Moving forward – covid camp ‘experts’

We are in demand. We have become an overnight sensation as covid camp ‘experts’. Having been one of the very few camps that opened for campers this summer, many of our professional peers want to know how we did it. What was the magic plan that we used to operate camp with all of the required protocols and stay covid free? How can it help others as they work towards summer 2021? The conversations are engaging and also help us to process our own experience as we grow from this past summer and plan for next season. We are by no means ‘experts’ but we have some good experience to share. Our Maine camp community is committed to helping all types of camps so that more campers can have a great camp experience if what we did can help others we are happy to chat.

We are still riding high on our success, proud of the efforts that we put in and the outcomes that resulted so are happy to talk about the things that we learned and the pieces that did and didn’t work well. We do however caution that what worked for us may not work for others. Our plan was specific to our camp, worked because of the amazing people involved and was supported by our Runoia families. It is still  hard to know how 2021 may shake out and what restrictions will be in place at that time so right now broad strokes are the planning way to go. We also clearly see that not everything that was successful for us at Runoia will work for other programs. 

Before heading into our 2020 summer we educated ourselves as best we could and learned an awful lot of new information. From reading and absorbing endless amounts of literature,  listening to medical professionals who as camp parents really understood the context of what we were trying to accomplish and also from having a staff that totally bought into providing our campers with the best experience possible under the circumstances we were able to devise a plan that would work for us. Even when there were day to day changes in advice and protocols we stayed true to what we believed were the best options for Runoia.

As schools now struggle through the fall semester we see plans instigated then modified with a population that is far less containable than camp. With hybrid models and distance learning being a reality for many students we wonder what kind of emotional shape our kids will be in by next summer. School is hard right now, teachers and administrators are doing their best and trying to provide for all children, meet curriculum requirements and follow state mandated protocols. I can navigate the management of a whole camp a lot easier than I can the schedules of my two children in different schools alongside my own job.  Come June camp will be a welcome relief for everyone.

The unpredictable and shifting school year is very disconcerting and the anxiety of a possible school based covid 19 outbreak is always looming. We know that by the summer our campers will be ready for the simple security of being on Great Pond with friends enjoying participating in fun outdoor camp activities. 

As we chat with our peers we remind them to look at what they value most about their camp. The relationships, the beautiful facility, the history and traditions. We must all  move forward with courage knowing that camps can open safely and can continue to provide children with healthy, intentionally developmental outdoor experiences.  We can learn from the experiences of this past summer and be ready for an amazing season in 2021.

We can’t wait to celebrate Runoia’s 115th season.

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