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.