How We Continue to Navigate COVID-19
A Successful Summer
In 2020, we re-imagined camp, and made adjustments to successfully navigate through Summer 2020. We completely redeveloped our programming, with activities, events, themes, and special performances that provided Campers and Staff the opportunity to thrive in an environment in which they felt safe, socially stimulated, and physically active. We are delighted to say that Camps ‘R’ Us had a successful Summer 2020, operating for 8 weeks with zero transmission of COVID-19 throughout our 10 campuses.
We were delighted to see our Campers and Staff enjoy a much needed reprieve from months of being stuck at home, and to resume normal activities and social connections that are so vital to our overall health and wellbeing.
While we navigated a healthy summer this year, we continue to look forward to preparing for 2021. Whether or not COVID-19 is still with us in some form, we will build upon our experience from this year, and be ready for another healthy summer.
Our Parents Said it Best!
As we look forward to 2021, we will build upon our experience and lessons learned during this past summer. We remain committed to creating a safe, fun and healthy summer camp program.
Nine Steps to Success for Camp 2021
1. Gather the Best Information
Since the start of COVID, we have been working with our colleagues at the State and Local Departments of Health, and the American Camp Association, to determine whether we could operate camp in a healthy and safe way. We attribute our success to gathering and integrating the best and most current information into all aspects of Camps ‘R’ Us, and will continue to do so for Summer 2021.
2. Listen to the Experts
As always, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy summer for our Staff and Campers. In order to do so, we must carefully listen to the healthcare professionals and relevant authorities to ensure that we have the most accurate and current information.
We realize the best way though this challenging time is to be open minded, flexible, and meticulously plan for the different situations that may arise next summer. We will adjust accordingly as authorities provide expert guidance to operate camp in a safe and healthy way.
3. Dedicated Nursing Staff and Health Designees
Every summer, we assemble a health team of Senior Staff Members, who are expertly trained in American Red Cross CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers, Responding to Emergencies First Aid and Anaphylaxis Response.
All Staff receive extensive training regarding their role in managing communicable diseases at camp. An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and LPN are on-call and available during camp operating hours to provide guidance and consultation to the Health Designees.
This year, in addition to our health education and training, all of our Group Leaders, Program Staff, and Directors were thoroughly trained on COVID-19 health procedures, Contact Tracer Training through Johns Hopkins University, and were fully equipped with the appropriate PPE. We also revamped our health centers, with additional isolated space for sick Campers and Staff.
4. Dedicated Cleaning Teams and Sanitizing Protocols
During the 2020 Camp Season, additional cleaning Staff were assigned to each campus to keep high traffic areas clean. Each Campus Director created cleaning teams as an extra added precaution throughout the day. We increased the frequency with which we performed cleaning of shared surfaces, and indoor and outdoor equipment. A special cleaning crew was launched after hours to provide deep cleaning and disinfection of the entire campus. We plan to renew these procedures in 2021 and for as long as they are deemed necessary.
5. Health Checks and
The health and well-being of our Staff and Campers has always been of the utmost importance, and has become a point of special interest this year. Our Group Leaders already utilize a comprehensive daily health check, and we added some additional monitoring elements in 2020 that will carry over into 2021.
During the camp pre-season, we partnered with our Camp Families by disseminating important information via email and ZOOM webinars. Fourteen days prior to their first day of camp, all families were asked to monitor signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and record daily temperature checks.
Staff was tested for COVID-19 pre-camp, and every two weeks during the camp season. Additional hand washing and sanitizing stations were added throughout every campus, and Staff were trained to model best hygiene practices. Handwashing protocols were initiated consistently throughout the camp day.
6. Social Distancing and Face Covering Measures
Our arrival and dismissal process was modified during 2020. Staff met Campers at their vehicle, and performed a health and wellness screening, including a temperature check, before the Campers were escorted into camp.
Our camp programming was also modified to maintain social distancing during various activities, and we focused on creating ample outdoor activities, including the addition of inflatables and water games. In addition, for example, our gymnasiums were generally separated into four quadrants, and campers were provided with cohort-specific equipment during each indoor activity period.
Campers ate lunch in their designated “hubs,” or home rooms, in general, or had the opportunity to picnic outdoors. When cafeterias and lunch rooms were utilized, strict social distancing between cohorted groups was in effect.
Staff wore face coverings at all times, and Campers wore face coverings when there was a chance that groups could not physically distance (i.e. during extended hours programs, or when passing groups shared hallways indoors). Activity scheduling was staggered to allow time for cleaning, and camp activities were scheduled in parallel, with smaller groups, to avoid unnecessary interactions.
In addition, we implemented strategic masking protocols. Generally speaking, we wore masks indoors, and when interacting within close proximity, though not during outdoor physical activities. We are delighted to report that Campers were not discouraged from playing, cheering, and thriving at camp while wearing a mask!
7. No Visitor Policy
We had no visitors during Summer 2020, as entrances and exits to and from our properties were limited to essential business and camp vendors only. Our Staff members do not leave their campus during lunch and breaks. Staff Members who travel between campuses as part of their role at camp were health screened at each campus they visited. All vendors and essential workers were health screened before entering the campus.
8. Response Protocols
Our Directors and Health Designees are always prepared to act swiftly if the need arises. We have a long history of preserving the health and wellbeing of our camp community, and especially now, having effectively managed COVID-19 in 2020. In the event that someone does become ill at camp in 2021, we have established quarantine and isolation procedures based on the CDC and New York State Department of Health guidance.
9. Effective Communication is Key
Camps ‘R’ Us has always communicated with Parents in a thorough, accurate, and transparent manner. We recognize the importance of sharing the best information available as quickly as possible. This coming summer, we aspire to be better than ever; thoughtful, detailed communication is more important than ever in keeping our community well-informed and highly-prepared. We are also implementing a mobile app that will assist us in enhancing our communication with our camp families.