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What changes did you make to operate either to your program or your camper capacity?

  • We changed openings and closings to prevent any parents leaving their cars.

  • Counselors needed to have a negative PCR test before they could interact with other counselors during orientation

  • Counselors did not leave property for the duration of their employment

  • We hired a director -level position to monitor staff morale

  • We created evening staff program (often involving food)

  • We offered to have counselors leave camp during orientation and get a $300 bonus to do so. We warned the staff that this would be a truly challenging summer and that we need people willing to face these challenges.

  • Parents agreed to quarantine their children for 14 days, or 7 days with a negative PCR test taken 72-96 hours after the quarantine started.  We called parents and emailed them to educate what a "true" quarantine entails.

  • We put campers into cohorts, which required changes to scheduling (no camp-wide events except 1 or 2 on a field with the 14 cohorts all separated).

  • One counselor always stayed with the campers.  S/he then became an assistant at the activities.  This "cabin leader" assured that we were honoring cohorts, washing hands for 20 seconds and wearing masks when appropriate.

  • We ate meals in shifts to assure 6 feet of separation between cabins at meals.

  • We massively increased sanitation and hygiene.

  • Masking unless active or asleep or eating.

  • Health Center triage was all done outside.  

  • We had 4 isolation rooms so that we could help assure that a sick camper would not start an outbreak.

  • We did daily health and temperature checks.

  • About halfway through the summer, we started doing antigen tests on Opening Day as a final insurance policy.  I am assuming that 2021 testing will be much more robust and useful.


How did you deal with COVID exposures?

We had no COVID exposures at camp.  Some campers failed PCR tests and had to miss camp or come later, but we had nothing here.


How well did it work?
Our preventative protocols were very successful.  We had no known cases in 9 weeks of camp (11 if you include orientation).  We had 1100 campers, 175 staff, 20,000 camper-days and a peak of 435 campers (during the Texas COVID surge).  We did 3 separate orientations and 7 openings days. 


What was the impact on campers?
he impact on the campers was spectacular.  They came more anxious and left stronger and happier.  They simply loved being able to play, hug, laugh and connect.  I have never seen more joy.  Similarly, the staff were deeply impacted.  It is worth noting that they struggled toward the end of the summer as they realized that the "real world" loomed again.