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We are excited and planning for a safe, healthy, and fun summer camp experience in 2021 for our campers, families, and staff! While the situation continues to evolve, we are making plans based on the general guidance that we have received from the American Camp Association, the New York State 4-H Program, and the experiences of the hundreds of camps that did operate in 2020.
To ensure we are running the safest program possible, there will be some changes at camp this year. Changes to our registration process, camper check-in, daily schedules, class choices, cabin groups, health and sanitation and more. But you know what isn’t going to change? The opportunity for campers and staff to build a healthy, thriving community at camp. Campers are still going to have great experiences, make new friends, try new things, and gain the independence that comes from a week away from their families. These experiences are the cornerstone of what 4-H Camp Shankitunk is all about.
We know you have questions, and many of those questions revolve around what we are doing this year to protect your child/children. Some examples of the steps we are taking this year to enhance the health and safety of our campers and staff in 2021 can be found below.
Registration for 2021
Please know that due to the evolving scenario with the COVID-19 pandemic and the development and distribution of the vaccine, any and all programming is subject to change. As we move closer to camp, if things change, we will be updating our website and will post changes to our Facebook page, so be sure to follow us on those platforms, and/or check your email regularly. Once we are ready to open registration, we will be sending out emails in a phased approach, with first notice going out to campers who registered last year, and moved their registration fees to 2021, along with campers who were awarded Campership support in 2020. About two to three weeks later, we will send a general notice to all, letting people know that registration is open.
*Waiting Lists: At this time we are cautiously starting waiting lists after we reach 50% capacity. We are hopeful to enroll more youth after we receive further guidance from our Department of Health. Please bear with us. If you "saved your spot" early and are now concerned that your account submission says "Waiting List" please know that as we update the sign-up form, all previous entries are auto-updated as well. If you are unsure of your status, please email email@example.com.
Paperless Marketing and Registration
We will not be printing brochures and distributing them by mail or through the schools this year. Saving trees feels good, and limiting shared contact items is important right now! That said, we understand that some of our families rely on those paper brochures, so if you need a printed copy of the registration form, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to mail one directly to you!
Drive-through Camper Check In and Drop Off
We have worked hard over the last several years to expedite check-in, but this could be a game changer. Nobody enjoys standing in long lines to drop off campers on registration day, so this year, in an effort to limit visitors into the facility, we are planning a new drop off and pick-up procedure that will give families a 15 - 20-minute check-in window. You’ll be able to drive into camp, be greeted by a staff member who will conduct a basic health screening right at your vehicle, and then help your camper unload their gear. Parents will not need to get out of their cars! The success of this process will rely on families arriving promptly for their assigned time. We know that traffic is sometimes unpredictable, so if you find that you need to arrive outside of your scheduled time slot, please notify camp so that we can take the necessary steps to get you into camp as safely and efficiently as possible.
Campers will be assigned a cohort, which they may know from previous years as “Unit Groups,” where near-by cabins are paired up. Cohorts will include 15-22 campers and 5 counselors. These cohort groups will be important, as they will become the “family group” that rotates through the daily schedule together. Campers and staff assigned to a particular cohort will have limited, if any, interactions with campers and staff from other cohorts.
While we are still waiting for firm guidance from the New York State Department of Health, we anticipate that masks meeting CDC guidelines will be a requirement for all campers, staff and guests of camp through the 2021 season. Overnight campers should plan to bring a supply of at least 10-15 face coverings, in a large, zipper style plastic bag, with their name on it as well as a second bag for used masks (if reusable ones are selected). Day campers should bring two each day. Campers will be responsible for managing their masks properly throughout the week under the guidance and support of their counselors. Absolutely no sharing of masks will be permitted. Camp will have a limited supply of disposable masks available if needed as well as a supply of reusable masks available in the camp store.
We have acquired bulk hand sanitizer, which will be available throughout camp, including inside the doorways of most buildings. Each cohort will be provided with a Sanitation Kit including liquid sanitizer, paper towels, and sterile wipes, so that campers and staff can sanitize program areas before they leave, preparing them for the next group. Shared supplies between cohorts will be limited as much as possible and shared program equipment will be sanitized between uses. Staff will ensure sanitization of communal spaces like the restrooms and the dining hall. We plan to add portable handwashing stations in remote locations where access to running water is limited.
Based on the current guidance, we will be reducing the overall number of youth in attendance each week, with that being said, we are currently planning to extend our season to include a sixth week of camp. This will allow us to accommodate more youth than if we had stayed with the typical 5-week summer with reduced participant numbers. We will limit the number of campers and counselors residing in cabins and the number of people allowed to gather in indoor buildings/spaces. This plan may be subject to change as we await further guidance from the New York State Department of Health. We will activate a waitlist when we reach 50% capacity in a given week. If additional youth are permitted by our local Department of Health, we will contact youth on the waiting list in the order that reservations were received. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Given the large number of campers, and the reality that masks cannot be worn during meals, we will be restructuring mealtimes to include a combination between serving campers at cohort-designated picnic tables around camp, and serving meals to a limited number of cohorts in the dining hall at one time. This will ultimately depend on the final guidance from the Department of Health.
We have developed a schedule that allows Resident and Day Camp cohorts to rotate through the shared programming spaces so that no more than one cohort is using a particular location at one time. Resident Camp cohorts will rotate through four program blocks daily (Creative Arts, S.T.E.M., Outdoor Adventure, Sports & Recreation) with three class choices available per block.
Programs on Pause
Due to space and staffing limitations, we have put some of our classes/programs on pause for 2021, most notably, our ropes course and “Yellow Sheet” Day Camp program. We are optimistic that we will be able to resume these programs next summer! That said, we are super excited for camp this year, and the opportunity to learn and grow together in smaller groups!
Camp Fees and Refunds
For the time being, we will accept online registration with no fees required. Essentially, we want you to “Save your Spot” if you are interested in attending camp in 2021 until we receive further guidance from New York State and the NYS Department of Health. We are transitioning our budget model to a flat camper fee. That cost will be $450 per child for overnight Camp and $200 per child for Day Camp in 2021. We will of course continue to offer campership opportunities for our local Delaware County residents and 4-H youth and others wherever partnerships allow. If you do register for Camp and pay your fee (we anticipate in May/June), but then cannot attend due to COVID-19, you may submit a written request for a full refund up until June 15, 2021.
Our primary focus in 2021 will be utilizing Nonpharmaceutical Intervention strategies or NPIs to mitigate risks; however, vaccination and testing may be an added layer of our plan as availability increases and more information/guidance becomes available from NYDOH.
We strongly believe that camp offers kids the unique opportunity to step back into a simpler time, with no internet connection or mute button needed. A place where a small community can have faith in the human spirit and support from one another without judgment, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Our kids need to be out of our homes, playing with other kids, connecting with nature, and having fun. We hope that you will consider joining the fun in 2021!
4-H Camp Shankitunk Administrative Team