Jacobs Camp 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.

Below are some FAQs to help you understand how we are planning for the summer ahead. We aim to be transparent with our decision making and will keep you posted as our plans evolve.

Please read carefully for important updates on COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Procedures, our 2021 COVID Refund Policy, Unit Specific Questions, and Registration & Payment Info.

For other questions, please see our General FAQ section.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Procedures

***Please note this information will be updated continually as we get closer to summer***

Date of last update: May 25, 2021

Pre-Camp Precautions

Does my family still need to quarantine before camp, even if we are all vaccinated?

Yes. Our goal is for all of our campers to be able to have an amazing summer in the Jacobs Camp “bubble”. Aside from the slim possibility of “break-through” cases, we want to avoid anyone bringing other viruses into camp since 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.

How long do we need to quarantine before Camp?

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. Please see our community agreement for more details about pre-camp precautions here.

What if I have had COVID within 90 days before the start of my camp session?

Please contact camp to let us know. We know that some people who have had COVID in the past will continue to test positive for weeks afterwards. Campers who have previously had COVID, but have had no symptoms for 14 days leading up to camp will be allowed to join the camp community.

What type of COVID test is required before my Camp session?

All campers must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival at camp. Please see the section on testing below for more specific information.

Vaccinations

Is URJ recommending that we vaccinate our campers 12 years old and older?

Yes, our URJ Camps Medical Advisory Team strongly encourages all who are eligible get vaccinated before camp. All of our staff are required to be vaccinated before the summer. The higher our percentage of vaccinated individuals, 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 those campers arriving second session, however, URJ recommends getting the first shot, even if the second shot must be given after camp.

Will vaccinated campers be on the same testing schedule as non-vaccinated campers?

Yes. While vaccines are incredibly effective, they are not 100% effective. The camper community is also not 100% vaccinated.

Program

Are there any changes planned to this summer’s program?

Yes. 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 will not apply. A group of pods the same age is a “Unit”. As the summer moves along, and all members of the camp community continue to test negative, we hope to loosen our pods, mask policy, etc.

Certain activities deemed to be “high risk” for disease spread will be limited to pods. Large group programs indoors will not take place or will happen under physical distancing conditions.

How will camp policy evolve as CDC guidance changes?

URJ is responsible for developing guidance for URJ Camps in conjunction with subject-area specialists from our Medical Advisory Group.

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 only on Opening Day and not leave camp grounds for any non-emergency reasons. There will not be any out-of-camp field trips for campers. If circumstances allow or the CDC recommendations change, we will review this policy.

Will camp activities take place indoors and outdoors?

We are very fortunate to have so many air-conditioned, indoor spaces around camp, and this summer we will have even more usable indoor spaces for pods to gather safely.

What will the mask policy be at camp?

During Week One, we will be masking anytime a camper will be with kids outside of their pod. It is possible that CDC Summer Camp guidelines could change leading up to the summer, or between sessions. We will update the camp community about any changes that happen as they come. Campers will not wear masks when they are only with their pods. Campers will wear masks when they are indoors with kids from another pod.

Your camp packing list has specified the number of disposable masks you will need for your session (we recommend 6 disposable masks per day). We do not recommend cloth masks due to issues of cleanliness and loss.

Will all staff be living at Camp or will some be going home at night? How are you limiting that risk?

A small number of our staff members staff are from the local community, such as our food service staff, and will be “commuting” to camp. All of them will be tested regularly throughout the summer, and will always remain distanced from campers.

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 transport and accompany any camper needing this type of medical visit. Both camper and driver will wear masks, observe physical distancing, and visit a medical facility where strict COVID protocols are in place. The camper will be allowed to return to their bunks on their return to camp.

Will siblings in different pods and units get to see each other?

Yes. Our staff will make sure that siblings have COVID-safe opportunities to check in with one another.

Testing

How will pre-camp PCR testing work?

We have arranged with Northshore Clinical Laboratories to mail all our families a free at-home PCR test kit for each camper. The home test process works like this:

  • Three Days before camp you will swab your child and send the sample via a pre-paid FedEx envelope to the lab.
  • The lab will receive the sample the next morning, run the test, and send the results to the Camp and you.

You may also choose to have your camper tested at a local testing facility that is administering PCR tests, and upload the results in your CampInTouch account.

What if FedEx does not deliver our sample to the lab in time to get the test results on opening day?

We have built in an extra day built in to the process, but if there is some issue with FedEx, and you cannot get the sample to the lab, you will need to get tested locally. You may track your shipment to the lab through FedEx.

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 return to camp if the PCR test comes out negative. If the PCR test confirms that your camper has COVID, your camper will need to quarantine for 14 days and have no symptoms before returning to camp.

What happens if my camper tests positive for COVID during PCR surveillance testing during the first week of camp?

You will be notified by phone and asked to pick up your camper as soon as possible. We will forward the lab results of the test to you. All positive test results are reported to your state of residence.

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 camp via email and we will begin to test the other campers in the pod throughout the following week. The pod will participate in a “shadow program”, meaning they will still be able to enjoy the activities of camp, but will be separated from other pods until all campers are cleared.

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.

Below we are sharing some of our key strategies for keeping everyone safe. Please keep in mind that these plans will likely continue to evolve and change as we learn more.

How will you make decisions about COVID-19 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 American Camp Association and Foundation for Jewish Camp to gather learnings and insights from the field. One of the tools that we will be using are learnings from camps that ran and the American  Association - like this article here. We continue to closely monitor CDC guidelines.

We know that the best practices surrounding COVID-19 are continually changing. We will remain responsive to ever-evolving local standards and protocols.

We will be as transparent as possible about all COVID-19 safety protocols as they are developed and keep parents up to date as we determine new policies. For more information, you can watch our April Parent Town Hall, recorded April 27, 2021.

Will camp look different next summer?

Yes, while we are committed to delivering Jacobs Magic with the same excellence you’ve come to expect from us, we can safely say that some elements of camp will look different. Read here for our full COVID -19 Playbook.

Pre-Camp Isolation Expectations

As you are aware, CDC guidance continues to evolve and change. (Sometimes daily!) Please remember that the CDC guidance is generally designed for an individual and their family and not the communal setting of a residential summer camp. Thus, our guidance may at times be slightly more restrictive out of an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of our communities. Please see our community agreement for more details about pre-camp precautions here.

Camper Drop-off 

This summer, we are implementing a “drive through drop-off” on Opening Day in order to minimize the number of
people on our camp grounds. We require that all campers arrive at Jacobs Camp under the supervision of an immediate family member/guardian from the same household. Read more about our plans and instructions for Opening Day.

Here is an overview of what will happen on Opening Day:
• You will arrive during a specified timeframe. Arrival times will be finalized in mid-May and communicated clearly.
• Upon arrival, you will be welcomed and directed to a parking area. As noted above, your camper will undergo a COVID-19 rapid test, health screening, and temperature check. Please wear a mask and do not exit your vehicle at any time.
• Once medically cleared, you will be able to drive further into camp to complete the professional lice check. All lice professionals will be masked and lice checks will be done outside.
• Once cleared from lice check, you will drive to our camper and luggage drop-off zone by the Breezeway. You will have time to briefly exit your vehicle at the end of the check-in process to hug your camper goodbye. (please note this exciting update!)
• Once your child is with their counselors, you will exit camp. Please note that we are organizing time for you to meet your campers’ counselors via Zoom prior to Opening Day. More information about the “Meet the Counselors” will be shared soon.

Camper Luggage

Jacobs Camp Staff will be present to unload your camper’s luggage on Opening Day. You should not get out of the car to
assist them. Please pack your clearly labeled luggage in the trunk of the vehicle to limit the close interaction between you and our staff, and be sure that every piece of luggage is tagged with the provided luggage tags. Before the summer we will send you multiple luggage tags specific to your camper. You will be required to fill out your camper’s information on the luggage tag and attach a luggage tag to every piece of luggage your camper is bringing.

Activities and Programming

As of now, we are planning to have close to our full line-up of activities at camp. We are carefully examining how our activities may need to be modified due to COVID-19 and are following guidance from the ACA and URJ COVID-19 Medical Task Force. Modifications include additional time between groups for cleaning, relocating traditionally indoor activities to outdoor spaces, and smaller group sizes.

Masks, Distancing, Hand-washing and Sanitizing (Non-pharmaceutical interventions or NPIs)

The most important philosophy that we have adopted to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 at camp is to be masked, outside, and socially distant as much as possible. For any interactions outside the pod, campers and staff will need to wear a mask, be physically distanced (at least 6 feet apart), and outside when possible. We are planning as much programming outdoors as possible, while taking into consideration Mississippi summer temperatures. We will focus on hydration, as always, and limiting strenuous activity (like sports within pods, so that campers will not overheat. We will also use outdoor tents, fans, and water bottle filling stations around camp to keep everyone as
cool as possible.

Masks: Campers and staff will be required to wear masks, except when eating, doing an activity with only their pod, or inside their own cabin. Staff who interact with multiple groups of campers will be masked at all times, and campers will be masked around these staff as well. As a reminder, we ask that campers come prepared with disposable masks, rather than cloth masks. We ask that you send six disposable masks per day for your camper.

Handwashing and Sanitization: To minimize the transfer of COVID-19 and other illnesses at Jacobs Camp, enhanced cleaning methods will be employed to reduce transmission risk. Protocols will include specialized cleaning of communal spaces, shared items, frequently touched surfaces, and overall handwashing and sanitizing.
• Hand sanitizing stations will be installed in high-traffic areas.
• As always, handwashing will be required prior to all meals, snacks, and the commencement of any activities.
• Bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly and frequently.
• Sports equipment and art supplies used by each pod will be sanitized after each use.

Facilities: We are very fortunate to have so many air-conditioned indoor spaces around camp. Leading up to the session, we are making capital improvements to ensure a safer camp experience including:
• Welcome Center and Technion – We have totally renovated these two buildings to allow for more usable indoor air-conditioned spaces for pods to gather safely.
• Water bottle filling stations will be located throughout camp, replacing traditional water fountains.
• We are also expanding our outdoor chapel by the lake so we can gather together and maintain safe distance between pods

Water Fountains and Water Bottles: All Water Fountains have been replaced with bottle-filling stations. We ask that you pack two dishwasher-safe water bottles for each camper. Over the summer, water bottles will be washed a few times each week. Please ensure that water bottles are labeled with your camper’s name using a method that will not wash off.

At camp, we strive to teach the Jewish value of derech eretz, which means caring for our community. This summer, we will have the opportunity to put this value into action. We will be looking to each member of our community to do their part in keeping each other healthy.

The Camp "Bubble"

For Summer 2021, we are planning to limit interactions with individuals outside of our camp community as much as possible, effectively making camp like a “bubble”. Realistically speaking, given the size of our camp community, the Jacobs Camp bubble will be different than your bubble at home.

Campers must arrive no later than Opening Day. If, at any point, your camper must leave the bubble, they will not be able to return(unless for a doctor’s appointment or other medical emergency)
Bunk Staff, Specialists, and Limited Faculty must also arrive no later than Opening Day and will not be able to leave and return. Time “off” will be spent on camp to maintain the camp “bubble.”
Local Staff will have minimal exposure to the camp community, will be physically distant and wear PPE when interacting with others, and and many, if not all, will be vaccinated. They will follow the same rigorous standards with regards to physical distancing, handwashing, and sanitization as the rest of our community.
Medical Staff will come and go from camp – they have experience working in a COVID landscape and will follow the necessary protocols we have at camp. Campers will only interact with medical staff if they need medical care, and all visits to our health center will be very similar to a regular doctor’s appointment, with everyone is masked.
Visitors will not be allowed on camp. All campers, bunk staff, specialists, faculty, and spouses must arrive on or
before Opening Day and will not be able to return once they leave the camp bubble.

Meal time protocols

Meals and time spent in the dining room are a special aspect of the camp experience. This will be an area that will likely look noticeably different this summer. Meals will be served with recommended mitigation strategies and in additional dining spaces, such as the ed. center to keep campers from separate pods physically distant while eating.

Camper Pick-up

On Closing Day, parents and guardians may pick their campers up from Jacobs Camp by car. However, we STRONGLY encourage you to take advantage of our expanded bus service this year. For Session 1, we will offer busses to Birmingham, New Orleans, Memphis, and Little Rock. For Session 2, we will offer busses to Birmingham, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Houston, Memphis, Little Rock, and New Orleans. We are subsidizing the cost of the bus to make it easier for families to use this service, as it will help us make Closing Day as COVID-safe as possible. Please note that parents picking up their child at camp will not be able to exit their car. You can register your child to ride the bus by filling out the travel form in your CampInTouch account.

Our Olim (14-day) campers will need to be picked up by a parent or guardian when their program ends. Members of the Camp staff will accompany the campers to a designated place at camp, and we will provide sack lunches for the trip. Parents will need to be masked and stay in their cars during pick up to ensure that our staff does not have exposure to anyone outside of the camp bubble.

Health Center

We are very fortunate to have a health care center staffed by physicians and nurses throughout the session every summer. In years past we have had 3-4 medical professionals on site at all times, but for Summer 2021, we are expanding our health center team. We have also set aside additional space at camp for supervised isolation/quarantine.  For example, if a camper exhibited any symptoms of illness which would require additional COVID testing to determine if they could remain at camp, we will have dedicated space available for them to be comfortably monitored and cared for away from the rest of their pod. Many of our health care providers have been working throughout this year in communal settings and are very well-versed in operating within the parameters of COVID-19. Our health care staff will follow guidelines based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, state and local health authorities, and the URJ COVID-19 Medical Taskforce, which is comprised of a group of five advisory physicians from across the country.

Will there be support for the mental health and social and emotional needs of campers and staff?

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 the last several months. Some of whom may have suffered their own losses and adjustments to new family situations due to COVID. 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 made up of mental health care professionals, as well as our excellent Medical 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.

Will campers go on trips outside of camp during Summer 2021?

No. While the guidance on best practices for camps is constantly changing, one thing that was consistent with camps that ran successfully last summer was that all campers arrived and left on the same day.  Campers will need to stay at camp for the duration of their session.

2021 COVID Refund Policy

URJ Camps Covid Refund Policy, April 2021

As we prepare to return to camp this summer, we are committed to open, honest, and ongoing communication with our camper families.

We know that we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and that there may still be challenges related to COVID-19. Therefore, we are updating our current policies to reflect COVID-19-specific cancellations because we know this summer is unique, because we want to be fair, and because we are in this together. As always, the health and safety of our camp community is our top priority at all times, without compromise. And rekindling the love of camp and joyful Judaism is our shared goal and responsibility.

The existing URJ Camps Cancellation Policy states that if there is a cancellation within 45 days of the beginning of camp, no refund will be issued to the camper family. That would include both deposit and tuition. Because of the unusual circumstances we are once again presented with this summer, we are amending that policy for circumstances specifically related to COVID-19.

If a camper withdraws from camp or is sent home due to COVID-19, a 15% non-refundable fee will be assessed to cover the many expenses camp incurred in order to open for the summer, and then the balance of tuition owed will be prorated based on the number of nights attended. This new policy applies if:

· A camper can’t attend camp due to a positive COVID-19 test within the prescribed isolation period before camp, upon arrival on opening day, or during the camp session.

· If a camper in your child’s pod tests positive and you want your child to return home early.

If there is a cancellation prior to or during the camp session that is not directly related to your child and COVID-19, our original cancellation policies remain the same. The revised refund policy does not apply if:

· A camper is sent home because of COVID-19 who then returns to camp following their isolation period.

· A camper is withdrawn from the program because there is a positive case in camp outside of the camper’s pod.

If there is a cancellation prior to or during the camp session that is not related to COVID-19 in nature, our original cancellation policies remain the same.

While we are preparing to welcome your campers this summer, we also recognize that there may be circumstances out of our control that could necessitate a change, such as:

· Program cancellation

· Reduction in camp’s capacity because of local health regulations

· Significant modification to camp’s programmatic offerings or fee structures

· A change of venue

Should we be required to change or cancel programs, we will offer opportunities for families to:

· Roll tuition payments over towards a 2022 URJ summer program

· Consider a deeply meaningful contribution towards the perpetuation of our camp community by converting all or part of your tuition into a donation. If you generously choose to donate your tuition, every dollar will be matched through the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's ‘All Together Now 2021’ program to support camps.

· Families may also request a refund.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support. Of course, we will continue to keep you updated on all things as camp draws near. We look forward to a happy, healthy, and meaningful summer celebrating the very best of Jewish camp!

General FAQs

Trying to decide whether Jacobs Camp is right for your child? According to the American Camp Association, the best way to proceed with choosing a camp is:

  • Involve your child in the selection process. Review your child’s preferences and let your child ask questions.
  • Review brochures, videos & websites with your child. (And, if you’ve found this page, you’ve already begun that process!)
  • Get answers to some key questions – which we’ve taken the liberty of giving you our answers below!
  • Speak to the Director or a camp representative – by phone, online, or when they come to your community.
  • Ask for references of families who have had their child attend the camp. Speaking with these families can give you valuable insight about the camp and the families that send their children there.

We’ve tried to respond many of the questions we are asked most frequently. If you have a question that is not covered below, please email us and we’ll get back to you with a response. (And, who knows, maybe your question will make the “frequent questions” page!)

TELL ME ABOUT THE CAMP DIRECTOR.
Anna is so excited to be the Director of the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp. Anna grew up in Dothan, AL, and began attending the Henry S. Jacobs Camp at age 11. In addition to being a camper, Anna also was a counselor and unit head. Following graduation from the University of Alabama, she became the assistant director at Jacobs, after which she served as a congregational youth director and as the assistant director of the URJ Meetings and Conventions Department. Anna then transitioned to the assistant director of business operations for the URJ’s camping system. In this role, in which she partnered with our 14 URJ camps across North America, she gained a wealth of camping knowledge.

Throughout, she remained connected to Jacobs Camp as a lay leader, serving as the Camp Committee - Development Committee Chair. She also met her husband Nadav at Jacobs Camp, and surrounded by family and many friends from Jacobs and the URJ, they were married at the chapel on Lake Gary.

Anna is thrilled to be returning home to lead the Jacobs community, and to inspire generations of future campers to create Jacobs “magic” every summer.

WHAT ARE THE CAMP’S GOALS AND PHILOSOPHY?
The URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, the Reform Jewish Movement's summer camp serving the Deep South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Western Tennessee & the Florida Panhandle. Since 1970, Jacobs Camp has provided a caring Jewish community that builds young people! A summer at Jacobs is an unforgettable religious, cultural, recreational and emotional experience.

The Jacobs Camp is one of thirteen Union for Reform Judaism Camps located throughout North America. It is the Mission of the URJ Camping System to provide high quality and wide ranging Jewish Experiences in a Reform context to North American Jewish youngsters through a network of Camps and Israel Experiences. These experiences take place in a safe and healthy environment in which all qualified children have access to the most outstanding camping facilities and equipment.

Our Responsibility. When it comes to taking care of your children, we take our responsibility very seriously. As you know, raising a child requires a great deal of energy & effort and the willingness to send your child away for the summer takes a great deal of trust & confidence. We consider ourselves to be your partner in raising your child. When your children are at Camp, you can be assured they will be safe and secure, and we will do what it takes to meet their social, emotional, spiritual & developmental needs. We also hope to develop in them a range of skills & abilities, and instill in them a greater level of personal independence & self-sufficiency. When your children return home, we hope you will find them to be more self-aware & self-confident, and better able to make their way in the world.

Our Counselors are the Key. We believe that every moment at camp has the potential to be a Jewish teachable moment. Counselors who are positive Jewish role models are central to our mission.

The feeling that is created in cabins and the values of that community contribute significantly to the success of the camp experience. We train our counselors to use cabin time in a meaningful way to reflect on what it means to be part of a Jewish community, especially with regard to how campers relate to one another. Rest hour discussions, late night “cabin prayers,” Shabbat cabin programming, the use of Hebrew and camper conflict resolution are all important elements of our Jewish message. We are committed to fully engaging and empowering our cabin counselors and our entire staff as modelers of Jewish behaviors and values. This deep commitment emanates from the recognition that from our camps will emerge the next generation of leaders for our congregations and our Movement for whom the joys of Jewish living and learning and community are defining elements of their lives.

WHAT IS THE FACILITY LIKE?
Situated on 267 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, with a picturesque lake as its centerpiece, the Jacobs Camp’s grounds provide a relaxing, natural setting to experience the summer. And our modern facility, including more than 35 buildings (almost all of which are air-conditioned) and a diverse range of recreational spaces, insures we have a place for everyone to have a great time!

All of our facilities are within easy walking distance of each other, and campers are often seen interacting with friends of all ages as they transition between activities during the day. Our residential facilities encircle Lake Gary. Our primary community gathering places – the Dining Hall, the Breezeway, the Cultural Center, and the Chapel – are all clustered in the center of camp. And our main recreational facilities line the road from the “main camp” on back. Visitors are often astounded by the beauty & condition of the facility – it really is a “jewel” in the backwoods of Mississippi.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM LIKE? IS IT A STRUCTURED PROGRAM OR ONE THAT EMPHASIZES A LOT OF FREE CHOICE?
The most important aspect of Camp is its program. In our activities we offer a wide range of experiences; we want each child to grow while at Jacobs, not only sharpening skills brought to Camp, but introducing new areas to learn and master. The Camp schedule is set up to require a certain amount of exercise-time and outdoor-time each day. The daily schedule reflects this attempt at balanced programming.

We pride ourselves on our high level of staff supervision, and on the high quality of our recreational and educational offerings. Within the limits of the daily schedule, though, campers are given many opportunities to pick-and-choose their activities – whether it’s Chugim (one-hour week-long specialty activities), Specialty Camps, or Shabbat afternoon free time. While we want to provide a safe, secure environment in which to experience camp, we know our campers like to have choices, and we look to provide them whenever we can.

HOW WILL I STAY IN TOUCH WITH MY CHILD?
Camp offers kids and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill - letter writing. We strongly recommended that parents write to their campers at least every-other-day. A card, letter or e-mail, arriving regularly, does more for camper morale than anything else. If a camper receives no mail from a parent for five days, we will call home. The camp tries to ensure that campers write letters or postcards to their parents at least twice each week. It is a required activity. Your letters or cards from Camp may be short, but they will be regular.

WHAT IS THE CAMP’S POSITION ON ELECTRONICS?
Camp provides our children with a break from “the real world” in favor of the natural world. That is why we forbid campers to have mobile phones, pagers, portable televisions, etc. – these items may be part of the day-to-day life of your child, but they have no place at Camp.

That does not mean camp is technology-free. We sometimes use videos and PowerPoint presentations to complement our programs, and we believe that music can provide a great soundtrack to camp life.

Please see our electronics policy for more information on the types of devices we allow and don't allow at camp.

DO CAMPERS TAKE FIELD TRIPS?
In a typical summer, field trips are taken by Maskilim, Talmidim & Chalutzim camper units. For the past few summers we have also taken Garin campers entering the 5th grade on a special day trip!

Our oldest Gariners and the entire Maskilim unit usually take a day trip, visiting attractions in and around Jackson, Mississippi. Talmidim takes a three-day two-night trip; we have alternated between “adventure” trips to a nearby outfitter, and trips to cities within easy driving distance of Utica. Chalutzim embarks on a week-long trip to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina, where they do whitewater rafting, hiking & mountain biking in an incredible outdoor setting.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WEATHER IS BAD?
We don’t let a little bad weather get in the way of the fun at camp! Because we have such a wide-range of indoor facilities, we are able to keep our recreational activity program going rain or shine. And, for those activities that can only happen outside (like swimming), our counselors & specialists always have a “rain plan” – fun activities that can take the place of what campers are missing.

If the weather gets extreme, we have detailed protocols in place to make sure all campers are kept safe until the weather passes.

WHERE WILL MY CHILD LIVE? HOW ARE CABIN ASSIGNMENTS MADE?
Each of our air-conditioned camper cabin sleeps twelve to fourteen campers and two staff members in bunk beds. Every camper is assigned a set of cubbies for storing personal items. Two cabins share a bathroom - all newly-renovated. Each bathroom has 7 sinks, 7 showers, and 7 toilets. All top bunks are equipped with bed rails. Each cabin is equipped with a smoke detector. Bunk assignments are made on the basis of religious school grade and/or chronological age, geographic distribution, and social and emotional maturity.

HOW DO YOU SELECT, TRAIN AND SUPERVISE YOUR STAFF? WHAT IS THE STAFF-TO-CAMPER RATIO?
At Jacobs Camp, a great deal of pride is taken in the members of its staff, who provide a stable and caring home for campers all summer long. The staff is comprised of college students, graduate students, and professionals in various fields. Each year, we look for competent and energetic young adults to fill our staff positions. While many have grown up at Jacobs Camp, others join us from across the country and around the world - all bringing their own special gifts to share. An extensive training program is provided at the start of the summer season, and is ongoing throughout the summer. During the summer, staff are supervised and evaluated by members of our camp leadership team, all of whom have proven experience overseeing the work of staff members. Jacobs maintains a 1:5 staff-to-camper ratio.

WILL MY CHILD BE SAFE WHILE AT CAMP?
All of the URJ Camps are dedicated to providing safe and secure environments for our campers and staff. Jacobs conducts regular safety and security reviews and evaluation, and works closely with local law enforcement officials to make sure our safety standards and practices are the best they can be. During the summer season, a safety officer is on duty 24-hours a day. The health and welfare of our community will always be our top concern.

WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING SHOULD MY CHILD BRING TO CAMP?
We dress informally at Camp, and it is not necessary to buy new clothing for your child. Camp is primarily an outdoor setting and simple and modest clothing is the most appropriate. Girls usually wear T-shirts or blouses with casual shorts, pants or skirts, or sundresses. Boys usually wear T-shirts with shorts or pants. High-heeled shoes, designer clothes and expensive jewelry are neither necessary nor encouraged. We strongly discourage campers from wearing "inappropriate attire": Clothes that are intentionally tight or revealing should be left at home. All clothing and personal belongings should be clearly marked with the camper's full name. One of the most distinctive times at camp is our observance of Shabbat. In keeping with our tradition, we ask that our camp community dress in white tops, and either white or khaki bottoms for Friday evenings.

WILL MY CHILD NEED LOTS OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FROM HOME?
During the course of the session, your child will have many opportunities to learn or develop new skills. In almost all cases, the camp supplies the necessary equipment and supplies to participate. In particular instances where your child is seeking mastery of an activity, he/she may desire his/her own special equipment; be selective, and remember that the Camp is not responsible for loss or damage of personal items.

HOW CAN I GET A JACOBS CAMP T-SHIRT FOR MY CHILD?
A Jacobs Camp T-shirt will be provided to every camper.

HOW WILL MY CHILD'S LAUNDRY GET DONE?
Campers should have enough clothing with them to last at least 10 days. At least once every 10 days (even sooner for Olim), cabins will have a scheduled laundry day. Our laundry staff will pickup laundry bags from the cabins, wash and dry the contents, and return the clean clothes and linens at the end of the day.

HOW WILL MY CHILD GET TO AND FROM CAMP?
Parents are encouraged to bring their campers to camp on opening day, and pick them up on closing day. Bringing or picking up your camper provides an opportunity to see the Camp, meet the Director, the staff, and your camper's bunk counselors. If there is enough interest, the Camp offers closing day charter bus service to Memphis, Baton Rouge/New Orleans, and Birmingham. We will also pickup campers who fly into Jackson, MS.

HOW WILL I STAY IN TOUCH WITH MY CHILD?
Camp offers kids and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill - letter writing. We strongly recommended that parents write to their campers at least every-other-day. A card, letter or e-mail, arriving regularly, does more for camper morale than anything else. If a camper receives no mail from a parent for five days, we will call home. The camp tries to ensure that campers write letters or postcards to their parents at least twice each week. It is a required activity. Your letters or cards from Camp may be short, but they will be regular.

CAN PARENTS CALL THE CAMP TO CHECK ON THEIR CHILDREN?
Parents are welcome to call the Camp during the summer to find out how their campers are doing. After we receive your call, our Camper Care Director will call you back, usually the same day.

CAN I VISIT MY CHILD WHILE THEY ARE AT CAMP?
While parents and other family members are welcome and encouraged to bring campers to camp and to pick them up at the end of the session, parents and other visitors are not allowed to come to camp during the Camp sessions.

HOW'S THE FOOD?
Jacobs' kid-friendly menu offers campers plenty to eat – and our campers have great things to say about the variety, the quality, and the taste! Almost all meals are served family-style in the dining hall, with bunks eating together at assigned tables. Breakfast includes a hot item and cereal. Lunch and dinner include a hot entrée, as well as the option to visit the salad bar. Whenever meat is served, a vegetarian option is offered. We make accommodations for campers on special allergy- or health-related diets. The Jacobs Camp is not a kosher facility, and we do not have a kosher kitchen or kosher plates and utensils. However, we do not serve pork or shellfish, or products containing them, and do not permit such products on camp grounds. At least one snack is served every day.

WHEN WILL MY CHILD GET TO VISIT THE CANTEEN?
Each night, prior to bedtime, campers have the opportunity to visit the Camp Canteen to pick their own late-night snack. We offer a wide selection of delicious snacks – from granola & cereal bars, to low-calorie cookie & treats, to candy bars and more.

ARE CARE PACKAGES ALLOWED?
Please see our package policy.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CHILD GETS SICK WHILE AT CAMP?
It is our hope that every camper will remain healthy and fully able to participate in all aspects of camp life all summer long. Just in case, though, Jacobs Camp has a range of systems in place to manage health care issues that may arise. The Camp's modern, well-equipped health center is staffed by medical professionals all summer long - usually a doctor and a nurse. We supervise the dispensing of medication four times a day. A Medical Form with comprehensive information will be all we need to take great care of your child while at camp.

WHAT IF MY CHILD'S BIRTHDAY OCCURS DURING CAMP?
Birthdays that occur during the Camp session will be celebrated. This observance is not only a treat for the camper, but a lot of fun for everyone. Ever had a birthday party with 300 friends in attendance? Please do not send food of any kind for your child's birthday, as we will provide a delicious cake to celebrate his or her special day.

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.

Unit-Specific Questions

What unit will my camper be in since they were not at camp last summer?

Camp units will be determined by the grade they are entering after summer 2021. Every camper should register for the unit that is appropriate for their post-summer 2021 grade. Please see below about a change to Olim grade levels.

My child is entering 3nd grade and missed their summer as an Olim camper. What unit should he or she be signed up for in 2021?

All entering 2nd AND 3rd graders will be in our Olim program for Summer 2021. We feel very strongly that the Olim experience is such an important and FUN introduction to camp, and we really want all of our entering 3nd graders to have the opportunity to have that experience!

We also recognize the social and emotional challenges brought on by the pandemic and want to give our youngest campers the opportunity to have a successful and fun first-time camp experience.

Will the Olim session still be 10 days?

We have extended the Olim experience from a 10-day program to a 14-day program for several reasons:

    • COVID Safety We likely will be following the “bubble” model of camping, wherein the campers will be strictly with the kids in their cabin for the first week of camp. Extending the Olim session allows them to have a full week of all-camp activity.
    • Shabbat The longer session allows our Olimers to have two Shabbats – doubling what is arguably the most fun time at camp!
    • Pick up Day With a 2-week session, we are able to offer the opportunity for child pick up on a weekend, instead of a Wednesday as it has been in the past.

Will there be a traditional 6-week Chalutzim session for entering 10th graders?

We are very happy that we will be able to provide an amazing Chalutuzim experience for our oldest campers. However, due to COVID safety protocols, the Chalutzim session for 2021 will run as a 4-week session instead of six.

While the guidance on best practices is constantly changing, one thing which was consistent with camps that ran successfully last summer was that all campers arrived and left on the same day.  Camp will also need the time for an extensive cleaning in between sessions for everyone’s safety.

This group, like all units at camp in 2021, will need to stay at camp for the duration of the session with no trips.

We know how important it is for our Chalutzimers to have all of their “lasts” as campers at the end of the summer, so we will run Chalutzim during second session so they can close out the summer together.

While the session will look a bit different, it will be no less special! We are already working on ways to make this summer exceptional for this group! They will have experiences that are unique to them, and it will still be an amazing way to finish their camper careers!

Will there still be a Kochavim 1-night overnight program for entering 1st graders?

Yes. We are committed to having an overnight program for our campers who are entering 1st grade.  Because of COVID precautions, we are unable to have this program during our summer season of June 13th - August 4th. However, we are excited to gather our 2020-2021 Kindergarteners and 1st graders for an in-person, one night sleepover program at camp September 18 - 19, 2021. Click here to register!

Note: 2021-2022 Kindergarten will have their Kochavim at camp during summer 2022!

Registration & Payment Info

What will the dates be for camp sessions this summer?

You can find our session dates here. Please note that the sessions will begin about one week later than have previously started. After doing an in-depth look at our region’s school calendars, and surveying our families, we found many school calendars are in flux, and with expected changes to come, the majority of our families are comfortable with a June 13th start date for the first session of the summer.

I chose to roll my 2020 tuition over to 2021. Will I still have to pay a new deposit upon enrollment?

No. We are so grateful to those families 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 ($250 per camper), those funds will be counted as your 2021 deposit and you will not need to pay an additional deposit fee when you enroll.

I donated a portion or all of my 2020 tuition to camp. Will I have to pay a new deposit upon enrollment?

Thank you SO much for donating your tuition! Your contribution has helped Jacobs Camp survive the extremely difficult financial situation brought on by the pandemic. If the amount you moved to 2021 camp registration is at least $250 per camper, then no additional deposit is necessary. If however you donated your entire amount paid, then it will be necessary to secure your child’s spot with a new deposit for 2021.

Will 2021 tuition be markedly higher due to extra costs brought on by the pandemic?

Every year the tuition at camp increases due to rising operating costs and ongoing improvements and upgrades to our program.

While we do anticipate additional expenses related to COVID-19—including additional staffing, equipment, testing and more – we are proud to let you know that we are actively fundraising to cover the majority of these costs so that we won’t have to pass the full burden on to our families. There will also be no additional increase between now and the summer.

Will there be scholarship money available?
Yes! We strive to make camp affordable for all families. Please be in touch with Anna (aherman@urj.org) for more information about our camp scholarship program. We know the financial realities of COVID-19 have changed the financial picture for many families and we have been actively fundraising to support this. We are here for you, and we are expecting to hear from many families who will apply for scholarship for the first time for the 2021 summer, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

When will tuition be due?

All the URJ camps, including Jacobs, now have standardized payment and cancellation policies and schedules. that have been created to ensure that families feel confident registering for camp.

The payment schedule is as follows:

  • 150 days prior to Camp’s first session start date – 25% of tuition payment is due;
  • 90 days prior to Camp’s first session start date – an additional 50% of tuition payment is due (75% of tuition paid);
  • 60 days prior to Camp’s first session start date – final payment is due.

If you plan on paying any part of tuition on a credit card, please refer to our Credit Card Policy.

If you have any challenges with this schedule please be in touch with Anna at aherman@urj.org.

What will the cancellation policy be for 2021?

We are following the URJ cancellation policy, which is standard across all URJ camps and has been modified to ensure that families feel confident registering for camp:

  • Cancellation by 90 days or more prior to the first session start date – 100% of tuition is refundable. Deposit in non-refundable.
  • Cancellation between 90 days and 45 days prior to the first session start date – 75% of tuition is refundable.
  • Cancellation 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.
  • Full refunds will be given without penalty (including deposit):
    • for campers on a “Waiting List” (those not able to be placed in their desired session at Camp) if at any time they choose to be removed from the list or are ultimately unable to be placed;
    • if Camp is unable or elects not to open because of government regulations, orders, or guidelines;
    • if Camp is required to cancel the session of a child with a pre-existing health condition;
    • if Camp is unable to secure a rental facility;
    • if Camp is unable or chooses not to open at their own discretion.
  • Refunds will not be made if Camper has attended any portion of the session at Camp. This covers all circumstances, including, but not limited to:
    • Camper’s homesickness
    • Camper’s refusal or inability to participate in the normal activities at Camp
    • Camper’s violation of any rules, regulations, or policies at Camp for which Camper has been provided notice, and as described in “Camper’s Participation and Camp Program Expectations” section of the terms and conditions.
  • Change of Session
    • If Camp is required to make a change to Camper session prior to summer, Parent will be notified by Camp in writing. Camp will provide an opportunity at that time for Parent to cancel Camper session without penalty (including deposit). Parent will also be eligible for this change of session refund for all children in their household at Camp regardless if the sessions of the sibling(s) were not changed.
    • A change to the Camper session is defined as one or more of the following: a change of camp geographic location, session dates, session cost, or session “Program” offering (this is for specialty camps only).