With so many camps having to close this summer, we were grateful to be able to provide a safe, fun and fulfilling experience to children who needed camp more than ever before. Several measures were taken to ensure a healthy summer at Kingsley Pines. We began by reviewing all the guidance provided by the CDC, State of Maine, American Camp Association and many other experts in the summer camp industry. We also consulted with an Epidemiologist at the Maine CDC throughout the summer.
One of the most important safety precautions we took was preventing any staff member or camper with Covid-19 from entering camp. All staff members were tested on the first day of staff training. All campers were required to have a negative test that was taken within 7 days of their arrival at camp. On opening day, parents provided us with a copy of their child’s negative test results. In addition, parents took their children’s temperatures and kept a log of any symptoms for 14 days prior to arrival.
Staff arrived two weeks before the campers. A significant amount of time went into educating our staff on our Covid-19 policies and procedures. All staff with direct interaction with campers were not allowed to leave the camp property for the duration of the camp season.
Parents were required to drop their children off at camp. We did not pick campers up from the airport or bus station. Parents stayed in their vehicles during the drop off process. They showed us their child’s symptom log and each camper had their temperature taken.
Once camp began, campers were divided into groups to limit any possible spread of Covid-19. There were “families” and “neighborhoods.” A family was a cabin of 2-3 counselors and 6-9 campers. There were no restrictions on behavior within a family, they were able to be inside buildings without a mask and they ate all their meals together. This allowed campers to interact with their cabin mates and enjoy much needed social interaction.
Neighborhoods were made up of 4 families of similar ages and both genders. Campers were only allowed to be in activities with someone from their neighborhood. They did not have to wear mask if they were more than six feet apart. When closer than six feet to a person in their neighborhood, campers were required to wear a mask.
Campers had limited interaction with others outside of their neighborhoods, and when they did, they were required to be six feet away and wear a mask. We did not hold any gatherings inside buildings. When we did get together for all camp activities like campfire, council fire, and reflections, families sat together and were grouped by neighborhood. By spacing campers and staff in this specific way, we were able to be together, outside, without wearing masks.
Each activity had separate protocols depending on how easy it was to be socially distant and the specifics of the activity. For example, paddleboarding functioned as normal since each child was on their own board, separate from others. In woodworking, campers and staff were always required to wear a mask because they were in a small enclosed space. Other activities such as yoga, dance, and ukulele, which are typically done inside, were moved outside for the summer. Using these techniques, we were able to offer all but two of our daily activities and give campers the the same opportunities as a typical summer. Check out our photos from this summer to see our campers learning new skills and having fun.
We performed routine cleaning of high-touch surfaces, especially activity equipment like tennis rackets and canoe paddles. A dispenser with hand sanitizer was attached to a building or tree at every activity. Campers and staff sanitized their hands at the beginning and end of each activity period.
The number of medical staff was increased to allow us to care for any potential cases of Covid-19. Our protocols included a separate location from the Health Center where a camper or staff member could receive care, if they were suspected of having Covid-19. We also performed daily temperature checks on every person at camp for the first two weeks.
All our meals were eaten outside at picnic tables near the lake. “Families” sat together at every meal. When inside the dining hall getting their food, everyone wore masks. They took them off once they returned to their tables. All food was served by staff, wearing masks and gloves, or was in packaged individual servings. None of these measures stopped our food service staff from preparing the delicious meals our campers and staff have come to expect.
Camp this summer looked different than in previous years. These changes certainly affected the experience for both campers and staff, but we are extremely proud of running a Covid-19 free camp in 2020, and know that our campers appreciated more than ever the ability to be with their friends, outside, in a safe setting.
As we transition to summer 2021, no one knows how the the situation with the pandemic will change. What we do know is that that we can run camp safely, Whatever the requirements are, we will provide our campers with another amazing summer!