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Safety at Camp in a Covid-19 Season

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Safety at Camp in a Covid-19 Season

By Tim Nielsen, Director of Ministry Services

Operating a safe camp has always been a priority at Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost. This summer, safety involves protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19. While this task might seem daunting, we are grateful that we are not alone in this process. We have been provided with a wealth of guidelines, policies, examples, and research. This information provides us with the tools to craft a safe and healthy camp experience for this summer.

We are all aware the CDC has been studying Covid-19 and providing direction to our nation to avoid the spread of the virus. The implementation of this information, at camp, requires interpretation by State and Local Officials as well as industry experts. In the spring of 2020 the American Camp Association (ACA) developed a Field Guide for Camps on the Implementation of CDC Guidance. This extensive document was a product of a collaboration with YMCA USA and Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. This guide provided State Health Departments with significant direction as they developed their state guidelines for camps. The ACA has published multiple updates to the document over the last few months to reflect changes in the CDC guidelines, best practices and information gathered in their research initiatives.

Since our organization operates camps in two different states, we function under the guidance of each state government. In New Hampshire and Maine, we have seen an incredible amount of collaboration between the State Camp Director’s Associations and State Health Departments. While each state has the final say on policy, the Camp Associations have been able to provide insight concerning the industry and request changes to policy that preserve unique aspects of the camp experience while staying safe and healthy. As you know, in 2020 we did not operate our residential summer camp programs in New Hampshire or Maine because the guidelines provided by the Health Departments of New Hampshire and Maine were too difficult and costly to implement within the short timeframe provided.

In other part of the country, there were a few camps that were able to operate in 2020. The ACA has conducted extensive research with these camps that we have found to be incredibly helpful and encouraging. There were 486 camps that were involved in this survey. [There are 12,000 summer camps in the Unites States.] Together, these camps served 89,635 campers. Only 74 of these camps had an incident of Covid-19 this summer. A total of 30 campers and 72 staff tested positive for Covid-19. The impact of Covid-19 on these summer camps was incredibly low due to the diligent use of NPI’s (non-pharmaceutical interventions). NPI’s include daily health checks, social distancing, handwashing/hand sanitizing, mask wearing, camper/staff quarantining at home before arriving at camp, increased surface cleaning and programmatic changes to allow for safe distancing of campers and groups of campers.

We plan to apply all of these NPI’s to our program in 2021 to decrease the possibility of Covid-19. Additionally, we will be testing campers and staff for Covid-19 as recommended by state officials. We will utilize the guidance provided by our states, the ACA, and the CDC. Additional information is available regarding our Covid-19 policies our web site: https://www.christiancamps.net/faqs/.

Our most important preparation for this summer will be prayer!  Our prayer is for a safe and healthy camp experience that will allow campers and staff to have fun, connect with each other and grow in the Lord. Please pray with us as we prepare for the summer of 2021!

Tim Nielsen joined our team in 2019 and his been in Christian camping for over 30 years. He previously directed Camp Sandy Cove in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. As a child, Tim attended Brookwoods for a few summers and has maintained a connection with us ever since. Tim loves the recreational elements of the camp experience and values the impact that they can have on the camper, staff member, and guest. Tim’s wife, Adina, is also passionate about camp (yep, they met at Sandy Cove). They have two young daughters, Dagny and Tilba, who are growing up as Deer Runners! Get in touch via email, tim@christiancamps.net

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