We have every reason to believe that Camp Alleghany for Girls will be operating our traditional summer programs in 2021 — Mother-Daughter Weekend, Mini Camp, Term Camp, Leaders-In Training, and Family Camp. In fact registration is open now for Mini Camp and Term Camp and is over 80% full — clearly parents want their girls back at camp. And we want you here, too!
However…out of an abundance of caution and with the desire to stay one step ahead of the game (as well as keeping all our camp families in the loop), we’ve prepared this page in October of 2020 to anticipate any questions you may have about next summer, as well as to plan for and strategize our approaches in case we need to make any covid-related changes, and to share those with you.
To underscore: we hope things will not be restricted. But in case they are, this page offers a variety of scenarios that we would be ready to implement if necessary.
What will camp look like in 2021?
But since we can’t guarantee that just yet, we’re crafting various Plan B scenarios to ensure, if necessary, a positive 2021 Camp Alleghany experience that is as close to normal as possible, yet also as safe and healthy as possible if the era of Covid-19 continues next June.
With those Plan “B’s” in mind, please read below for our current planning and thinking. This is ever-evolving, and will change. We aim to update this page as we have any new pertinent information, or as new plans take shape.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail our Director, Elizabeth Shreckhise, to discuss anything.
Will There Be Testing and/or Screening?
At this time, the likely plan is to require all campers to report to camp with a negative COVID-19 test in hand from the past 72 hours. We’ll also ask that campers quarantine at home to the best of their abilities during that 72-hour period.
For Term Campers, we’re exploring the idea of re-testing everyone on Opening Day upon arrival, and keeping all campers separated in small pods (see below for more on pods) based on grade level (“Units”), until all of those test results come back a few days later. If all test results are still negative, our hope is to then be able to intermingle between pods.
All staff and counselors will undergo similar testing and screening prior to and upon arrival at camp to ensure that the staff are fully Covid-free before interacting with other staff and the campers.
What Exactly are Camper Pods?
Camps with successful 2020 programs operated by creating smaller “Pods” of campers — anywhere from 20 to 50 campers who stayed together and did not mix with other Pods. The intent is that, if there were any undetected virus, by limiting campers to smaller groups that virus would also be limited in its ability to spread to the rest of camp. We’re exploring the idea of our typical Camp Alleghany Units acting as those Pods.
For Mini Camp, we’re looking at dividing the age groups into Pods that campers would stay with for the entire week. The Pods would travel together to Activities, and the campers in each Pod will sample all of our camp activities throughout the entire week just doing so within their Pod. Their Alumna Counselors will be a part of their Pod, and mingling between Pods wouldn’t be allowed.
For Term Camp, if we’re able to secure a second round of testing for Opening Day and they all come back negative, our hope is to operate in Pods for approximately three days until the test results return, and then if all tests are negative we can allow intermingling of Pods and regular camp activities.
What Do We Mean By A Closed Campus?
If this has to happen, this would mean that no staff (or very few staff members) will come into or leave camp during our sessions.
By necessity, we’ll likely have one maintenance and one housekeeping staff member who leave camp each day, but they will have no interaction with campers or other staff, and will wear a mask when in camp. Additionally we’re exploring the idea of utilizing an Errand Runner who lives locally, and would actually not come into camp at all, but rather would drop things off for us at the Barge.
We’re also exploring many options for counselors on time off, should we have to have a closed campus. Counselors will still get their time off! The difference is, if we’re operating under restrictions, that time off will happen on the camp campus. We’re getting very creative to ensure that our staff get restful, restorative, and fun time off even if they aren’t leaving the campus.
What does a Closed Campus mean for some traditional events?
Overall, if the out-of-camp trip involves interaction with the public or anyone outside of camp (or is indoors), and we’re under Covid restrictions, we wouldn’t hold the out-of-camp trip.
But if the trip is outside and involves zero public interaction, we’re still exploring the possibility and will see where things are with West Virginia and our health and safety the closer we get to camp. But in anticipation, here’s where we are on some specific activities in a restriction scenario:
- Activities with Camp Greenbrier: The Senior Dance and the Rifle/Archery/Tennis competitions wouldn’t happen in person but our Rifle and Archery competitions can happen at our respective camps and compare scores!
- Caving Trips: Led by Program Director Casey Tucker, these may be possible, as no one outside of Alleghany attends.
- The Upstarts Night Out: We’ll get creative with a fun Upstarts Night In!
- 15s Day Off to Blue Bend: Would likely be okay as that’s an outdoor venue with no contact with people outside of camp.
- LIT Trips: The wilderness trip would likely still be possible, as would a day to Blue Bend and a caving trip (see notes above). An outdoors out-of-camp community service project that involves no public interaction is also a possibility.
- Catholic Mass off Campus: Likely not possible.
What Will Meals & Dining Look Like?
Even if we’re able to loosen up our Pod setting, the state of West Virginia is likely to impose more strict guidelines on meals and dining. This might dictate what capacity we can have in the Dining Hall at any given time, how the food is served, whether everything has to be disposable, etc.
We’re entertaining all potential conditions at this time, from multiple shifts of meals, to more outdoor/picnic meals each week, and more. Family style may not be recommended for next summer, so we will consider cafeteria style, which worked very well for us during the one program we held during Summer 2020, our very successful Family Retreats.
Will Cleaning and Sanitizing Look Different Than Normal Camp?
Everyday hygiene and healthy practices are already such an important part of a communal living situation such as summer camp. Our staff always remind campers to wash hands, stay hydrated, prepare their laundry bag for cleaning, keep themselves clean, and look after themselves in general.
Under a Covid-restriction scenario, these reminders would also include daily temperature checks as well as self-screening for COVID symptoms. Mandatory and supervised hand-washing protocols would be utilized between activities and hand sanitizer would be readily available at all locations around camp.
Regular cleaning and sanitizing of common touch-spots such as door handles, sports equipment, rest rooms and water fountains will be carried out by a specific team of housekeeping staff. Between sessions, all of these same areas will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting process.
What Additional Medical Protocols and Procedures Do We Anticipate?
Our medical staff will help us establish guidelines and protocols in case of a suspected Covid outbreak, including (but not limited to):
- A specific quarantine space in camp separate from all other campers, staff, and camp life.
- A designated staff person who will wear PPE to care for anyone ill.
- Specific procedures and protocols for the rest of camp should someone become ill or need testing.
We will share these plans with all camp families prior to the summer.
Would Tent Life or Outdoor Activities Be Any Different?
We’re lucky to already operate in such an open-air, outdoor space, starting with our tents as living spaces. Tent flaps stay up throughout the day, unless it’s raining. In fact it’s an item on our daily Inspection list to roll up both front and back flaps of every tent. For added air flow and ambient sunlight, we’ll require side flaps to be rolled up as well in 2021, and will likely keep front and back flaps up at night as well.
Most of our activities are already out of doors, and would largely stay the same. For traditionally indoor activities (e.g. Arts & Crafts) we’re getting more creative about possible temporary approaches, like holding them in outdoor areas that still allow for a full experience of the activity.
In strategizing rainy day scenarios, we would likely spread out in our indoor spaces, including putting up large tents in some of our open spaces for added rainy day space. Depending on the nature of the rain, we could do open flaps to keep air moving well even while indoors.
Staff and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Again, we hope to operate normally. But should we be under any Covid restrictions, including requiring staff to wear PPE, we know our staff will be happy to do that. This might mean wearing a mask when indoors or close to campers outside of their pod. As always, our counselor team is a key part of the success of everything we do and that will continue to be the case in 2021.
Are There Any Expected Changes for Opening and Closing Days?
In a scenario where we enforce a closed campus, we would have parents say their goodbyes and drop campers off on “the other side of the river” from camp. Campers would ride with staff on the Barge on Opening Day and enter into camp life in the closed campus.
On “our side of the river,” our staff will excitedly welcome the campers into camp and we’ll make it a special event as always. The same goes for Closing Day. NOTE: We may not be able to offer our regular Closing Day bus transportation, based on capacity regulations, but we will keep everyone posted and will plan for it if it is possible and feasible.
We’d sure love to get back to having our customary Family Camp in 2021. But if we’re under any restrictions, we’re open to running the Family Retreats style family experience that we held in 2020.
For Mother-Daughter Weekend, we’re still exploring our options and will keep everyone posted.
Scenario Planning and Crossing Fingers
As stated above, the information on this page is all about scenario planning so that we have a solid direction or strategy for any outcome from camp as usual to minor restrictions to more all-encompassing restrictions.
Having seen our colleagues in other camps successfully operate camp with similar adaptations and under state restrictions and emerge with NO Covid cases, we too feel confident that if required to adapt, we can easily do that and still have a fun, meaningful, restorative, summer camp experience.
We teach our campers to be resilient, and as we imagine any given scenario for next summer, we’re modeling that resilience ourselves with optimism, can-do-ism, and our ‘Ghany Girl spirit!