Covid Careful Camp 2021

check for updates

Last updated: April 22, 2021. This is a living document and will be updated regularly.  The research, guidance and information about COVID 19 is changing constantly. Our experience working with campers on the ground may also inform these plans. Please check back and see how our plans have evolved and changed before your child’s camp week.

choosing a covid-careful camp

Covid Careful Campers. We will be asking all campers to thoughtfully consider if they can GENUINELY get behind our covid careful guidelines. We are counting on real cooperation from all our campers to create a safe camp experience for everyone. If you think hand washing and mask wearing and physical distancing is NOT something you want to do, or you think it’s silly or not important. . . you should find a “pod” that shares your feelings and create some wonderful summer fun with those people. At camp we’re going to err on the side of careful.

No program can be COVID SAFE. There is risk involved attending In Person programs no matter how careful we are. Thus, if there are people in your house that have particular medical vulnerabilities please consider joining one of our virtual programs.

info about new mask guidelines as applies to camps (as of May 21,2021)

Although the CDC has said that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or social distance indoors or out and NC has also lifted it’s mask mandate in many locations, as of this writing, the NC guidelines still have a mask mandate in place for CAMPS. And the CDC camp guidelines have not changed since April 24 and recommend masks and social distancing.

our experience and practice so far (as of April 22, 2021)

During the month of March we ran four “practice days” with volunteer campers to test out our covid careful protocols. We adapted GAMES, set up ART SPACES with individual tables for each camper, we made “dots” to establish social distancing during games and circles, we created hoops for our lunch area to define personal space for each camper. On the final practice day we ran a full 9-5 camp day with a full compliment of campers and a  nurse observing us the entire day. We learned a LOT from our volunteer nurse that day and were able to upgrade our protocols significantly for our first In Person camp—- which we ran 9-5 for a week during Spring Break. I now feel we have hands on experience with this. It’s impossible to do social distancing PERFECTLY every minute—- however, I’m feeling really GOOD about being able to do it VERY well most of the day with the structures and adaptations and guidance we’ve put in place. The ENTIRE camp day is different, every single thing we do is tweaked in big or little ways. But it is DOABLE, it feels like CAMP, we had a great time and lots of FUN, and the campers were truly willing cooperative partners in all of this. I feel ready for summer camp and so glad to be working in person again!

our plans for covid careful camp (as of April 22, 2021)

Our covid careful plans for in-person programs in 2021 include:

  • 100% outdoors (which is standard operating procedure for our spring break and summer camps anyhow.)
  • Small Groups. We plan to have much smaller camps. 12-15 campers per week, and 4-8 staff. We have also learned that even 15 kids, SO much fewer than our normal camp size, is still a big group for social distancing, so we are structuring most of our activities to have 2 or 3 smaller groups.
  • Older kids. We will not be hosting Art Party or Stepping Stones in 2021. We are sad about this, but do not want to run those camps without the billions of counselors we normally have, and we can’t have that many counselors with our covid careful limits.
  • Physical distancing. We will be asking everyone to maintain 6 foot distancing throughout the day and will be creating an environment that supports this. These supports include:
    • A Monday morning orientation that engages campers to be fully responsible for maintain 6 feet distance or a “crocodile” between them and anyone else. I learned in our March “practice days” that social distancing will not happen unless campers are in charge of this.
    • Dots spaced 6 feel apart in lots of situations—- games, circles, while waiting to get materials or sign up for something etc.
    • Hoops or “chill bubbles”– we created lots of 6 foot hoops that we place on the ground 6 feet away from one another. These “chill bubbles” are all over the orchard and this is where we eat. You can spread out in your chill bubble, take off your mask and eat and relax. We have chill bubbles all around camp, for mask breaks during any activity.
    • We use pool noodles in any tag game. We have adapted lots of games to avoid “clumping”.
    • Small tables for individual work spaces, we purchased enough of these for every camper.
    • 6 foot poles around camp to check distancing.
    • NOTE: unless you live in the same household with someone all the time,  we expect social distancing at camp EVEN if you are in a quarantine pod with someone. So, for example two siblings can sit together or eat in the same “chill bubble” but two friends who are car pooling together and in a quarentine pod together can not. We made this decision to guard against people feeling left out and also because we didn’t feel capable of keeping track of so many things.
  • Mask wearing as needed. Everyone will be asked to have a mask around their necks all the time. If we are doing an activity where we are outdoors, in a small group, settled and reliably physically distanced, masks can be down. If we are doing an activity where we might have brief closer contact, we’ll ask for “masks up”. We also have a “If you are MOVING you’re MASKED” guideline.
  • Frequent hand washing. Everyone will have a small bottle of hand sanitizer clipped on and we’ll all clean hands on cue throughout the day, including during every transition, before eating, before and after picking up tools or materials. 
  • Individual tools and supplies. Art Camps will have kits that include tools and materials for each camper; musical instruments will be assigned to a specific campers for the week—- we will not be sharing supplies or equipment unless they can be sanitized between users.
  • Health Department Advisors. Our local health department has been running meetings for camp directors that Louise has been attending. They have been wonderfully responsive to our questions. And as we plan the daily details for camp we will be asking them to review our plans. If we have a positive COVID test in our camp community, they will give guidance about what to do. We also have a nurse in our camp community with experience handling covid issues in both school and camp settings who has offered to advise us.
  • Training for staff. All directors will receive special training focused on Covid Careful best practices. Our staff training for teaching artists, counselors and volunteers will include practice and discussion about these protocols.
  • Vaccination for staff. All staff are encouraged to be vaccinated. We had already secured our lead teachers before the timelines for vaccination availability was clear, a couple of them are choosing not to get vaccinated. The vast majority of our staff are vaccinated if they are over 16, and we are making sure that going forward we select teachers, counselors and volunteers who are fully vaccinated before working at camp. If you want more information about the camp your child is attending in terms of staff vaccinations, please ask.
  • Creative preservation of CAMP MAGIC!
    • We are inventing new games and adapting favorite games to incorporate physical distancing while running and tagging and playing hard!
    • Exuberant closeness and connection. We are very aware that camp normally includes lots of hugs and piggy back rides and sitting in laps and puppy piles. We are getting creative about other gestures and things to do that give some of the same happy feelings as a hug, while staying covid careful!

positive things about covid careful protocols

Amazingly, some of the things we’ve done to address safety at camp during a pandemic we actually LIKE. Everything takes more time and more space and it slows things down a little, camp feels more relaxed and spacious. There is a courtesy to the consideration of other peoples personal space; needing to social distance gives meaning to being patient, thinking of others and waiting your turn. The “chill bubbles” at lunch actually feel GREAT. Having your personal space defined and protected for a little while in the middle of the day seems to help people nourish themselves and recharge. Having 15 campers is kind of dreamy. No one gets lost in the shuffle, it’s possible to really connect with every camper.

will I have to wear a mask all day??!!

This is the question we get asked most often, so we thought we’d address it directly!

No, you won’t have to wear a mask all day.
You WILL have to have a mask around your neck and READY to wear all day. and we don’t want a bunch of fuss when we ask for “masks up!”
During transitions, when ever you are moving,  when ever we are together as a whole camp big group, and during activities where there will be brief close contact, we will ask for “masks up”
When people are outdoors, in a small group and  settled in a socially distanced configuration, masks can come down. Different camps have different amounts of mask wearing depending on the activity. Camps that are more active will have more mask wearing.
We create environments that makes it easy to stay six feet apart.
And there are “chill bubbles” all around camp where you can take a mask break when ever you feel like it.

So, for example, when you arrive at camp, put your mask on.
Keep it on while walking to the shelter and putting your stuff in your cubby.
Keep it on while walking to the back field. During morning games masks will be up.
Wear your mask while walking to the morning circle.
In the morning circle, since we are in a big group and don’t have big margins to our social distancing, we keep our masks on.
Wear your mask walking to the orchard for snack.
Once you are in your “chill bubble” masks can come down for eating and socializing.

Wear your mask while walking to morning workshops.
Once you are settled at your work station (for visual arts) masks can come down for the duration of the workshop (till lunch)

Even with our 100% outdoor setting and a lot of cues and structures for social distancing, I found at Earth Romp Camp (spring break 2021) that we had masks up the MAJORITY of the time. Maybe 75% of the time. That was a pretty active camp. I think a camp like creative writing, felting, ukulele, or watercolor might be more like 50% of the time.

We really want a smooth safe summer of IN PERSON camp! A little mask wearing seems worth that prize!

what parents need to do and think about to support our covid-careful camp

  • CHECK IN WITH  YOUR CHILD EVERY DAY BEFORE CAMP- If they are not feeling well in ANY way, please keep them home.
  • If ANYONE in your household is SICK or showing any of the COVID symptoms, please keep your CAMPER HOME.
  • In case of sickness on the part of your CAMPER or someone in the HOUSEHOLD—- the sick person should be TESTED and receive a negative test BEFORE sending your camper back to camp.
  • DAILY COVID SURVEY- Everyone arriving at camp will be asked a series of “covid questions” every day. Please answer thoughtfully.  We will also do daily temperature checks and provide a bottle of hand sanitizer for each camper to have for the day.
  • ONE DRIVER- To limit exposures, it is ideal if ONE person does all the driving back and forth to camp. If it is possible to have a designated driver for camp, please plan for that.
  • DROP OFF and PICK UP  IN DRIVEWAY- Parents are asked to park only on the EAST side of the driveway (the RIGHT hand side coming into camp.) Parents are asked to stay in their cars. There is a walking path for pedestrians on the East Side of the Driveway—- campers should go directly to the walking path and come into camp.  For younger campers, counselors or staff will meet cars and escort campers into camp at the beginning of the day and to their cars at the end of the day. We can make exceptions to this for new campers on the first day or any camper who is feeling anxious and would benefit from having some parent support with transitions. We normally LOVE to welcome parents into our camp space and encourage parents to join us for any part of the day. This summer we feel our priority needs to be limiting exposures.
  • A TIGHTER QUARANTINE- Please consider strongly having a tighter “bubble” during the camp week.
    • Take special precautions with a parent who is an essential worker. Wear masks even at home, limit contact if possible.
    • Stay home. Eliminate errands and outings when ever possible, skip after camp activities for the week.
  • COMMUNICATE with camp staff and ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION- if you have suspected exposures to people who have COVID symptoms or who have tested positive, please LET US KNOW and consider keeping your child home if the exposure was close or prolonged. (We can also get health dept. guidance about your specific situation.)

first aid- both physical and emotional

If someone is injured or hurt physically or emotionally our staff, with MASKS ON, may come in close to provide first aid and/or comfort to a camper or fellow staff person. We will err on the side of careful in all daily routines. But we recognize there are times when things are out of daily routine and providing care takes priority.  We will be discussing these kinds of scenarios in our staff trainings and will give our directors the authority to make the judgement call for how to provide care in exceptional situations.

summer camp 2021 & registration

In order to serve more campers with the smaller groups, we will be running camp EVERY week during the summer. Also, staff will not work full time two weeks in a row. So, there will be a fresh group of leaders each week. We will be working with a smaller group of COUNSELORS as well.

    • Sign up Early. Even running every week we are able to serve about HALF of the number of campers as we normally would.
    • Selected Campers. In order to have a good spread of ages, racial and gender balance, and  we will not be running on a strictly “first come first serve” basis. This is to ensure we have a good spread of ages, plus racial and gender balance each week.  We also want to include as many campers as possible in our 2021 season, so we may prioritize getting a camper enrolled for a first camp over a different camper coming to three camps. 

car pooling

Car pooling is set up by parents, not camp, but we will provide contact information so parents in different locations can contact one another. Please respect each families decisions as to what is acceptable to them for managing risk during a pandemic.

Here is a CDC document called “Protect Yourself When Using Transportation” which includes a section on shared rides and carpooling.

what if. . . ?

– there is a stay at home order?

We will honor a stay at home order and we will not hold camp In Person.

– someone in the camp community that week tests positive for COVID?

According to our Health Dept. contact IT DEPENDS on the exact circumstances and what we are to do if this happens is CONTACT THEM (they have a 24/7 COVID line) and they will advise us. We will not NECESSARILY have to close camp. If  the person has had DIRECT contact with campers, we probably WILL have to close camp. If it’s more indirect. . .  like someone’s parent or sibling (who is not at camp but is at home), then camp might be able to continue.

– if we have to cancel In Person camp, what happens?

Each Camp will have a plan for this and you will know ahead of camp what the plan is. Some camps will have a Plan B Zoom Camp that is offered. We have decided to make our Plan B Zoom Camps ELECTIVE. You can opt in if you choose to. We can run Zoom Camp if at least 8 people opt in.

We have been offering “Hands On Virtual” workshops on Zoom all Summer and Fall and Winter in 2020-2021  and have some excellent experience to bring to zoom camp at this point. We will bring everything we’ve got to a pivot if it becomes necessary: Our talented big hearted staff, our very best ideas, some cool guest artists, a stellar attitude, brilliant creativity, & love and enthusiasm that will travel all the way to your home!

SOME camps will have a Zoom camp with the same teachers and topics during that same week. Some camp activities don’t translate as well directly to Zoom (group running games), in that case the staff for that week will be prepared to offer alternate activities that we expect will be appealing to that group of campers and WILL work well on Zoom. A few camps will have a PARENT CHILD Zoom alternative. A few camps may have NO Zoom option at all (if it’s a camp that doesn’t translate well to zoom, the teaching artists that week have limited experience teaching virtually, and it’s a camp for younger kids, we might find that best option is just to bail entirely!)

  • Zoom Camp Schedule is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
    • 10- Noon: Check in, Morning Circle and Thanksgiving, plus a MORNING WORKSHOP with that weeks TEACHING ARTIST. 
    • Noon- 1 will include lunch, hanging out, talent sharing, games
    • 1-3 will include an array of both all camp activities and choice activities Plus a closing circle with appreciations and a story or talent sharing
  • Each Family can navigate the Zoom Camp Day in a fashion that works for their camper. . . joining and taking breaks as needed. We ask that you communicate with staff about your plans so we know what to expect.
  • SOME CAMPS will have a modified Zoom Camp Schedule. For example Ukulele Camps will have less total time on Zoom, but will include an individual lesson for each camper, some suggestions of links are resources for learning independently, playing together, and ukulele choice classes such as song writing, music theory, viewing videos of amazing ukulele artists. 
  • Although Zoom Camp is fewer HOURS the cost will be the same as the In Person Camp that week.
    • Our Zoom Camps (even when they are not a “plan B”) cost more per hour than our In Person programs; so the price will be comparable to the $10/hour we charge for our Hands On Virtual Zoom Classes. We don’t think it’s healthy or wise to try and program a 9-5 Zoom Camp.
    • If you have a scholarship this will apply to Zoom camp as well if you wish to attend.
  • It may be necessary to pick up a kit of tools and supplies for Zoom Camp.

– what happens to my money if In Person Camp is cancelled and I don’t want to attend zoom camp?

  • If an in-person camp is cancelled and you are not signed up for Zoom camp,  we will send out an email outlining your options for refunds. In this email you will be asked to consider the fact that many of our expenses and a lot of time goes into camp well before the campers arrive and we will suggest a minimum donation. When we did this in March of 2020 we asked everyone to consider leaving at least $50 with us to help us cover the costs already incurred. Many people did that and many people left much more. We are comfortable with leaving the amount elective; everyone’s situation is unique.