Dear Camp Ramah Family,

Premier Ford announced today that no residential summer camps will be allowed to open in Ontario this summer. While this is not surprising to us, it is, nonetheless, heartbreaking news. It brings home what we knew was nearly certain — that we would not be able to meet on the shores of Skeleton Lake this summer.

We are proud of our efforts to work with dedication and creativity to see if we could find a way to open camp. We did this while never letting go of our foundational commitment to safety as we also held the strong desire to provide a summer of Ramah to our campers and families.

In the end, it was not our decision.

For now, I take my cue from our tradition which says that in times of great loss, before shifting into “what now?!” mode, it is essential to first pause and simply feel the loss. We mourn the loss of summer 2020 at camp.
The loss is great and it is part of a sea of losses that people around this globe are feeling. Our sadness at the loss of camp is added to the loss of all those who did not get to have a graduation ceremony, celebrate a wedding, bat or bar mitzvah, and other important markers of transition during this challenging time. 

We also mourn the loss of camp this summer specifically, the summer that was to be our 60th. Camp holds for each of us memories and hopes of our best lives; lives lived fully and richly, in vibrant Jewish community with those we love and trust. Our hearts break thinking of all that was “supposed” to happen this summer and will not. There is no way around it and no amount of creative alternative programming will make up for it — there is simply great loss .  

Every summer at camp we mark Tisha B’Av, a day in which we acknowledge the profundity of great loss. On that day each summer, we gather together; we sit on the floor in darkness and read Megillat Eichah whose opening words set the tone: אֵיכָ֣ה יָשְׁבָ֣ה בָדָ֗ד הָעִיר֙ רַבָּ֣תִי עָ֔ם/ “Alas! Lonely sits the city once great with people!”

We join with you in feeling a deep sadness that this camp, once great with people, will be lonely and desolate this summer. 

Yet, just as Tisha B’Av is the bottom of an arc that ultimately leads to a time of rejoicing and gathering together (Sukkot), so too, we pray that this low place is preparation for our ascent, with a re-opening of camp in 2021.

Next week we will send you more information on next steps, including information on refunds and donations, and early information about the online-based programming we will offer this summer. 

On Sunday, May 24th , we will be hosting Zoom-based town halls to respond to your questions:
• 7:30pm for Camper Families. Click here to join.
• 8:30pm for Alonim 2020 Campers . Click here to join.
• 9:30pm for 2020 Tzevet . Click here to join.

On Monday, May 25th , we will be hosting a Zoom-based town hall:
• 7:30pm for Tikvah Families . Click here to join.

Password: 1104

Please respond to this email with any questions you have for the town hall meetings and we will do our best to answer them.

Also, please consider drawing upon this resource sheet we sent out last week with helpful tips for discussing camp’s closing with your children.

Joining with you in sadness — and in great hope,

Jordan, Aviva and Josh

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell , Camp Director
Aviva Millstone , Associate Director
Dr. Joshua Charlat , Chair of the Board of Directors