Update from Camp May 20, 2020

Update from Camp May 20, 2020

Dear Runoia Families,

Camp means a lot to all of us. “Camp more than ever” has become a saying we repeat throughout the day. We have been working over the past eight weeks with the keen optimism to open camp this summer.

Our Plan to Open:

We plan to open for your children. We know it will be the hardest summer we have ever worked. We know there are risks and we describe them in this letter. Please read and digest the information outlined. Afterwards, we need to hear from you by this Saturday afternoon, May 23 if your daughter(s) will be joining us. If we can pull this off, early next week we will send an enrollment link to those who want to enroll.

It will be a different summer at Camp Runoia, but we are confident that it will still be a special and meaningful summer for your daughters.  This summer, camp is not for everyone and we understand that choice. We love and will welcome you in 2021.

The Story:

It’s May 20, and our plan is to open camp for an abbreviated summer session. We’ve met with all the same medical and testing experts and consultants all the other camps have met with during the pandemic. We believe there is a way through this.  It is a difficult journey with risks. The decision to close or open has been personal for all camps. Many of our camp director friends have made the painstaking decision to “suspend” their 2020 season. A few camps have decided to open. Each camp has its own reasons and process for making its own best decision.

If we are able to open, camp in 2020 will be a different kind of Runoia. As a Camp Runoia family, your opinion matters to us. Please read through this note and check your own feelings. If you think it’s a good idea for your family and a good match for your daughter(s) please let us know you’ll enroll in 2020. Our outline of camp below is based on the information we’ve received from medical experts, other camp directors, ACA guidance, and our understanding of the guidance for opening camps that will be released soon by the State of Maine. Our intent is to run camp by meeting, or exceeding, the best practices and guidelines for operating a resident camp during the current pandemic.

There is no guarantee our camp will be COVID-19 free and there is no guarantee your daughter will not contract COVID-19 while at camp.

Why We Think We Can Do This:

You may wonder why we are going to this effort when other camps tried just as hard and came to the decision to close this summer. We know our campers need camp more than ever. We believe Camp Runoia’s large physical campus, our ability to create and follow systems, our overall numbers of campers and staff being smaller than large camps help us to be positioned for a high rate of success. We have had an outpouring of support from families including two camp parents who are MDs and will join our on site health team. The majority of our key staff say, “We will do anything to make camp happen, tell us how we can help and let’s go!” 

One Session 2020:

Camp would offer one session. It would be a 3-week session July 18- August 8. This is not “first session” or “second session”. This is “Camp Runoia Harmonyville” (CRH). After you analyze your own risk tolerance, we would like to hear from you if you would like to enroll in CRH this summer.

Because of the sessions merging, camper cabin groups would be a different composition than your daughter(s) previous cabin group. This is important to discuss with your daughter. Maybe she has friends you can be in contact with to see if they plan to enroll. Partnering with us in this different summer means we will be focused on your campers and the safety of campers and staff at camp. We will do our best to address your needs while your daughter is at camp but she is our priority.  We will communicate information with you but we cannot take special requests for your daughter this summer.

Testing and Self-Quarantine:

If there is reliable testing prior to camp opening, we will do our best to line up testing, have you monitor and self-quarantine before camp.  Testing costs will be submitted to parent’s insurance when possible. There is no guarantee we will be able to do testing for all.

Testing may not be available when our staff have to arrive at camp in order to prepare for the season. Therefore, there are no guarantees of testing for staff.

On May 18, the Maine testing guidelines expanded to include anyone who suspects they have been in contact with an infected person. This is great news for us. We expect testing to get more reliable and efficient over the next 6 weeks and are hopeful that it does.

Staff and campers will monitor health and practice low-risk exposure for a period of time before arriving at camp and during camp. More details will be outlined in further communication.

Residential Life, Mealtime and Program:

Camp most likely will operate in households (cabins) by age groups and each “end” of camp would be a neighborhood. So, the three neighborhoods would be Junior End, Senior End, and Senior Village/Ocho This is consistent with public health guidelines from the State to mitigate the risk of spreading infection.

Households (cabin groups) will be able to interact with each (counselors and campers) without masks.

Activity program will be scheduled by households for the first part of camp and possibly all of camp. There may be choices within your scheduled area. Some activities may not be able to be offered.  There will not be regular “tag-up”.   We will still offer excellent activities and skill-building opportunities.

Campers and counselors from different households would practice physical distancing or wearing face masks when interacting within their neighborhood for things like Evening Program and Dining Hall use.

The three Neighborhoods (Junior End, Senior End, SV/OCHO) will not be able to interact with each other due to contact tracing guidelines.

Evening Programs, Recreational Swims, Assembly, Flag Raising and End of Session Events will be modified.

There would be no wilderness trips leaving by van. Some trips may be offered on our lake and on our campus.

Mealtime would be with your neighborhood spaced apart in the Dining Hall with your household eating together as a group. Mealtime will be staggered by neighborhoods. Staff will serve campers and campers may have to wear masks in a buffet line (with distancing) as they are served (more like cafeteria style).

It may be a “Campstamps” (email service) only summer. We most likely will not be able to post photos for viewing throughout the summer in our Waldo or CampMinder system because we will be busy focusing on the safety of your children.

There may not be any packages except drop shipped specialty foods for food allergies or medical reasons.

Some past practices and traditions are going to have to be let go of this summer so safety can remain our top priority.

Camp in a Bubble: The concept is to have a healthy population arrive at camp and let in as little risk as possible.

  • There will be no visitors allowed in camp.
  • Essential contractors, service people, and delivery personnel will wear masks when on campus and physically distance themselves from our staff and campers.
  • Travel to camp will look different than previous summers:
    • We may restrict camp to auto drop off only.
    • We may or may not offer a bus to camp but we may offer a bus home from camp.
    • We are still working on the concept of flights to camp and if they will be allowed this summer.
    • Parents dropping their child off at camp may be able to take their daughter to a welcome area to meet with the health team, who will be in PPE. It is also possible that your daughter would go to the welcome area on her own to meet the health team and camp staff.
    • One parent may come with one child to the drop off area and other family members, family friends and dogs may not enter the area.
    • Parents and family members may not come into camp or walk around camp.
  • Medical Team – we will have a fully staffed medical team including a resident MD and multiple nurses and/or EMTs.
  • In camp monitoring will likely include daily temperature and symptom checks.
  • If campers develop COVID-19 symptoms, they will be treated in a different area and by a different designated health team than campers with other health and medical needs such as a splinter or twisted ankle.
  • Trips to the Emergency Department will be with an authorized Runoia administrator or health team member who will wear a mask and use best practices for hygiene.

COVID-19 Non-negotiables:

If there is testing used by Runoia, you will be required to test at home before arriving at camp.  A camper testing positive for COVID-19 may not come to camp. There will be no refund of tuition at that point.

We would require you to pick-up your daughter if she tested positive for COVID-19 while at camp. We will have a safe, comfortable isolation unit for your daughter to remain while you are on your way to camp. We are not a hospital or a medical provider in the typical sense of the term. We have camp doctors who are professionals and a professional team but we cannot isolate and treat patients for extended periods of time. Camp tuition will not be prorated.

Maine General Hospital is located nearby in Augusta, Maine and any patients with acute illness will be transported there and a camp personnel will remain with a minor within reason, until a family member can arrive.

Parents would be required to sign an Assumption of Risk realizing their child may contract COVID-19 at camp.

Dates and Rates:

Camp Runoia Harmonyville (CRH) will run from July 18 – August 8. The tuition will be $7500. The deposit and tuition you have paid to date will be applied to CRH and the balance will be due in full June 15, 2020.

In Summary:

We know this isn’t easy. As we communicated previously, there is nothing we want more than to operate camp safely and responsibly for your daughter. The current circumstances require a tremendous amount of consideration to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

Notwithstanding our best efforts, there is a chance that we may not be able to open camp this summer.  There is a chance the Maine Governor will decide in June that camps may not open in July.  If that is the case, we will work out our best options for refunds and do the best we can do. Working toward opening camp this next month will be critical to make it happen and that involves more expenses for supplies and additional team members, hiring requirements and operations.

If you read and process this letter and feel Camp Runoia Harmonyville is the place for your daughter to be this summer, please respond to this email and let us know by Saturday May 23. Early next week, you will be sent an enrollment link to the new session. Please complete enrollment as soon as possible after receiving the link. After Friday May 29, if spaces are still available, we will open enrollment to other families currently on the waiting list.

Graduating campers in 2020, may return for graduation at a later date, perhaps next summer or maybe a special period of time at camp. TBA.

If you choose to take a “leap year” and plan to return in 2021, we will roll over your tuition payment to save a spot. We welcome you and your family for 2021 with so much love. Once a #runoiagal always a #runoiagal. If you want to cancel and you need financial support, please contact pam@runoia.com or call Pam #207-495-2228.

In Closing:

We have all been affected in unimaginable ways by the pandemic and the economic crisis.  We do not take any of this lightly and have been planning two scenarios (open and close) for the past four weeks. In our hearts, we want nothing more than to see our Runoia gals back at camp this summer.  We support your decision, whatever you choose and know that Runoia will be here for our 115th season in 2021.

With warmth and a whole lot of love,

Pam and Alex

For the Runoia Team


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