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Camp Walter Scott Covid-19 Policies and Procedures 2021

By April 14, 2021Covid-19

*This is a general overview as of 4/14/2021 and is subject to change as we get closer to the camping season. Any changes will be disclosed via email and social media updates from the Region when changes are made*

Introduction

After ongoing conversations with the Illinois Department of Public Health, attending webinars provided by the American Camping Association (ACA) and the Christian Camping and Conference Association (CCCA), and working with our own staff and volunteers within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), we believe it is possible to safely hold overnight programming at Camp Walter Scott this summer. If we are advised that it is unsafe to hold programs or the State of Illinois does not change its position on camps, we will not open camp.

We want to be as transparent as possible regarding how we reached this decision and how we move forward in this process. To that end, here is a video link to the most recent ACA webinar, which showed statistical evidence of safe camping practices being able to be implemented with social distancing, mask wearing, testing/monitoring, and altered programming. The most encouraging statistics shared from the webinar included the fact that very few camps had outbreaks (defined as more than three people being infected) last summer and most held alternative camping programs without any cases at all.

This document will hopefully help outline what responsibilities the Camp Walter Scott staff and volunteers will be working through to make summer 2021 safe and healthy in compliance with the recommendations of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. Many of our policies come from ongoing conversations with the health department in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines of safe summer camps found here –https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/summer-camps.html

Many people may be vaccinated, many may have negative Covid tests, even, but the health department and the evidence from the ACA has reminded us that we do not know enough about the virus or the vaccine to be able to make plans around them. If someone is vaccinated, there may still be a chance that person could carry the disease and transmit it to another person who has not yet received the vaccine. Because of this, all of our protocols will be required to be observed and adhered to by every person who will be at Camp Walter Scott this summer. This includes staff, campers, and volunteers. Anyone who refuses to adhere to these guidelines will be asked to leave immediately as we are needing to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of the wider community.

**Note** It may be possible that as we approach the time when camp will be happening that there will be enough vaccines, the Covid numbers may go down drastically, or the Center for Disease Control may change their recommendations for how to have safe practices for summer camp. We are open to changing our programming to resemble a more “normal” year, but we will only do so under the guidance of the health department. This is a working document and it will be continually updated as we get more information from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and as we develop more of our policies and procedures for Camp Walter Scott 2021.

If you have any questions that you believe are unanswered by this document, please reach out to our Associate Regional Minister for Young Adults, Youth, and Children Rev. Eli Rolon Jeong at [email protected] or our Camp Host Laura Williams at [email protected] to make sure that your questions and concerns can be addressed.**

 

Covid Protocols

  1. Overview

While we are hopeful that by June, a good portion of the population will be vaccinated and the threat of Covid will be greatly reduced, we have been advised by the health department not to count on everyone being vaccinated and to still adhere to safe practices as much as possible when going through our camping program. That will include:

    1. Masks – You may bring masks from home or a mask will be provided for you at Camp. Masks must be worn when inside and social distancing cannot occur.
    2. Social Distancing – It will be encouraged for people to be at least 6 feet apart at all times. This means that family groups, bunks, closing circles, and other traditions will need to be altered as well.
    3. Handwashing – Several handwashing breaks will be built into the schedule to be observed throughout the day.
    4. Testing –A negative Covid test performed within 72 hours prior to attending camp is mandatory for all attending. Upon taking their Covid test, individuals should limit their exposures to others leading up to their time at camp.
    5. Monitoring – We will have daily temperature checks around meal times as a part of ongoing monitoring of the health and safety of our campers, counselors, directors, staff, and volunteers.

 

  1. Scenarios
    1. Positive test for close contact at home – If someone the camper/volunteer/staffer has been living with (i.e. a parent, spouse, or child) tests positive during the week of camp, there is still a risk of exposure (i.e. if John Doe comes to camp on Sunday and on Tuesday, John’s parents test positive, even though they are home and John is at camp, there is still a chance that John could have been infected). We ask that if this is the case that the camp be notified so that the individual may go through isolation protocol and anyone in their cabin/ family group can receive notice as well and begin their isolation protocol.
    2. Symptoms during daily monitoring – Any individuals that show symptoms (fever, illness, loss of taste/smell, ect) will be asked to immediately go into isolation protocol. If they test negative and their symptoms do not progress after a period of time, they may be allowed to return to the camp program. Any individual showing symptoms will also have their cabin/family group enter seclusion until they can be assessed.
    3. Positive test after returning home – Any individuals that return home and test positive within 5 days of returning home, we ask that our Covid Point Person Laura Williams be contacted immediately so that we can contact trace and inform the cabin mates and other campers from the previous week of their possible risk of exposure.
    4. Positive test of counselor – While it is our hope that by the time camps happen this summer that most of our counselors would be able to be vaccinated, we cannot guarantee that this will happen. To that end, we will be requiring every open cabin to have two counselors. This will increase our ability to continue the camping week with only one counselor in the event that one of the counselors does test positive and needs to enter isolation protocol. Should one counselor test positive, they will enter isolation protocol and the cabin in question will be secluded in their cabin until they can properly be assessed.

 

    1. Isolation Protocols
      1. If an individual meets the requirements for isolation ( symptoms of Covid during monitoring, ect) they will be accompanied immediately by a nurse to the isolation area. We will designate Cabin 1 as the isolation area. If the individual has tested positive, the Health Department will be notified, their parents will be asked to pick them up, and the rest of the cabin/family group will enter into seclusion within their cabins until they can be tested as well. If the person is exhibiting symptoms, their guardian will be contacted so that approval can be given to take the person to the local hospital for additional testing and treatment. If the person has no symptoms, we will work with the Health Department to try and do additional testing to see if there was perhaps a false positive. Until the test comes back, the person will be asked to stay in isolation.
        1. Additionally, the camp will be notified of the positive test, and anyone who chooses can contact their parents/guardians to pick them up if they feel unsafe.
        2. If this is the case, our staff will be monitored and tested regularly to ensure that they are not infected. All of the camp will be cleaned thoroughly several times and we will do our best to prepare for coming weeks.
        3. We will also contact the parents/guardians of those who are planning to attend in the coming weeks. Of course, if they do not feel comfortable sending their child to camp, we will offer a full refund for their registration.
      2. If the person is not exhibiting symptoms, the parents/guardians will be notified, as well as the Health Department but we will administer additional tests and monitoring while the individual is in isolation. We will continue to keep them in isolation until they are picked up by a guardian, transported to a hospital, or given an “all clear” by the Health Department.
      3. If a cabin group is isolating, they will also be tested and anyone testing positive will move over to the isolation side of camp.
      4. If there are multiple positive tests from across various cabin groups, the camp will be shut down, the Health Department and the Center for Disease Control will be notified, and they will conduct testing for the entire camp and will follow up by advising on next steps regarding how to care for and transport individuals who are infected and how to safely allow for uninfected individuals to return home.

 

  1.  Volunteers and Staff
    1. Volunteers—As we are going to be dependent on our volunteer leaders (Directors and counselors), our Counselor Training will be mandatory for this summer. If someone cannot attend training, they may not serve as a volunteer. While we do not have assurances that all of the counselors will have had the opportunity to have been vaccinated before Camp starts, we cannot require that they all be vaccinated. We do, however, have a policy that anyone who has refused a vaccine (that is, they have been given the chance, and chosen not to be vaccinated) will be asked not to serve as a volunteer this summer.
      1. Volunteers will be responsible for knowing and assisting in Covid protocols.
      2. As we need two counselors per cabin, and as we need as many counselors as possible to be vaccinated, we would like to ask those who may be available to strongly consider serving as a volunteer during a week at Camp this summer.
    2. Nurses – Anyone serving as a nurse is required to be vaccinated. We will ask each week to have two nurses to help facilitate an easier and more spread out schedule of distributing medications throughout the week.
    3. Staff – All staff will be strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. If they are unable to get a vaccine before camp, then a negative Covid test, as well as limited exposure to others will be mandatory.

 

  1. Facilities
    1. Laura Williams, our Camp Host, will be responsible for the cleaning of Camp. She will have several volunteers who will assist her in this responsibility.
    2. Camp bathrooms and shared spaces (i.e. Dining Hall) will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily.
    3. There will be signs encouraging safe practices posted around camp (i.e. handwashing, not leaving toiletries on countertops, ect)
    4. There will be adjustments to the facilities to allow for social distancing and open air spaces.
      1. Campers will be asked to sleep alternatively in upper and lower bunks so as to spread out.
      2. The Dining Hall will have all of the doors opened and fans circulating air throughout the building.
      3. Markers will be visible in shared spaces so that when programs take place in these areas, they can be done so safely while observing social distancing.

 

  1. Weekly Logistics
    1. Arrivals– We will have tents set up outside to assist in the registration process. Counselors will be on hand to help move campers into their cabin/Hogan. Parents will not be allowed inside the facilities (except for bathrooms in the Dining Hall).
    2. Contact during the week – Parents/guardians will be required to give a phone number that is the best to reach them at in the case do an emergency. As we will be on high alert regarding possible Covid risks, we ask that parents/guardians be especially attentive to calls from Camp so that we may be able to address any issues as rapidly as possible.
    3. Cabin Groups – While this impacts some camp programs more than others, we will be having cabin groups stay together most of the week. Whenever more “close quarters” situations are absolutely necessary (i.e. overnight, meal times, shower times) cabin groups will stay together for this part of the day.
    4. Daily Routine – Many aspects of our daily programming will be altered to be able to accommodate for increased social distancing. We will include several hand washing breaks throughout the day. Every cabin will have designated hand washing areas and times so as to not overlap with other cabin groups. We will have scheduled shower times for different cabin groups so there is not overlap between cabin groups in the mornings/evenings. This will also allow for cleaning by our staff in between shower times.
    5. Meal Times – Campers will go through the serving line as usual. Items that are self serve will be in individual containers. Tables will be spread out throughout the dining hall, and areas will be available outside to sit as well.
    6. F. Singing—If the weather permits, we will go outside for singing. Masks will be required during singing.
    7. Weekly Programming – Each week is responsible for its own programming (i.e. CYF, Chi Rho, JYF will all have to examine their own schedule of activities) but will be required to adhere to enforcing social distance and masked programming at all times. It may be possible to modify some of our existing programming, but new ideas will be needed to take the place of some of our traditional weekly practices at Camp. Additional information regarding each specific week’s schedule will become available as the directors develop new programming.

 

Conclusion

It is not going to look or feel like what we traditionally experience at Camp Walter Scott. In many ways, it will be an incredibly difficult summer for us to be so close to old friends and loved ones without being able to connect with them in the ways that we normally do. It will be difficult to not be able to engage in some of our beloved traditions that we have known for many years at Camp Walter Scott. It will be a difficult summer.

It will also be a beautiful time when we can be together, united by the Holy Spirit. It will be beautiful to see the creativity and the resilience of our campers, our volunteers, our staff, and the way that God is at work at Camp Walter Scott. Many religious traditions were born out of trials and tribulations. The Passover meal came as a response to the plagues and exodus story. When Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the Jewish people developed new religious practices to be able to worship in a decentralized location – thus local tabernacles (or temples and eventually churches) were developed. The people who were taken into exile, away from their homeland and their loved ones, wrote some of the most beautiful and poignant sections of what we read in the Bible today. Even the Last Supper was a sacred meal shared on the eve of death.

We are in the middle of a plague (pandemic), a confusing time when our sacred locations are not safe and our holy rituals cannot comfort us. While it is difficult and painful, it is also an opportunity for us to create new beauty in our relationships with one another and with God. In fact, these are the times when God does some of his most amazing work. We look forward to being open to God shaping us during this summer, but we know we can only do this if Camp is a safe and healthy environment for everyone who walks onto this hallowed ground.

We will continue to work with the Health Department, closely follow the updates from the Center for Disease Control, and be in communication with parents, campers, volunteers, and staff as we move forward in the coming months. We will share updated programs and developments/ changes to our protocols if the state of the pandemic changes. Most importantly, and to reiterate from the introduction: We are confident in our ability to open Camp Walter Scott this summer by following guidance from the American Camping Association and the Center for Disease Control. However, if we are advised that it is unsafe or the State of Illinois has not changed their positions on camps, we will not open.

Lastly, we ask that you please be in prayer these coming weeks and months. Pray for your own discernment as to how best to proceed with your own health and safety. Pray for our leadership in government and in the region that they may make wise decisions. Pray for those that have known grief from this virus. Pray that the world may know healing and wholeness that comes ultimately from our God who we know in Christ.

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