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Before Sending Your Child to Summer Camp in Wake of COVID-19

Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Child to Summer Camp This Year
With New York businesses opening up and people getting back to work after the recent coronavirus outbreak, many Long Island parents considering sending their children to summer camp are understandably concerned about the health and safety of their kids and their family. We should all understand that nothing is “business as usual” anymore, but those entrusted with our children in groups must take special precautions to keep campers and their staff from getting sick and spreading a contagious disease.

Before sending your child to summer camp this year, you need to ask your camp directors what changes they have made to ensure your child’s safety. Here are some of the most important questions you should ask.

How Do I Know You’re Following Best Practices to Protect My Child?
What Changes Have You Made to Protect My Children?
There is a lot of contradictory information out there on the Internet and social media. You want to be certain that the people running any camp are getting their information from reliable sources and implementing the most proven best practices to keep your children healthy.

Camp W, which serves the communities of Bethpage, Farmingdale, Hicksville, Old Bethpage, Plainview, Plainedge, Syosset, and Woodbury in Nassau County and Babylon, Commack, Deer Park, Dix Hills, East Northport, Huntington, Melville, North Babylon, South Huntington, Smithtown, Wheatley Heights, and Lindenhurst in Suffolk County has developed its new health and safety practices for summer camp 2020 directly from recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Suffolk County Health Department and the American Camping Association. These resources are guiding Camp W’s changes in its program for the summer of 2020. All these changes have been reviewed with and are being implemented with every member of the Camp W staff and will be rigorously enforced by on-site camp management throughout the season. As new information is released by the above authorities, Camp W will adjust its plan to ensure the best care for all campers and staff.

How Will You Ensure My Child Is Not Infected by Another?
We’ve all heard that COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that is spread from one person to another through the air and through touching contaminated surfaces. While the spread of the disease has slowed in New York, we cannot be so complacent to believe that it does not still exist. Until a vaccine is developed and widely available, camps need to be as proactive as possible to ensure that no sick children are allowed to contaminate others at the camp. The first line of defense is to ensure that any visibly sick children or staff are not allowed on the camp’s premises. Ask your summer camp director what practices they have put in place to ensure, as much as possible, that no sick children are allowed at camp.

All Camp W Campers to Get Their Temperature Before Entering Camp Buses or Grounds
Although COVID-19 has many symptoms, some people can transmit the disease without showing any visible symptoms. In many cases, one of the first signs someone may be carrying the disease is by running a temperature above normal. Regardless of how campers arrive to camp, by bus or dropped off by car they will have their temperature taken prior to stepping onto the campus.

Campers arriving by bus will be met by the bus counselor at the edge of their driveway and the bus counselor will take the camper’s temperature prior to getting on the bus. If the camper has a fever he or she will not be permitted to get on the bus. Campers that are driven to camp will have their temperature taken prior to getting out of their car. If they have a temperature they will not be allowed to enter into camp. Staff who are checking camper’s temperatures will be wearing gloves and a mask.

How Have the Summer Camp Facilities Been Disinfected Prior to Camp Startup?
Many summer camp facilities are dual-use, or used for other functions like schools prior to camp commencing. It is entirely possible that the buildings and equipment could have been unknowingly been contaminated by the prior use. You want to ensure that these facilities have been thoroughly disinfected from any prior use before allowing your child to use these facilities. Be sure to ask the camp director how they have disinfected all facilities or anything your child could come into contact with have been thoroughly disinfected to destroy any potential viruses that could infect your child. Don’t just take a blanket statement like, “everything is clean”. Find out how they disinfected and how they will maintain the sterility of the facilities during the camp term

Camp W’s Maintenance Department Is & Will Continue to Be Hard at Work
All Camp W facilities have been thoroughly disinfected by the school staff after school was closed in March. All camp-related equipment has been in storage since last year, prior to the emergence of COVID-19, so there’s no chance of any contamination prior to this year’s summer camp season. As a standard practice, all Camp W equipment is thoroughly cleaned prior to storage and when it comes out of storage.

During the camp season Camp W’s Operation Department will keep things as clean as humanly possible. We have already created a thorough cleaning schedule and reviewed this with the Operations Department Staff to ensure they thoroughly understand the critical importance of regular, daily disinfecting to ensure the safety of all campers and staff. This will be strictly enforced by Camp W management at all times. Here are just some of the practices we have put in place.

The gymnastic and karate mats will be cleaned on a daily basis. These mats will then be dried in the sun.

Bathrooms will cleaned at 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 4 pm daily. Sinks will be wiped down with disinfectant as will the door knobs to each bathroom stall. Hand soap and paper towels will be checked every time the bathrooms are cleaned to ensure there is adequate supplies for campers and staff.

All toys in the Kiddie Camp rooms will need to be wiped down with alcohol wipes at the end of the day.

All keyboards in the game room and computer room will be wiped with alcohol wipes.

Lunch tables will be cleaned with soap and water. When tables are dry they will also be wiped down with alcohol wipes.

Indoor water fountains will be wiped down frequently.

How Will You Treat Sick Campers to Protect Others?
Of course, you want to ensure that any summer camp you are considering has taken every possible precaution to ensure the health and safety of your children while they are at camp. You hope and pray that all these practices will protect your children from the potential of coming in contact with the novel coronavirus, however we all understand that the nature of this virus is that it is sneaky and can be transmitted by people with no symptoms whatsoever. You should ask any camp you are considering what they will do should someone be found to be showing symptoms while at camp.

Camp W Will Have 2 Nurses on Staff During Camp
Two nurses will be present at Camp W from 8 am until 4 pm. The nurses will now have their own room to treat campers. The nurses will have a section in room 101 with wall dividers for any camper or staff who has symptoms of the coronavirus. Campers going to the nurse for band aids, medicine etc. will not be sitting next to anyone who symptoms of the coronavirus. There will be 6 cots spread out in the room for campers who do not feel well. These cots will be cleaned daily using disinfectant wipes. Pillow cases on the cots will be changed for every camper. This room is much bigger than the room the nurse was in last year to minimize any chance of cross contamination.

Camp W’s Plan to Practicing Ongoing Good Hygiene
All campers who have indoor activities will be required to wash their hands 10 minutes prior to the end of class. Special signs that remind campers about the importance of washing their hands will be displayed in the bathrooms, hallways, classrooms and outside by the tents.

Hand sanitizers will be on every lunch table and staff will oversee that each camper uses the hand sanitizer before eating.

Water bottles will not be allowed to be filled up at water fountains or outdoor water stations. Paper cups will be used at all times when campers need to get a drink. Poland Spring water bottles will be given out for lunch time on a daily basis. These bottles will be thrown out when finished.

Ongoing Strategies to Prevent the Spread of Germs at Camp W

The following strategies will be strictly enforced by all Camp W staff:

1. Campers will be required to wear plastic gloves while in arts & crafts, ceramics, rockets & models, remote control cars, Legos cooking and computer room.

2. Doors to all activity rooms will stay open so campers are not touching the door knobs. This will also facilitate air movement to keep room air fresh.

Additional Tips to Keep the Camp W Community Healthy

• All campers and staff should be well rested, nourished and hydrated before coming to camp.

• Parents will be required to sign a written agreement that states Camp W reserves the right to not admit campers or staff who pose a communicable disease risk to others at camp.

• No camper who is determined or suspected of being ill will not be allowed to return to camp until they are completely healthy (24 hours fever free)

• For the protection of the entire Camp W community, parents will be advised that if their child is showing any signs of illness (fever, throwing up, diarrhea, constant coughing, sneezing) they should keep their child home

• Campers and staff will be regularly reminded to use the inside of their elbow when they sneeze; not their hands

• A predetermined temperature that if campers are above that temperature they will not be allowed to enter camp. There will be no negotiation on this. Please understand this is put in place for the protection of the entire camp community.

How Will You Enforce Social Distancing?

We’ve all become well-acquainted with a term we probably had never heard before February or March of this year: Social Distancing. It’s an unfortunate, but necessary, practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the nature of summer camp involves children working and playing together, there are a number of steps camps can take to enable proper social distancing and minimize the potential for spread of any germs. Ask any summer camp you are considering what changes they have made to promote social distancing to protect your child.

Changes to Camp W Protocol

In past summers, the entire Camp W community would come together for Morning Ceremonies. To promote social distancing practices, this summer each division will be sitting separately. The Kiddie Camp tent will be 25 feet away from the Middle Camp tent and the Upper Camp tent will be 25 feet away from the Middle Camp tent.

Camp W would love to have the entire camp eating together but under today’s new circumstances this is no longer a proper practice. At lunch and snack times, each division will be split from the other two divisions. Kiddie Camp will eat under the tent. Middle Camp will eat inside in the cafeteria. Upper Camp will eat under their tent.

Closing ceremonies will no longer place the entire camp in the cafeteria. Instead, Late Care will be held under the tents, Own Driving will be in the cafeteria and campers going home on buses will wait in the cafeteria.

Weekly shows will only be for Middle Camp and Kiddie Camp and Upper Camp will be outside.

On Fridays, for Group Performance Skits, only Own driving will watch each group perform live, while everyone else will be either outside or in the gym. Campers that do not get the opportunity to watch the Group Performance Skits live can view it on our YouTube channel after camp.

Several Camp W Activities Are No Longer Viable Due to the Coronavirus

There are a few activities that will be not permitted this summer due to the coronavirus. Water slides will not be allowed at camp due to the standing water at the bottom of a water slide. Weekly Wednesday trips for Senior campers will not be available this summer. Being together at Week 8 trips may not be allowed but since that is scheduled for the week of August 17, we will make that determination by the middle of July. The Virtual Reality room will not be available this summer due to the sharing of the head gear. We realize that campers will be disappointed about these changes in our program, but this is in the best interest and safety of our entire camp.

Camp W Group Movement from Activity to Activity Will Be Managed to Minimize Group Contact

When each period ends forCamp W groups that have an indoor activity, they will be dismissed one at a time by a camp administrator instead of each group leaving the room at the same time and crowding up the hallways. Campers leaving Arts & Crafts from room 108 and room 107 will exit the room and head to the exit doors that lead outside to Water Village. Campers leaving Ceramics in room 106 and campers leaving the Game Room in room 105 will leave and exit through the doors by the staircase. Campers leaving the Camp Lounge room 102 and the room 104, the Computer Room, will exit out the building by the camp office. Campers leaving out of room 117, the Karate & Gymnastics room and campers leaving out of room 120, the Fitness Room, will exit to the gym and go through the gym doors to get outside. Room 119, Remote Control Cars, room 126, Nerf Room, and room 121, Music Room, will exit out of their rooms and use the exit doors to the left of room 126. The Rocketry Room, Lego Room and Kiddie Camp Rooms all have their own exit doors to get outside.  This will allow the hallways to remain relatively empty and avoid contact with other groups. Outdoor activities will not have an issue considering the amount of room and distance each activity is from one another.

We’re Excited to Start Camp W’s Summer Camp and Make Fabulous Memories

We are so excited about the start of Camp W’s summer program. Hearing the campers laughing and seeing those adorable smiles on their faces is something that the entire Camp W staff is really looking forward to.

The last few months have been difficult for everyone but by the end of June we will all be able to enjoy a wonderful summer camp. Songs will be sung, baseballs will be hit, art projects will be created, ice cream will be eaten and friendships will be made. All of these wonderful things will happen this summer at Camp W.Give us a call today at 631-692-6222 to register your child.

*Please note this article was written on April 18, 2020 and may not reflect the latest legislative or research updates during this very fluid time.

Camp W is not affiliated with South Huntington Union Free School District.