PIERCE COUNTRY DAY CAMP
ROSYLN, NEW YORK - DAY CAMP
What changes did you make to operate either to your program or your camper capacity?
We voluntarily cut camp capacity by 50%. We followed the NY state guidelines of separating camp into cohorts of 15 campers each who never commingled. We did not run bus service and devised a pick-up / drop-off system for all of our families which including constructing a road to connect our back and front gates. Daily every staff member and child was temp checked, health screened, and hand sanitized throughout the day. We converted all water fountains to bottle fillers. We became a certified COVID testing laboratory and sourced rapid tests and the machine to run testing on site in our health center. We ran an outdoor health center for bumps and bruises, and only allowed children not feeling well into our indoor health center where they were isolated until we could run a COVID test confirming they were negative. We tested every person before camp started to ensure we were starting COVID-free. We cancelled all indoor activities, trips, camp-wide events that required gathering and special events that required outside vendors. No parent visiting and vendors could only come on grounds outside of operating hours except for emergency calls where they would have to be health checked and outfitted with PPE. We erected over 30 tents and had families pack lunches so we could serve them outside instead of in our dining halls. We created “rain” days just like “snow” days at school for days with washout forecasts (we used 2 of during the 6 weeks). We credited families up to 10 days if missed for illness to encourage families to keep their children home if showing any signs of COVID and required a doctor’s note and negative test to return to camp. We supplied face coverings to all staff and campers and followed all NY guidelines (staff in masks at all times, children within same 15 camper cohort did not have to mask when outdoors).
How did you deal with COVID exposures?
We never had a positive case in our camper or staff population. Our pre-screening prevented any initial exposures and we did catch a few that way who we excluded for two weeks and required a negative test after that to return. We did have household exposures ie a brother, parent, uncle living in the same household as a camper or staff member test positive. In these instances we immediately excluded the camper/staff member and put them in isolation and ran a COVID test. In all instances at our camp this summer, those tests were negative. We still notified the entire cohort (parents and staff members) via email immediately with the details we could share and next steps. The next steps were that everyone in the exposed household would be excluded per DOH protocol (usually 14 days) and would require a negative COVID test to return to camp. If we ever did have a positive result, our plan would have been to notify DOH, test everyone in that cohort, and notify the entire camp with the pertinent details. Fortunately we did not have to put that protocol into effect. We worked closely with our local DOH all summer in an effective partnership with them.
How well did it work?
Given we ran 6 weeks of Day Camp without a single case of COVID all summer, I’m not sure it could have worked much better. We opened expecting that we may have to deal with an exposure at camp and were confident our protocols would prevent an outbreak. So the summer exceeded expectations from that standpoint. Our resident camp in the state of NH was not able to operate, and I think that a day camp is a much more challenging setting for COVID because the whole population comes and goes every day. After last summer, we know these protocols work and are ready for Summer 2021.
What was the impact on campers?
Probably the best summer we have ever run as far as witnessing the positive impact on the campers. It was pure camp without the bells and whistles of special events, trips, and large group gatherings, but when contrasted with the isolation these campers had been going through since NY went into lockdown in March, it was truly special. Even though COVID has threatened our camp’s ability to survive financially (and we operated!), it has reaffirmed our dedication to the reasons why camp exists and doubled our resolve to remain here for our campers and families.
Hear From Parents
“Thank you thank you thank you! Wow- what an incredible summer! We don’t know why but this summer just seemed so magical- maybe the kids needed camp so much more this year (or we did), Or It was just such a long shot that It would actually work (and omg It worked!), or it’s the fact that our children were able to make some “new” and amazing friendships."
“I do not think words can express what camp provided for him. Although his swimming skills improved, he gained confidence and made new friends, I think more importantly this summer, camp gave him some gifts we have taken for granted in the past: a sense of normalcy and routine, the ability to hug another child, to high five, to play, to laugh...to just be a KID!!!"