Running Summer Camps in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era


Image added March 16, 2020 from Anne Marie Darling

Published March 12, 2020 and last updated July 11, 2020

Health has always been the number one priority at Wolf Camp, as it should be for all educational programs. Being outdoors itself is a prime mitigation tool against the transmission of disease, but we still plan to follow health guidelines as if we were operating indoors, ensuring greater than 6′ distancing between unrelated students when stationary and 12′ when mobile, use of masks, strict hygiene and contact tracing protocols. Health & Education Director Kim Chisholm has received her 6 hour Contact Tracing Certificate through Johns Hopkins University which provides multiple types of communicable disease prevention training.

We received confirmation from the governor on June 10th that along with all summer day camps and child care centers, we are considered an essential business. Please read the letter which includes a Washington State Health Department link detailing minimum Covid-19 protocols necessary for day camps and child care facilities. Here at Wolf Camp, we developed policies and procedures (summarized further down on the page) in late March which far surpass those required by the state.

From: MIL WA Essential Business <waessentialbusiness@mil.wa.gov>
Subject: 20-25 Response
Date: June 10, 2020 at 8:45:55 AM PDT

Thank you for your inquiry. The Safe Start plan for reopening Washington state does not address childcare or education. Child care has remained open and may continue to operate. For Summer Day Camp and Youth Programming included in this guidance, we recommend they start when their school year would typically end (this is not uniform across the state). As is stated in the guidance, families who are able to safely keep their children and youth home should continue to do so, but we understand this is not always possible. Especially as more communities move through phases and more sectors come on line. 
 
This guidance should be followed throughout the summer and until the DOH provides updated guidance for the safe operation of programs serving children and youth. Please review the guidance document here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DOH-OSPI-DYCF-SchoolsChildCareGuidance.pdf  
For your information, the following are links to Department of Health, Department of Labor & Industries and Governor’s Office phased re-opening guidance:  
 
Safe start plans and guidance for reopening: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start 
Department of Labor and Industries guidance. 
Department of Health guidance: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus/Workplace  
Thank you. 
 
COVID-19 SEOC Business Response Center 

Our policies and procedures exceed summer camp guidelines published regarding the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes, Covid-19 in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Washington State Department of Health, as well as King and Pierce County where we hold our programs.

Even though state guidelines don’t tie summer day camps to any phase, we will nevertheless – A) run day camps at a 4-1 camper-instructor ratio corresponding to Phase II of the Washington State Business Opening Process ; B) cap all programs at 50 participants including staff (or a maximum of one bathroom per group of 8 campers and 2 staff) in compliance with Phase III guidelines; and C) institute multiple hygiene and logistical protocols such as a pick-up / drop-off procedures with campers screened with temperature and histories, exiting vehicles directly to a designated meeting point for their 4-1 camp group, although two groups may orbit one another, allowing a lead instructor with 4 campers to supervise a near-by assistant instructor with 4 campers. Within groups, unrelated campers will nonetheless maintain 6-12′ distancing to prevent exposure and simplify contact tracing.

Strict Outdoor Distancing, PPE, Pre-Program Screening & Virtual Day Camp Option

In the survival field, we have been preparing for, and working to prevent, situations like a pandemic throughout our careers. We run programs that focus on skills of emergency preparedness and survival, including how to avoid communicable diseases and what to do in case of pandemic. Although our programs take place in open-air spaces, we are not aware of any peer reviewed, published studies regarding the rate of virus dispersal in the outdoors. So to be safe, we will follow indoor distancing protocols even while outdoors. History of Interest: Lessons from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

We have always tried to strike a balance when determining professional distancing while teaching. Many of the skills we impart are naturally hands-on. But in the new reality, instructors will have to consider new distancing protocols when helping students. If we can run camps, we will likely replace games and activities that involve student-to-student contact with other methods of building skills and social interaction in the outdoors.

The set-up of our programs will follow WHO protocols and other scientifically based guidance such as designing work stations which are separated by over 6 feet, having appropriate sanitizing and disinfecting supplies available at all times (along with a strict disinfection schedule) and use of P.P.E. including masks.

Families will need to complete our new Communicable Disease Screening form a day before attending camps this summer. Temperature checks and other steps will be required upon arrival every day. Staff will also follow strict screening protocol and will not work or be on site if they present transmission risk.

Hygiene

Along with historical requirements that Wolf Camp participants always wash hands before every meal and after using the bathroom, greatly enhanced protocols will be instituted for the continued safety of campers and staff this year. Once again, guidelines will be monitored, and our practices during a potential camp season will follow as changes occur. At a minimum, we will require hand washing and/or hand sanitizing at regular intervals in addition to before and after using the bathroom, before and after eating, before and after using tools, after accidentally touching faces or other high-risk surfaces, and after stepping away for a covered cough or sneeze. Staff will perform thorough cleaning and disinfecting of bathrooms and other structures such as tables and benches before and after programs, including all surfaces people may tend to touch (chairs, pens, credit card swipers, books, markers, etc.) also employing virus sanitizing sprays, etc. before/after/if different student groups utilize a same location. The number and quality of washing and sanitizing stations will increase, and we’ll specifically train staff in additional protocols such as ways to help students remember to avoid touching faces, and of course shaking hands or touching people outside their family/personal circles.

Refund Policy as Risk Management

One of the policies we have always had in place is a refund policy that offers 100% credit toward future programs for any cancellation reason, something that has always helped prevent the spread of colds, flus, and other communicable diseases at Wolf Camp. The policy has helped people avoid feeling like they needed to attend for fear of losing money. To prevent disease transmission, it should always be fine to cancel at the last minute. This year, we will also give day-by-day credit to any participant who may be experiencing symptoms, who had any recent exposure to communicable diseases like the novel coronavirus, or who has planned contact with vulnerable populations.

We are also offering Virtual Day Camps are designed for those who prefer distance learning, or who do not pass our screening requirements in advance of attendance.

Feedback

Please email us or comment below with questions and suggestions. If you would like a copy of our official communicable disease policies and procedures including Covid-19 updates, please let us know and we will share a link to those. Wolf Camp parents will receive that link as part of their registration process.

We want to thank you for helping us build a new reality going forward that will help keep people safe, and  perhaps even inspiring a simultaneous reduction other communicable diseases like seasonal flu as we fight the newest pandemic. We believe Wolf Camp has been and will continue to be one of the safest places for people to be during the pandemic era. With gratitude, – Kim & Chris Chisholm

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