Camp Chi Summer 2021 Health and Safety
Updated – April 7, 2021
From the onset of the pandemic, the year-round Camp Chi team has been evaluating, planning, and preparing for Summer 2021. Creating and maintaining a healthy and safe environment for everyone has always been and remains our top priority. As we focus in on this coming summer and the complexities of COVID-19, we continue to learn, study and monitor guidance provided by local and state health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Camp Association (ACA), and trusted leaders of camps that operated last summer and those preparing for the upcoming summer.
As is the case every year, we are striving to improve every aspect of camp operations. COVID-19 requires additional attention in this area and a shift in processes and procedures for this summer. One key development is a COVID-19 Task Force comprised of medical experts, professionals with relevant experience and camp parents to help prepare for our 100th summer. In partnership with the COVID-19 Task Force, we are developing plans to help ensure camper safety and well-being at camp, including ways to mitigate the spread and establish necessary processes if cases do occur.
The response, recommendations and guidelines of our COVID-19 plans are subject to and will likely change as we learn more. As more data and research is available and related protocols established, this information will be updated.
This guide is primarily intended for parents of current or prospective campers. Staff will be following much of the same standards outlined below and will also receive individualized COVID-19 plans prior to the start of summer.
We commit to keeping our families informed and will always be open and available for questions. Should you have questions, concerns or ideas on COVID-19 and summer 2021 or wish to discuss anything in this document further, please reach out to Jon Levin, Camp Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to be successful this summer, it is imperative everyone understands the following terms:
- Pod: A pod is like your immediate family at home; you do not need to mask when around one another. To limit exposure, cabins will become pods. Cabins, or pods, will generally have 12 campers, and 4 staff.
- Cohort: The cohort is made up of other cabins that are allowed to exist in the same space but must remain distanced and masked. Pods living in the same physical village, those that share a bath house, and cabin groups in the same camp village will be a cohort.
- Pod Period: At the start of each session, camp will operate differently than it has in the past. To provide the safest possible experience while keeping our ability to offer many activity options, campers will only do activities with their pod at the start of camp. Within these pod-based activities we will provide activity choice whenever possible. During this time, evening programs will consist of distanced programming within cohorts where each pod is able to participate in parallel activities while maintaining proper social distancing. The pod period length will be determined based on CDC recommendations and testing abilities.
- NPIs– NPIs orNonpharmaceutical Interventions are everything we are doing to prevent the occurrence and spread of COVID outside of vaccination. For example, masking, handwashing, distancing, and cohorting are all NPIs.
We are planning to run an unforgettable, safe, and celebratory 100th summer. To set everyone up for a successful summer, there are some key expectations we have agreed to:
- COVID-19 Will Still be Present and May be Present at Camp We are preparing to run camp where COVID-19 will still be present in the communities we serve, and COVID-19 could potentially be present in our camp community as well. With the protocols and procedures we are developing, we believe we will be able to prevent spread, and are confident we will be able to deal with any cases that may occur.
- Our Community Will NOT Be Fully Vaccinated There has been a lot of exciting developments in the vaccination rollout. The CDC has classified camp staff as essential workers under category 1B, and we strongly encourage vaccination for our staff and have assisted them when possible in the process of obtaining a vaccine. However, our staff come from a variety of states and countries, each with their own vaccination plans, and some have not classified camp staff as essential. While we hope that most of our staff will be vaccinated, we are operating under the assumption that some will not be.
- Testing Will Continue to Develop Testing has come a long way since the pandemic began and we are investigating several organizations to provide the best option for convenience to our families and safe operation of camp. We will provide specific testing information as we get closer to summer. Testing will be required prior to arrival and all campers and staff will undergo testing during the summer.
Since our community is coming from many different places and from a wide variety of situations, and while we understand we cannot control behavior outside of camp, for everyone’s safety we are asking all families and staff to abide by the following requests.
- Avoid large group gatherings, unnecessary outings, and visits with extended family and friends 10 days prior to camp. This does not mean campers need to quarantine. Instead, we are asking everyone to be highly aware of their surroundings and do their best to prevent encountering large groups of people or being in an uncontrolled environment. If campers or staff has special circumstances, we ask that they contact us beforehand, so we can help evaluate the situation and ensure any decisions made do not risk their attendance at camp.
- Everyone must complete a daily health and temperature screening for the 14 days prior to camp beginning. The exact method of what this will be and how each person must complete it is still being finalized.
- Everyone must show proof of a negative PCR COVID test, which tests for the presence of viral RNA by molecular testing, taken within 72 hours prior to departing for Camp Chi.
Based on the style, size and history of our program, we are planning a strategy of limited exposure for the camp community. To minimize exposure to our community and create a safe environment where everyone can have a joyful and successful camp experience, we have made the following adjustments to follow best practices, maintaining safety as the highest priority.
- While we pride ourselves on our flexibility, this year campers will not be able to arrive late.
- We will not be offering tours for prospective families, and no visitors will be allowed to visit camp.
- We are not offering any trips out of camp this summer.
- During the pod period, there will be minimal interactions with campers in other cohorts, villages, and the entirety of camp. Once we are out of the pod period, if testing and preventative measures have been successful, we may provide some programs at a wider level but will maintain a safe distance between pods and require masking. If there is a reason for campers from different pods to interact, i.e. siblings who wish to see one another, they may be able to do so but must remain masked and maintain a safe distance from one another.
Our staff will also have different protocols to follow:
- Staff who live at camp may not leave the grounds without director approval.
- Staff who do not live at camp (local maintenance, etc.) are discouraged from interacting with those outside of their immediate family. When they do interact with others, they should use appropriate protection and precautions. These staff will have minimal exposure to the main camp community, will be screened daily, must always wear masks when interacting with others, and will follow the same rules as far as sanitization, handwashing, etc. as the rest of the camp community, outlined below.
Masking is a key NPI that will be utilized at camp this summer. We will comply with any federal, state, or local mask mandate. In the event there is no mandate, we will still require masks to be worn at camp. Specific mask times and guidelines will be reviewed at camp. Masks will not need to be worn at the following times:
- If you are in your own cabin, a pool, the lake, or shower.
- If you are in an activity with only members of your pod.
- If you are seated at your table and eating or drinking.
- When outdoors and able to maintain distance from those outside of your pod.
There are many kinds of masks on the market and every person has their own preference. We ask that everyone bring at least 14 LABELED reusable masks (detailed below) and 1 LABELED box(es) of disposable masks.
Masks must meet the following requirements:
- Double or triple-ply (triple preferred)
- Cotton, natural silk, or polyester
- No gaiters and masks with vents will be allowed at Camp Chi this summer
We will launder used re-usable masks with camp laundry. We will provide each camper and staff member a small mesh bag they will put their masks in. That mesh bag will be put in their laundry bag prior to laundry going out. It will then be washed and dried with the rest of their clothes and returned a few days later.
We are still exploring when, how often, and what type(s) of testing will be implemented at camp this summer. We will require everyone show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival at camp. We will utilize testing during the session for staff and campers at intervals recommended by our medical advisors.
Furthermore, if any person displays symptoms and our medical staff deem it necessary, we will administer a test.
More details on how testing will work will be released prior to camp.
Daily screening, including monitoring of temperatures and symptoms, will take place for every camper and staff person in camp.
Individuals who test positive or exhibit symptoms will be immediately isolated for further examination and monitoring by our healthcare professionals. That person’s pod will go into an increased isolation protocol, including potentially moving into a temporary “isolation” village where they do not interact with their cohort, just the pod. Other than the individual with symptoms or a positive test, the rest of the pod will continue to have a normal camp experience, with activities and programs, but with a higher degree of separation from the rest of camp. Upon confirmation of tests, further action will be taken based on best practices from our medical team and consultation with appropriate authorities. A protocol for notifying parents will be in place and shared prior to summer.
If any camper tests positive and it is deemed medically necessary, they must be picked up from camp withing 24 hours of receiving notice. We recommend families make these contingencies prior to camp beginning, especially if the family is traveling or does not live within easy driving distance of camp.
Summer is meant to be spent outdoors and we intend to spend as much time outside as possible this summer. In light rain, regular activities will continue in their normal locations. If weather becomes unsafe or severe, programming will shift to indoor activities for pods. Pods will rotate from in-cabin or small indoor space activities to larger indoor spaces that can be shared with the cohort while wearing masks and keeping a proper social distance.
In the event of an emergency weather situation, safety procedures will override COVID-19 protocols when necessary.
Camp Chi uses a third-party vendor, Wolfoods, to operate food service at camp. The company operated at camps during the summer 2020. Their experiences and knowledge along with our own experience with Chi Family Getaway last summer will fuel a plan for safe meal service that provides some choice. While the variety of options we have had may be limited, we will create choices and provide for special dietary needs as we have always done.
This summer we will shift all our meals to a cafeteria style, which will allow us to optimize choice without sacrificing safety. Campers and staff will move through the line, indicating to the food service staff what they would like on their plates. The staff will portion it out for them, and they will receive their food at the end of the line. Meals will be eaten outdoors in the picnic grove and the new outdoor tents. When weather does not permit for picnic dining, we will use the tents and indoor dining to maintain distance between tables. The windows in the dining hall will remain open all summer to maximize airflow. We will continue to have multiple meal shifts.
For our 100th summer, we will be opening the brand new, state-of-the-art Atkins Family Health Center. With a much larger building, more flexible space, increased isolation rooms and space for staff, we will be able to better prepare to meet the needs of our camp community. With multiple entrances, the new Health Center will be able to maintain distance between those accessing the Health Center.
Our health care staff will establish and follow guidelines based on recommendations from the CDC, local authorities, and our COVID-19 Task Force. Systems and procedures will be set for all aspects of our health care practices.
Several changes will be in effect to increase sanitation and maintain safety related to limiting the spread of COVID-19. In addition to increased signage that illustrate best practices to mitigate the spread of the virus and clarify expectations, the camp community will see:
- Increased number of hand sanitizer stations placed in throughout camp with a focus on entries to buildings and high traffic areas.
- Space and time devoted to regular handwashing before and after meals, between activities and prior to use of shared spaces.
- Cabin cleanliness as an elevated priority this summer; this will include specific training for staff and campers on what is expected for cabin cleanliness as it pertains to mitigating the spread of the virus. Campers will be expected to maintain their own areas and help with the common chores of keeping cabins clean.
- Drinking fountains closed and we will increase the number of water bottle filling stations around camp. Campers will be instructed to carry their water bottles around with them. Drinking stations will be cleaned regularly.
- Instructions about how to wash personal masks regularly and to wear clean masks daily, or more frequently as needed.
This year, transportation will work slightly differently on the way to camp and from camp. On the bus, both on the way to camp and on the way home, everyone will be required to wear a mask. As some campers may need a beverage or small snack to help with motion sickness, we are allowing only water bottles and small snacks. Campers may only remove their mask when eating or drinking.
We are offering our campers two options to get camp this year: being dropped off or riding the bus.
As we are beginning camp in the pod period, all transportation is being done by pod. That means campers will ride the bus with their pod and 1 other pod, and those being driven and dropped off will be assigned a drop off window for their cohort. On the Travel Information form, families will select either drop off or bussing (not a bus site as in years past). This form is not yet available, but will be soon.
Our transportation partners at Lamers Bus Lines are adhering to very strict cleaning and screening protocols. Each bus is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the end of each trip, and drivers go through a thorough health screening at the start of each shift.
Drop Off at Camp: As stated above, campers will be assigned a drop off window that corresponds to their cohort. Families with more than one camper can drop off both campers with their first camper, and that camper will be with staff in their cohort until the rest of their cohort/pod arrives on the bus.
Instead of pulling into camp, we are partnering with the Crystal Grand Music Theatre to use their parking lot as a staging area. Families will be asked to arrive there in their check-in window and a staff member will provide directions. Once families are sent into camp, the camper will undergo their first health screening, a nurse will collect any medications not sent through J Drugs, and their bags will be sorted and taken to their village. Family members are asked to stay in their car the entire time. A bathroom for families will not be available.
Bussing: For the way to camp, we are only using two bus sites- Northbrook (Northbrook Court) and Skokie (Old Orchard). We will assign pods to bus sites and times for departure. That means families are unable to request a specific site, as we need to keep pods together. Departure times will be staggered both by time, with 90 minutes between departures, and by bus site.
Of the two pods on the bus, one will be assigned to the front and one to the back of the bus. Everyone will have their own pair of seats, so no one will be directly next to another person, and there will be at least 1 empty row between pods. Upon arrival at the bus site, families will see clear signage directing them to the parking area. There will then be multiple stations where the following will occur:
- Check-in & Screening– This is where families will check in, provide their proof of a negative COVID test from within 72 hours, and campers will undergo their first health screening.
- Medication Drop Off– For campers who have medications that are not being processed through J Drugs (inhalers, injectables, etc.)– parents must drop off the medication and sign the medication log. Campers with rescue inhalers and Epipens should keep these emergency medications with them.
- Luggage Loading & Bus Boarding– Camper will gather at their assigned bus and any excess baggage will be stowed under the bus. Once their entire pod is there, staff will provide campers with an antibacterial wipe and the pod assigned to the back of the bus will be permitted to board and instructed to wipe down their seating area thoroughly. Once the rear pod has boarded, 1 staff member will load in any gear being stored in the empty row(s), and then the front pod will board in a similar fashion. There will be at least 1 row of empty seats at the front to provide maximum space between the bus driver and the campers and staff.
Out of State Campers (Flights)– We are proud to serve campers from all over the country and world. As we are beginning camp in our pods, all transportation is being done by pod. Because we cannot transport campers from the airport by pod, we are not offering transportation to camp from the airport. Instead, we are asking families to either arrive a day early and bring their camper to the assigned bus site or arrange for a friend or family member to bring their camper to the assigned bus site. Families coming from outside of the Midwest will receive a specific email with detailed instructions.
By the end of our 4-week sessions, we hope to be out of the pod period and have a more traditional feel. With that in mind, we plan to allow for a more flexible method of transportation from camp, with multiple bus sites or the option to pick up.
Pickup: Like other years, families wishing to pick their campers up will be given a window to do so before buses depart. Families will be asked to stay in their cars, complete the necessary paperwork, and our staff will help load luggage and return medications when campers are reunited with their families. A bathroom for families will not be available. Camp will remain closed to visitors and families throughout the entire summers, so we are not able to offer tours this summer.
Bussing: At the end of our 4-week sessions, we plan to offer 4 bus sites families can choose from for the way home: Buffalo Grove (Buffalo Grove High School) , Northbrook (Northbrook Court), Skokie (Old Orchard), and Chicago (TBD). As some sites are bigger than others, the number of buses going to each site will vary. Campers will be assigned based on site selection to a bus with their cohort and possibly 1 other cohort.
We ask that only 1 adult per camper goes to the pickup site and arrive at least 30 minutes before buses are scheduled to arrive. Upon arrival, the parent/guardian picking up must check in at the clearly marked station to claim their pickup sticker. As in years past, bags will arrive before campers do and families are asked to claim their bags before getting their camper(s). The buses will be marked clearly, and families are asked to wait in the designated area, spaced out, until a staff member comes off the bus. The first thing the staff will do is empty the bays where sleeping bags, laundry bags, etc. are stowed. Then, the staff will return campers to their families. Families are asked to make sure they have all of their belongings and depart as quickly as possible.
O’Hare Airport: We are unable to go into O’Hare, so our staff cannot help campers check in or escort campers through security as unaccompanied minors as we have in the past. However, we are able to transport campers to O’Hare where they can meet family members to travel home with or fly home on their own. These campers and their bags would arrive at a central location where family members would sign the campers out and collect their belongings.
For Summer 2021, we will not be offering specialty tracks for Try Chi. Instead, all campers will be in the traditional Try Chi program. However, as we build the schedule, we will guarantee that each camper will get a sampling of each track, Sports, Performing Arts and STEM, while experiencing the traditional Try Chi program. In addition to splashing in the cove, climbing to new heights on the ropes course, and cooking up a storm at outdoor cooking, campers will get to improve their skills through drills and games in sports, express themselves creatively in performing arts, and put their brains to work in STEM. As we always do, when we put campers into cabins, we will also match that cabin with a curated experience that is geared towards their preferences.
The cleanliness and safety of our facilities is something in which we take great pride. Our facilities team works tirelessly to maintain camp and keep everything running smoothly. In addition to our standard cleaning procedures, the facilities team will partner with the program team to ensure our 600 acres are safe for the camp community. New protocols for summer 2021 include:
- All cabins will be sanitized and thoroughly disinfected prior to camper arrival. If there are any symptoms or cases, while the pod is temporarily living in the “isolation” village, their cabin will again be thoroughly sanitized and disinfected.
- Bathrooms in all villages may only be used by campers living in that village. We are increasing the frequency that bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized.
- Common spaces, including common bathrooms, will be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day.
- Program supplies will be sanitized between group usage.
- Each program area will have their own supplies as well as sanitization and cleaning procedures based on the nature of the program.