Hello! Thank you to all who have waited patiently for details to emerge regarding how we plan to operate camp this summer- the last few weeks have been tremendously frustrating to our staff as we have worked with incomplete information and more questions than answers from the state health department, but things appear to be coming into focus with little more than a week until our summer camp begins.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the outlook for summer camps in NYS have drastically changed since March, as the majority of camps and summer children's programs have been cancelled or closed entirely. I'm not going to speculate as to all the reasons why, but suffice it to say, those of us running children's summer camps and programs in 2020 have an unprecedented burden to run them in a way that is safe, healthy, CDC-compliant, affordable, and fun.
By the time many of you read this email, registration for the majority of the summer will be shut off, we are at our (reduced) capacity for 5 of the 8 weeks we had planned. Without being too aggressively pointed, I just want to preface what I'm about to write by reminding all of us how blessed we are to be able to have camp at all, even with changes we are not that wild about.
I'm going to lay out a couple of procedures and processes that are very different for us, most of which I am not really excited about. Most of the changes NYS has mandated feel like a direct attack on our way of life, our core values, and while I don't like them at all, it cannot be over-emphasized how important strict compliance is. With the majority of camps being shut down, we are preparing for the extra-stringent all-seeing eye of the Broome County Dept of Health verifying that we take the virus and attempts to stop the spread seriously and are in full compliance with their orders.
We love flexibility- with @ 700 campers each summer, we completely understand that all families are different, all children have specific needs, and we have done everything in our power to facilitate that flexibility in the past. A lot of that flex is gone this year, and we will be forced to be a lot more stringent in our scheduling, pre-camp, drop-off, and pick-up procedures. This is not to be difficult on you or make it easier on us, it is an absolutely necessary part of running camp this summer, and we require cooperation.
In the past, we have allowed campers to come and go pretty much whenever their parents showed up, that is not going to work this year. We will still have free early drop off starting at 7am, with breakfast available for any kids that show up before 8. Our early drop off kids will be divided into two groups- 3pm pickup and 5pm pickup.
If your children or their friends need to be placed in groups together or separate, tell us ahead of time, and understand that they MUST be picked up at either 3 or 5 to be grouped together. One cannot be picked up at 3 and the other at 5 if they want to be in the same group.
Screening: When your children are dropped off daily, we are required to screen all campers with an infrared touchless thermometer fever test and 3 simple questions:
Has your child-
a) knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19;
b) tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and/or
c) has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
At this time I'm still waiting for an answer from the state, but my planned process for this is to have a printed slip available at pickup each day for parents to check off, sign, and hand in each day for our records, rather than be read off the questions every day.
Over the next week, we will be gathering information from parents regarding approximate drop-off and pickup times, requested teammates, etc, they will be placed in color-coded groups for the following week.
Drop-off and Pick-up
All drop-off and pick-up will be done outside of our camp buildings, as socially distant as possible. Drop-off will be done in our parking lots under canopy tents. On monday morning, parents will go directly to a large 20x10 white tent where the questionnaire and temp checks will be done, after which they will proceed to color-coded tents to complete the check-in process with their team's staff.
Payment- One of the ways we will facilitate a quick in-and-out on Monday morning will be to process as many payments as possible before Monday. We have a very simple secure PayPal portal to track payments made at pathoflifecamp.com/pay. Many have already made payments and we will be confirming those payments with all the other confirmation details next week.
If you paid a $50 deposit, please select the week(s) you are paying for, with the full $135 fee, and once you submit the form and the paypal portal pops up, use the discount code "deposit" and the $50 will be deducted.
Pickup- Pickup will be available from 3-3:30 or from 5-5:30 each day. I understand this will be inconvenient for many parents, as they usually pick their kids up whenever they get out of work, but it is necessary to run camp at the capacity we are allowed while maintaining compliance in other areas. Your child's pickup location will be at whatever their last activity of the day is. IE, if their last activity is horsemanship, they will be picked up at the barn, if its go-karts, at the go-kart track entrance, pool, at the patio by the pool. We will share that information at drop-off.
Lunch: We will continue to provide lunch, staggered and in isolated groups. We will attempt to fulfill our goals of healthy, wholesome kid-friendly lunches, but we are required to serve lunch in individual portions, not in a serving line, or family style, so we will be leaning a little heavier on packaged foods this summer than we would prefer. If your camper would prefer to bring their lunch, that is acceptable as always.
Personal Belongings: In an attempt to keep personal items as clean as possible and prevent loss, we have built storage cubes (cubbies) in the chapel for campers to stash their swimsuit, towel, bag, and lunch if applicable.
Snack Shack. This year, snack is included in the camper fee. We will not be serving soda, but there will be candy options as well as chips, crackers, gatorade, bottled water, and fruit juices.
Helmets- We are strongly encouraging parents to bring and label their camper's helmets for horseback riding, but we will be adding to our stock and "renting" them out at $5 per week to cover our cost. For many parents, purchasing one will be the cheaper option, but if they attend only one week, renting is definitely more affordable.
Masks- My understanding at this time is that campers will not be required to wear face coverings/masks, although our staff does. Campers are certainly welcome to, but we will not require them unless the state forces us to with new information.
Extended Care Activities: In the past, we have run "electives" for activities after 3pm. This year, because campers need to remain in isolated groups with no mixing throughout the day, we are integrating those activities of extended swim, horsemanship, and go karts into their full-day schedule. Below is a sample schedule to partially explain how this will work.
For Extended Care, Campers over 48 inches tall or 8 years old will be placed in a double horsemanship class, where they will take part in a daily horsemanship class teaching them the basics of directing a horse and gaining confidence as a rider, growing whatever skills they arrive with, as well as a daily trail ride. Campers under 4 feet tall will be enrolled in a double swim period. Both groups will also enjoy a go-kart period integrated into their day.
I'm sure that there is information I'm leaving out, and questions I didn't answer, please feel free to reach out and let me know what we can clarify for you. We'll be in contact the week prior to each registered week of camp to make sure all of our questions are answered.
Thank you very much for your patience and grace through this difficult time, we are looking forward to an exciting summer!
Path of Life Camp Staff