We’re always available to answer questions just call us at 845-265-3616.

- Sheryl

The Coronavirus & SLC: Updates

Summer 2023

We believe that maintaining the health of our entire community is paramount in all we do. 

For Summer 2022, we required all age eligible participants, staff, volunteers, and guests to be up to date, as defined by the CDC, against COVID-19.  

Up to date means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine, and a booster dose  when eligible. Please see eligibility requirements  here. 

Click here to read full  letter to our camp families 

We are reviewing our policy and will update it for summer 2023 later in the year.

Summer 2021

July 2021

Click here to download our COVID Guidelines for Get Your Feet Wet

April 20, 2021 

Recoding of “Reviewing COVID Guidelines Zoom Meeting”

April 12, 2021 (previous updates can be found below)

Click here to download our summer 2021 COVID-19 Guidelines.

January 25, 2021

In close consultation with Dr. Laura Blaisdell, our public health consultant, we are starting to make more concrete plans for what we know will be an amazing summer. We understand that things may change as state guidelines emerge but, for now, we want to share what we know.

The key to keeping campers and staff safe this summer will be creating a tight bubble. We have learned a lot from camps that were able to operate in 2020 and applied those lessons to our program and the current situation.

One Arrival Day for Summer 2021
Our first step in defining the bubble, is to have one arrival day. All campers – whether they are staying for the first half of the summer or for the full summer will start camp on July 1st. We recently informed families with campers currently registered for our Second Session of this decision and shared options. To read more about this difficult decision, click here.

Transportation to and from Camp
In order to ensure the safest possible start to Camp we will be asking all families to drive their campers to camp themselves. If this presents a challenge to any of our families, we will work with them to figure out a safe solution. We will be reaching out to campers who normally fly to camp and will be making special arrangements, following our safety protocols, with them. We will not be offering buses to or from Camp this summer.

More on Comings & Goings this Summer
In other efforts to limit interactions with the “outside world” unfortunately, we will not be able to host visitors, summer tours, Rookie Day, or Shabbat guests. We are working on ways to share the magic of Summer 2021 with families, alumni and prospective campers and will share details as the summer gets closer.

While we are trying to keep the community as contained as possible, camp will not be able to operate without some small number of local staff members (especially some of our health care staff) who commute to camp each day, nor without essential deliveries. We’re in the process of setting up special protocols so that this can happen safely.

Staff Training & Time Off
Being on staff will look different this summer. Staff will arrive early for training as usual, and this will now include our safety and testing protocols (many of these will be determined by the state of New York and we will continue to update you as we know more). We’re working hard to make sure that staff have their own space and that there’s enhanced staff programming and amenities available so that they will have the opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge, since they will not be able to leave camp for days off. If things change and we are able to relax these protocols, we will certainly do so.

Visiting Day
Our commitment to restricting people in and out of Camp means we will be unable to have a visiting day for full-summer families. We recognize that it’s hard to go a whole summer without families and campers seeing each other in person. We will schedule video calls for full-summer campers so that they are able to get some face time with their families. It’s not the same, but it is the safest way to keep you connected to your child’s summer experience.

Cabins & Groups
Much in the way that many schools are operating successfully this year, campers will be part of groups at Camp. Thankfully, the concept of groups is not new to the way we program at SLC. We do not know the exact size of each group yet, but we will be operating under protocols dictated by the state of New York that will likely be determined closer to the start of Camp.

Each group will move through the day together. This means that camper choice will evolve into group choice for activities, some of which will change daily or with varying frequency based on the activity. Groups will also eat together (just as SLC groups always have), and meals will occur in split shifts so that we can spread out in our beautiful, newly renovated dining room, as well as in a large tent that will be erected just outside the dining room.

We envision that Camp will have an initial quarantine period (the exact duration will be determined in consultation with guidance from the State of New York) and that once we pass that period, we will be able to expand the size of our groups of campers, as well as our programmatic offerings.

As we have mentioned in past updates, we also know that we will be:

  • Expanding our health care staff, as well as our cleaning staff, and updating policies and procedures.
  • Adding sanitizing stations throughout Camp so that all campers and staff will be able to frequently wash and/or sanitize their hands and equipment.
  • Adding large tents in several places to allow for safe physical distance in our dining and programmatic spaces at Camp.

There are many things we’re still working on for this summer that we will inform you about in the coming months:

  • Pre-camp procedures and pre-camp and in-camp testing requirements and routines
  • Arrival and departure day procedures
  • Activity offerings
  • Mealtime procedures, including everything from how food (including special diets) is served to how we celebrate birthdays
  • Health center procedures and medication distribution
  • What all-camp events (like Shabbat and the Fourth of July Carnival) will look like

We realize that the summer of 2021 will bring some significant changes to Camp to ensure everyone’s safety. At the same time, we are sure that there will be new activities and new ways of thinking that will become favorites for your campers and a great addition to how we run Camp.  We will be working hard to check in with each camper and group often, making small adjustments when necessary to ensure that everyone is having the summer of a lifetime.

We can’t thank you enough for your support, understanding, and flexibility as we move together through this new territory. We’ll continue to keep you posted as things evolve and/or become finalized.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please know that we’re here and happy to talk.

Previous Updates

WELCOME Dr. Laura Blaisdell

SLC has hired Dr. Laura Blaisdell to serve as SLC’s lead consultant on opening Camp safely for the summer of 2021. Dr. Blaisdell is a public-health trained pediatrician and has been a camp medical director for the past 20 years. She oversaw the safe opening of Camp Winnebago in Maine during the summer of 2020. Laura regularly consults to the American Camp Association (ACA) and is widely regarded as one of the top experts on communicable-disease prevention at camps. Dr. Blaisdell has already begun working with SLC’s board of directors and staff and will continue to do so through the entire summer of 2021 as we develop and implement our health and safety protocols.


In addition to working with Dr. Blaisdell, we will continue to consult with the ACA and the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) to learn as much as we can from camps that operated during the summer of 2020. We will also be consulting regularly with our local department of health. And we are in constant contact with our friends at other camps; we are all in this together and can learn best practices from each other.


We are allocating increased funds in our budget to cover additional medical staff and supplies, as well as cleaning and sanitizing staff, supplies and services.

While we have begun to outline concrete plans for summer 2021, most of our specific strategies are still in development. This is because we want to ensure that we are basing our plans on the latest, most accurate information. As we get closer to the summer, we will release a detailed COVID Safety Plan for our families and staff.

Here is what we know now that we are developing for Summer 2021:

    • Pre-arrival policies for all staff and campers.
    • Expanding our health care staff, as well as our cleaning staff, and updating policies and procedures.
    • Adding sanitizing stations throughout Camp so that all campers and staff will be able to wash and / or sanitize their hands and equipment frequently.
    • Adding large tents in several places to allow for safe physical distance in our dining and programmatic spaces at Camp.
    • Limiting movement in and out of camp. This includes, but is not limited, to:
      • No trips (amusement park / waterpark trips or intercamp trips) for campers.
      • Developing creative plans for staff time off, since for safety reasons they will be required to stay in Camp during their time off.

As we learn more and make more concrete decisions, we promise to keep our families and staff informed. All updates will be shared with our families and on this page. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

We are excited to welcome you home to SLC for the summer of 2021! It will be unforgettable – filled with the spirit and magic of Surprise Lake Camp.

Summer 2020

Summer 2020

Keeping our campers, staff, and the families that they go home to at the end of the season safe and healthy is our highest priority. Because of that, and given the constantly changing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with enormous sadness that we share that we made the decision not to open for the summer of 2020.

The counsel we received from all of our sources, including the CDC, local Department of Health, American Camp Association, Foundation for Jewish Camp, and our New York State Government officials, was all pointing in the same direction — that opening Camp was simply not prudent or responsible this year.

Follow these links to read the full letter to our Camp families as well as frequently asked questions.

Please note that following our decision, the governor of the State of New York made the determination that no sleep away camps in the State of New York would be allowed to operate during the summer of 2020.


New: Processing the Loss of Camp (Jennifer Herman Benalt, SLC)

New: Missing Camp (Neil Weintraub, SLC)

Talking to Your Kids About Cancelled Summer Plans (URJ)

Grieving Loses from Coronavirus (New York Times)

A Kids’ Guide to Coronavirus (New York Times)

Talking with Children About Coronavirus (CDC)

BrainPop video on the coronavirus (includes an explanation of how viruses work)

NPR Comic exploring the Coronavirus

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus (from TIME)

How to Talk To Your Anxious Child About the Coronavirus (from Psychology Today)