Next Up: Opening Enrollment for Summer 2021

Thank you to the 65 overnight camps who responded to our short survey (administered between July 27 and August 7) about Summer 2021 enrollment. Your responses have provided us and your peers a better sense of where camps are in the Summer 2021 enrollment decision-making process.  

What did we learn? 

  • About 9/10 camps have not yet opened enrollment for the 2021 season 

  • Of the camps that have not opened, there is variability and uncertainty about when enrollment will open, and whether to adjust refund polices for this year

  • Most camps are planning to increase tuition for 2021 as compared to 2020

So what? 

Now that we know most camps haven’t opened enrollment yet and those camps have a lot of uncertainty about how and when to open summer 2021 enrollment, what are some practical next steps to move towards opening enrollment? 

We grouped the next steps into two main areas: 

1) Dates and Rates 

As with any year, in order to open enrollment, ‘Dates and Rates’ must be decided upon, regardless of the unique questions posed by our new reality (Will the school year shift and affect our timing? Are parents going to be willing to sign their children up as usual?). To come to decisions about Dates and Rates, more time and energy may have to be devoted to…

2) Program and Policy Program and Policy decisions are not as consistently reviewed and changed by camps. But they require a much more detailed review for summer 2021. Here are some questions and considerations camps must work through to open enrollment successfully for 2021: 
  • Program - two aspects of program need to be thoroughly considered this year: 
    • Session type and duration – this could be shortened sessions to reduce exposure time or maybe longer sessions to create an effective ‘bubble’ at camp. Which feels more realistic for you camp community? 
    • Attendees and capacity – there is a high probability that bunks and camps will not be able to hold 100% capacity in 2021. 
      • How much of your capacity is already spoken for via 2020 tuition rollovers?
      • How many campers are you willing to enroll at this point? 
      • What is the difference between those numbers? 
      • Will enrollment be first-come-first-serve or otherwise prioritized? (Siblings? Length of time at camp? Ability to pay full tuition? Prioritizing certain age groups?)
      • How will you communicate the potential need to exclude at-risk populations in 2021?
  • Policy  - The most pressing policy question to review for 2021 is tuition/deposit refund policy.  
    • What is your camp’s current refund policy? Have you discussed if it needs to change in 2021? If so, how will it change? 
    • How will you communicate the change (or decision NOT to change the policy)?  
    • Will any part of tuition be non-refundable? 
    • Will you need to set and communicate a date when no more enrollments would be refunded, or could parents receive a refund right up until the first day of camp? 

What’s Next? 

It is importantly for your camp leadership (staff and lay leaders) to discuss these decisions together. Keep in mind your camp’s financial situation, public health guidelines and advice, and the camp’s values to make the decisions that are best for your camp and your families. Be sure to communicate transparently why and how you came to those decisions regarding summer 2021 enrollment. Although there is of course much we cannot know about what the future holds, having these conversations and wrestling with these questions will help your camp be confident about opening enrollment for the 2021 season.

Written by Herschel Singer. Herschel is the Analytics Manager at JCamp 180. Herschel helps to bring meaning out of and tell better stories with data across the field of Jewish camp. He also directs JCamp 180’s Executive Dashboard Initiative (JEDI).

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at