COVID-19 Response for Summer Camp
Spring - Summer, 2020
Moira C Farrell
Hike and Heal Wellness
Camp Beginnings Summer Program
Dear Registered Families,
The patience, grace and assistance you have gifted me over the past few months regarding summer programming is greatly appreciated, and certainly not overlooked. Like many of you, I have been waiting for more information from local government, WI Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for ways to safely move forward in providing childcare services. I have also been waiting to hear the summer plans of Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR).
I had hoped to run camp safely following DHS and CDC guidelines if the Safer at Home Order lifted. I acknowledge that was in my initial communication. However, after reading what that would need to look like, I no longer can stand behind that promise. I have decided to cancel all Camp Beginnings summer programs as advertised. Getting feedback about your refund preferences and the feasibility of an additional June camp session significantly impacted this decision-making process. If you have decided to donate or roll-over any of your 2020 registration fees, I am humbled by your gratitude – thank you. Indicating the need for a 50-100% refund helped me make sound financial decisions. Refunds will be distributed as soon as possible, and no later than June 15. In regards to the June proposal, I heard you and agree. Most of the group could not commit to these closely approaching dates. Our new reality has me re-thinking what summer camp needs to look like, and creatively drumming up family options for this summer. Please stay tuned for these options if you are interested in programming this summer!
I urge you to continue reading this letter in its entirety so that you have a better understanding of why cancelling is in the best interest of my campers, their families and my small business. I acknowledge that many of you are being negatively impacted by childcare challenges. I am deeply sorry for this disadvantage, and I understand that by cancelling my summer programs, this may affect your ability to work out of the home. My sincerest apologies go to you.
Safety Guidelines – CDC | May 15, 2020
Summer camps and daycare facilities are being asked to limit group ratios, 5 campers to 1 adult, and not allowing the total size of a program to be over 50 people. We are to screen campers at drop-off, monitor their health for the duration of camp and limit interactions with other youth and adults. It’s also recommended to wear masks when in public and if kids are older. If a camper has a fever, they wouldn’t be permitted to attend until it subsides without medication. If anyone present tests positive for COVID-19, they’d be isolated until pick-up, and the decision would be made to shut down for the remainder of the 1-2 week session, or have anyone in contact with that person stay home.
How COVID-19 Safety Guidelines Impact Camp Beginnings
Camp Beginnings was created with high quality curriculum and instruction in mind. I only hire certified teachers or professionals with degrees in related fields. This program model directly effects my budget as I compensate excellent teachers for their experience and expertise. I use 10:1 camper to instructor ratios because my teachers are more than capable of this demand. A 5:1 ratio would be difficult for me to afford, and I would need many other teachers on back up in case staff become ill during camp.
I don’t see my camp as summer daycare, although I know it fits that mold for some families. I see education in mindfulness, leadership, play and nature connection as a necessity for every child’s development. It is a focus that the rigorous school year often does not give the time and space for that it deserves. I believe that all children have social-emotional, sensory-seeking needs to be met through individualized instruction, play-based education with consistent love and care from an educated mentor. My camp cannot be run from a distance. It is hands on, and involves mentors and instructors working closely with your children. These unique aspects of my program significantly impacted my decision-making process in cancelling camp. The following list is a summary of important considerations I made:
- I cannot afford to run camp with 5:1 ratios at 16-24 kids/session.
- I would need more staff for thorough cleaning, and staff on-call in case of instructor illness.
- Our first point of contact with your children should not have to be a health screening. A teacher’s heart is a big and heavy one. We create space not only for our families, friends and colleagues, but for each and every one of our students. My preferred first form of contact is a high five, hug or smile – and I cannot have it be hidden behind a mask.
- Children wearing masks properly and/or keeping their distance is extremely challenging. As a teacher myself, I am unable to fathom how this would work.
- I would need to cancel my mentoring program if I moved forward with the Jedi Beginnings sessions. The Jedi’s look up to these individuals with great admiration, aspiring to be leaders themselves. Mentors would subject the Jedi’s to more contamination. It would limit the freedom my mentors have to help, and would nullify the purpose of this program.
- Mindful Beginnings includes an overnight camping and climbing trip, kayak rentals, trust building exercises with physical touch to foster leadership and more. All of this would be stripped away if I moved forward with this camp session – which is the core of the program.
- My situation is different than other businesses providing childcare services. What you get from Hike and Heal Wellness is truly what you get from Moira Farrell – I do everything from sales and marketing to the training, facilitation and facility cleaning. I am a privately owned LLC, without grant funding or large donors to supplement expenses.
- My camp’s location is at Glenwood Moravian Church, whose parishioner demographic is mostly over 60 years of age. They use volunteers, who are often elderly, to deeply clean the building. It is not safe to expose these volunteers to 60 different kids enrolled in my camps.
As I close this letter, I want you to know the only reason I feel I actually CAN cancel is because of you. Even with all of the important considerations I have been rolling over in my mind for the past month (some listed above), I wasn’t sure I could actually afford to cancel until you responded to my survey. After I asked the question and saw answers roll in, I was brought to tears. I began to lean into gratitude for so many of you being able to financially support me through a 50% refund, roll-over registration or donation. YOU are making a significant impact in my life right now. I am so thankful for you and your support.
All of the words on these pages can’t describe how difficult and emotional this has been for me. I hope you know that this is a heavy and important decision that no business owner wants to make during these unprecedented times. This is my livelihood and my heart. And I know Camp Beginnings is a space you intentionally chose to send your kids to for a period of time, entrusting I care for them like my own. Since I now know I can’t do that to the best of my ability, I do have some other ideas. I’d like to provide family-style programming where I create activities for you and your children to do together at an agreed upon outdoor space with me and one other trusted family, while keeping social distancing in mind. I can safely run a program of this kind. I’d like to be there for you, physically, fully present, without a screen in between us. Please watch for more concrete details on safe, family-centered programming options in the coming weeks.
Your children are the trunk to my Camp Beginnings tree, rooting me in this educational space and giving me purpose to continuously grow as a person and in my career. You are one of the many branches that supports its success. I want to thank all of you for your continued support -- whether it be words of encouragement, engagement in the future modified programming, or monetary contributions. All of these things will help me to stay open and support your children, your families, and the community we have created for many years to come. So, until we meet again, please be good to yourselves, know that I appreciate you and that I am thinking about your whole family in this difficult time.
Moira C Farrell
Hike and Heal Wellness
Here is a break down of the choices from the survey, and what that means for you. All refunds will post to your accounts within 5-7 business days of the receipt you receive via email from square. Full refund requests will be made by May 22, unless I hear otherwise from you regarding a change of preference.
- Full refunds: Those will be begin to be distributed tomorrow, May 21.
- 50% refunds: Those will begin to be distributed on June 1.
- 50% credits: You will receive a separate email from email@example.com with a coupon code to keep and use for a 20-21 program. This coupon will be valid for any Hike and Heal program - youth, family, adult or group - through December, 2021.
- Donations: Hike and Heal Wellness is not a non-profit organization, and thus will not have a tax deductible donation receipt for you. If that changes your mind, and you'd like a credit or refund, please email me that request as soon as possible. All donations will be used to keep my business afloat for 2020.