Messages from Director

May 18, 2020

Dear CYJ Family,

CYJ Midwest is a place where we take care of each other all year long. Just a few short weeks ago, the full time staff was prepping for camp programming, talking to families every day about the excitement of the summer and interviewing excited college students who were eager to take the next step in their camp journey. Now, as we continue to stay at home for the safety of our community, we are connecting more online than ever before. As many of you have shared with us, we are all dealing with something that does not have a playbook, and that brings with it the uncertainty of not knowing what to expect.

This is the letter I was hoping not to write – and for you, the letter you were hoping would not come in your inbox. After weeks of careful, thorough and thoughtful evaluation of the realities presented by COVID-19, we have made the heart-breaking decision to cancel all in person sessions of Camp Young Judaea Midwest for this summer. With the lack of testing, as well as the lack of federal and state specific guidelines, the CYJ Midwest Board of Directors and I feel that this is the best decision for the health and safety of everyone in our community. For many of you, I am sure this is not a surprise and yet, it is still devastating to hear.

For our campers – we understand the loss. We know how excited you were to connect with bunkmates, go tubing around Lake Stratton, perform in your eidah hatzagah and to put your arms around each other singing before Shabbat dinner. CYJ is a place where we take care of our campers.

For parents and guardians, we recognize the disappointment. No doubt, you were looking forward to screen-free time outdoors for your children, receiving a three sentence “letter” in your mailbox and – upon their return from CYJ at the end of the summer – marveling at the ways your children grow, mature and develop during this precious time with their peers . CYJ is a place where we take care of our parents and guardians.

We are already working on many ways for our community to be together this summer. Starting next week, we are organizing bunk meet-ups to have an opportunity to connect with friends and be supported by some of your favorite staff members. We will be in touch about other ideas we are developing to maintain the bonds within our CYJ Midwest family.

After this news settles, I have one request that I’m asking each person to take to heart. Please spend time by yourself, or with your family, to consider how to make what you love about CYJ Midwest come to life this summer in your home, in your own way. Ask yourself and each other, “What is it we love about this community?” Make a list and send it to me. I want to hear from you.

Even though in 2020 we can’t be all together at CYJ Midwest’s site in Waupaca, we know we remain close to your hearts and you, ours. Our 50th season will run in 2021, and we will be together again. CYJ is a place where we take care of each other. CYJ is stronger together.

Sending strength and love,

Robin Anderson, CYJ Midwest Director
Brian Jaffee, President, CYJ Midwest Board of Directors

We know you may have questions. Please read on for additional detail about emotional support for your camper, staying connected with camp virtually, information regarding tuition, and more.  

Upcoming Programs To Be Together

Watch the replay of the Virtual Family Gathering on May 18, 2020

Emotional Support for Campers and their Families

Not having camp in person this season will be heartbreaking, and we want you to know that we are here for you. Our professional staff and lay leaders are working together to provide support to you and your family. We understand how hard it is to break this kind of news to your children and want to support you through that process.

We have this resource for sharing the news with your child. Read more.
How else can we support you and your family? Email me at

Financial Thoughts

We know you have questions about the tuition you already paid and about what this means for the future of camp. Right now, we are focused on helping our campers and families process this news. On May 26th, we will email an update with financial options, regarding camp fees, including options for donations, roll over tuition or a refund.

Virtual Programming

We are continuing to offer CYJ@Home virtual programming, including bunk meetups, contests, song sessions and more. Please click here to see what is on the horizon.