May 13, 2021 Update
The landscape of the Covid-19 Pandemic continues to change and evolve, as it has since first coming to light at the end of 2019. This has especially been true in the last 2 weeks, as the CDC, Minnesota Department of Health, and Minnesota Governor have all announced new guidelines and tweaks to their recommendations almost daily. Today, the CDC changed its guidance partway through a CDC/American Camp Association Town Hall Forum. We anticipate additional changes in the coming days, as vaccination percentages and the emergency use authorization expansion of the Pfizer vaccine to younger individuals aged 12 and up increases the percentage of vaccinated people at camps. As the landscape evolves, we will update our policies and practices.
As the country begins to open back up, please remember that the camp community is significantly made up of un-vaccinated and un-vaccinatable individuals. Aspects of our industry’s response to the pandemic will remain in place until that changes. As of today, we have the following policies in place:
Prior to Arrival at Camp
The recent authorization to vaccinate all individuals aged 12 and above with the Pfizer Vaccine is a significant change that will potentially alter how camps operate, especially for those in that age group. We highly recommend having your camper vaccinated prior to his/her arrival at camp if they are able to do so.
During the two weeks leading up to your camper’s session start date, please do not take any excessive risks. Please avoid large gathering such as neighborhood BBQs, non-essential travel, and weddings. Also, please self-monitor your camper’s health, paying attention to fever, cough, and other Covid-19 Symptoms.
48 – 72 Hours Prior to Arrival at Camp
Please have your camper take a PCR Covid-19 Test at most 72 hours prior to his/her arrival at camp. A copy of the results can be uploaded into CampInTouch (a form will be active at that point). Fully vaccinated campers may upload a copy of their vaccination card if they prefer. Similarly, if your camper has had a medically confirmed case of Covid-19 which they have recovered from in the 90 days leading to the start of his/her session, you may upload a letter stating this from his/her pediatrician. Any camper showing signs or symptoms of Covid-19 should definitely take a Covid-19 PCR Test, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.
We highly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Covid-19 Decision Tree for People in Schools, Youth, and Child Care Programs. This document is a guide for those showing symptoms of Covid-19 to determine their next steps, and whether they should come to camp. Please use this guide prior to traveling to camp, and contact our camp office should the guide indicate your camper should not travel to camp this summer.
Positive PCR Test
If a camper’s Covid-19 PCR Test is positive, he/she should not travel to camp on Opening Day. He/She must wait 10 days from the onset of symptoms, AND have no fever without medications for 24 hours, AND his/her other Covid-19 Symptoms are improving. Please contact our camp office to work through the details of your camper’s plans.
Travel to Camp
Campers should begin their travel to camp only if they have passed their Covid-19 PCR Test, are fully vaccinated, or recently have recovered from Covid-19, AND are not displaying any signs or symptoms of Covid-19. Additionally, the CDC recommends that all camp families follow the CDC Travel During Covid-19 Practices.
Arrival Day – Drive to Camp
A camper driven to camp will be met in the Main Parking Lot by a Camp Lincoln or Camp Lake Hubert Staff Member. He/She will be screened in the Main Parking Lot for signs and symptoms of Covid-19, and then escorted to his/her cabin to meet his/her cabinmates. Parents will say goodbye in the Main Parking Lot and will not be able to enter the camp property.
Arrival Day – Bus or Fly to Camp
Each camper will be screened for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 prior to boarding the bus to camp. Any camper showing signs and symptoms will be driven to camp in a separate vehicle and isolated until a Covid-19 PCR Test can be performed. Please be aware that masks will be required of all passengers on the buses to camp. Currently, bus capacity is restricted to 50%, and no food or beverages may be consumed while on the bus.
There have been a number of local and national announcements generally changing the guidance and regulations involving responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the coming days, we anticipate hearing specifics related to youth program changes, including residential summer camps. We will notify you just as soon as these changes are revealed to us. However, some aspects of our Camp Life Plans for Summer 2021 will remain the same regardless of the announcements.
• We will all have fun at camp, on camp! The camp community will remain on camp property, forgoing trips, and excursions into town.
• Covid-19 Testing will continue to be an aspect of our response. We anticipate testing on Day 4, and potentially, weekly thereafter.
• Cohorts, especially in the first few days as we await test results, will be utilized to increase our ability to contact trace should it be required.
• Masks, especially with younger and unvaccinated campers and staff members, will likely be required in some circumstances.
• Daily health check-ins with campers and staff members will be performed, with follow-up from our health center staff for anyone with any health-related issues.
• There will be an increased focus on cleanliness, hand sanitizer use, and handwashing by all.
• As much of camp life that can be outdoors will be done outdoors including activities (daily/evening), meals, special days/events, etc.
We thank you for being patient with us as we hear additional information from the various agencies involved in this process and adjust our plans accordingly.
March 25, 2021 Update
Dear Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert Parents,
As we settle in for what we hope is the last significant snowstorm in Minnesota this season, I thought I would update you on our planning and thoughts regarding COVID-19 and camp this summer. The Minnesota Department of Health started reviewing their guidelines this past Monday, March 8th, 2021. They have been working with a “fast track” mentality, which leads us to believe that we should see something from them in the next 3 to 6 weeks. Too, we are encouraged by their early questions /inquiries, making us confident that they will craft guidelines that work for the many different types and styles of summer camps in Minnesota.
Similarly, while there has been significant positive news surrounding COVID-19, we are remaining vigilant of possible setbacks due to variants, the early dropping of safety protocols, the re-opening of schools, Spring Break Crowding, etc. With the rollout of vaccinations and the arrival of warmer weather, we are optimistic that we will continue to see improvements. André, Stacey, and I are in touch with a number of experts and continue to evaluate and plan for a number of contingencies.
Last month, we emailed our families with the travel information and our COVID-19 related response. The travel information can be found on our Forms and Helpful Tips Page, COVID-19 Information can be found online on our COVID-19 Information Page, HERE. As we get closer to our Opening Day on June 13th, 2021, an update of our thinking seemed in order.
We continue to watch
• The Minnesota Department of Health Guidelines regarding their requirements, and their recommendations on best practices.
• The American Camp Association’s Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance for Summer Camps.
• COVID-19 Health Metrics in our county of Crow Wing, the State of Minnesota, and around the country.
• Vaccine rates and availability for our adult population, and vaccine efficacy with variants. The CDC has included Summer Camp Staff in the 1B Vaccine Tier, though it is up to states and counties to implement this recommendation.
As you are planning your summer schedule, please remember that we will ask you to be extra thoughtful about activities that may increase a risk of exposure in the days leading up to your camper’s start date. The types of activities to avoid include family trips, indoor playdates, sleepovers, weddings, or other large gatherings. Please keep in mind as well that we will require a NEGATIVE PCR Test PRIOR to your camper arriving at camp. We will have additional details closer to summer. Also this summer, we are asking that all medications that are to be taken in the morning, be moved to breakfast. This will allow our Health Center Staff to complete a majority of their medication distribution at breakfast, so they may concentrate on our health initiatives throughout the rest of the day. Please consult your pediatrician about the potential to and proper method of moving medications to the breakfast hour.
What we anticipate camp looking like in action
While we are still waiting for the updated guidance from the sources listed above, we do have a working framework for what camp might look like under current guidelines. Please remember that these would be modified at any point as the various agencies involved release updates and the situation on the ground changes:
• Campers will enjoy camp, on camp. We will not be leaving our respective camps for camping trips, trips into town for Mass or to the waterslide, or traveling to competitions with others. The High Ropes Course, located at Camp Lake Hubert, will be utilized fully by the Camp Lake Hubert this summer, while the Climbing Wall, located at Camp Lincoln, will be utilized fully by Camp Lincoln. Sibling Lunch and Rally Day, normally held together, will be replaced with other events on our respective camps. We do not anticipate this changing for the Summer of 2021.
• We are working with several testing companies to map out an effective testing protocol both before camp and on camp. Fortunately, testing companies have all moved away from using the Upper Nasal “Brain Poke” Swabs, and now feature either Lower Nasal Swabs or Drool Tests.
• We anticipate the use of cohorts of varying sizes during the summer. These cohorts will, upon the completion of successful negative testing, potentially grow in numbers at various stages. The timing will depend on the best practice for testing timelines at the start of the session. Much depends on the size of the cohorts, as that will dictate how much of the rest of camp operates, especially in those early session dates.
• Masks will be a prominent mitigation factor, especially early on in each session. Times for mask wearing, as of now, would include: Whenever interacting with someone outside one’s own cohort, when indoors with other cohorts, when using the restroom except when brushing one’s teeth, at meals when up from one’s table, when traveling between activities, etc. We are being thoughtful in our planning that campers would prefer to minimize the wearing of masks and making sure there are times throughout the day for this to happen.
• Depending on the size of the cohort, we hope to have some activity choice during the day. As the cohort size grows, additional choices may be offered. It will be important that all campers and staff members remain vigilant, especially in those early days, so that we may get to a point of opening cohorts to larger group sizes.
• Handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer will be available in many more locations around the camps. We are using the experience of our two sister properties, Grand View Lodge and Tanque Verde Ranch, to update our general cleaning equipment, practices and protocols, based on their experience throughout this pandemic.
• We will be moving as many activities as possible outdoors, including meals. Being outdoors is one of the best things we can do to mitigate COVID-19.
• Despite the current unknowns, we have gained a significant amount of knowledge over the past 12 months.
• We are working with our regional medical center to potentially offer vaccines to our staff. Minnesota has already included camp staff in the tier currently being vaccinated, which is great news for us.
• We are planning a fun, dynamic program to make this summer as enjoyable and meaningful as possible.
• We are putting the final touches on our medical forms and will post them in the coming days.
It has now been just over a year since we started the self-quarantining and other mitigation methods. The need for a camp experience, with social interaction, interpersonal connections and playtime is desperately needed. We are working hard to provide the best possible experience for our campers, which we know means maintaining a level of safety and mitigation that allows us to do so. Please bear with us as we continue to modify and update our policies and logistics, as we interpret how best to interpret the ever-changing data and guidance. Camp is just around the corner, and we cannot wait to see everyone at Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert!
February 1, 2021 Update
Greetings from Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert…
As you know, we made the very difficult decision not to open our camps during the Summer of 2020. While we missed having the campers and staff members on the shores of Lake Hubert, for us, it was the right decision to make. Since then, we have turned our attention and efforts towards assuring that we can host our campers and staff for the Summer of 2021.
Camp is Prepared
I am quite proud of the camp industry. From the early days of Covid-19 and every day since, the American Camp Association has engaged with world class health and logistic advisors to ensure that camps have the tools and the knowledge to operate safely. Our leadership team has participated in numerous planning discussions and task forces to be prepared for Summer 2021. We are confident that we can operate camp safely and at the high standards our families deserve.
I would also like to thank you, our camp families, for being so supportive during these unprecedented times. Your caring comments and outpouring of support allowed us to get through a quiet summer and the many months since.
Camp in 2021
Normally, during this season, we would be starting the rush towards Opening Day, but we are still working to answer the question that all of us have, “What will camp look like in 2021?”
Unfortunately, there remains too much uncertainty about what the environment will look like in June of 2021. Right now, our focus is on planning for many different scenarios. This includes assuming many of the restrictions that we currently live with will continue, like cohorts/pods, enhanced sanitization requirements, masks, maximizing time outdoors and social distancing. We believe by preparing contingency plans for many environments, the camps can adjust their policies and approaches to provide what is most important to all of us — the best possible camp experience for everyone in attendance.
To do so, we are reviewing all aspects of our program offerings, the guidance from medical, national, and state organizations, and the vaccine situation. Examples of some of the guidance we are monitoring closely include the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Overnight Youth Camps, The American Camp Association’s Field Guide for Camps, and the CDC’s Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps Guide. We have also been in discussions with several camp directors that successfully ran residential camps in 2020, such as Camp Fernwood, Camp Winnebago, and the North Star Camp.
Based on this review, along with the information and knowledge gained this past fall, we are creating our very own Roadmap to Opening Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert with COVID-19. We anticipate posting this document this spring and encourage you to review it with your camper(s) at that time.
To ensure the best possible camp experience for everyone at Lincoln and Hubert, our Parent Information Packet will be different this year. You will receive it in four parts.
• Travel Information will be sent next week.
• We highly recommend that you use Travel One this summer, as they are best equipped to work through cancelled flights, re-routings, schedule changes, etc. They can also seat our campers near each other on the plane, thus reducing the number of people your camper(s) will be exposed to during travel to and from camp. An online form will be included in the Travel Information Packet for requesting air travel.
• The Roadmap to Opening Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert with COVID-19 will be posted this spring.
• All Camp Health Forms will be sent out in mid-March, which should allow families time to make appointments with physicians before the summer arrives.
• The remaining Parent Information Packet will be sent in early April.
In closing, we cannot thank you enough for sticking with Lincoln and Hubert and for entrusting us with your camper(s). All of us here in the Camp Winter Office want to do what we love best, which is creating a summer experience that helps our campers and staff members develop their best selves. We know that Summer 2021 will be different, but we are determined more than ever to run a summer program that will keep everyone at camp safe and sound while making sure to adhere to the high standards our families have come to expect during our long history. Similarly, please know that our core elements will remain at the center of what we do every day: community, excellence, fun, quality relationships, and personal growth and development. We look forward to seeing you this summer at camp and to hearing from you soon!