Camp Echo Lake COVID19 Protocols – as of February 22nd, 2021
The information below is intended to give an outline of the areas we are creating COVID19 related protocols around and what our thinking is on these protocols with the information available as of the date above. Some of the topics below are health and safety focused for campers, staff, our camp community, and parents. Some of the topics below are camp logistics for campers, staff, our camp community, and parents. All information below is based on scientific evidence, consultations with medical experts, best practices for camps and schools, and through the lens of Camp Echo Lake. This will give you a sense of all that we are continually researching in order to communicate our most current fact-based thinking for camp, as well as allowing us to communicate with you as the information and tools to keep camp safe and fun, evolves over the next few weeks and months. We are planning on our start date of June 26 and our end date of August 15 for campers!
The information below is based around the research and recommendations of the CDC, the American Camp Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, our camp medical team, and other science and fact-based organizations. It starts with the premise that proper and consistent non-pharmaceutical interventions can help to prevent the transmission of COVID19 very effectively and that the use of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions has been shown to be the safest approach to keeping children and adults healthy and safe when they are together. We are also incorporating the importance of the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our campers, staff, our camp community, and parents, in all decisions we make below. We are all in this together and look forward to creating a physically safe and emotionally supportive camp environment where kids can have fun, relax, grow, and return to a bit of “normalcy” even while adhering to COVID19 protocols. Keep in mind that the protocols described below are subject to change and will be updated as necessary.
Part of our health and safety plan is the use of testing as a surveillance tool and as a diagnostic tool. Currently, our plan is…
- All campers and staff must take a PCR COVID19 test 3-4 days before their arrival at camp and submit proof of negative results before arriving at camp
- All campers and staff will be given a rapid and / or PCR COVID19 test as soon as they arrive at camp
- All campers and staff will take a PCR COVID19 test 4 days after their arrival at camp
- Campers and staff may be given additional surveillance COVID19 testing during
- Camp will have access to, and the ability to, test campers and staff for COVID19 on camp if they are symptomatic and / or exposed to a presumptive positive individual.
- Campers and staff may be tested for COVID19 before departing camp
- We have the ability to isolate and / or quarantine Campers and Staff that are symptomatic or that test positive for COVID19 at camp. Any camper that tests positive must be picked up by a parent or guardian within 24 hours.
- If a camper tests positive, we will quarantine the remainder of the “pod” (just like is currently done at school and home) for the designated period of time. We would continue to test the quarantined pod to ensure that each child and staff person is healthy. We also will do contact tracing and testing for anyone who was exposed to that positive camper. We will ensure the “quarantined pod” will have ways to stay happy and have fun even while isolated from the rest of camp.
Masks have been shown to be highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID19 when appropriate masks are properly worn when in proximity of others. Day camps, schools, business, and more have found that proper mask wearing is a highly effective way to stay safe and keep others safe.
- Campers and Staff will be required to bring multiple appropriate (specifications to come) masks to camp and wear them when asked.
- Until our day 4 of camp PCR test results are received, Campers and Staff will wear masks at all times except when in their own cabins, when showering, or eating.
- Campers and Staff will wear masks anytime they are inside a building other than their cabin where they live. Campers and Staff do not need to wear masks in their own cabin with the other campers and staff that they are in a group with or when outdoors and socially distanced.
- Staff who interact with multiple groups of campers (i.e. Head Staff, Activity Staff, Support staff, LITs after the first week of arrival testing, etc…) will be asked to wear masks at all times until arrival week testing is completed and thereafter when they are indoors and / or are outdoors and cannot socially distance.
- In addition to above, anytime there is interaction with a potential risk of COVID19 exposure (as defined by camp), Campers and Staff will wear masks.
At camp, we have groups (i.e. – Lower Inter Boys) that are typically made up of multiple bunks.
- During the first week of camp, we anticipate campers and staff will do activities – masked – only with their group. This will allow us to minimize COVID19 exposure while we maximize group reconnection and bonding. During the first week of camp, campers and staff will only be able to unmask inside their bunk. Group interaction that is unmasked will ideally begin after we complete our arrival week testing and groups are cleared. Elective activities will ideally begin after we complete our arrival week testing as well.
- During camp events that bring groups together, when we are able to do so (lineups, Friday Night Services, camp presentations, etc…) groups will be asked to stay socially distanced by group and / or wear a mask if social distancing between groups is not possible.
- Throughout the summer, we will create COVID safe opportunities for siblings to spend time together.
- Our hope is that as we get through our testing protocols and exposure is minimized, we will be able to lessen the times when Campers and Staff will operate by group and social distancing is required or is as rigid. We will maintain a heavy outdoor and outdoor covered area approach to our activities and events to be safe.
Our on camp Health Center is staffed with nurses (many of whom work in schools, ERs, or pediatrics) around the clock and we have a doctor on camp (all are camp parents and are predominantly ER doctors or Pediatricians) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also are incredibly lucky to have multiple health related resources very close to camp, read more here and watch here. In addition to our Health Center facilities we are going to have expanded facilities to meet the non-COVID19 and COVID19 needs of our campers and staff. In addition to our robust cleaning protocols, as we did last summer for Family Camp, we will have additional cleaning staff and cleaning protocols to ensure that surfaces, common areas, buildings, and equipment are clean and safe for use.
- Additional outdoor “triage” areas to separate campers that may be symptomatic for COVID19 for those who are at the health center for non-COVID19 reasons.
- We will have safe areas on camp that can be used for camper or staff isolation or quarantining as needed.
- We are adding additional cleaning staff to ensure all surfaces, common areas, buildings, and equipment are clean and safe for use
- We will be altering our Food Service set up and protocols for increased health and safety. We will continue to offer a variety of healthy and delicious food choices to meet all food needs and do so in a COVID19 safe way.
- Campers and staff will predominantly eat outdoors in our grove picnic area for additional ventilation and social distancing.
As we all know, the mental health and social and emotional experiences in the past year have certainly been challenging. For children, teenagers, and young adults (yes, for parents too!) there has been additional stresses to their mental health and a lack of social experiences. While in any summer camp is a tremendous gift to the campers and staff in our camp community. This summer, we know that the need for campers and staff to build some independence, socialize with peers, spend time outdoors, and get back to some active play and skill building is critical.
- While separation from parents and family creates an adjustment for campers during any summer, after spending over a year, primarily at home with their family, we know that the adjustment and transition to camp may be more challenging (even more the reason to do it!) this summer. As always, we plan to train our staff to understand and recognize these transitions for campers and work with our staff and Head Staff to meet any additional social and emotional needs our campers and staff may have coming to camp in the time of COVID19.
- If there was ever a time for campers to practice independence, build self-esteem, work on social skills, and engage in activities, this summer tops the list.
- In every decision we make about the physical and medical protocols and practices at camp, we always consider the mental health and social and emotional impacts of those decisions. We will continue to weigh and balance the importance of accounting for all factors when creating protocols for our campers, staff, our camp community, and parents.
Our developmentally progressive program allows campers to do the activities they love, try activities for the first time, and build skills and connections. We are thrilled to offer athletics, creative and performing arts, outdoor experiences, and aquatics in order to offer something for everyone and the chance to grow and try different activities over time. As with everything else, we will look at each program area and activity to determine create a safe and health way for campers to have fun.
- Given our arrival week testing and podding presumptive protocols, it is highly likely that our groups will participate in group activities during the first week or so of camp in order to minimize exposure between groups.
- When we engage in large activities with multiple groups (i.e. lineups or Friday Night Services) we will use much of what we learned at our socially distanced Family Camp in order to keep groups socially distanced, as needed, while still enjoying camp community spirit together safely.
- The majority of our activities and events are outdoors, day and night, which is ideal for ventilation and social distancing.
- We are looking at all activity areas to ensure optimal social distancing and ventilation is possible. We have invested in event tents (with roofs and no sides) to pull any of our indoor activities “outside” under event tents in order to minimize possible exposure.
- Activity Staff will be tested and trained on protocols to work safely with multiple groups of campers.
- As of today, we are looking at the possibility that off camp trips may not happen. We are also looking at what scenarios there may be that we can safely take campers and staff off camp occasionally (i.e. a state park, a private beach, privately rented activity space, etc….) Again, we are weighing the health and safety risks of exposure and the social and emotional needs of our campers and staff to see if there are scenarios that have minimized risk and exposure off camp and can create additional safe fun.
- As of today, we are looking at the possibility that we may not be able to do Intercamp games when our campers play other camps in a variety of activities from sports, to swimming, to dance. If we are unable to do Intercamp games this summer, we will certainly create Intra-camp opportunities for competition, game play, and performance opportunities.
Travel to and from camp is an important part of the logistics and fun of camp. While we are not yet ready to make a final decision about camp transportation – in order to give room for potential safe solutions that may be possible in the next few weeks and months – we have a sense of how transportation may happen and have made a decision to enhance the safety of camper baggage to and from camp.
- As of today, we anticipate that parents will need to drive their campers to camp in June and return campers home by bus in August. In that case, we will provide our first-day drop-off protocols in advance of arrival day, which are likely to include parents remaining in their vehicles while children are dropped off.
- As of today, we are considering testing campers and staff 4-5 days prior to the last day of camp and using buses to transport campers from camp to our typical drop off locations. We want to send campers and staff home to their families and communities as safe and healthy as possible. More details to come over time.
- For campers and staff that travel to camp, and NY State, by plane, we will be in touch to make sure you are informed of the testing and quarantining protocols that NY State requires, as well as any travel safety protocols we may ask of travelers on public transportation such as protective eye wear (face shields or goggles) in addition to masks on plans or public transportation. More details to come over time.
- For our Canadian Campers, we will continue to monitor and be in communication about the US/Canadian Border, the ability to drive instead of fly into the US and any and all protocols that may apply to your travel plans to camp. More details to come over time.
- Camp Trucking, a door-to-door private service, will be used to transport baggage to and from camp – no matter where you live in the US or Canada. (In the past, we have also offered a regional baggage pick-up option; in the interest of reducing the need for large groups of parents and camp staff to potentially be exposed to one another, we will take this year off from the regional option). Camp Trucking is safe and convenient, and they have has also offered to make a generous donation to Project Morry as a result of the additional opportunities to serve more Echo Lake families this summer.
We all know that there is something very special about parents and family members coming to visit their camper at camp. Parents and campers alike benefit from this visit in many ways. The reality of bringing 1000+ parents and siblings to camp raises issues around COVID19 exposure at camp. As of today, we are not ready to make a final decision about Visiting Day.
- As vaccines become more widely available and testing continues to improve, we will continue to assess whether or not we can run visiting day safely. More details to come over time.
- If we are unable to safely hold Visiting Day this summer we are already working on a number of virtual, video based, connective ways to allow parents and campers to see each other part way through the summer.
As always, we will bring all of our staff to camp before the campers to get adjusted to camp go through training opportunities that prepare them to be safe, engaged, and fun staff for our campers.
- Our Staff will arrive on camp with adequate time to go through a complete staff orientation and ensure that they are COVID19 free before the campers arrive.
- All staff will participate in the same “arrival testing protocol” and test 3-4 days before their arrival on camp, test on the day they arrive at camp, and test 4 days after they arrive on camp. Staff will also test 4 days after the campers arrive at camp.
- All staff will adhere to the masking, podding, and social distancing protocols during Staff Orientation.
Obviously, like all of you, we are paying close attention to the research on, efficacy of, and ability to get the COVID19 Vaccine. With the goal of making our camp community be as safe as possible for campers and staff, we are investigating and evaluating the benefits and possibilities of staff vaccinations. The American Camp Association has received federal and CDC confirmation that Camp Staff are considered “essential childcare workers.” They are working diligently with each state to make sure they include Camp Staff in that definition. This would give Camp Staff more immediate access to COVID19 Vaccinations in order to enhance their health and safety and our camp community’s health and safety this summer. We are continuing to follow the science and facts. It seems unlikely, as of today, that most of our campers would even be eligible for a COVID19 Vaccine by this summer, but we will follow the most up to date research and recommendations on that too. More details to come over time.