Children and parents want and need summer camp more than ever this year. We all know it improves their mental, physical and intellectual health. Since March, I have been pulled back and forth trying to decide if we can hold camp. Now that the state says we can, it feels a little easier but still I feel concerned. Can we make it safe? With parents, children and our staff working together I believe we can. Our philosophy has always been to build community with teamwork and support. This summer we must change our method of support to be more emotional and intellectual and limit the physical.
We are weighing in regularly with other camps, the American Camp Assoc., the Assoc. for Experiential Education, Assoc. for Challenge Course Technology, The Massachusetts Outdoor Recreation Advisory Task Force, the District Health Officer, Eastern Franklin Health District and the Shutesbury Board of Health to make the best decisions for our staff, your children and the world at large.
The following was taken from a letter written by the District Health Officer, Eastern Franklin Health District.
“Per the directives of Governor Baker and his 4-phase reopening strategy, we know that recreational day camps for children will be allowed to open during phase 2 of this plan, and residential camps during phase 3. The exact timeline of these phases is currently unknown and Massachusetts is relying on public health data and guidance which will dictate the timeline of moving into new phases. We expect to hear more on this in the coming days and weeks.”
With that said, there will be many changes to camp this year based on this 4-phase strategy. Governor Baker is hoping Phase 2 will start June 29th and Phase 3 will start on July 20th. The changes, as guided by the above organizations, are outlined below. But first you should know that we are blessed to have an 85 acre facility with woods, fields, a stream and rock faces. We are in close proximity to a lake, boat launch and trails to other rock faces. This gives us the space to spread out when at Morse Hill and to be with in walking and biking distance of other safe water and rock areas.
Everything listed here could change depending on the growth of the virus statewide and locally. We can move toward a normal overnight and transportation schedule if things improve but if there is a growth of cases of COVID-19 it means the above schedule will be delayed. We need your input to see what is possible. We must work together to help your children get the outside time they desperately need! As of now, here are some of the requirements;
- Everyone must fill out a COVID-19 related health inventory at the beginning of each week.
- We must take temperatures of children each day upon arrival.
- We will have a maximum of 8 children and 2 counselors together with no interaction with other groups during the camp day.
- Masks must be worn at camp when there is required close contact (ex. staff helping a child with a harness) Otherwise, social distancing must be used.
- More time will be spent sanitizing equipment between uses. Staff and children will also be required to sanitize their own hands or will be required to wear gloves before and after touching shared equipment and areas.
- Transportation to camp would be provided by parents until Phase 3.
- Canoeing and Rock Climbing would be within biking and walking distances until Phase 3. Perhaps parents could drop off campers in the morning at a local rock climbing site and pick them up in the afternoon at that site while we are in Phase 2. We need to work out logistics to see if parents can do that.
- Overnights can possibly begin in Phase 3 for the all camps. We are still learning about logistics to see what Climb camp will look like in terms of travel during Phase 2. (as listed above)
- All of our camps with 2 or more overnights except AET are scheduled after Phase 2. This means they could conceivably be run with no change in travel or overnight schedule. Unfortunately AET must happen at the beginning of the summer to allow campers to become CIT’s this year. Perhaps AET could have an extended day.
I am learning new protocol daily so this list will expand and contract. By the time your child is ready for camp, the guidelines should be more clear. It is our hope that the “best scenario” time schedule that Governor Baker laid out for the evolution into the “New Normal” will happen as planned. We want your children to have a wonderful outdoor experience with other children and their camp counselors in a safe and healthy way. We welcome your input!
Imagine a place where at the end of the day you leave with renewed self-confidence, greater connection to others. Come experience the transformation on our hemlock-shaded hills, where we offer an extensive high and low ropes course with more than 30 different challenges. Our custom designed teambuilding programs serve schools, colleges, summer camps, social service agencies, sports teams, religious groups, businesses and more.
Our popular Rattlesnake Summer Camps serve students entering grades 3 to 12 in day and overnight camps. Campers participate in a multitude of adventure activities, including canoeing, mountain biking, caving, raft building, rock climbing and adventure education training. With Morse Hill's dedicated staff, “I can't” becomes “I can!”