Courtesy of Camp Ramah in Canada's Facebook.

The Conservative-affiliated organizationpopular with Michigan Jews, will continue to monitor the situation for the later sessions.

Camp Ramah in Canada has cancelled its first camp session due to the coronavirus pandemic, camp leadership announced Monday in an email to families. The camp’s Canada location along Skeleton Lake in Ontario attracts Jewish children from all over North America, including many families from Michigan.

As of now, only the first session of camp, which was scheduled to begin on June 24, has been cancelled. Camp leadership (Director Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Associate Director Aviva Millstone and Chair of the Board of Directors Dr. Joshua Charlat) said they would make future decisions for the remainder of the camp season by the first week of June. This includes the second session, beginning on July 20, and a third session beginning on August 2.

“It is also increasingly clear that being able to open camp at all this summer is unlikely, as it would be extremely challenging to achieve the high standard of safety that we insist upon,” the statement read. “We are in ongoing consultation with health experts about all possible scenarios as they relate to running camp in the context of COVID-19. For the time being, we ask for your patience as we continue to monitor and plan.”

Located in Southern Ontario, Camp Ramah in Canada has been serving the youth of the Jewish community since 1960. The camp is run through the Ramah Camping Network, a large group of summer camps affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism that have locations throughout the United States, Canada and Israel. 

Each location through the Ramah Camping Network is making individual decisions on whether to postpone or cancel their summer programming. Last week, Camp Ramah Darom in Georgia announced the cancellation of all summer programming. Ramah in the Rockies will not hold their first session of camp, and Ramah Wisconsin has delayed the start of camp by two weeks till June 30. 

Camp Ramah in Canada offers 10 different summer camp sessions for children grades 1-10. In addition to summer camp, Camp Ramah in Canada also offers a variety of year-round events tailored for kids of different ages. 

For over 20 years, Camp Ramah in Canada has also offered The Tikvah Program, an overnight summer camping experience for Jewish children ages 12-21 with special needs. The program focuses on multi-sensory learning, socialization and inclusion, vocational opportunities and more. 

According to Camp Ramah’s statement, refunds for tuition are available for families impacted by the cancellation.

Nicole and one of her campers. Courtesy of Nicole Kahan

Nicole Kahan, 20, has been a staff member at Camp Ramah’s Tikvah Program for the past two summers. She was informed about the decision to cancel the first session of camp on a Zoom staff call. 

I am obsessed with my campers; they are my life. I was so upset to hear about the decision and my heart aches for the campers whose last year it is,” Kahan said. “This is such a hard time for everyone and it is especially tough not being able to see friends who you only can see during the summer at camp.” 

Kahan is back living with her parents in Bloomfield Hills since Wayne State University, where she attends college, moved to virtual learning and had the students leave campus due to COVID-19. She will move back to Detroit at the end of month, has enrolled in summer classes at WSU and has decided to get her own dog tkeep her busy through the summer. 

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