Enrolled Families

Updates

big-camp-group

Dear Friends,
It is with a heavy heart that I write this note. After much careful and detailed review of the CDC and ACA guidelines for camps that were released, the Board of Directors, our medical staff and I have determined that we cannot operate BHEC this summer. The health and safety of our campers and staff are always our paramount concern. Camps are not allowed to open for the general public until Phase 2 (most of our communities are in Phase 0), and a Phase 2 opening, if it even occurred before summer ended, would look so unlike our normal program that it would not feel like the Berkshire Hills we all love.

I know campers are going to be heartbroken. I too am heartbroken, and after all the turmoil, we and our children have gone through these past few months, I know all of you must be heartbroken too. Camp creates such a magical and independent space for our children that would be so healing right now. We all wish they could have it and they all deserve it.

I think the first emotion for everyone is just to be sad. While we all knew the odds of our children having a normal summer were not great, it is another thing to feel the reality of the loss. I am an adult and I made the decision, and even I was overwhelmed with sadness afterwards. We are going to need to find ways for our children to feel comfort as they experience the loss of a summer at BHEC, whether it comes from us, friends, or anyone else in their world. So many of the normal ways we deal with loss have been disrupted during the pandemic, so it is important that we all are mindful about trying to structure those connections for our kids. This will be most challenging for teens who are generally at a stage where it is harder for them to find comfort from parents.

For many of our children, this may also be the biggest loss they personally have suffered these past few months. We need to remind them that even though this pandemic is really disruptive, they will be ok and we will find a way for there to be more joy again with our camp family.

Finally, we have to help our children move forward. My team and I have some ideas for how camp can help turn lemons into lemonade. We are planning more interactive online activities for children to enjoy once school ends. While we hope that good weather will allow children more time off screens and outside, we know they will be spending some time online and want to give them an option that lets them engage with camp friends and others in the camp community. In addition, Berkshire Hills’ former Adult Vacation Center (the red buildings in camp on the other side of the lake) is actually classified as a temporary residence. We have already received our permit to operate this part of our facility from the County and can rent its motel style rooms with private baths. We are working on a plan to allow families to rent these rooms so they can enjoy the outdoor spaces of camp (all communal inside spaces would remain closed and there cannot be any organized activities). I know this will not have the same feel as camp, but it will give our children a change of scenery and a chance to spend time with others while observing the health and safety rules in effect for Columbia County. We will work out the details of this opportunity over the next week, but if you think your family would be interested, please shoot me a note. Camp and the Berkshire Mountains in general is always a beautiful place to be.

I know this is a lot and will take some time to digest. We plan to give every family a call in the coming weeks to check in on your children. We will also review your options for the tuition that you have paid this summer which include making a donation, getting a refund, rolling tuition payments to next year or any combination of all those things. Two major Jewish Foundations-UJA Federation, New York and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation will match any tuition payments that are donated and they effectively quadruple whatever you give. I hope everyone will participate in this campaign.

Finally, WE WANT TO SEE ALL OF YOU! Please join us this Saturday, May 23rd at 7:00pm for a Zoom Talent Show and Havdallah. I know an evening of camp spirit would brighten my mood. Let’s gather for some fun and healing as we navigate all the challenges that life is sending our way.

Thank you all for being so supportive throughout this process. Berkshire Hills really has an amazing community and will return even stronger for Summer 2021 as we celebrate the 90th anniversary of Berkshire Hills.

Myself, along with my senior team are here to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to reach out.

Sincerely,

Adam