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Continuing to Navigate COVID-19

Updates & our 2021 plan

Updated April 6, 2021 Please understand that this page is a working document. As much as we have wanted fast answers, we have prioritized getting to the right answers. This page will continue to be updated in the months leading up to the 2021 summer.

First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and have found silver linings from this past year. We have missed you. Through careful thought and planning, we are committed and excited to welcome campers back to the mountain in 2021. We know this pandemic has been stressful to many and recognize that socializing and interacting with peers can be a healthy way to cope with stress and connect with others, particularly after spending quite a bit of time at home.

We will continue using the American Camp Association and CDC guidance in our decisions. The health and safety of our campers, families, staff, and our community remain our highest priority. Based on current guidelines, some of the actions we will put in place to help mitigate the risk, are listed below in FAQ format:

Q: Will you require testing prior to camp?

A: Unless your son is vaccinated, we will be requirng a negative Covid-19 molecular test prior to camp OR medical documentation showing that you had, but have recovered from, Covid-19 in the past 90 days.

We feel that starting with a healthy camp population is key to running for a full summer. Given the high proportion of individuals, particularly children, that are either pre- or asymptomatic, screening campers and staff for symptoms alone may not be sufficient to reduce the likelihood of infections. Testing is another tool used to mitigate the risk. As methods and availability are rapidly changing, we will continue providing updated details.

Q: What will be required in terms of pre-camp activity and symptom monitoring?

A: Campers and staff will be expected to follow “low-risk” behaviors for 10 days. This means staying home and away from other people as much as possible for a 10-day period. This includes forgoing unnecessary travel, eating out, play dates, sleepovers, and large crowds. Campers and staff will demonstrate social responsibility by following all public health guidelines if participating in in-person work, school, traveling to camp, or organized group settings.

We understand that there are other educational and sports opportunities that are offered as the world moves out of this pandemic. If your son will be participating in these, check out the protocols the organization has in place. These organized activities need to adhere to layered risk-management practices that include mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing to be considered “low risk”. Mask wearing is one of the best ways to prevent transmission. Regardless of state regulations, we expect this to be a behavior for the 10 days prior to camp. Coming to camp is a big investment in the growth of your son. We want him to enjoy the full session. Your family’s adherence to these guidelines is crucial to the success of this summer.

Daily symptom tracking will be required for 10 days prior to arrival at camp. This Pre-Camp Health Screening Form will be found in the “Forms & Documents” section of your CampInTouch Account once available.

If you are quarantining after an exposure, or you have tested positive for Covid-19, you will need to wait until your quarantine period is over and you are cleared to participate in camp.

Look now at your camper’s calendar for the summer. Confirm that any plans can meet the “low-risk” exposure policy two weeks prior to coming to camp. Consider how symptom tracking and testing needs will be satisfied. Also give thought to how other family members’ high-risk behaviors may affect your son’s potential exposure and subsequent quarantine.

Q: Will counselors be urged to get the vaccine if it is available?

A: Vaccines are an additional tool for staff since they are not yet widely available for children. We hope everyone who is able gets the vaccine. Out-of-school-time workers supporting the education of our children have been classified as “essential workers.” This would include our camp staff.

Q: What else are you doing to reduce risk?

A: The use of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) this summer is critical. NPIs are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the pandemic flu. NPIs include pre-arrival shelter-in-place, testing, pre-screening, daily health screening at camp, cohorting, mask-wearing, disinfecting and cleaning, hand washing, ventilation of indoor spaces, and altered activities. These are also known as community mitigation strategies. There are many NPIs that can be done together….it is like swiss cheese slices stacked on top of each other. There are holes in one slice, but after stacking together, many of the holes are covered. Masking, distancing, and outside (or well ventilated) activities are 3 of the main NPIs we will be using. Our rule this summer is having at least 2 of these 3 present at all times when not in your cabin cohort.

Q: Will campers and staff wear masks during camp?

A: Masks will not need to be worn within a camper’s cabin group (cohort), including inside their cabin. With those outside of the cabin cohort, our rule this summer is having at least 2 of the 3 common NPIs (masking, distancing, and outdoor activities) present at all times. Because of this, we expect that masks will be a big part of the summer when outside the cabin cohort. Masks will not be worn in water sports. Masks are the trade-off for allowing choice in activities this summer.

The exception to being mask-free within a cabin cohort would be in the event of a suspected case. If this happens, our communicable disease plan includes wearing masks within the cabin, until testing rules out suspicion.

Q: What if my camper feels sick while at camp?

A: If your camper should need medical attention for any reason while at camp, we will continue to have our medical team available to care for him.

If a community member has any symptoms consistent with Covid-19, our medical staff will assess their health. We expect that point-of-care testing will be available if we feel that the symptoms can not be attributed to an illness other than Covid-19.

If it is found that there is a positive case, we will notify the family. Plans will be made for the camper to return home for the remainder of their isolation due to the virus.

We will proactively check for symptoms each day. We will encourage campers and staff to self-monitor and let camp medical staff know if they are experiencing any of the following at any time: low-grade fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or the new loss of smell or taste.

Q: How will camp handle it if someone in my child’s cabin is suspected of having Covid-19?

A: Working with the latest guidance, if there is a suspected case of a cabin member, we will begin monitoring those remaining in the cabin with greater frequency, and begin mask-wearing within the cabin cohort. With increased testing available now, our medical staff will assess if testing is necessary for those in the cabin group. If others begin to develop symptoms, we will follow the protocol outlined above for any sick campers/staff. In all decisions, we will consider the operational guidelines, alternative programming, scope of exposure, presence of symptoms, assessment by our medical staff, and the use of testing, before sending anyone home.

Q: How will you communicate with parents if there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of Covid-19 at camp?

A: If there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of Covid-19, we will notify the camp families in that session of what age group the camper was in, with a separate specific communication of “next steps” for the families of campers in that cabin.

Q: How will you communicate with parents if there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of Covid-19 after the camp session has ended?

A: In the two weeks following a camper’s return home, notify camp if your child is suspected of having Covid-19. Camp will then contact those who were in your child’s cabin, or who were considered “close contact.”

Q: Will there be any big changes to a typical day at camp?

A: There will be many adjustments to the operation of camp in order to reduce exposure, but we are committed to preserving the culture of Falling Creek while mitigating the risk.

Although participation in activities and trips will be sorted by age groups (lines) for smaller pods, each boy will still choose his daily schedule. Free choice activities will still be offered, but will be built in at different times throughout the day.

Large group gatherings in close proximity will be adjusted - We will use the large, open-air space in the gym for gatherings. We have increased the space at Morning Watch. Our dining area will be expanded to allow for tables outside under cover so we can all eat at the same time. Many of the things that make camp great will still be in place.

Q: Are you offering trips?

A: Because we do not hire guides from outside of camp, exposure risk to our campers is minimal when on a trail or river. We will follow all public health guidelines when outside of camp. We are still finding clarity on how to negate “close contact” in transportation off-property. Regardless, this will be a great year to utilize the miles of trails and outdoor areas on Falling Creek’s 890 acre property, as well as enjoy climbing on our Gilbert’s Rock!

Q: Will I be able to accompany my son to his cabin on Opening Day?

A: We are planning for an Opening Day drop off in which parents remain in their vehicle. We’ve created an informative video you may watch with your son(s), here, so that everyone knows what to expect on Opening Day! Our counselors will work with the boys to ensure they get settled in with their belongings and engaged with their cabin mates.

Q: What is your refund policy?

A: Our traditional cancellation policy is in effect for any cancellation. If written notice of cancellation is received between January 1 and April 1, tuition less the $1,000 deposit is refunded. There is no refund after April 1. Applications are accepted for a full term only. No refund will be made for late entrance or early withdrawal. As described in the High Expectations of Campers section of the application terms and conditions, no refund will be made in case of dismissal.

For Father/Son Weekend cancellations, tuition is fully refundable until January 1. After January 1, cancellations more than 30-days before your weekend will be assessed a 20% cancellation fee. Father/Son cancellations less than 30-days before your weekend are non-refundable.

No refunds will be given in the event of an early departure from camp.

Q: Can we cancel and roll our tuition to 2022?

A: We are not offering a rollover of tuition or enrollment to 2022. Please refer to our cancellation policy for financial details.

We are looking forward to safely reuniting as a community again in 2021 and enjoying a much-needed summer of social, emotional, and spiritual growth with our camp family. If you have a specific question about camp this summer, please let us know. Thank you for your support and confidence you have shown in choosing Falling Creek for your son’s camp experience. Bring on 2021 and let the fun begin!

The camp experience is needed now more than ever. In 2020 we were fortunate to offer 5 weeks of modified programming for 108 campers and 94 families with 0 cases of COVID-19. We are committed to running a residential summer camp program in 2021, and look forward to having our campers back on the mountain for a safe and fun summer.

We are working with our state and local health officials along with the CDC and American Camping Association to provide the safest camp experience possible, while maintaining as many aspects of a traditional summer as we can.


More Resources

Double-Layered Buffs

We’ll be requiring all cloth masks to be at least two layers so they are safer and more effective. Since most gaiters are a single layer of fabric, here is a how-to video to make your neck gaiter an acceptable mask option for this summer!

Staff Vaccination Toolkit

For our staff who are looking for more resources, click the button below to see our Staff Vaccination Toolkit. As out-of-schooltime childcare workers, our counselors are eligible for the Covid vaccine and already have priority access in many states. This Staff Vaccination Toolkit is a living document that we will continually update with information to help our counselors acquire the vaccine before the summer begins.

Staff Vaccination Toolkit
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If anything, the loss of community and personal connection has only made us realize just how vital camp is for children. The effects of the pandemic have given us a clear-eyed view of what boys need to thrive. I firmly believe that there will be an even stronger demand for camp in 2021. The children’s summer camp industry, which contributes in so many ways to a child’s social, emotional and spiritual growth, will figure out how to deliver a safe camp experience next summer.

Bob Ditter / child and adolescent therapist from Boston, Massachusetts