Sustainability Fund FAQ

 JCamp180®, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation  generously initiated the All Together Now match, offering up to $296,000 for the three Cohen Camps, toward the $3 million need. The  Greene Family (Merritt and Bob, and Pam and Mark)  and the  Wolfe Family (Carol and Larry, and Liz and Bruce)  extended the challenge by $115,000. Then  Renee Goldberg & Paul Greenberg, with their family, and Bernie Goldberg; Andrea & Mike Leven; and Charlotte & Irving Backman  added another $100,000. Fantastic donors secured all these funds! With those matches complete, your gift is needed even more. Please keep the momentum going. Thank you!
Make Your Gift    See the Donor Honor Roll

Frequently Asked Questions

You are camp’s partner, and we are committed to opening up with much more detail about camp finances than ever before. Many of you have asked complex questions. One of the positive results of this summer’s challenges is that the camp leadership teams have gotten a chance to talk with so many more people about the business side of camp; you’ve pushed us to “pull back the curtain” in new ways, and we appreciate the opportunity.

 About Giving 

How do I give by check?
Mailing a donation? Thank you!
Please make your check payable to your camp’s name OR to “The Cohen Camps” if you’d like your gift to sustain all three camps.

Please mail it to:

Barbara Stevens, Development Director
The Cohen Camps
888 Worcester Street, Suite 350
Wellesley, MA 02482


How do I use appreciated stock?
Camp gratefully accepts donations of stock and securities!

Donating appreciated stock is easy and can come with financial or tax advantages, as well as allow you to make a gift with a larger impact, at lower cost to you. Please consult your financial planner or tax advisor to learn how these advantages may apply to your circumstances.

Step 1:

Direct your broker to transfer the stock electronically to:
DTC #0062
Receiving DTC Brokerage Firm: Vanguard

  • For Camp Pembroke or the Cohen Camps overall, specify:
    Account Name: Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps of Massachusetts, Inc.
    Account Number: 27312643
  • For Camp Tel Noar or Camp Tevya, specify:
    Account Name: Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps
    Account Number: 63399999

Step 2:

Let us know!
So we may confirm the transfer and provide you with an appropriate donation receipt, please notify us of your gift by contacting the Cohen Camps Development Office at or by calling 781.489.2070.

Please include:

  • Name of securities
  • Number of shares you are transferring
  • Brokerage house / accounting firm and contact name
  • Your name, phone number and e-mail address
  • How you would like to be listed in the Donor Honor Roll
  • Which camp you would like to benefit, or whether your gift should support the Cohen Camps overall (going to all three camps equally)


How do I give through my Donor Advised Fund?
Camp welcomes gifts from Donor-Advised Funds (DAF)! A DAF is a philanthropic giving vehicle that provides an immediate tax benefit to you, and allows you to grant funds to charities of your choice. You can give in two ways:

  • Recommend a DAF through your financial institution or foundation
  • Contact your fund manager to make your recommendation

Step 1:

  • For Camp Pembroke or the Cohen Camps overall, recommend supporting:
    Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps of Massachusetts, Inc., with Tax ID 04-6003680
  • For Camp Tel Noar or Camp Tevya, recommend supporting:
    Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps, with Tax ID 04-6152862

For both please provide the year-round mailing address:
The Cohen Camps
888 Worcester Street, Suite 350
Wellesley, MA 02482

The grant will arrive at The Cohen Camps with only the fund’s name and address on it, unless you request otherwise. Please be sure to request for your name and address to be included as well as the name of your preferred camp(s).

Step 2:

Let us know!
So we may confirm the gift and thank you for your generosity, please inform us of your gift by contacting the Cohen Camps Development Office at or by calling 781.489.2070.

Please include:

  • Name of your Donor Advised Fund
  • Brokerage house / accounting firm and contact name
  • Your name, phone number and e-mail address
  • How you would like to be listed in the Donor Honor Roll
  • Which camp you would like to benefit, or whether your gift should support the Cohen Camps overall (going to all three camps equally)


Is my gift eligible for a match?
Three sets of partners challenged us to matching challenges, and donors met all three matches in full! Gifts made right now will be matched by the camps’ deep appreciation, but not by dollars.

Of course, if your company will match your charitable giving, please contact the administrators in your workplace to activate that gift!

Interested in starting a challenge match? Please email Barbara, Development Director, or call her at 781.489.2070.


Is my gift tax-deductible?
Yes! The Cohen Camps are nonprofits.


May I invite my friends and family?
Yes, please! Share your passion for camp on social media. If you’d like to dedicate your birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, or other special occasion to camp, learn more about setting up a Mitzvah Project fundraiser. Thank you!

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Create a Mitzvah Project


 About the Need 

What's the need?
Camp has weathered many challenges over the years, but none as financially devastating as this one.

Making sure camp is ready, strong and available for campers next summer—and for the next generation—will take everyone’s help and partnership. This is not a “regular” fundraising campaign. This is a matter of nonprofit survival.
Preparing for camp is a year-round effort. 40% of costs (facilities, repairs, insurance, payroll, hiring, etc.) come due before any camper enters a bunk. That’s $3 million already invested, spent, and now lost for the three Cohen Camps toward this summer: a precarious position.

Imagine the need this way:

You run a restaurant. You serve ONE extraordinary dinner each year, which takes TEN months to make. Everyone has pre-paid, and the restaurant will be full. You’ve bought the ingredients, traveled far and wide to hire staff, freshened the tablecloths, cooked and prepared.

Just as dinner is almost ready, the electricity goes out everywhere. You can’t let anyone in. Unable to serve the meal, you offer full refunds. Refunding what you have not yet spent? That’s fine. But 40% of that money–about $3 million–is already spent preparing for your guests, buying and cooking up all those ingredients, hiring all that staff, and planning all the details of this wonderful evening together. You offer that $3 million back, even though it is long gone. Even though you’ll use up almost all your savings to do it. Even though this means you’ll no longer have resources to cope with future challenges or envision new improvements. You do it for your guests.

How do your guests respond? Many face their own challenges and need to accept your offer. Others contribute some or all of their meal cost, or even more. Still others make gifts in honor of the meals they enjoyed years ago. Some help with cash flow by deferring their meal until next year. You hope that together, you can get through this!

Making the decision to suspend all our usual tuition policies and offer anyone who wanted it a full tuition refund was the right thing to do. Caring for each other in this complicated time is how we live the Cohen Camps’ values.
Yet, just like in the restaurant example above, what we’re really doing is digging into and using up the nonprofit camps’ entire rainy day fund to support our camp families. We’ve already invested $3 million in each child’s summer experience, even though those young people will not get to attend. Many nonprofit camps are doing the same. Some will not survive. With your help, campers at Camps Pembroke, Tel Noar, and Tevya can look forward to many wonderful years ahead.
Families who are able to convert their tuition to a donation and donors who can shore up the difference: your gift directly pays for the lost costs of preparing for Summer 2020. You are opening up the future for children and teens at camp.  Thank you.
What's been raised so far?
Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin$3,000,000Raised $1,635,332 towards the $3,000,000 target.$1,635,332$1,000,000$2,000,000Raised $1,635,332 towards the $3,000,000 target.55%To date:
You’ve raised $1,635,332 toward the camps’ $3,000,000 gap.
Together we’re 55% of the way there!

We are deeply grateful to each person and family who has committed so generously to making sure Camps Pembroke, Tel Noar and Tevya survive this pandemic for campers next summer and in many years to come. There are 1,600+ of you on the Donor Honor Roll, including 430+ giving for the very first time!

We are so thrilled that you made sure the Cohen Camps would receive $511,000 extra through three separate matching gift challenges! You fully secured every matching dollar!

We are also endlessly appreciative of the alumni making phone calls and the and alum fundraising committees setting up fundraisers to engage even more people in this cause. Thank you all!!!

The Cohen Camps are fortunate to have secured some SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds for our year-round staff. The $3 million gap is beyond what those funds can cover.


How can the camps be facing a $3 million deficit? That's a lot!
You’re right. Preparing for camp is a year-round effort. 40% of costs (facilities, repairs, insurance, payroll, hiring, etc.) are spent before any camper enters a bunk.

Because we operate as a three-camp family, we share some operational efficiencies. Even so, nine months of preparations and 12 months of fixed costs come to $1+ million per camp, or $3+ million for the Cohen Camps together.

For an overview of how the annual Cohen Camps budget worked, pre-Covid, please take a look at these pie charts.


With camp closed, costs cease, right?
Some seasonal costs remain (see above). Also, at no cost to 2020 families, we’re providing:

  • Dozens of virtual programs, bunk hangouts, and electives for campers, launched this spring and intensified this summer.
  • The 5-week online Kadima (redesigned CIT/CAT/CA) leadership training program. 75 teens are taking part! We developed a curriculum and run four hour-long sessions (one together + one per camp) each week to support teens and nurture the next generation of great counselors.


Is 'survival' really an issue?

We wish it were an exaggeration, but it’s not. Tuition pays for the “summer” but it’s really paying for work that begins in September for the following July.

Making the decision to suspend all our usual tuition policies and offer a full tuition refund option was the right thing to do. Caring for each other in this complicated time is how we live the Cohen Camps’ values. Yet how do you refund $3 million already spent? You take it out of your own pocket. The camps are nonprofits; $3 million is beyond our resources.

Many camps and nonprofits are in this situation. You are undoubtedly hearing from many. Some will not survive. With everyone’s help, we hope that the Pembroke, Tel Noar and Tevya communities will come through stronger and more connected than ever, so we can continue for many more years.


What other steps are the camps taking to regain financial footing?
  1. Federal SBA Paycheck Protection Program funds: We applied for and received a loan which allowed us to maintain payroll until June 30. Having this staff on hand was essential for processing tuition refunds, rollovers, and donations as well as launching virtual programming. The $3 million gap is after we figure in the PPP funds.
  2. Staff furloughs: Of our small year-round staff, 1/3 are now laid off until fall.
  3. Salary and hours cuts: All staff who remain—2-3 per camp and the fundraising and business staff—have taken pay cuts.
  4. Capital expense deferrals: All non-essential facility costs are on hold.
  5. Other expense deferrals: We negotiated a temporary rent reduction on our year-round office, and favorable terms with our lender, so that we may defer some costs until cash flow allows.
  6. Limited Spring/Summer 2020 programming budgets: Because we’re offering all our virtual programs for campers and teens at no cost, we’re keeping related spending very low.


Why is cash flow such an issue?

97% of camp’s annual income is from tuition.
3% comes from donations.
100% of annual income gets spent on the camper experience.

Any operating surplus gets invested back into camp, and sometimes there’s a deficit. We’re always operating on a thin margin, like most independent nonprofit camps.


What did 2020 families choose to do with their tuition paid?

Back in March, to support families, we postponed the tuition payment deadline. By May, about $2 million in tuition (25% of total) remained outstanding. Families got to choose what to do with what they had paid.

We appreciate every family and each choice they made. Overall they:

  • Donated 9% ($542,000+) of tuition paid, for which we are so grateful. This covers about 1/6 of our operating deficit for Summer 2020. 46% of families chose to donate some or all of their tuition.
  • Rolled over 30% ($2+ million) of tuition paid toward campers’ 2021 enrollment. This helps with cash flow now, although it reduces income ahead. 42% of families chose to rollover some or all of their tuition.
  • Requested 60% ($3.7 million) back as refunds.


Do the camps have a rainy day fund?

Yes, over the years we’ve built up about $3.2 million in reserves. We tap these funds for building improvements like the cabin renovations we began a few summers ago and for bigger building repairs. Having such a fund puts us in a better position than many camps; some face deficits twice as large as ours, with no backup.

After issuing refunds and reducing administrative costs, and thanks to donations and rolled-over tuition (see above), we have enough cash on hand to get through August without drawing on those reserves. The $2+ million in rollovers remains an outstanding obligation. If unable to raise the full $3 million, the camps will start using reserves at the end of the summer.

Depending on what happens approaching next summer, drawing down the reserves could mean anything from ceasing all further cabin renovations and other capital purchases to finding that the camps have no safety cushion whatsoever to manage likely increased costs of managing coronovirus at camp next year. It’s a precarious position, which is why the full $3 million Sustainability Fund is so urgent.


Is there a 'Cohen Foundation' that can help?

No. Alumni from 1965-2006 may recall that the organization was called the “Eli & Bessie Cohen Foundation.” This was never an endowment for the camps. In fact, it was the opposite. During those years, camp tuition generated funds which were then donated to support Jewish organizations in the US and Israel.

Since 2004, all operating surpluses get reinvested in the camp experience at Pembroke, Tel Noar, and Tevya. Changing the name to “The Cohen Camps” in 2006 reflected this switch.


Is there an endowment?
No. The camps are almost-entirely self-supported by tuition, which provide 97% of income; the other 3% comes from donations. It all gets spent every year on the campers’ experience. There is no endowment to fall back on (yet!). Nor do the camps receive any funding from Boston’s CJP or other Federations, synagogues, or movements.


 About the Future 

What will happen next year?
We hope it will be safe to open in 2021. It’s possible that health regulations will require us to limit capacity, increase space, add safety equipment and procedures, and redesign how we live, eat and play together.

What we plan in the fall may again change in the spring, requiring flexibility of people and resources. We continue to work with the camping organizations of which we are a member (American Camp Association, Association of Independent Jewish Camps, and state camping associations) to figure out what may lie ahead. We will share any updates when we have a clearer picture.
These unknowns put extra pressure on our funding and are a major reason we worry about depleting our reserves.


What kinds of increased costs does camp expect for Summer 2021?
The Sustainability Fund provides unrestricted operating support, giving us the flexibility to apply the funds wherever they are needed most.
Among the possibilities for increased costs, here are some we’re anticipating:
  • Scholarship Funds: Welcoming as many families as possible to camp is core to our nonprofit mission. Already, the Cohen Camps support 1 in 4 camp families by providing scholarship funds. Many camp families may face new economic challenges next summer. More scholarship funds may be needed to help campers return and keep our communities whole.
  • Safety & Health Resources: Purchasing PPE such as masks, gloves, sanitizer stations, and more will undoubtedly add up, as will investing further in our Health Centers and staff training. 
  • Adapting Facilities & Procedures: We will likely need to modify our bunks, dining halls, shared indoor spaces and shared equipment to ensure that they are safe and sanitary, which may also require increasing our custodial resources, training, and supplies.
  • Professional Development & Program Support: To continue to run exciting programs that build confidence, skills, and connection with attention to new kinds of safety guidance, program leaders may need to redesign activities, which will require additional training, resources and materials. Our counselors may need to learn new ways to guide, nurture, and serve as role models for campers in this changed environment. Implementing new safety efforts will require more training days, dedicated attention, and in-session coaching for all staff.
  • Equity & Belonging: We are committed to increasing and deepening the diversity and inclusion within our camp communities, which involves enhancing training and resources for staff and widening our outreach to families and in hiring.


Donate Now


To discuss your giving or ask any further questions

Please contact Cohen Camps Development Director Barbara Stevens at or 781.489.2070.

To discuss camp or ask any further questions

Please contact your camp’s directors. We are all here for you.
Camp Pembroke Co-Directors Amy ( and Becca (
Camp Tel Noar Director Efraim ( and Assistant Directors Amanda ( and Michelle (
Camp Tevya Director Ben ( and Assistant Director Lauren (

Thank you!