COVID-19

Dear camp families and friends,
Week One is just under four months away, and there are currently no plans to cancel the 2020 camp season. In fact, we are excited for our first summer as an ACA accredited camp and have over 500 campers signed up to date. We would like to discuss the topic that's been on everyone's minds though because we understand you may have questions. We know you've received extensive information about Coronavirus (Covid-19) over the past few weeks. Rest assured, We and our Executive Director Jeanne Darling are working closely with Cornell University, The American Camp Association, and the Delaware County Dept of Health to monitor the situation.

Taking strong measures to prevent viruses from entering camp helps ensure that it is a safe, happy, and self-contained environment. To this end, this summer we plan to conduct a more comprehensive health exam of every camper and staff member before they enter camp, including taking temperatures and screening for other symptoms. We will maintain hygiene protocols as we always have as well as regular cleaning of bathrooms and common areas. In addition, we are planning extensive efforts to prevent the spread of viruses in camp, including: regular disinfection of door knobs and sink handles; regular sanitation of all buildings; installation of additional hand sanitizer dispensers throughout camp; using anti-bacterial soap; and ensuring that our kitchen remains a clean and sanitary environment under the watchful eye of Chef Jess. The safety and wellbeing of our camp community is our highest priority.

In addition to the physical safeguards we are planning, it is important to take a deep look at how your campers are feeling on an emotional level. The current conversation playing out in national media is a unique opportunity for parents to offer a different perspective to their kids. Of course, it's important to speak with youth about the dangers and challenges in the world; we must do so to keep them safe. However, the value and purpose of these conversations should not focus on the dangers themselves, but rather, to discuss the practical choices we can make to overcome them. Talking about dangers can be frightening, but talking about choices is empowering.
In recent days, you may have observed nervous jokes and worry-based behaviors amongst youth, all of which point to the importance of clarifying what's on the nightly news in a way that alleviates kids' worries and empowers them to take action.

As families talk to their kids about Coronavirus, one approach is to focus on the kids coming away feeling safer and more secure than they felt when the conversation started. For example, by discussing the best 30-second song to sing while washing hands, parents give kids something they can do; a concrete and effective step to keep themselves safe. In turn, kids feel a sense of ownership and empowerment.

As for camp, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that 4-H Camp Shankitunk is a safe, happy, self-contained community that remains a sanctuary from the many worries and concerns that kids face outside of camp. We are excited for an amazing camp season and look forward to all the new things we have in store for our campers. Our office is open, but folks are scattered getting ready for camp while staying healthy. The best way to reach us during this time is by emailing Shankitunk4hcamp@cornell.edu. We truly appreciate your trust in us to care for your children each summer and welcome your patience and understanding as we all cope with the uncertainty of the immediate future. We will continue to update families as new information and recommendations from Cornell, Delaware County, the District Health Department and our camping partners becomes available.

Warmest regards,
John, Corrine, Cathy, & The Shankitunk Staff

Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic: https://www.childtrends.org/publications/resources-for-supporting-child…