As the camp season approaches (and we are excited to be able to say that) our plans for operating in this unique summer are taking shape. With support from our Medical Advisory Board we have completed our decision making for the majority of how we will operate this summer and are writing to share this plan at length with you.
First and foremost, we want to answer the question that is so often on people’s minds: With so many camps having cancelled this summer, how and why does FLC think it can operate safely AND still provide a full camp experience for its campers?
The short answer is that we are very lucky at FLC to have a number of characteristics that work in our favor that, though not unique, are not the norm across camps.
- We are a small camp, already divided by “cohorts” through our structure as Boys Camp and Girls Camp and by Junior and Senior groupings within those camps
- We have a large campus relative to our size, with 823 acres of trails and wilderness available to us for use in a summer where we won’t have the chance to get off camp.
- We are on our own private lake so there is no interaction with the public near our water facilities.
- Our recently constructed buildings are extremely large for their use (Mess Hall, Confer Pavilion and new Dance Pavilion) so creating distancing is easier for meal times and activities.
- With very small exceptions (Arts & Crafts and Science) all of our activities already occur in outdoor or open air spaces.
- Every cabin has its own bathroom and shower facilities.
- Our staff are generally self-contained and we don’t rely on people who come and go each day to operate our program.
- TESTING: Though not a characteristic of FLC, by continuing to prepare for camp to occur as the situation evolved, we are now in a place where testing, and importantly rapid testing, will be available to us this summer. This will allow us to have ALL campers confirm two negative COVID tests prior to entering camp. Of all the safety measures below, we can not overstate the importance of how testing availability will allow us to create a safe bubble.
While none of these is unique in the camping world, the combination of all of them means that with appropriate safety modification, we can provide a complete FLC experience this summer. All of the moments that you hear about from your FLC campers will remain in place, though sometimes in slightly different formats. Color Wars will be enhanced, Campfire will remain, the mess hall will sound as it always does with cheers and noise happening, activities will look almost the same and cabin life will provide the same rich experience of being part of the Forest Lake Camp family.
Our operations plan substantially follows the guidance provided by the CDC and American Camp Association (ACA) and utilizes language found in the guidance from both organizations. It has been formulated based on applying best practices from the ACA with our facilities, structure and operating principles at Forest Lake Camp and has been vetted by our Medical Advisory Board. The goal has been to meet or exceed the best practices from the ACA document for every instance possible.
The goals of the plan are to:
- Prevent the virus from entering camp through pre-screening and testing, arrival testing, and establishment of the camp “bubble”.
- Practice appropriate strategies to limit the spread of the virus should it appear in camp through management of hygiene, distancing and concentric circles, or “cohorts”.
- Maintain the feeling of Forest Lake Camp as a safe second home for our Forest Lake Family.
The outline of our Operations Plan is below. It begins before you even leave for camp and carries forward in everything we do until camp ends and your camper returns home.
- Testing: 3-4 days prior to arrival, FLC will ship a home test kit to a camper’s home OR families can choose to get their own test from their local provider provided it is a PCR test. We will provide more detail on the testing in the near future. Evidence of the negative test must be sent to camp prior to the camper’s arrival.
- All families will be asked to complete a pre-screening plan which will include monitoring for symptoms and limiting exposure to public spaces for the two weeks before camp.
We are going to ask each family to pay an additional medical fee of $220 per camper this year. Approximately $130 of this fee will be used to cover your at home test and should be reimbursable through your health insurance provider. The amount will cover a second test at camp and a small portion of the additional camper supplies and equipment we will need to safely operate camp.
While arrivals day will look different this year, we are going to do everything we can to make camp feel welcoming and warm when each camper drives up our road. This is a critical moment for ensuring a safe and fun camp season that will require strict adherence to our new arrival day policies.
- Testing: In addition to the test that will occur at home prior to camp we are going to require a second test upon arrival. This will ensure that we are able to discover any case of Covid that might have occurred in the short window between the home test and arrival at camp This test will be a rapid test with results available in 15 minutes.
- Arrival to camp will be staggered according to camp and cabin with the schedule coming out approximately 7 days prior to arrival.
- For parents bringing multiple siblings to camp, they should arrive at the earliest time slot for their children and will be able to drop off all of their campers at the same time.
- Note that FLC will not be offering group transportation to camp this year. If this is a major hurdle, please reach out to us and we will try to help with your individual arrangements.
Managing Camp in a COVID world:
Once we have created a COVID-free camp through our testing and arrivals procedures, we still need to operate with the idea that it is impossible to close every hole in the bubble. However, by following guidance from the ACA and CDC, we are going to limit the gaps and prepare for containment in the unlikely event that it proves necessary. This will require small changes to our program that will minimize contact while NOT in any way causing us to lose the camaraderie and feeling of home that makes FLC so special.
FLC will operate following the CDC/ACA guidelines of concentric circles and cohorts. Each circle represents a different area of safety and caution and requires different protocols. Fortunately, this is how camp has operated for years and poses no change for our staff and campers.
- The smallest cohort will be the cabin, which represents each campers home unit. Cabin life will closely resemble cabin life in the past.
- The next cohort is the Junior and Senior camps. This is much how we have always operated in the past where sign-ups and activities occur within the Junior and Senior camps.
- The next sized cohort will be the camp division and will include the 2 camps within FLC as separate and distinct cohorts (girls camp/boys camp).
- Any counselor or Administrator working across boys camp and girls camp will wear a mask when safe distancing is not possible.
Mess hall/meal times
- We will follow ACA practice of reducing density while ensuring a minimum distance between tables of 6 feet during meal times.
- We will minimize the use of shared utensils, campers moving around out of their seats during meals, and all meals will be served family style at the table and the salad bar will be staffed so utensils are not shared.
- Outdoor patio seating will be available whenever possible to further decrease density.
- Procedures for setting and clearing tables will be done with proper equipment and disinfection.
- Mess hall staff will fully disinfect the mess hall between meals, including sweeping, wiping down benches, tables, and condiment bottles.
- Cabins, including counselors, will undergo additional health checks from one to two times per week where each camper’s temperature will be taken.
- Activities will be held outside or in open air buildings ONLY. No activities will occur in a closed building unless as a cabin group only.
- All off camp overnights, inter-camp competitions and trips out to the general public have been cancelled including water skiing (we will process appropriate credits for those who have paid already for water skiing). Otherwise, we will be able to run our full slate of activities including enhanced Color Wars competitions, and on-camp wilderness trips and overnights.
- In addition to normal cabin cleanup, staff will be responsible for disinfecting cabin bathrooms, door knobs, and frequently touched areas in the cabin daily.
- Each day we will clean and disinfect all common areas and buildings.
- All activity areas and equipment will be cleaned between any use from a different cohort.
- We ask that parents reduce the number of packages that are sent to camp and restrict them as much as possible to necessary items. This will help reduce the amount of delivery traffic we have from outside delivery services during camp.
- FLC will create pre-assembled care package options through the online camp store that will include many new fun items. Packages can also be custom ordered with items for sale in the camp store.
- No restrictions on regular mail.
Staff Configuration and Time-Off
Our staff will also have adjustments to their cabin staffing and to their normal off time that will make sure we maintain the closed bubble at FLC.
Cabin & Activity Staffing Best Practice:
- Staff will be assigned to a cabin for the full 5 week camp period.
- Staff will be primarily assigned wherever possible to teach activities within their camp cohorts.
- Staff teaching campers from another cohort will be required to wear a mask when appropriate distancing can not be accomplished.
- Camper to staff ratio will not be affected.
Cabin Staff Time-Off:
- Staff are not permitted into any public places off camp during time-off.
- We are creating a myriad of new options for our counselors this summer to make sure they are able to enjoy their time at FLC while putting the camper first. This includes opening up activity areas during non-activity period times for their use and offering them many options (and of course pizza!) for activities together.
We pride ourselves in always putting the camper first at FLC, and armed with this plan, we and our full staff are committed to honoring that promise to you this summer. We know how much our campers want to be at FLC, and our team will continue to do whatever we can to let them be kids this summer.
To read the FAQs from our Town Hall please click here
To see all our COVID-19 Updates please click here