Camp Chi Summer 2021 Health and Safety
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 and 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 email@example.com.
In the months closer to the start of camp, we will be hosting Town Halls for a wide range of stakeholders to explain the details of summer 2021 plans and related modifications and procedures.
During the summer, we will communicate with families if their camper shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, or if your camper’s pod goes into isolation protocol due to the above concerns. Please note, we are required to notify state and local health officials if there are positive cases; we assure you that we will maintain privacy and will only disclose personal information when necessary.
During camp, there will be visual reminders of ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Upon arrival, COVID-19 protocols and procedures will be reviewed in detail with campers in an age-appropriate way.
Should your camper be considered high risk, it is imperative that you communicate with camp so we can properly plan and accommodate their needs.
Based on the style, size and history of our program, we are planning a strategy of limited exposure for the camp community. We are approaching our plans with realistic views and will follow best practices, maintaining safety as the highest priority. Our local staff, who do not live on the campus, 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.
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. Furthermore, we are not offering any trips out of camp this summer. This is all to minimize exposure to our community and create a safe environment where everyone can have a joyful and successful camp experience.
Pods and Cohorts
Based on expertise from local, state and federal health officials, as well as the experience of camps that operated safe and successful 2020 seasons, we will be slightly updating our village/cabin model for summer 2021. It is key that everyone understands the updated terms we will be using and the various limitations on interactions.
- Pod: A pod is like the immediate family; 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. We came to these numbers based on the size of the cabins, allowing for comfortable conditions and room between beds, while maximizing safety and maintaining appropriate supervision. During the first two weeks of camp, while there will be some choice to activities, all activities will be pod-based.
- Cohort: A cohort is a group that can exist in the same space, but will remain distance and masked. For example, two cabins may both be in the art center, but will be in different spaces and wearing masks, regardless of the project they are working on.
Who makes up a cohort at camp depends on which village a camper is in and the physical village where they live. For example, in some of our villages, cabins stand independently and all cabins share the same bathroom. In other villages, two cabins share the same porch and bathroom that only serves that building. In addition, there are some villages where two divisions, such as Shoreshim and Tsofim, Yeladim and Kadima, live in the same physical villages. Regardless of what the physical living situation is, any cabins that share a bathroom or bath house will be considered a cohort. In addition, village is a term Camp Chi uses to define both genders of the same age group. A physical village or age group village may be considered a cohort, depending on their location.
Group Interaction: Beyond the cohorts, there are other villages and the entirety of camp. For the first two weeks of the session, there will be minimal interactions at this level. Once we enter the second half of each session, if testing and preventative measures have been successful, we may provide some programs at these levels but will maintain a safe distance between pods and require masks. 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.
COVID-19 Protocols and Testing
Currently, we plan to require testing of all staff and participants prior to, upon arrival, and during camp. We will determine the appropriate timing and type of tests our community will use closer to the summer pending research and available data. 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 internal medical team and consultation with appropriate authorities. A protocol for notifying parents will be in place and shared prior to summer.
It is important to note, that even with the news of vaccines, we are currently planning for summer with COVID-19 changes. Without knowing the distribution plan and accessibility on the national and international scale, we will make decisions on vaccine requirements or use closer to summer.
Activities & Program
Please note, the length of time in which will pod will be isolated will be based on CDC recommendations.
First 14 days: To provide the safest possible experience while keeping our ability to offer many activity options, plans are being developed for pod-based cabin time programming for the first 14 days. 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.
After 14 days: Based on the testing results and best available health standards at the time, we hope to shift to a more traditional Camp Chi program model with traditional activity choices and appropriate programming. This would mean a loosening of restrictions, allowing campers to participate in activities with other campers from their village while still maintaining public health measures.
We are also examining how each activity may need to be modified to ensure health and safety of our camp community. Each activity area will have adjusted plans that follow all ACA, CDC and other applicable agencies’ recommendations. We have purchased outdoor tents to provide shelter for certain activity spaces and to accommodate more outdoor program areas. Evening programs will shift to a model closer to our traditional village programming when safe to do so. When groups are indoors or if not able to maintain distance, everyone will be masked. At this point, we are not offering off-property field trips for summer 2021. We will communicate any changes to our program areas prior to 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.
Cleanliness & Hygiene
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 an increased 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.
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, such as the salad bar, may be limited, we will create choices and provide for special dietary needs as we have always done. Outdoor meals will be held with the help of our new outdoor tents. When weather doesn’t permit for picnic dining, we will use the tents and indoor dining to maintain distance between tables. We will also accommodate multiple meal shifts to increase airflow within the facility. Meals will likely be served cafeteria style, with staff servers, to optimize choice without sacrificing safety.
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. These details will be available by early April.
We are still evaluating transportation options and will provide an update on what we deem the best process for transportation to and from camp. Transportation for summer 2021 will likely look different, with adjusted capacities on buses, staggered departure times, etc. As details are finalized, they will be shared with the Camp Chi Family.
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.