CAMP AND THE PANDEMIC

THE HEALTH AND SAFETY of our campers, staff, and volunteers has always been a top priority. 

It is our hope that this page provides you with helpful details on all of our protocols and procedures. Camp has been missed. We know that more than ever, our campers need to feel accepted and loved. Now more than ever, our campers need to know that they are valued and to be among friends. We've always known how impactful Camp Encourage is.

Its absence in 2020 made it undoubtedly and resoundingly clear.

Our staff has been connecting with other camp professionals across the country while gathering data and information from camps that successfully ran during the 2020 season. We have spent countless hours familiarizing ourselves with the COVID-19 Field Guide published by the American Camp Association (ACA) and collaborating with our Lead Nurse to guide us in developing a plan to safely return to camp.

At this time, we are moving forward with plans to hold four overnight camps:

  • SUMMER CAMPS: We plan to hold our two, four day overnight summer sessions as scheduled (June 16-19 and July 21-24). Out of an abundance of caution, we have opted to reduce the number of individuals residing in the cabins. Because of this, we will need to decrease the number of slots available by nearly half.
  • OVERNIGHTS: We opted to postpone the March session until later in the year and have rescheduled for September 4-5. The October session will be held as normal with the same number of campers and peer model campers on October 16-17.

 

Our present Prevention Plan is outlined in the document linked below, and can also be found by clicking HERE. Please read through it carefully to see what measures we are embedding to promote wellness at camp in 2021. Understand that it is a working document. All of these considerations are subject to change and will be based on what we know now from science and present best practices.

PRELIMINARY PLANS, PROCEDURES, AND CONSIDERATIONS

Click each bar below for additional information on each question or each topic.

Will there be changes?

Yes. But, not the heart of it all, not the goodness of it all--the memory making, the relationship building, and the impactful experiences. We know our campers don't typically greet change with party horns and delight so, should your camper have the opportunity to attend, please, please, PLEASE be sure to prepare him or her for every adjustment.

We have adapted and will continue to adapt our activities and schedule. We have listed a few examples for you below. We are combing through the entirety of our program, creating protocols for staff and campers to follow. This includes how we clean facilities and how we lead activities.

  • GROUPS: We will have roughly half the number of campers at our summer camps to ensure sufficient distancing. Rather than having 60 campers and roughly 50 volunteers and staff together, there will be no more than about 55 individuals spread across the hundreds of campground acres at a time. Further, each group will remain in a "pod" or "cohort." Passing by and mixing with other groups will be avoided.
  • DINING: Updates include eating in shifts with assigned pods, enjoying outdoor meals, and roasting our individually wrapped s'mores supplies over the campfire.
  • ARRIVAL: We sure are looking forward to having campers return! This year, unfortunately, we will not get to see ALL of you. We ask that only one adult per family escort his or her camper to Camp Encourage. Arrival will be staggered, social distancing and masking will be requested, and families will be encouraged to remain inside cars (or outside the cabin at a registration table). Individuals entering the cabins will be limited to those residing inside.
Health Screening and Prevention Measures

Each camper (with parent support as needed), staff, and volunteer will participate in screening upon arrival to camp. During these health screenings, temperatures will be taken and a series of questions will be posed (which by now you're likely getting quite accustomed to being tossed your way). We are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate the possibility of COVID symptoms coming to camp. Once at camp, all will go through a health orientation--reviewing and modeling all new health procedures.

Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)

Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies.

As you'll see in our Prevention Plan, masks will be required at all times except when showering, swimming, eating, and sleeping. Further, social distancing will be implemented as well. Thankfully with hundreds of acres, we'll have plenty of space to distance. Communal spaces will be marked with social distancing visuals and markers to encourage proper spacing. Pausing for hand washing and sanitizing will be a regular occurrence and supplies will be available at all times.

What about underlying health concerns?

We encourage campers and volunteers who have underlying health concerns and/or those who live in a home with someone who may have underlying health risks to reconsider whether camp this year is a good fit.

The CDC reports that individuals with certain conditions are especially vulnerable and at a great risk of having serious complications if they were to contract COVID-19. Such conditions include but are not limited to: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, down syndrome, heart conditions (heart failure, CAD, or cardiomyopathies), immunocompromised individuals (especially after a transplant), obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell, and type 2 diabetics.

What is Tall Oaks embedding to ensure safety?

Tall Oaks Camp and Conference Center, the campgrounds in which we rent, is very much prioritizing safety as well. Click HERE to view that which they will ensure is provided.

Two weeks prior to camp

For various reasons, we are not requiring testing, quarantining, or vaccinations. However, we are asking that, for the safety of all, each very diligently adheres to the following for at least the two weeks prior to arriving to camp: 

  • takes NPIs seriously (mask wearing, diligent hand washing, social distancing), 
  • monitors one’s temperature,
  • monitors one’s health symptoms (coughing, a loss of taste, a loss of smell, shortness of breath, chills, a sore throat),
  • avoids traveling (especially to locations with high virus rates), and
  • informs us if any contact occurs with someone that has tested positive.
Refund / Cancellation Policy

It is our goal to partner and work together with parents to determine if our program is suitable for your child prior to their enrollment. When your child is reserved a slot to attend, you are reserving space, time, meals, supplies, and staffing whether or not your camper attends the program. 

We will remain nimble and responsive to ever-evolving state and local standards and protocols, and plan to be able to adapt accordingly.  If, however, camp is unable to open due to government regulations you will receive a full refund. Should Camp Encourage make the decision to dismiss a camper early due to COVID-19 related concerns, we will communicate with the family and make appropriate prorated refunds. If you register for camp and decide to cancel after our the designated deadlines and the changes outlined above do not apply, our normal cancellation policies apply: 

A Camper or Peer Model Camper cancellation that occurs less than two weeks prior to the start of a camp session or Connections outing will forfeit 20% of the total fee. No full refund will be available if a child leaves (for any reason) after checking in or does not attend the full period. Partial refunds may be considered.

Questions

Should you have any questions about camp in 2021, please reach out. We are here to talk through any questions or concerns you have. Call us at 816.830.7171 or email our Program Coordinator at agorrow@campencourage.org.

We know this summer is going to look unlike any other but we are looking forward to air fives, BIG smiles, and shared moments. We are SO excited to return alongside our campers and volunteers. Thank you for trusting in us this summer and for your patience as we navigated through 2020.