We are thrilled to say that Camp Champions had a successful Summer 2020, operating for 9 weeks with zero cases of COVID.
While protecting our community required some adjustments, we were inspired to see the joy camp provided to campers and counselors this summer. Camp was a much-needed reprieve from being stuck at home without normal activities and social connections. One parent said it best, “I am delighted to have my happy kid back!”
While we navigated 2020 successfully, we continue to look forward with preparations for 2021. COVID is likely to still be with us in some form, and we will build on our experience from this year to be ready for another healthy summer.
Please find our step-by-step plan below.
Since the start of COVID, we have been speaking with contacts at the State Health Department, the American Camp Association, and the Texas Strike Force to determine whether we could operate camp in a healthy way. As much as we have wanted fast answers, we have prioritized getting to the right answers. We will continue to gather the best information and adjust to the evolving situation in preparation for Summer 2021.
As always, we are committed to running camp only if we can do so responsibly and healthily. To determine the right approach, we are listening closely to health care professionals and the relevant authorities to ensure we have the most accurate and current information. This is an exercise in humility; we are “camp experts,” but not medical professionals.
Just like our wonderful camp counselors, we pride ourselves on flexibility. We are diligently planning for different scenarios that next summer might bring, and will adjust accordingly as experts provide guidelines to operate camp in a healthy manner.
Every summer, we assemble an experienced, top-notch medical team. We hire 5-6 nurses to work on-site for each session, with at least one nurse on duty 24/7. Additionally, we have three long-tenured camp doctors who make scheduled visits and are on-call and able to be at camp within 15 minutes. This year, all of our medical staff will be thoroughly trained on COVID-19 medical procedures and equipped with the appropriate PPE. Finally, we have a newly renovated health center and nurse’s office ready to handle any extra traffic this summer.
We have raised our already thorough sanitation standards to match and exceed recommendations from health care professionals. Our housekeepers already work hard to keep camp clean; in 2020, they had extra help from our summer staff members. We increased the frequency with which we perform deep cleanings of shared surfaces and indoor facilities, and deployed extra sanitation teams throughout the day. We plan to renew these procedures in 2021 and for as long as they are deemed necessary.
While personal hygiene has always been an important part of camp, it has become a point of special emphasis this year. Camp Champions already utilizes a comprehensive daily health check, but we added several relevant monitoring elements in 2020 that will carry over into 2021. We also added additional hand washing stations throughout camp, and counselors were trained to model best hygiene practices so that campers can learn how we do it the Camp Champions way.
We modified certain elements of our camp program to achieve reasonable distancing standards in 2020. For example, our Dining Hall operated in shifts to prevent overlap between groups. We also held parallel camp activities with smaller groups that did not interact. Our staff is always up to the task of being innovative and flexible so that the campers feel like each summer is just another terrific summer at camp.
In addition, we implemented strategic masking protocols. We more masks indoors and when interacting within close proximity, though not during outdoor physical activities. We were delighted to learn that campers were not deterred from playing, cheering, and thriving at camp while wearing a mask!
Not only do we take the health and safety of our camp community seriously, but we see ourselves as partners with our local and statewide communities. Our responsibility extends beyond The Spur, which is why we treated camp as a closed “bubble” this year. Counselors quarantined before camp and campers were asked to quarantine before and after camp. Campers were required to pass a health check at drop-off on Opening Day before they were allowed to join the camp community.
Furthermore, we had no visitors during Summer 2020 as entrances and exits to and from property were limited to essential business only. Our staff members made the extra commitment not to leave camp during their time off. We also adjusted the way we do Opening and Closing Day (contactless drop off and pick up) to minimize interaction between camp families.
Camp Champions is always prepared to react swiftly if the need arises. We are experienced in preserving the health of our community, having effectively managed COVID in 2020, the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, and the Norovirus in the early 2000’s. In the event that someone does fall ill at camp in 2021, we have established multi-staged quarantine and isolation procedures that will allow us the time to determine the best response, including whether or not the ill camper or staff member will be able to rejoin the camp population.
As always, Camp Champions endeavors to communicate with parents in a thorough, accurate, and transparent manner. We recognize the importance of sharing the best information available as quickly as possible. This coming summer, we aspire to be better than ever; thoughtful, detailed communication is more important than ever in keeping our community well-informed and highly-prepared.