Summer 2020 Updates

It is with broken hearts that we share our plans to cancel all in-person activities held on our site for summer 2020. If at any point new information emerges and conditions change that lead us to be able to provide in-person gatherings, we will do so as a top priority.

While we have continued to plan, prepare, pray, and hope for another transformative summer at Urban Mitzvah Corps, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred value – the health and well-being of our teens, staff, and educators that attend our program – along with their communities back home. These risks also compromise our ability to provide the excellence in programming and participant care that are hallmarks of Urban Mitzvah Corps.

You might be asking, “Why are you making this decision now?” Our ongoing conversations with and learnings from local, regional, and federal medical authorities, the American Camp Association, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, The Centers for Disease Control, and others, along with deep exploration by our camp professional and lay leadership teams, have led the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) to the difficult conclusion that there are too many known and unknown risks for us to create an acceptable pathway forward for this summer. As soon as that became clear, we wanted to communicate to you, our community. We believe that you and your teen deserve the clarity, that while painful, allows for grieving, healing, and moving forward towards hope, joy and better days ahead. If at any point new information emerges and we can re-evaluate the potential for in-person gatherings, we will do so as a top priority.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the factors that informed the decision to cancel in-person programming for the summer?

We have been in deep conversation with local, regional, and federal medical authorities, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and many leaders in the world of camping and teen experiences. While we have continued to plan, prepare, pray, and hope for another transformative summer at our program, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred value – the health and well-being of our community. Ultimately, there are too many known and unknown risks for us to create an acceptable pathway forward for this summer. These risks also compromise our ability to provide the excellence in programming and participant care that are hallmarks of our camp.

 

Is it possible that UMC could open later than expected? Could we still have a program for part of the summer?

If new information emerges at any point and we can re-evaluate the potential for in-person gatherings, we will do so as a top priority.

 

When will summer 2021 registration open? Should we expect the summer to be different?

Decisions about when 2021 registration is opening will be made in the coming months after we have managed the 2020 logistics with our camp families. We want to stay true to the program you have come to know and love – and that ensures maintaining our commitment to health, safety, and program excellence. We don’t know yet what the new realities created by COVID-19 could mean for the fall and beyond, but we are doing everything we can to be ready to open registration as usual.

How can I help camp at this time?

Thank you for asking this question – we are moved by your support! We made the decision to cancel in-person activities at camp this year based on our values, and with the health and safety of our campers and staff as our top priority. It is important for us to share, too, that the financial ramifications of this decision today and looking forward are significant.

We know that might cause questions about what this news means for camp and what it means for you in terms of tuition that you’ve already paid. Right now, we are focusing on supporting our campers and families in processing this news. We will follow-up with more details along with opportunities to support one another and camp through this unprecedented moment. You’ll be able to choose from several options on how to handle your tuition, including the options to make a donation that will be generously matched by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, credit fees paid for use on future URJ programs, or receive a refund.

We want to be honest in sharing that the decision about the summer and the larger impact of the global pandemic has created significant financial challenges for Urban Mitzvah Corps. Our goal now is to ensure that Urban Mitzvah Corps recovers from the disappointment and major financial crisis of this year. Because we know there will be more summers, lots of them. Urban Mitzvah Corps needs you right now to be sure we will withstand the economic difficulties of this year and return as strong as ever for participants and staff in 2021 and beyond. We invite you to contribute to the URJ Urban Mitzvah Corps 50th Anniversary Scholarship Fund, but feel free to reach out to our Director, Barak Malkin, at (212) 452-6576 or umc@urj.org if you would like to learn more now.

UMC 50th Anniversary Scholarship Fund

How can I support my teen at this time?

Our program's closure this summer is devastating for teens, families, and our whole community. We encourage you to talk to your kids about this and to let them express their feelings. We have some resources that can help inform your approach. Here are a few guiding principles to consider:

  • Be empathetic and understanding
  • Encourage them to connect with their camp friends daily, and participate in virtual experiences with them this summer
  • It might take your teen a few days to process the news – they might not want to talk right away, but let them know you’re there if and when they’re ready
  • Let us know  if we can be of assistance helping your camper adjust to this new reality.

Is there anything you are offering if UMC is canceled this summer?

The URJ has been running virtual programming for several weeks now. I hope your family has participated in and enjoyed these many opportunities. We are going to be sharing new opportunities to connect virtually this summer. Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.

As we work on planning additional virtual camp programming for this summer, let us know your family would enjoy and find meaningful.

What about my camp fees that I’ve paid for the summer?

Families have a choice for how to handle fees they’ve already paid for this summer:

  1. Turn your tuition into a charitable donation that will be generously matched by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation
  2. Credit fees paid for use on a future URJ program
  3. Receive a refund

Next week, a member of your family will receive a form to complete with your preferred choice.

How do we transfer our enrollment to next year? Will we pay 2020 rates?

Families have a choice to forward 2020 program registration fees paid for future use. Decisions about when 2021 registration is officially opening will be made in the coming months after we have managed the 2020 logistics with all of our camp families.

We want to stay true to the program you have come to know and love – and that ensures maintaining our commitment to health, safety, and program excellence. We don’t know yet what the new realities created by COVID-19 could mean for the fall and beyond, but we are doing everything we can to be ready to open registration as usual.

 

This is my child's Avodah/CIT/Israel summer. Will there be an option for them to complete this program next year?

We understand the importance of these experiences for our campers. The Union for Reform Judaism will be looking at all available program options for summer 2021. Our ability to allow people to enroll in special programs like Avodah and the NFTY in Israel program will depend on a number of considerations including, but not limited to, program requirements or qualifications and program capacity. Please watch for summer 2021 program information and enrollment dates.

 

Options for How You Want to Handle Your 2020 Tuition

Your family can choose from the following options for how you’d like us to handle your 2020 tuition:

  1. Make a tax-deductible donation to Urban Mitzvah Corps
  2. Credit your tuition to a future program
  3. Receive a partial or full refund

 

How do I indicate my preference for how I want you to handle my tuition?

Your family will receive an email from Urban Mitzvah Corps with a form to submit. We ask all families to complete the online form by June 1, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact us at teentravelbursar@urj.org.

What’s most helpful for camp right now?

Thank you for asking! Donations (Option 1) are the most helpful to us, followed closely by crediting fees towards a future program (Option 2). We hope you’ll consider one of these two options as they will ensure we are able to serve you, your children, their friends, and our Jewish community into 2021 and beyond.

How will my donation work?

If you are able, we hope you will consider converting at least 50% or more of your tuition into a tax-deductible donation. Your gifts will directly support Urban Mitzvah Corps’ professional team, and the creation of virtual programming so that our community can stay connected. It will also help provide assistance to those families who experience financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and might have a hard time affording camp when we’re up and running again.

How will you use my gift to support camp?

Our priority for all gifts at this moment is to support Urban Mitzvah Corps' core operations to ensure that we can weather the current financial storm and continue to serve your family and the community. Core operations includes things like providing our campers with virtual programming this summer; training, retaining, and supporting our counselors and senior unit staff throughout the year so we’re ready for 2021; continued maintenance of our camp, and more.

Can I give more than I have already paid?

Yes! We would be so deeply appreciative if you would consider making a gift beyond that with which you have already paid. Select this option in your refund allocation form and we will contact you to discuss payment options.

Can I make a donation over time? Can I give monthly if I can’t give all right now?

Absolutely. Every dollar counts and we are so deeply appreciative of whatever you can give. We have options for making a monthly or recurring donation on our website.

How does credit for a future program work?

You can apply some or all of the funds you’ve already paid for 2020 towards future URJ youth programs, including next summer at Urban Mitzvah Corps, academic year retreats, NFTY, travel programs, and more.

How long does my forwarded future credit last?

Funds credited for future use will be available for use through December 31, 2022. After August 1, 2020 requests for refunds on unused credits will be accepted at any time and will be refunded within 90 days of the request. As of January 1, 2023, any unused funds will be automatically refunded, less a service fee of $25, by March 31, 2023.

Can my future credit be transferred?

Future credits can be used by anyone on your family account; however, they cannot be transferred to other families. Credits can be converted to a contribution to the Urban Mitzvah Corps scholarship fund at any time. Funds credited for future use will be available for use through December 31, 2022.

How does a refund work?

Families can request a full or partial refund of summer 2020 tuition paid to date. Choose this option in the tuition allocation form.

What is the timeframe for receiving my refund?

Due to our current financial and operational realities, refunds may take 12 weeks or more and may come in several installments. Families experiencing financial hardship can email teentravelbursar@urj.org so we can expedite your refund to the best of our ability.

My family is experiencing financial hardship, can I get my refund sooner?

We will expedite your refund to the best of our ability. Please submit your request in writing to us at teentravelbursar@urj.org.