Summer 2020 FAQs
I have spent virtually every waking moment for the past two months trying to find a way forward, knowing how much all of your children need camp this summer. I have been consulting with the CDC, the Governor’s council in NH, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless others. We have examined every aspect of this incredibly difficult situation, prepared countless contingency plans and adapted to incorporate information that changed almost daily.
Camp Wouldn’t Feel Like Camp
Kenwood & Evergreen are a close-knit community, with supportive relationships that cross over age group lines, like our Big Brother and Big Sister programs, our Senior Camp units, and more. Additionally, we have many siblings of different ages and their ability to connect with each other is very important to them, even in passing. The rules that we would need to live by this summer would make all larger gatherings very difficult if not impossible to execute. Morning and evening assemblies, Friday Night Services, Color War team gatherings and Hollowpallooza, just to name just a few, could not take place. We were worried that necessary enforcement of physical distancing guidelines would disrupt the joy of camp for your children and their counselors, who just want to get close to one another for a hug, a high-five, to tell a joke, or trade stories about their days at camp. Imagine a homesick child not being able to be within six feet of a Head Counselor or Director to receive an arm around the shoulder or a hug. It took us a while to understand the implications of these necessary rules, and to process the impact they would have on our community. At some point, it just stops feeling like camp.
Many Small Camps within a Camp
In addition to the advice from public health professionals and evolving CDC guidance about medical management and the relative health risks for campers and staff, we were also concerned about what camp would feel like to campers and staff with the kinds of mitigation practices that we would have to put into place this summer. The American Camp Association sponsored the development of a Field Guide for camps that was prepared by an expert panel of physicians and public health specialists. It was built upon existing public health guidance and a deep understanding of the way camps typically operate. The advice of the expert panel is that camps operating this summer will be required to keep campers in small cohorts all summer long (the smaller the better), moving to slightly larger groups when needed, with limited, if any, socializing outside of those groups.
Even If We Tested Everyone, there would be Holes in the Bubble
There were also logistical issues that impacted our ability to create a “bubble” around camp to decrease the likelihood of COVID on our campus. We are incredibly proud of our amazing counselors who were willing to forego their days off away from campus, which was an incredible sacrifice for any college aged staff member. However, our federal government has effectively shut down international cultural exchange programs, preventing all of our support staff from Mexico who return summer after summer to staff our kitchen, housekeeping and maintenance departments from returning to camp. While we could source local staff for those positions (many of whom were laid off by local businesses), they would not be living on campus. Their daily coming and going would multiply the risks that any one of them might be exposed to COVID in the community and bring it into camp, despite their best efforts. None of these things by themselves were determinative, but when added all together, we no longer felt confident that we could insulate our community from ongoing transmission risks.
A Constant State of Anxiety?
Virtually all of the medical guidelines suggest any camper or staff presenting COVID-19-like symptoms should be handled by the Health Center as a presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Since there are a number of symptoms that overlap with symptoms of the common cold (i.e. fever, cough) and other types of minor illnesses, we worried that even if we didn’t have a single case of COVID this summer, we would have anxious campers and staff presenting with COVID-like symptoms, forced to isolate while COVID-19 tests are conducted and results are awaited. The CDC “considerations” document that was finally released on Monday night suggested that anyone with COVID-like symptoms in resident camps should be sent home, along with all of their suspected contacts. While our medical team, and most experts we talked to thought that approach was not reasonable, to operate outside of CDC guidelines seemed too risky for us. Together with all of our other concerns, this final directive forced our hand.
We have a talented team and believed in our ability to manage the many intricacies of this difficult situation as guidance was evolving. The publication of the Field Guide and the recent CDC recommendations, along with our increasingly deeper analysis of their potential impacts upon your children’s camp experience this summer, impacted our thinking. We wanted to do everything that we could to make camp happen this summer, but in the end, we will always put the safety and happiness of your children first.
On Tuesday, you will receive an additional email specific to your family which contains the amount of tuition you have paid to date. This email will allow you to choose how you would like us to handle your refund options.
There are three options for the 2020 tuition you have paid:
1.TRANSFER YOUR PAYMENTS TO SUMMER 2021 AND RECEIVE A 5% DISCOUNT:
The roll over option will guarantee both your space for next summer and a 5% discount, and the credit may be used for any family member. If you are able to select this option, it will be enormously helpful to our small business as we weather the storm of this difficult period.
2.100% RETURN OF ALL PAYMENTS MADE IN THREE INSTALLMENTS:
We will return all monies paid, on the original form of payment, in three equal installments. We will return the first 1/3 by August 2020 or sooner. We anticipate the second installment in the Winter of 2020 with all payments completed by March 2021 or sooner, as cash flow allows.
Please let us know if you would like to discuss another option, including a partial rollover of tuition.
The decision to operate camp this year is incredibly hard and nuanced for each individual camp. In my capacity as ACA Chair, I have spent hundreds of hours working to allow camps to make the best, most informed decisions for their individual communities that they can in these challenging times. We are making the best decision that we can on behalf of our community, and in the interests of your children.
One way we are hoping to serve you between now and next summer is by creating the opportunity for your family to visit camp this summer in a smaller “Family Camp” setting. NH state guidelines, travel restrictions and health recommendations will factor into our planning of this program. We will be in touch soon with more information and details.
Yes! Pine Cone Club, Home Base Club….all of these will be updated for those of you who were enrolled for this summer.
We know that our oldest campers will be particularly disappointed by this news, having looked forward to their final summer at camp for a long time. We recognize this, and are working on a way to recreate and honor that experience for this group. We will also offer a special program for them in 2021. Please bear with us as we explore the options, and we’ll be in touch soon!