a letter by reply email (additional fees may apply). These letters are scanned and emailed to you through the CampInTouch system. Campers cannot call home. Campers who are celebrating a birthday while in session will have the chance to call home for a special birthday call.

Can I send packages?

Campers cannot receive packages. Flat mail is the only camper mail accepted.

Can I visit camp?

Typically we offer a Visitor’s Day each session. Out of an abundance of caution, Visitor’s Day is not being planned for 2021. We look forward to welcoming our families back to camp in a future summer. If you are looking to schedule a tour of camp, please contact the camp office.

Can my child leave camp?

Campers cannot leave camp at any time without the permission of the Camp Director. Arrangements are made at the discretion of the Director for special circumstances such as family weddings and B’nai mitzvah. These opportunities may be more limited during Summer 2021 due to COVID restrictions.

What if I need to cancel my registration?

Please refer to to the 2021 FAQs for details on our cancellation policy for 2021.

What should I pack for my child?

Clothes for camp should be durable, inexpensive, and informal. Warm weather clothing and rain gear are essential. The only time campers “dress up” is on Shabbat.  Detailed packing information will be available in the Spring.

Is there camp laundry?

Camp laundry is done once a week by an out-of-camp laundry service. Each camper receives a personal laundry bag at the beginning of the session. Each camper’s laundry is done separately. The camp fee includes laundry.

What is available at the camp tuck shop?

The camp tuck shop provides snacks (potato chips, chocolate bars, candy, granola bars, etc.). Campers are able to access the tuck shop three times per week and can choose one food item. While campers can choose from any item in the tuck shop two times a week, during one tuck day they are limited to healthier choices. Tuck is included as part of the camp fee.

How can I best prepare my child for a first camp experience?

It is important that if your child is a first-time camper they are prepared for their camp experience. Teaching your child how to make a bed, folding their clothes and showering will help your child adjust to camp life. Be sure to talk to your child about camp and discuss any concerns your child may have. Feel free to contact the camp if there are issues you would like to discuss further with us.

What should I NOT send with my child to camp?

Food and candy, expensive clothing, and items that are valuable or sentimental are all best left at home. Hotpots, kettles, electric appliances, cell phones, computers, TVs, DVD/Video players, candles, matches, and knives are all strictly forbidden at camp and will be confiscated. For a more complete list, please refer to the Family Handbook.

What kind of medical facilities does camp have?


Camp has a full-time doctor and two full-time nurses on staff throughout the summer. Our infirmary dispenses medications 4 x/day and has a scheduled “sick call” each day where campers who are feeling unwell can be checked by a member of our health centre. Camp is located 20 minutes from the West Parry Sound Hospital.

What if my child takes regular medications?

Regular medications are distributed through the infirmary 4 x/day. Our medical staff team will ensure that your child receives his/her medication as required. Camp does have a policy against medication vacations while at Camp. If you have any concerns please contact the Camp office to discuss further.

How do I make bunk requests for my child?

In order to make a request, parents are asked to fill out up to two requests on the Camper Information Form distributed in the Spring. Requests must be children who are in the same grade. Although we try to ensure that each camper is bunked with their requests, we guarantee that they will be with at least one request (assuming the request is in the same grade). Please know that the bunk assignments we make are done so in the best interest of all campers and cabin make-ups are diversified summer to summer.

Where will my child live?

Campers live in one of our spacious cabins that include full bathrooms, shelving, storage, and bunk or single beds. Each of our four cabin villages have 4-7 camper cabins.

How long does it take to drive to camp from Toronto?

Camp is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes from Toronto.

Do campers get to choose the activities they want to participate in?

Our campers move through the different activity areas as cabin groups. Our goal is to provide a well-balanced program for each child. Cabins can request specialty areas they want to spend more time.  Campers in Kochavim and Barak (12-15 years) participate in “chugim” – specialized activities they choose. Campers in Lehavot (9-11 years) will have a few individual choice activity opportunities each week.

How many campers are in each cabin?

On average, each cabin has 12 campers.

How many staff are in each cabin?

Younger campers have a minimum of three cabin counselors while our older campers have a minimum of two counselors. Our specialty staff also plays a major role in each cabin. Up to four specialty staff live in each cabin and share in the staff responsibilities of the cabin.

How do you select and train your staff?

Many of our staff have grown up as campers and Counselors-in-Training at Camp George. Our staff are carefully selected through a hiring process which includes an intensive interview, reference checks, and a background check screening. Our staff participate in a 6-day training session run by senior camp staff and professionals from the community.

What is included as part of the Camper Activity Fee?


The Camper Activity Fee is included in the regular Camp fees. It includes tuck, a cabin photo, a camper t-shirt, laundry, and round-trip transportation from Toronto (only one-way transportation is provided for campers in shorter sessions).

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. The 2021 URJ Policy on Vaccines will be available in the spring. 

URJ COVID 19 Updates + FAQs

Pre – Camp Precautions

Why do we still have to quarantine before camp, even if we are vaccinated?
  • There are still “break-through” cases, and we want to help make sure that you are not one of them.
  • There are other viruses out there that are not COVID. If your camper arrives at camp with one of those, we will probably have to rule out COVID by isolating your camper and their bunk while we test to see what you have.
  • Many viruses present with COVID-like symptoms. Quarantining with your family not only keeps your immediate family safe, but also helps to safeguard our entire camp community against COVID and other viruses that may make their way into camp. Thank you in advance for doing your part to help keep our community healthy this summer.
Why seven vs fourteen days?

Fourteen days is the CDC recommendation for unvaccinated individuals. We believe that seven is sufficient for fully vaccinated individuals to keep other viruses out of camp.

What if I have had COVID within 90 days before the start of my camp session?
  • Contact Amy Kagan, Associate Director (AKagan@URJ.org) in advance and bring the test results with you. After 90 days, if the camper is still in camp and if the camp is still in its testing week, the camper will pick up the same testing schedule as others in camp.
What kinds of COVID tests do I have to do before my Camp session?

See the below section of “Testing” for specifics. All pre-Camp tests are PCR tests. If your test comes back positive, please let Amy Kagan, Associate Director (AKagan@URJ.org) know.

Are there different Opening Day and Luggage Policies this summer?
  • We have made a few changes to plan for a safe arrival to camp:
    • Families may choose to ship their belongings to camp using Camp Trucking service. Alternatively, campers may drop off belongings on a designated day in advance of arrival. Some items may be brought with you on Opening Day
    • Families will be assigned designated arrival times to ensure smooth traffic flow
    • Parents will not be allowed into camper living spaces

Vaccination Policies

Is URJ recommending that we vaccinate our camp 12 years old and older?
  • Yes. The FDA has approved under an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12-15. This adds to the EUA for teens and adults 16 and older. Vaccinations will provide an important tool to mitigate the risks of COVID at Camp this summer.
  • Our URJ Camps Medical Advisory Team strongly encourages the families of all who are eligible to join our fully vaccinated staff. The higher our percentage of vaccinated individuals becomes, the better for the camp community.
What if we cannot get both Pfizer doses for our 12+-year-old campers prior to the summer?
  • The ideal situation is to get both doses, three weeks apart, with the second dose administered two weeks before your session’s Opening Day. This will be easier for later-starting camps and for those campers arriving second session.
  • If you cannot get the second shot, you are still protected two weeks after your first shot. The second dose can be given after camp.
Why do vaccinated campers need to be on the same testing schedule as non-vaccinated campers?
  • While vaccines are incredibly effective, they are not 100% effective.
  • The camper community is also not 100% vaccinated. Of the 2-dose Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, some eligible campers have had two doses pre-camp, some have had one dose pre-camp, and some have chosen not to vaccinate.
  • Because of the recent approval of the EUA, campers who have been vaccinated may not be fully immunized until partially through their camp session.

Program Policies

Are there any changes planned to this summer’s program?
  • To be careful, we will begin the summer with most activities taking place in a “pod”. These are like a “household” in which many masking and social distancing rules do not apply. A group of pods the same age is a “Unit”. As the summer moves along, and our testing program yields some answers, we hope to loosen our cohorts, mask policy, etc.
  • Certain activities deemed to be “high risk” for disease spread will be limited to cohorts.
  • Large group programs indoors will not take place or will happen under physical distancing conditions.
How do you decide what guidelines are needed to keep camp safe and when to change them as CDC guidance changes?

There is a group of staff members at the URJ responsible for developing guidance for URJ Camps. They work together with subject-area specialists.

Who is advising URJ on medical and behavioral issues as we plan for the summer?
  • The Medical Advisory Group is a team of five doctors who have experience or specialization in public health and infectious disease.
  • They meet regularly to review and modify system policies.
  • Each camp has a local Camp Medical Director in addition to the physicians and nurses serving on-site during the summer.
What does it mean for Camp to be in a bubble this summer?
  • During each session, all campers are expected to arrive on time and not leave the camp grounds for non-emergency or non-business-oriented reasons. There will be very limited out-of-camp trips for campers, and only under specific conditions, such as no interaction with those outside of our community.
  • If circumstances allow or the CDC recommendations change, we will review this policy.
Indoors? Outdoors?

Wherever we can, we will have fun outside. This enables us to not only enjoy our environment, but relax some of our masking and distancing, especially during Week One of camp.

Speaking of Masks…
  • During Week One, we will follow State and Federal masking guidelines. We have been told to expect that all Summer Camp guidelines could change at any time prior to or during camp.
  • Within Pods: Indoors no mask is needed. Outdoors no mask is needed
  • With Multiple pods within a unit: Indoors masking and physical distancing. Outdoors no mask and physical distancing between pods
  • Your camp packing list has specified the number of disposable masks you will need for your session (we recommend 3-5 disposable masks per day). We will not allow cloth masks due to issues of cleanliness and loss.
Why does the camp community need to mask outside?
  • Week one is in pods. After that, depending on the group and the activity, campers and staff need a combination of 1) masks, 2) physical distancing or 3) take place outside.
  • Once we finish week one with no positive tests, and if PA guidelines allow, most outdoor activities within a unit will not require masks.
Will all staff be living in Camp or will some be going home at night? How are you limiting that risk?
  • Some of our staff are from the local community and will be “commuting” to camp. Our staff vaccination rule applies to them, as well. All of them will be tested regularly throughout the summer, as opposed to staff in residence who are only tested at the beginning.
What if a camper or staff member must leave camp for a medical emergency like an x-ray or dental problem?

Our designated camp driver, a vaccinated staff member, will be present the entire time. Both will wear masks, observe physical distancing, and visit a medical facility where strict COVID protocols are in place. They will be allowed to return to their bunks on return.

Will siblings and other relatives in different pods and units ever get to see each other?
  • Many of these connections happen in a very organic way, but with our COVID restrictions, it might look a bit different than usual (outdoors, masked). Our staff will make sure that COVID-safe opportunities abound as well as make sure that our younger campers can take advantage of them.

Testing Procedures

We are having trouble finding a PCR Test three days before opening day that will guarantee results by opening day.
  • We have arranged with Northshore Clinical Laboratories to mail all our families a home test kit for each camper.
    • Swab three days before camp.
    • Send the samples via pre-paid FedEx to the lab.
    • They will receive the next morning, run the test, and send the results to the Camp and you.
    • There is no charge.
What if FedEx does not deliver to the lab in time to get the test results on opening day?

There is an extra day built in to the process, but if FedEx cannot get the sample to the lab, we will make arrangements for you to go to a local lab, or you are free to wait in town for the results to come back. It will be easy for you to track the sample to the lab through FedEx.

What if our camper is flying in for Opening Day?
  • If campers are leaving their parents at the airport and flying in, we will send you an Abbott Binax Now rapid antigen test for you to administer at home. It is authorized for home use. Take a photo of the negative test and upload to your CampInTouch account.
  • If campers are flying in with you or are being picked up and brought to camp by friends or relatives, your camper can go through the regular Opening Day testing procedure.
What happens if my camper had COVID within the past 90 days but is testing negative for COVID? Do they still need to be in the same testing protocol as non-vaccinated individuals?

Contact your camp in advance and bring the test results with you. After 90 days, if the camper is still in camp and if the camp is still in its testing week, the camper will pick up the same testing schedule as the camp.

What happens if my camper tests positive for COVID during Opening Day?
  • You will not be able to enter camp. We will give you the address of the local clinic or hospital that has the capacity to conduct a PCR test so that you can obtain a negative test and return to camp.
  • If the PCR test confirms that your camper has COVID, we will try to make or find space for a later session.
What happens if someone in my child’s bunk tests positive during PCR Surveillance testing or later if someone in their bunk tests positive?
  • You will be notified by the camp by email.
  • We will begin to test the other campers in the pod for a week.
  • The pod will participate in a “shadow program.”
If a bunk needs to go into quarantine, what restrictions need to be placed on the vaccinated staff members working with that bunk?

The vaccinated staff member will need to wear a mask during the week of quarantine and surveillance testing.