Posted by Megan Sweeney ● Sat, Apr 17, 2021 @ 07:04 AM
2021 Camp Pecometh COVID-19 FAQ
Originally posted April 17; Edited May 10, 2021 with updated vaccination information and mask policies per CDC guidelines for overnight camps.
Pods, cohorts, and physical distancing. Efficacy of fabrics used for masks. Contact tracing. PCR vs. antigen testing. Which of our camp songs perfectly match the recommended 20 seconds the CDC recommends for handwashing ("Pharaoh, Pharaoh," in case you're curious).
These are some things I never thought I'd need to learn as a camp director and you probably never thought you'd need to think about as a parent or caregiver. In preparation for this summer in the shadow of a pandemic, we've spent months and months coordinating with government agencies, attending webinar after webinar, poring over field guides and interpreting research conclusions.
And yet, this is what we do every year - we research best practices, and we ensure our policies meet or exceed state and American Camp Association (ACA) safety guidelines. We train our staff to be familiar with our emergency preparedness plans and to think critically when urgent situations arise. Covid-19 may be new, but prioritizing the health and safety of our campers and staff is not.
That is why we are confident in our ability to reduce the risks of Covid-19 at camp this summer using recommendations from both the Centers for Disease Control and the ACA Field Guide for Camps. While no space is ever guaranteed to be "Covid free," we will implement precautions and procedures designed to make camp a safer place to be while still keeping the fun and spirit of camp.
We've anticipated some of the questions many families will be asking about our plans and hope to answer them for you here. Our current plans for camp are based on recommendations as of May 10, 2021. As you know, Covid-19 best practices change regularly, and we will update families with any changes as new information becomes available.
- Will masks be required?
- All campers and staff will be required to have a mask with them at all times. Everyone will be required to wear masks when indoors. Everyone will be required to wear masks outdoors when likely to be within 3 ft of others. Please read the CDC recommendations for effective mask styles and wearing.
- We're thinking critically about Covid safety, and part of that is a "two out of three" system. When considering what activities to do and what preventative measures are needed, we have to be able to check at least two out of three of the following:
- The activity is taking place outside or in an open-air setting, like under a tent or pavilion.
- All participants are wearing masks.
- All participants are following distancing measures (3-6 ft apart).
- Activities and schedules are being modified or moved outdoors to reduce the amount of time campers will need to be masked. Of course, no one will be required to wear masks while sleeping, eating, or during aquatics activities. Campers will be with their cabin cohort and/or physically distanced at those times.
- A common concern is that camp is too hot/humid for wearing masks. We hear ya, and agree that protecting our campers and staff from heat-related illnesses is critical! Activities will be adjusted or rescheduled when heat/humidity create an increased risk for participant health.
- Will staff be vaccinated?
- For the safety of the camp community, we have a strong preference for fully vaccinated staff and volunteers. Part of working at camp is being willing to make decisions that support the health and safety of others, something we trust our staff to do every summer!
- Staff will be required to follow the same guidelines as campers to reduce their exposure prior to reporting to camp, and we are currently working to determine an accessible and affordable way for all staff to be tested prior to arrival at camp.
- What about campers who are vaccinated?
- All campers will be required to follow all Covid-19 safety protocols regardless of vaccination status. We are equally excited about the possibility of the CDC opening vaccinations to the 12-15 year old
- Please DO NOT schedule vaccination for your camper in the 48-72 hours prior to reporting to camp. The Covid-19 vaccine can cause short-term side effects that mirror the symptoms of Covid-19, including fever, muscle or body aches, and headache. Campers reporting to camp with these symptoms may not be allowed to stay, and campers reporting these symptoms while at camp may trigger our communicable disease response plan.
- Will campers be required to quarantine before camp?
- We are asking campers and their households to take steps to reduce their exposure risks for the 14 days before coming to camp. This includes avoiding taking part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot physically distance as needed to avoid exposure, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings (such as weddings and concerts), or being in crowded or poorly-ventilated indoor settings (like eating at indoor restaurants).
- We are also asking that campers and their families commit to protecting themselves and others by following the CDC's guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly in the 14 days before coming to camp. This includes wearing masks in all situations where they will be interacting with individuals outside of their household, regular and effective handwashing, and again, avoiding large gatherings and indoor settings with people outside of their household.
- Will campers have to get tested?
- Knowing your COVID-19 status is always a good idea. We affirm the CDC's recommendation that individuals get tested when they are symptomatic and when they have been in situations where they may have been at a higher risk for exposure.
- At this time we are researching the possibility of partnering with a testing company to provide mailed-to-home, no-cost or low-cost testing to campers and staff prior to arrival at camp. We will have more information closer to the start of camp.
- What will camper screening look like?
- At this time, we believe that the state of Maryland will require prescreening of campers at check-in as well as daily symptom screening for all campers and staff. This will be administered by our on-site Registered Nurse(s) and look like screening you have probably encountered already at other places of business: temperature screening plus questions like, "Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms or have you experienced symptoms within the past two weeks?" and "In the past two weeks, have you been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with, tested for, or quarantined as a result of COVID-19?" We will aim to make daily screenings as quick and unobtrusive as possible while still gathering the necessary information to prioritize camper and staff health.
- What if someone is symptomatic or tests positive?
- We are following ACA and CDC recommendations and working with camp health administrators to develop COVID-specific communicable disease plans for when someone exhibits symptoms while at camp. Our plans will be presented to the local health department for approval prior to the start of camp.
- We will have isolation areas for individuals exhibiting symptoms or suspected of having been exposed and procedures for arranging further clinical evaluation for individuals who may require it.
- If a camper is identified as having a potential or confirmed case of COVID-19, we will contact their parents/guardians for pick up, implement immediate contact tracing to determine who will need to be informed and/or isolated for assessment, and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning impacted areas of camp.
- Will I get a refund if my camper is sent home?
- By the time a camper checks in for camp, we will have done administrative work, hired staff, purchased food and supplies, paid for insurance, updated facilities and more to prepare for their arrival. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer refunds for any reason after a camper has arrived at camp. You can read our full refund policy here.
On a final note, the success of our plans also depends on YOU: our camp community! Helping to create a culture of compliance - an environment where campers and staff get to have a healthy and fun summer camp experience because everyone buys in to the safety plans in place - starts at home, before anyone even arrives. Everyone can help by committing to protecting themselves and others by following the CDC's guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have a camper, you can help by going over the FAQ with your camper and reminding them that our rules are in place to help them and everyone else to stay safer. You can also help by affirming that camp will be a ton of fun in spite of Covid! We can't wait to welcome everyone to Camp Pecometh this summer for our 75th year of fun, faith, and fellowship.
Have a question we didn't answer? Contact Us!
While we are not physically in the office all the time, we are monitoring our Help Chat on our website M-F, 9 AM - 4 PM. You can also reach out to us via the options in the Staff Directory. Megan Sweeney can help with questions about COVID-19 policies, programs, staff, and volunteering. Julie Lutz can help with questions about registration and payments.
Thanks! We look forward to hearing from you!