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Continuing to Navigate COVID-19

Updates & our 2021 plan

Updated August 3rd, 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: 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 14 days. This means staying home and away from other people as much as possible for a 14-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 14 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 you also require testing prior to camp?

A: Testing prior to and during camp is one of the recommended components to mitigating the spread of covid-19. This is according to the American Camp Association (ACA), the Association of Camp Nurses (ACN), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A negative PCR test for Covid-19 is a required part of our pre-arrival screening to camp. Two acceptable alternatives would be documentation noting Covid-19 diagnosis 90 days prior to arrival and recovery/clearance of isolation OR copy of vaccination card with series completed at least 14 days prior.

We have partnered with Precision Health Solution. A test kit will be sent to each camper (and Father/Son participant) prior to the session for convenience. It is administered at home with a nostril swab and sent back to the lab. You may use a different test provider if you choose.
If the test kit you receive will not be used by your camper, we encourage you to pass it on to someone else that may find it useful for their situation. Instructions will be included.

Following guidelines, we will test again a few days into June, Main, and 2-Week sessions. Those meeting the above criteria related to recent diagnosis or vaccination will be excluded. Precision Health Solutions will be administering the same nostril swab that was sent to your homes so your camper will not have unwarranted fears over what to expect.

Along with mitigating the spread from asymptomatic or presymptomatic campers, we will use this test information for programming decisions. (Read about cohorting above.)

Summer staff in June, Main, 2-Week, and Junior will meet these testing requirements.

Q: What will activities and trips look like this summer?

A: Each cabin will be considered a “household”. The (8-9) campers and (1-2) counselors will be housed together and eat family-style meals together. Masks need not be worn when with your cabin mates. We will start with each camp session with 12-14 cabins operating as a cohort. These cohorts or “neighborhoods” will be grouped based on age/grade, much like our tribes were in previous years. In Junior Camp each cabin is paired with another cabin. This group of 16 boys and counselors will be considered a “household.” Households rotate together to different activities throughout the week. Masks need not be worn when with those in your “household”. Cohorts or “neighborhoods” of 11-12 cabins will join together for larger activities such as Evening Program.

Boys at Falling Creek are able to choose their activities and set goals for skill progression and mastery. We were committed to protecting this important part of our camp culture when planning within guidelines for this summer. Campers will choose their daily schedule of activities and participate in activities with others in their cohort.

Within the first week of each session, every cabin will participate in a Cabin Adventure such as hiking, paddling, rock climbing, mountain biking, or sailing based on the age and skill of the boys in the cabin. These trips will take the place of our traditional Cabin Overnights. This will allow the same focus on fun, bonding, and new experiences while keeping the boys in roomier cabin quarters than the shelters allow for sleeping. If your Cabin Adventure is on a trail, river, lake, or rock off the mountain, it also allows this group of boys to ride in a vehicle together without additional risk of exposure and spread since they are already a “household”.

After testing results from day 5, we will use this information to make programming decisions beginning the second week of camp sessions. Because of the number of fully vaccinated campers and counselors in Main Camp, trips in hiking, paddling, rock climbing, mountain biking, and special activities will be offered across Lines. We may adjust other programming and restrictions based on testing results.

Q: How will Opening Day work?

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.

We realize that meeting your son’s counselor can give you a sense of their personality and leadership style in the cabin group. We are sorry that we are not going to do this in-person this summer. We will be making a brief video with each counselor, so you can still be introduced to our great team of 2021 staff. You’ll receive a small video introduction from your son’s counselor on the afternoon of Opening Day. While it is true that the staff member and campers in the cabin group will share in daily activities together, the campers will interact and engage with many more influential counselors in the camp community throughout each day, who are here to help him succeed. We are proud of all the members of our team, and each has been hand-picked for this summer. We stand behind the training they receive, their character, and their skills. We have thoughtfully placed them with certain cabin groups.

Q: Can you assure me that no one will contract Covid-19 while at camp?

A: No. While we have implemented procedures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, we cannot guarantee that anyone in our community won’t become positive for Covid-19. It is still a risk for this summer. Your son should hold off another summer if the following apply:

  • Your camper (or someone in your household) is a high risk for coronavirus complications.
  • Those who are unable to follow our guidelines for pre-arrival behavior.
  • Your camper cannot arrive on Opening Day.
  • You are unable to come pick up your camper if you receive a call from camp.

Q: Will camp still be fun with these Covid-19 mitigation procedures?

A: Absolutely! We are excited and grateful that this summer we will continue our purpose of shepherding the personal growth of boys through love and adventure. Camp is fun and it is our intention to provide this again. This summer may be even more so. We have missed being together - in nature - having fun with our choice of activities.

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

A: Yes, we encourage anyone who is eligible to get the vaccine, including campers.

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.

Q: What will happen during the upcoming Father/Son Weekend?

A: While we are still vigilant with many layers of prevention and intervention, we will operate the August Father/Son Weekend at our normal capacity as we have in our camper sessions this summer. We will have the same pre-camp requirements we have had since the two Spring Father/Son Weekends and throughout the summer, including testing for unvaccinated individuals and symptom tracking. We have appreciated the diligence in this and the success in this protocol.

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 will not be worn in sport activities since campers are outdoors and are constantly moving. Masks are the trade-off for allowing choice in activities this summer.

Each camper should pack enough masks for the session. We suggest 10 double-layered gaiters or masks that are washable/reusable. He may bring disposable masks to use, but if disposable masks are preferred, please pack 2-3 per day in case they get wet or dirty.

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. We will assess their health and utilize rapid antigen testing if Covid-19 is suspected. If the camper is symptomatic and tests positive, a positive Covid-19 diagnosis will be assumed. We will notify the parent and expect the camper to be picked up, preferably within 12 hours, and recover at home. In longer sessions, we will discuss each scenario regarding the possibility of the camper’s return after being cleared from isolation and fully recovered.

If the rapid antigen test is negative, the medical team will continue to treat and identify the cause of the symptoms, including a PCR nasal swab to confirm antigen test results, and a strep test. He will remain in the care of the nurse team until his symptoms are resolved and he is fever-free for 24 hours, following our usual protocol for any illness.

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

A: While the individual being assessed for Covid-19 is isolated, his cabin mates will wear masks and participate in program activities, separate from the larger camp community.

If the individual being assessed is positive for Covid-19, his cabin mates will be considered close contacts. The remaining cabin mates and unvaccinated staff in the cabin group will follow a program schedule that keeps them out of shared camp activity spaces. They will go on a trip together as a cabin, which we are calling an Expedition. During Junior Camp, the “household” will remain on property and will participate in activities within their cohort.

There will be one vaccinated Adventure Trip Staff on the Expedition with the cabin. They will begin a 7 day trip that will consist of a series of activities geared toward the age, skill, and interest of the boys. Their activities could include a combination of paddling, biking, hiking, rock climbing. They may sleep in their cabin, but will most likely camp using tents, tarps, or a shelter.

We will administer a Covid-19 test on day 5. Upon negative results for everyone, the cabin group will rejoin the typical in-camp program after day 7. Should anyone be suspected of Covid-19 and subsequently test positive, the time will start over. If three in the cabin cohort test positive, the entire group will be sent home for the remainder of the quarantine.

Parents will be notified once the first cabin mate tests positive. If they choose for their son to carry out the remainder of his quarantine at home instead of on the Expedition, we will respect their decision to pick him up. He will remain with his cabin group until then. They will be asked to pick him up within 12 hours, as the group will leave the main campus and it will be harder to arrange pick up after that time.

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

A: 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. We will alleviate restrictions as testing and vaccination status allows.

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