Keeping Camp A Priority

As we know, the summer camp season is right around the corner. Many residential camp leaders would usually be planning to head to their homes away from home in two or three weeks’ time from now. However, as the unknown lies ahead and if they haven’t already closed for the summer, backup plans are being drafted. Each plan prioritizing the safety and well-being of campers and staff during, what seems to be, the tail end of the stay at home efforts due to COVID-19. Let’s outline a few of the ideas forming between camp communities and health professionals.

NOTE: These are projections from professional camp circles that may or may not match your summer camp’s current plans. The data provided here is speculation and not to be correlated directly with any facilities or organizations’ opening guidelines.

Plan A: Open On Time

What would need to be done?

  • Temperature Checks/ Thorough Health Checks for Incoming Staff and Campers
  • 14 Day Quarantine of Staff Prior to Camper Arrival
  • Make Camp a “Shelter-In-Place”

What are the benefits of ‘Plan A’?

  • Camp Happens!
  • Health and Saftey will be Prioritized (More than usual.)

What are the downfalls?

  • Trip Programs Cancelled
  • Staff/Camper Travel Conflictions
  • Highest Risk

Other considerations with ‘Plan A’: International travel may be under stricter regulations depending on where your staff or campers are traveling from. If you plan to open camp on time, can your staff arrive in time for orientation?

Staffing for camps within the US has not seized due to the current state of the pandemic, however, the outreach for international staff has faded within the past few weeks. For some camps, their international staff is part of the overall experience making up to 40% of their staff population from all over the globe.

As parents prepare their children for another summer, many organize a bus pickup or flights where camp staff will meet them at the airport. It’s possible that camps may require a dropoff this summer and with some traveling across the country, or across the pond, it’s possible their attendance will be pulled.

Most camp staff will tell you that camp is their favorite place in the world. As that is true for a lot of us, time away from camp, especially for bunk staff, is essential to recharge and refuel the camp spirit.

Do you believe your staff would commit to staying on camp as a “Shelter-In-Place”?

If you’re considering ‘Plan A’, having a place where can staff can go on their time off might be an essential option to add to the drawing board.

Plan B: Late Start

What would need to be done?

  • Mass Communication to Reorganize with Staff and Parents
  • Temperature Checks/ Thorough Health Checks for Incoming Staff and Campers
  • 14 Day Quarantine of Staff Prior to Camper Arrival
  • Have a “Shelter-In-Place” Plan

What are the benefits of ‘Plan B’?

  • Camp Happens!
  • More Time To Plan and Prepare
  • More Travel Options for Arrival/Departure for Staff and Campers

What are the downfalls?

  • Likely That Trip Programs Cancelled
  • Staff/Camper Travel Conflictions

Other considerations with ‘Plan B’: International travel is a delicate and sometimes complicated manner. When it comes to camp, visas are in play and those dates can be tricky depending on when they’re issued and if the embassies are even accepting appointments during the reopening plan of their countries.

Some states are approaching the reopening of their states differently than those who border them. Be sure to have a full understanding of your camp state’s reopening plan and communicate that directly with your incoming staff. Organizing a weekly email that updates camp families during these uncertain times could ease the stress many may be experiencing. Although the information seems to be changing on a day to day basis, communication is valued over silence.

Plan C: Close for the Summer

What would need to be done?

  • Refunding Process
  • Financial Plan for Full-Time Employees
  • Financial Plan for the Following Summer
  • Organize, Facilitate, and Execute a Virtual Camp Program

What are the benefits of ‘Plan C’?

  • Lowest Risk for Campers
  • New Types of Camp Programming will Arise (Some Already Have)
  • Construction of Planned Projects Uninterrupted

What are the downfalls?

  • Significant Financial Obstacles
  • Potential Furlough of Full Time Staff Members

Other considerations with ‘Plan C’: Some camps cannot afford to take a summer off, neither can the states that host them.

Virtual Programming has become increasingly more popular in the camping world right now keeping camp communities connected and hopeful during the quarantine. In the forms of virtual campfires, trivia, talent shows featuring camper’s favorite counselors, there’s been an endless creative stream of content that has begun taking over the virtual airwaves.

What is your camp plan? Maybe it’s a mixture of the above?

Bunk Discussions understands that this is amongst one of the most challenging obstacles camp directors and owners have faced. The decision to open for the summer or not could be changing day by day in order to protect the health and well-being of your campers. We applaud the efforts of our essential workforce, especially in our nation’s healthcare system. For the love of camp, stay home and stay healthy.

Your unofficial co-counselor,

J. Humble

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