Normal activities are resuming as quickly as possible at Emma Kaufmann Camp in Morgantown, W.Va., despite an accident there Wednesday evening, which fatally injured a 14-year-old girl.
Leah Blum of Mt. Lebanon was struck by a falling tree limb in the Teen Village area of the camp. She died later at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
Brian Schreiber, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, which owns and operates EKC, said the camp staff is moving quickly to resume normal age-specific activities.
Several of the 380 campers went home over weekend, many of whom attended Leah’s funeral Sunday.
“About 30 kids and about 12 staffers came up on bus for the funeral,” he said. ” A few kids came home before the funeral and stayed the night.”
But no one has left the camp for good Schreiber said in a separate interview. “We have had no other people who have left camp at this time,” he said.
According to the literature provided by EKC’s national camping association, as well as other camps that have contacted them volunteering advice, the best way to proceed is to return to a normal routine.
“The camp is not going to be abbreviated in any way,” Schreiber said. “And if you look at the literature of other camps that have experienced tragedies, they strongly encourage [camps] to resume normal activities as quickly as possible.”
Those activities were slowly resumed on Thursday and continued on Friday. A regular Kabbalat Shabbat was planned for Friday evening at the camp.
Camp Director Sam Bloom said a memorial service is being planned for Sunday at the camp.
Several campers called home on Thursday, Schreiber said, “and that’s been very comforting.”
Meanwhile, grief counselors from the Jewish Family & Children’s Service will remain at EKC for an “undetermined period of time,” Schreiber said. They are meeting with counselors as well as campers.
“I think our staff, starting with Sam, have been incredible, working 24 hour a day to do everything they can to meet family needs and the campers’ needs,” he said, “anything we can do to move this situation and to stay focused on what camp is about, but not to ignore the events of the week.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)