Aloha Summer 2020: A Message from Colleen Hagan Egl and Erika Schlichter

 

Click here for a video message from Camp Carysbrook

 

There is no easy way to say this. We fought a good fight. But leadership means knowing when it is time to recognize where we are and how to re-calibrate. With no path forward and a deficit of time, Camp Carysbrook has made the difficult decision to cancel our remaining 2020 session. In an effort to reach our campers directly, we made the attached video as we know that they will grieve the summer as much as we have.

We are dismayed at the lack of guidance or any time frame to permit overnight camps in Virginia to operate despite all of our collective efforts to show not only that we can operate safely outdoors this summer, but also how much Carysbrook is needed. It is especially heartbreaking when we know that it is spaces like summer camps where true community is fostered across both privilege and inequity.

It was our intention to stay flexible while we safely moved through the various phases; however, despite all the calls and emails, overnight summer camp operations have received neither guidance nor guarantee. Based on conversations we have had in recent days, it seems overnight camps are only beginning to be evaluated, and today it was announced that overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in Phase 3.

There is nothing sadder than a camp without a camper. This haven was created in 1923 for young women to explore the beauty of nature in the shade of Miss Kat’s bath, to forge closer bonds with people who are not like you as you tube down the Little River, to reflect on the moments of growth and opportunity by the campfire, and to be lulled to dream by the bullfrogs under a starry sky. We see footprints and heart prints left here from our previous summers, but we are incomplete without the campers and staff of the 97th summer.

We recognize that it is a privilege to come to camp and can only hope it is one all of us will now treasure even more after this fragile world made this summer impossible. We are so grateful to everyone who advocated on our behalf and supported us through this process. Although this will be a trying time emotionally and financially, we appreciate every act of kindness and generosity to help us come out on the other side. We plan to offer more opportunities to help Carysbrook survive, including an option to rent cabins this summer as a family or a mother-daughter retreat to rest and relax in the 24149 this summer starting July 3rd. More information and 2021 dates to follow.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the form to indicate how to process refunds as well. If you did not complete the form, we will automatically roll your tuition over to next year. Your generosity to camp will be paid forward in the continued care of our community as we preserve this space and expand its efficacy and its reach to provide a safe space for young women of all “economic, racial, geographic, religious, ethnic and social” backgrounds going forward.

Before we dig further into that work, we are going to take a moment and mourn what we have lost. A summer to remember when we needed it most. And once we have, we will pick ourselves back up modeling the courage and tenacity grown at Camp Carysbrook until we can be together again. Stay tuned.

Until then, Aloha…

It’s more than just an easy word for casual good-bye;
It’s brighter than a greeting and it’s sadder than a sigh;
It has the hurting poignancy, the pathos of a sob;
It’s sweeter than a youthful heart’s exquisite joyous throb;
It’s all the tender messages that words cannot convey;
It’s tears unshed, and longing for a loved one gone away;
It’s welcome to Carysbrook and it’s lingering farewell;
It’s all the dear and silent things that only a friend can tell;
It’s woven into friendship bracelets and our old camp songs;
It’s frailer than a spider-web and strong as our team bonds;
It’s fresh as dew on daisy blooms and older than the moon;
It’s in the little lullabys that campfire chorus croons;
It’s said a hundred different ways, in sadness and in joy;
Aloha means “I love you.” So, I say “Aloha Oe”

-adapted from “Aloha Oe” by Don Blanding

Black Lives Matter: A Statement from Colleen Hagan Egl and Erika Schlichter

 

*** Adapted from social media post June 2, 2020 ***

At Camp Carysbrook, we strive to provide a social and physical environment that promotes, develops and enhances the emotional, social, and spiritual potential of each camper and assists them in the discovery and enjoyment of themselves and the richness of life as they grow and develop.

We believe that Black lives matter and we are overwhelmed with grief and anger at the systemic racism that led to the murder of George Floyd last week along with countless Black men and women across this country.

We at Camp Carysbrook acknowledge the systemic racial barriers that people of color have faced when it comes to accessing outdoor spaces and recreation, including summer camp, and we are committed to challenging ourselves to be better listeners, partners, and advocates in changing that.

We will stand and be brave together with you, and if we get it wrong, we will apologize and do better. We are dedicated to modeling the change we want to see in the world outside our gates. This is our power, and it is imperative that we each find a way to replicate the safety and space for everyone to be able to thrive.

At Camp Carysbrook, we are finding hope in the outcomes we seek to instill in our campers such as:

· learning how to use our influence to empower ourselves and those we care about

· leading with empathy and awareness

· staying curious and asking questions to find deeper meaning and connection

· finding value and worth in every member of the community

· recognizing that our differences are but a part of the fabric that blankets us and makes us whole

· finding our voices to speak up when we need to do better and change things

“Everything we need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be” is right here at Camp Carysbrook. And it is up to all of us to take that out of the gate and down the gravel road to wherever it is that we find ourselves to make this world a place we want to live in the rest of the year.

In the spirit of Carysbrook,
Colleen & Erika

COVID-19 Update May 8, 2020: A Message from Colleen Hagan Egl

 

We have all been inundated with news and information over the past few days, and frankly with a lot of opinion-based rather than science-based information regarding COVID-19 and how the pandemic will impact camp. We continue to monitor all the information and sort through it with the guidance of our veteran medical panel and the American Camp Association (ACA).

On May 7th, the media reported that the White House had tabled the CDC guidelines that were being developed for a range of industries, including the camp industry. In the absence of federal guidelines, I consulted with the Environmental Health Manager at the Montgomery County Health Department. We discussed at length next steps, and he agreed with my time table on decision-making starting June 1 for the sessions starting June 21st.

While we have not received any guidance specific to summer camps from the office of the Governor, the Governor did announce today that overnight camps will not open in Phase 1 in Virginia. Phase 1, anticipated to begin May 15 could last 2-3 weeks but could last longer.

This is consistent with the information presented today at the ACA Town Hall. The ACA has been working with the CDC and the YMCA, as well as an independent consulting company, Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. (EHEINC) to develop a field guide consolidating information not only from the CDC, but also from the EPA and OSHA, with suggested practices for summer day and overnight camps. Among the topics covered are resources and best practices for:

  • Opening Decision Support
  •  Safety Actions
  •  Monitoring & Preparing
  •  Pandemic Surveillance

They have already released a “Suggested Camp Supplies and materials for 2020 Camp Season,” and we our working with our vendors to secure the recommended products and quantities. They will release Day and Overnight Camp Documents May 11 and suggested practices May 15. The full Field Guide will be available May 18, subject to review.

We continue to remain cautiously optimistic with the decision deadlines we put in place in our last message. While this summer certainly will look different from a “normal” summer, we will continue to partner with you to make this a summer to remember for your girls, who need the comfort of a space that manages risk but also feeds the soul with social connection, Vitamin D, and physical activity outdoors.

 

 

COVID-19 Update April 16, 2020: A Message from Colleen Hagan Egl

 

Masks, gloves, six feet apart, and quarantine are the new normal. Meanwhile at camp, mowers and weed eaters, chainsaws and the tractor are humming along, tending the landscape of the 24149 to be ready, primed for what we are all collectively holding our breath for: that Camp Carysbrook will announce we are open for a summer to remember. Phone calls and emails to Erika, along with Zoom meetings with staff members, parents, campers, and alums have become the absolute highlight of these strangely drawn-out days and weeks. Every word and gesture of support, from a simple post-it note “thank you” in the mail to a response on a social media post, means the world to us and gives us even more strength to fight for our most important summer to date.

 

 

When will we know? What will be different? These are swirling questions for us all. Right now we are all being forced to make tough decisions with the information that’s currently available, which could change, depending on a number of variables, and does, almost daily, all while we navigate this new normal. We continue to check in with the ACA and the Montgomery County Health Department. We watch the Virginia governor’s press briefings for clues, and yet with 59 days until camp, there is still nothing definitive. We know you want answers and so do we. So let us share with you what we do know.

 

 

At this time, the American Camp Association (ACA) has advised us in an email as follows:

“ACA has had the opportunity to connect with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they develop COVID-19 guidance for day and overnight camps for this summer. The CDC’s guidance will help state public health authorities and camp directors with their summer decisions, as well as utilize best practices in health management, community management, and camp operations.

The CDC advises camps to give themselves as much time as possible before making final decisions about the summer. That’s because you’ll need to use the upcoming CDC point of view in your decision-making process. Rest assured we will keep you closely informed about when the CDC will release their guidance.”

American Camp Association, April 15, 2020

Like you, we are processing our present situation and considering our future with very little definitive information. I am a planner without a plan. And that never lasts long with me, so we have a series of backup plans in order to be ready when the time comes to make the decisions of what this summer looks like. But to be sure, it will require patience, flexibility, determination, and risk-management from all of us. It’s a good thing we have been nurturing these skills summer after summer for decades.

We believe the service we provide at Camp Carysbrook is integral to the recovery and reintegration into society of our campers as a result of this pandemic, in addition to the everyday obstacles the modern world already presents to young women. So the viability of the summer is something we believe is worth fighting for, and if waiting for a plan from health professionals is what we need to do, we will do it.

Meanwhile, here’s what WE are doing now:

  • We are in touch with our food and other supply vendors to secure essential supplies like cleaning and disinfecting supplies, TOILET PAPER, hand soap, etc.
  • We are consulting with other camps in Virginia and West Virginia, to share information and ideas and formulate timelines to make an informed decision for Camp Carysbrook.
  • We are evaluating our health policies and procedures with veteran camp health professionals to address COVID-19 and assess our current facilities, including installing more handwashing stations at camp and improving the bathhouse facility for improved ease of disinfection.
  • We are in touch with the agencies that provide our invaluable international staff and we are closely monitoring decisions by the State Department and travel restrictions going forward, and we hope to know more by mid-May. As part of our safety and health measures in addition to guidelines from the CDC, ACA, and the Montgomery County Health Department, we are advising campers and staff to self-quarantine before camp and follow any government-mandated orders.
  • In order to ease the pressures of getting your camper’s health documentation in order, we will be extending the deadline for completing your health profile in CampDoc to June 1, 2020. Please contact Erika in the office if, for any reason, you’re unable to schedule a doctor’s appointment prior to this date.
  • We are using the following calendar as a guide to decision-making for operations by session as follows:

June 1 decision on opening on June 21 for the 1,3, and 7 week sessions

June 15 decision on opening on June 28 for the 2,6 and modified 3 and 7 week sessions

June 30 decision on opening July 12 for the 4 and modified 6 and 7 week sessions

We will stay flexible to offer campers not signed up for those sessions a spot if available on a first come first serve basis. Please stay flexible with us as we try to make an earlier decision where possible or otherwise make changes to these goals. If your camper’s session is modified, we will adjust the tuition. We will keep monitoring the situation and keep you updated accordingly.

 

 

What YOU can do now:

  • Pediatricians are offering telemedicine appointments. We strongly recommend discussing both your camper’s health including any conditions exacerbated by COVID-19 such as pulmonary conditions, asthma, and immuno-compromised conditions AND your camper’s plans to attend camp. Your pediatrician will be the best expert to advise you on whether or not attending camp this summer will be the right decision for you. If your camper does have one of these conditions, or if you have any concerns about her health, please contact your pediatrician if your paperwork was completed before March 15, in order to provide a more accurate assessment of your camper’s readiness for the camp experience.
  • Make a plan that is flexible. That means making travel arrangements that can be adjusted depending on circumstances after booking. Travel insurance is your best protection if you need to book flights.
  • Continue following your state’s social distancing and stay at home orders. Wash your hands!
  • Teach your campers the importance of good personal hygiene in the time of COVID-19. Their counselors will guide them once they are at camp, but these are new life skills and starting now will make for healthy habits at camp washing hands frequently before meals, after activities and after going to the bathroom. Not sharing clothing, utensils, hair brushes and hair ties, and water bottles will be essential to a healthy camp now more than ever. Not sharing clothing and learning to put dirty clothes in a hamper not back in a drawer or trunk will be essential at home or at camp.

 

Erika and I continue to pilot uncharted waters, proceeding with staff interviews, parent phone calls, cabin lists, bills, loans, and putting the puzzle together again for a summer to remember after a spring of disruption we might rather forget. We check on each other, commiserate, share tips and recipes and hope, drawing on Carysbrook for inspiration to do much with the bare minimum and inject the monotony of our new normal with creativity like we have learned in the 24149. We hope that you do too. As new business owners, Joe and I have made calculations as best and as informed as we can, and to not have camp at all is our absolute last option. We operate the business year round while opening our doors for two months; and, much like a festival or a wedding, there are never ending to-do lists and payables in anticipation of the main event. What that looks like we still cannot predict, but with trust at the foundation of our whole relationship, you can trust that we will do our best by you no matter what the future holds. We are all in this together. And you can trust that, while there is no foolproof method to navigate these challenges, our priority is the care, health, and safety of your campers, and the health of camp as a business to be here for young women 1923 until forever.

COVID-19 Update March 30, 2020: A Message from Colleen Hagan Egl

 

The daffodils are in full bloom and the rhododendrons have purple buds teasing us that life is normal. Like you, we know it is not and the toughest part is that there is more that we don’t know than what we do. We have reviewed the Stay-At-Home Order issued today by the Virginia Governor “in effect until June 10, 2020 unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.” At this time, unless otherwise ordered, we are planning to open according to plan on June 21, 2020. As you can imagine, we are as eager as you are for some certainty, however at this time we have been advised it would not be prudent to make any final decision on the summer otherwise.

In the unfortunate event that camp is ordered not to open, we will do our best to work with families to make any insurance claims that are applicable, to roll tuition over to the following year, or to pursue a refund as we try, in our flagship year of ownership, to do the right thing by our customers while staying in business to be there for you all for years to come.

We are working with the Montgomery County Health Department to better understand the specifics of how the order applies to Camp Carysbrook even though it does not, at this date, impact our opening start date. That said, we will continue to stay flexible, while adhering to any applicable governance, to finding a path to open camp this summer. We anticipate that we will review our plans again towards the end of April/beginning of May, however, as of today, we are proceeding according to the original plan.

 

 

So how do you plan for camp during these times? Well my response is how do you not? This year we are set to celebrate our 97th summer and it may be our most important yet. My grandmother started camp in the depths of the Great Depression and it remained, long after her camp days ended, as her most cherished memory of carefree days. We are all going to need a safe haven to transition out of our homes and back into a community of in-person interactions, unplugged. There is no kinder, gentler, less complicated place for that than Camp Carysbrook. And so Erika and I prepare for that moment when we can receive the socially distanced and technology wrought young women who count on the Carysbrook experience to help make life make sense. This is where our focus is right now because when this is all over, Camp Carysbrook will need to be there and ready to receive you.

We hope you all stay safe at home and in doing so know that you are doing your part to make this summer at camp possible. Our hearts go out to those in our community who are ill and we are grateful for the courage and dedication of all of the healthcare professionals among us keeping us safe and healthy. These are tough times for us all. Camp Carysbrook is here with the grace, if not all the answers, you need right now. Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can be a support to you as we continue to plan with cautious optimism that all your sacrifice and efforts will produce the results we need and we will be greeting you in the respite of the 24149 this summer.

Camp Carysbrook COVID-19 Update

 

As the situation with the COVID-19 virus, designated this week as a National Emergency, grows more serious, we at Camp Carysbrook continue to be vigilant and alert, and we encourage you all to do the same. Since the time of our first email to 2020 camper families, we have seen proactive measures beyond vigorous hand-washing recommendations in the form of event and even school cancellations to contain the virus spread. We want to reiterate that at this time, there has been no advisement that there will be any disruption to the summer that Erika and her incredible team are preparing. In fact, we have been seeing reports that an outdoor environment may be one of the healthiest places to be with plenty of fresh air and wide open spaces, as long as our health policies and procedures for communicable diseases like the Coronavirus, among others, are in place and properly executed.

That said, it may be wise to explore your protection options including insurance offered by CampDoc at the time of registration. If you are concerned about tuition refunds now that the January 1, 2020 refund policy deadline has passed, we recommend that you contact CampDoc if you have not already purchased their protection plan or if you have any questions regarding coverage. If you are concerned about travel insurance as well, we have been encouraged to recommend Travel Guard to protect your travel plans. We have been in contact with our insurance carrier and we have been advised that the best solution at this time is to make sure customers have their own insurance in order to be able to pursue a refund under the terms of that protection. As you may imagine, because we are a small business, there are a host of financial commitments even before the summer comes, and we are already accountable to service agreements and capital improvement projects for 2020 investing in this summer and beyond for our campers. Therefore, we will be relying on you to make arrangements for insurance including but not limited to any changes to your camper’s schedule including illness, presentation of symptoms at the camp screening, or exposure to the virus within the past two weeks prior to camp. Continuing to partner with you to keep our camp community healthy and to honor our financial commitments will enable us to persevere in these difficult and uncertain times and also continue to operate camp for years to come.

In the spirit of Camp Carysbrook, we would also like to offer a few fun suggestions to support you as you take the recommended measures of social distancing and limiting contact while children are out of school. This is a great time to get outside and go for a walk or a hike in a secluded or unpopulated area. It’s also an incredibly valuable time to connect with those in your home, much like at camp, so ask them to teach you a card game they know, or encourage them to write a letter to someone they are excited to see at camp this summer, maybe even do a book club. Some campers, new and returning, may also find that following the camp schedule is a fun way to structure these days and a great opportunity for you to help them practice for camp including excellent personal hygiene, not only washing hands but also helping sort clean and dirty laundry, getting their living space ready for “inspection”, and even taking rest hour. Carysbrook campers have an excellent bag of tools for times like this, so get out the board games and spend these nights in, make your own evening program like skits, mini rock concert, sing-off, or some quality backyard stargazing. Camp skills are life skills!

We hope that these ideas and information will help you create memories and manage the anxiety of the unknown. We will continue to monitor the situation, consult with the CDC, the ACA, and the medical and health professionals advising us at Camp Carysbrook, and communicate to you the most up to date information.  And we trust that everyone will do their part to listen to the experts and heed their advice to contain and minimize the impact of this virus well within the timeframe of the start of camp so that we can proceed with caution and hope that this will be yet another summer to remember for all the right reasons.

Turning Generosity into a Summer To Remember

 

What happens when you donate to the tax-deductible CCAA Scholarship Fund?

 

When you donate any amount to the tax-deductible ACA scholarship fund in the name of Camp Carysbrook, as sponsored by the CCAA, more girls are able to experience Carysbrook regardless of “economic, racial, geographic, religious, ethnic and social” background (American Camp Association). This fund has a broad impact in enriching not just that camper, but our community as a whole and helps fulfill one of our top organizational goals of promoting diversity at Camp Carysbrook. In our efforts to make Camp Carysbrook a genuine living, learning community, we are committed to creating greater real-world diversity in our camp culture, and the CCAA scholarship fund is integral in undertaking this endeavor.

 

In this season of gratitude there can be no greater gift than when those who have benefited from the privilege of the Carysbrook experience find the inspiration to contribute to the enduring, rich tapestry of the camp community by passing that on to someone else. Noblesse oblige, “the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged” (Oxford Dictionary), was at the heart of the Prestons’ Carysbrook experience. They made it a badge of honor to lend a hand when you can. In partnership with the American Camp Association, the CCAA has built on that foundation, as well as on  Toni Baughman’s idea that “there is a place at camp for every girl, bold, shy, athletic, musical …” and who, for circumstances beyond her control, might not have the life-altering opportunity of a #summer2remember.

 

The CCAA shines a lovely light on those legacies. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around, can warm up to its glowing” (Camp Carysbrook Alma Mater). Let’s keep the fire going this #GivingTuesday

 

https://campcarysbrook.com/donate/

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