THE LATEST ON COVID-19 FROM THE DIRECTOR
After careful and considerable deliberation, we have decided that for the safety of our campers and staff, our programs in Virginia will not operate this summer (this includes; AstroCamp, Camp Motorsport, and Camp CHOP). After considering many different factors, we have reached this decision, and we feel it is important to highlight the critical factors to our camp families.
- The safety of our campers, staff, and camp families
- We take pride in always doing everything within our power to keep campers safe while in our care.
- At camp, some activities have inherent risks, and through various means, we can mitigate those risks. The threat of COVID-19 is not something that we can mitigate to a level that we are comfortable with this summer.
- Program quality
- For 40 years, our parent company, Guided Discoveries, has operated with the end goal of providing the highest quality program to our campers. We have dedicated ourselves to children and providing life-changing experiences.
- With the restrictions, that we would need to impose and the changes we would need to make at camp, we find that the type of program that we would be able to offer would be at odds with our mission and ultimately leave our campers dissatisfied.
In the past months, we have closely monitored the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping things would get better. As we have moved closer to the start of the camp season, we did see some hope in the guidance given by the CDC and the American Camp Association. The truth is, we don’t know enough about this virus to operate safely and provide the camp experience that your camper and your family deserves.
The hardest part is that we could do everything right, follow every guideline, wash our hands 1000 times a day, bleach-bomb every activity area, redesign our cabin interiors and completely restructure every aspect of our program. And even if we did all of those things (and more), we could still potentially fail in our duty to keep our campers and our staff safe while at camp.
How do I tell my child that camp isn’t happening this summer?
This is by far the hardest part. As much as we can, we want to help you through this difficult conversation. With this in mind, we want to share some resources with you.
- Please follow this link to our announcement video.
- Below, we have curated a few articles and other resources to help you navigate this challenging time.
What happens next?
Next week, we will email each of you the details of your next steps, including your different rollover, refund, and donation options. For now, we want to give you all some time to process this news.
We want to thank you and your family for the understanding and flexibility as we have attempted to navigate through these uncharted waters. Many of you have sent very warm emails of support and encouragement that our team greatly appreciate.
Camp is still here, and we will be here next year to give our campers the summer experience that they truly deserve.
We hope your family and loved ones continue to stay safe and healthy.
We’ll see you all soon,
The AstroCamp, Camp Motorsport & Camp CHOP Team
Greetings from camp!
I hope you are all continuing to stay healthy, and as connected as possible during this super-challenging time.
While perhaps expected, the announcement of many schools around the country being suspended for the rest of the academic camp came a blow and shows that we still have a long way to go before we can resume our normal routines. I know that it may have raised the question for a lot of you, “What about summer camp?”
The short answer is, we still don’t know the status of camp yet. Decisions regarding the safe operation of both day and overnight camps this summer rest first with state health authorities and then with local departments of health. Camps were told this week that these decisions would begin to be made over the next four to six weeks.
As you may know, we have had to make the decision to reschedule two weeks of summer already (June 14th-20th and June 21st-27th), based on the Virginia Stay-At-Home order, which remains in place until June 10th. We have been working with those families affected by this to reschedule them for later sessions. To be clear, all affected families have been contacted.
Our amazing team of camp leaders are problem-solvers by nature. From challenging social dynamics among campers to facilities issues to rainy days, we’re used to being able to dive in and help find solutions. We want to be able to offer solutions and answers, and the coronavirus pandemic is requiring us to do something we’ve often urged parents of campers facing challenges at camp to do: Be patient and trust the experts.
I wanted to share with you a message summer camps received from the American Camp Association, our accrediting body, this week:
“The CDC is currently developing specific guidance for day and overnight camps and has connected with ACA to engage them around their work. In addition, ACA is also working with independent experts in public health, epidemiology, infectious disease medicine, and organizational design to provide educational resources for camps to assist them in meeting the guidance required by CDC. This CDC guidance specific to running camp is expected to be in place by no later than the end of April. ACA resources will follow very soon after that, as they need to take the full CDC guidance into account.”
We are still moving forward with all of our preparations for this summer, and we will be ready to go if we are able. We are aiming for a final decision date in mid-to-late May. The health and safety of our entire camp community will be the single most important factor in whatever we decide.
It has been comforting amidst all the uncertainty that as camps, we are united in how we will be approaching decisions about summer programming and will be getting significant guidance and resources from ACA each step of the way. Here is a link for some parent resources from ACA: ACA Resources for Parents. While I recognize how hard it is for all of us and our kids especially, to live amidst so much uncertainty, it’s still just too soon to have a decision about camp for this summer.
As always, we appreciate your patience and understanding during this trying time. We will share more information once we have it, and we hope to see you all this summer.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
The AstroCamp, Camp Motorsport & Camp CHOP Team