Camps Being Called to Serve During COVID-19

As communities around the world seek to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to trusted community institutions for guidance and help. This makes sense. Institutions like camps play a critical role in the health and stability of our communities. This is doubly true in a time of crisis. They also have many skills and resources at their disposal that may be highly sought after during a pandemic like this. However, as we weigh up our response to the crisis, it’s important that we do so with the long-term health of our own organization, our own teams, and our own values and mission in mind too.

The following considerations may help you formulate your camp’s response:

Initial Considerations

  • Whether your camp was operating up until a few weeks ago, or has been shut down since the fall, many facilities and staff are now being called upon to serve. Camps have what many services need at the moment—space, food facilities and beds.
  • Use your mission as your guide. We all want to help, but does our desire to help fit the mission and purpose of our program and facilities? Doing something now to help may jeopardize your program and facilities a few months down the road. There is the risk of facility contamination or damage when you open your doors in new and different ways.
  • Whether or not you are able to open up your physical space, make a list in advance of what your team can do while safeguarding your core mission. This helps ensure you are ready when you are asked to help. Options may include:
    • Provide meals to be sent out daily
    • Provide space for child care
    • Provide shower space
    • Provide virtual programming
    • Donate supplies to essential service providers (sealed/unsealed medical supplies from your Health Center, toilet paper you have in storage, etc.)

New Ways to Serve

There has been a lot of talk of “social distancing.”  We prefer to talk about “physical distancing with social connection.” How can you share songs, traditions, memories from a distance? How can they be part of your emergency response? Think virtual food drives, sending notes to elderly, etc. Keeping campers engaged now helps provide them with a sense of normalcy and purpose, and will serve you well once normal operations are back on track.

Opening Facilities for Emergency Programming

If you do decide that it is feasible to offer your site for emergency programming of any kind, it is important to make sure that you are doing so in a manner that is safe and that follows your protocols. Considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Follow normal protocols. If you are re-opening up your camp (or parts of your camp) for the first time since last fall, it’s important that you follow the protocols that you normally would. Re-opening camp is not a quick process and rushing through this now may create issues later on.
  • Communicate. Let EMS/Fire/Law Enforcement/Health Department/Local hospitals know that you are changing your typical operations. Be sure to follow ACA Standards to communicate the nature and dates of your operations with local services.
  • Communicate with your insurance company. Be sure to obtain proper Certificates of Insurance—along with detailed contracts and paperwork—from any contracting parties.
  • Shelter-based programming. If you are considering opening your site as a shelter, please review our guidance.
  • Emergency child care. If you are considering opening your site for emergency child care, please review our guidance.
  • Cleaning and sanitation. This will be critical for all aspects of this work. Follow the CDC guidelines on cleaning and PPE for staff and volunteers.
  • Social distancing. Think through how you can keep campers and employees physically separated while still maintaining meaningful interactions and programming.
  • Utilizing Volunteers. If you are using volunteers for this work, please review our guidance on proper policies and procedures.

If you would like to talk through how your camp can serve during this time, and what that would look like for your camp, please reach out to your Redwoods Consultant.