We are proud to say we had a fun, healthy, and successful 2021 summer at Kippewa! Below is some information we shared with families prior to the summer to help prepare for camp during this unique time.
Are You Definitely Opening Camp This Summer?
Yes! We are 100% committed to, and excited about, Summer 2021. We sincerely believe camp is needed more than ever and this is going to be the best summer yet!
What is Your Overall Approach to Operating Camp in 2021?
The health, safety, and wellness of our campers and staff is always a top priority at Camp Kippewa, and looking ahead to Summer 2021 the focus on safety policies and procedures will be more important than ever. Having operated both our Equestrian Academy and Family Camp this past summer during the pandemic, we feel we have both the knowledge and understanding of what needs to be done to remain safe at camp. We will be implementing protocols and procedures based on guidance from the American Camp Association and CDC, and following Maine Department of Health guidelines. In addition to procedures outlined below we will be increasing cleaning and sanitizing protocols, adding a “satellite health center” for anyone displaying symptoms or in need of testing, partnering with Pack My RX for medication distribution which allows for each camper’s medications to be delivered in organized, sanitary, and personal bubble packs, and more. We are currently planning and preparing to open camp in the environment we see today, and we are ready to adapt as necessary as we approach the start of our camp season.
A Modified Bubble?
It’s likely we’ll be in a modified bubble this summer. This means we will restrict who comes in and out of camp. It will still be Kippewa just with some revisions! Staff will remain at camp the full summer with specific areas designated for them to relax and enjoy their time off.
Will Campers and Staff Need to Wear Masks?
We anticipate that campers and staff will wear masks when interacting with others outside of their pod, especially in the first two weeks of the session.
In conjunction with our screening and testing protocols (see below), campers and staff will be in “pods” in order to minimize the risk of transmission. These pod groups will start small and expand over time as we become more confident that COVID-19 is not present in our camp community. The Kippewa experience has always consisted of a combination of intimate bunk group moments, age specific group experiences, and all-camp celebrations. With careful planning and moving traditions around the calendar to match the current pod situation we feel we can offer most of the experiences and traditions Kippewa campers are looking forward to this summer!
Pre-Camp Protocols and Health Screening
We expect that campers and staff are expected to significantly limit exposure for the 10 days prior to travel to camp. This timing includes the days before and following their pre-summer COVID-19 test. All campers and staff will complete a screening form during this time including attestation to our pre-camp protocols. We would like everyone to think about the camp session as being 10 days longer this year, starting during the days leading up to the pre-camp PCR test.
Specific details are shared in your Family Handbook posted in your myKippewa account. Pre-camp protocols include ceasing all medium-to-high risk behaviors and gatherings and delivering a negative PCR-testing result that we can build our modified bubble around!
Our staff will be arriving at camp two weeks prior to camper arrival (or earlier) and will remain on-site as a part of our modified bubble environment. They will be following our testing protocols as described below during this time.
*Please note that exact time frames may vary depending on testing options, the following plan is based on testing available at this time.
Robust testing protocols will be one of the cornerstones of our success this summer. Our testing protocols will be based on the accepted science as recommended by the CDC. Because testing results for COVID-19 generally trail exposures by a few days we will be testing multiple times before expanding the size of our pods.
All campers and staff will be required to have a negative PCR test approximately 3 – 5 days before opening day. We will test again upon arrival at camp, on-site six days into each session, and again 13 days into camp. Tests will also be on hand if a camper or staff member displays symptoms. We are currently in the process of creating a partnership with a test provider and will release additional information closer to the summer.
What If My Child Tests Positive For COVID-19 Just Before Camp Or At Camp?
If a child tests positive from the at-home PCR test, we will follow current CDC guidelines to determine the required quarantine period for your child, and if possible, work with your family to create a plan for late arrival.
Read more about current CDC guidelines here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html
If a child tests positive upon arrival or during the session, they will be isolated and cared for until they can be picked up from camp. Pick-up will need to take place within 24 hours, so families who live afar will need to have a plan in place to be available, or have a friend or family member ready to provide help should this situation arise.
Due to the nature of this virus, the length of the necessary isolation period, and the length of our camp session, even if a child who tests positive “feels fine” it will not be possible for them to remain at camp and be fully isolated for the required time period.
What Happens If There Is A Positive Case Of COVID In My Child’s Cabin?
If there is a positive case at camp, we will immediately test and screen every person in the pod and separate the pod from the rest of camp (dining, activities, etc.). In the following days we will begin twice-daily screenings (temperature checks and symptom screening). We will repeat PCR testing approximately 72 hours after the first test and continue consulting with health professionals moving forward. We will maintain ongoing communication with families throughout.
Travel To/From Camp
We are going to be asking our families to bring their children to camp. Minimizing risk of exposure in the days leading up to camp, first contact with campers, and the initial 5 days of each session will be critical to successfully running Kippewa this summer. Shared transportation increases the risk of spread before campers arrive at camp.
If your family can drive directly to Kippewa, that is ideal. We know this isn’t possible for everyone, so if flying to camp we ask that a parent accompany their camper to navigate airports and PPE, and then bring their child to camp.
Importantly, we will be offering shared bus transportation HOME to CT / NY and Boston, similarly to previous seasons, since by this point camp will be functioning as a larger pod. Further details are available in our Family Handbook (posted in your myKippewa account).
Will All Of The Staff Be Vaccinated?
We are requesting and encouraging all of our staff to get vaccinated if it is available to them in their location. Realistically though, we can not count on them all being vaccinated before they arrive at camp for training in late May/early June. The good news is that camp staff members have recently been designated by the CDC as childcare workers eligible in phase 1b. However, the actual vaccine distribution is being handled separately by each state and individual health districts, and implementation is widely varied, including who is eligible. Young healthy people are generally lower priority.
While we are hopeful and doing our part to help our staff gain access it just may not be possible for them all to receive the vaccine before traveling to camp. Therefore, our protocols for this summer do not rely on every staff member being vaccinated. Staff will remain on camp the entire summer and we are planning camp around the modified bubble concept, with testing and strict protocols, in order to provide our campers a safe and fun camp experience even if not every staff member is vaccinated!
Outdoor Activities and Trips
We are fortunate that so many activities at camp already take place outdoors and many of our buildings have large porches that can be used for activity space. To create additional, usable, outdoor program space we have added a wrap-around deck to the Playhouse (theater), are expanding the porch on The Loft (upper arts building), and are placing open-sided tents in various areas around camp. Additionally, we will maximize the ventilation of interior spaces with fans and open windows and will decrease the number of people in these spaces. Part of our modified bubble plan includes continuing with self-contained trips enjoying the outdoors and the beauty of Maine. We can still hike, canoe, camp, and enjoy the wilderness safely without interacting with the outside world!
Dining At Camp
Chef Larry and his team are ready and excited for another great summer at camp! Meals will remain family style, eating with bunkmates and counselors as we always have. Campers will be grouped together for meals in relation to their current pod situation. Outdoor spaces around the lodge will be utilized with the addition of large open-air tents to create more dining space. We will be modifying the salad and pasta bars to avoid waiting in lines and eliminate sharing of serving utensils between pods.
Family Handbook and Required Forms
We are rolling out our Family Handbook and forms in stages. The first stage was shared in February to help everyone begin preparations for camp. Most forms (medical and camper information) are already posted in your myKippewa account and we will continue sharing additional details and forms as they are finalized.
Bulletin 1 – Family Handbook, Pack my Rx, and Health Forms
Bulletin 2 – Travel To Kippewa
Bulletin 3 – Testing procedures and detailed camp protocols
Bulletin 4 – Right-Before-Camp Covid-specific forms and reminders
Keep preparing for camp! Help your children understand that while some things at camp may look different, it is going to be just as fun and exciting as they are hoping for. Please also be ready to partner with us and the entire Kippewa community – the health and safety of our campers and staff begins at home two weeks before the start of each session. We know we can’t absolutely guarantee a Covid-free season, but we are going to try! Your family’s cooperation will be essential to helping us make camp as safe as possible. We are going to do our best to communicate what we need from you and what we are doing on our end to achieve this. Camp is needed more than ever and we can’t wait to be together with your girls this summer!