We continue to communicate with our medical team about our COVID-19 protocols and practices. It is our intention to provide a final draft of our field guide around mid to late May. In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates. Our most recent updates are listed below and include answers to some questions we received in the survey.
- We will be offering chaperoned buses to and from Chicago. Flights are also being booked. and families are welcome to drop off at Camp. As mentioned in the travel survey, we are looking to have parents and alumni travel to camp with campers to minimize the amount of time our staff will need to be in the airport which will help our COVID exposure.
- We will be asking that all baggage be shipped to camp via FedEx, UPS or (for Chicago only) Camp Baggage Express. This will eliminate the need to have staff in the Minneapolis baggage claim area. In the past, 4-5 staff were assigned to manage baggage, requiring them to move in and out of the airport carousel area all day. Thank you for understanding the important safety aspect of this request.
- A final decision will be made on a pre-camp quarantine closer to the camp season. It will not exceed 10 days and will include typical safe movement to and from school or other programs with masking, as well as thoughtful outdoor masking during sports participation. With some states choosing to allow full opening and moving away from mask mandates, we may have separate requests by state.
- We are planning to require PCR testing prior to camp and to conduct PCR tests at camp.
- Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer a visiting weekend at camp this summer. Full season campers will have an opportunity to call home at a designated time during the camp season.
- All camper drop off and pick up from camp will likely occur in a designated location outside of the camp facility.
- This summer, with the exception of our year-round maintenance staff (three staff between the two camps), all staff will be living and working onsite. Year round maintenance staff will only enter empty buildings, will be required to wear a mask and will not be in close proximity to anyone in the community.
- At this time, camp staff are designated by the CDC as essential workers and fall into the 1b category. We are asking our staff to sign up for vaccinations in their local areas. We are also working with the Sanford Health System in Bemidji to see if we can offer a private vaccination clinic for our staff. While this may be an unnecessary step, we will continue to pursue this opportunity until we know more about vaccination roll out.
- We hope to have international staff at camp this summer though we anticipate our numbers will be considerably lower than in the past. Embassy appointments and country of origin government guidelines will impact whether these staff will join us.
- We continue to plan Expedition (AQ, JL, Extended Canoe, PNW) camper experiences with intentions to give campers the full trip experience while mitigating for COVID exposure. We look forward to sending out general information regarding COVID practices on trips in the upcoming weeks.
Campers Are Getting Nervous and Excited:
We know that warm weather and camp discussions may be starting to cause some campers some minor or significant nervousness. This is a normal response on an average year and, as we know, this is not an average year. It is always important to acknowledge the nervous feelings. Remember that a confident response is critical to projecting a strong sense of confidence in your camper feeling okay about their nervousness.You might say something like, “I know you feel nervous and that is understandable for your first summer at camp/returning to camp after a year away.” We also know that as parents, you may also feel nervous. This, too, is normal and exacerbated by the pandemic. Based on our experience with our own college freshman, we imagine you are feeling torn about holding them close and letting them have some normalcy at camp. We hope when your campers are at camp, you will also be able to find some normalcy in your daily life.
The mental health aspects of our camp community are always a top priority, and we know this will be even more important this summer. As such, our staff training will include a special focus on camper and staff mental health as we prepare our staff to be our frontline workers. As directors and Leadership Team staff, we will do everything we can to facilitate a deep sense of support and compassion for our community. We know that everyone needs extra care as we work to enter a new experience and environment.
From the NYT article by Siobhan Roberts, The Swiss Cheese Model of Pandemic Defense, “The metaphor is easy enough to grasp: Multiple layers of protection, imagined as cheese slices, block the spread of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. No one layer is perfect; each has holes, and when the holes align, the risk of infection increases. But several layers combined — social distancing, plus masks, plus hand-washing, plus testing and tracing, plus ventilation, plus…..” camp specific changes, creates the safest community possible.
Key Elements Of Our Mitigation Plan:
- Utilization of the American Camp Association COVID-19 Field Guide
- Quarantine guidelines from the CDC recommendations and ACA Field Guide.
- The purchasing of picnic tables for outside meals
- Increasing outside hand washing stations around camp
- The creation of more covered spaces around camp for rainy days
- A rigorous cleaning process in activity areas, community spaces and bathrooms that mimics our previous epidemic mitigation
- A request of campers and their families to quarantine before the start of the camp session
- Potential changes to camper travel plans
- Masks and cohorts (cabin groups) at the start of camp
- The addition of masks on the packing list
- A modification to our daily activity choice schedule while we are required to be in cohorts
- Testing at camp at least twice as a community (and more if needed) when campers arrive and as needed when a person in the community presents with symptoms
- Staff time-off being limited to camp property at a designated space or supervised visits to local beaches. A staff committee will help us create and execute a plan that focuses on staff mental health and fun so staff feel refreshed
- Stringent guidelines for if and when a community member must travel outside of camp for medical care such as an x-ray
- Guidelines for food, supply and mail deliveries that begins with social distancing and mandated masks
- Changes to the food service, serving and dish clearing procedures at meals
- Changes to the laundry service procedures
- Mitigation standards and changes to the Expedition programs AQ, PNW, JL and CIT
- Staff arrival and training will also include cohorts and quarantines
- Staff certifications such as Lifeguard training, Wilderness First Responder and First Aid/CPR will be taught with COVID-19 mitigation plans