It might only be February, but we are so excited about welcoming girls back to Rockbrook in 2021! After all the challenges and sacrifices everyone has faced this past year, we’ve been thinking about camp, dreaming about camp, and feeling really good about what a summer in the heart of a wooded mountain will provide.
February 8, 2021
A Hello from Sarah and Jeff
As the coronavirus pandemic conditions have been changing, we have been considering how every aspect of life at camp might be affected. Working with guidance from the American Camp Association and our state Health Department, we’ve been identifying essential principles and protocols that will guide us as we adjust how certain things are done at camp.
If we are to protect ourselves from being exposed to the coronavirus, there will most likely be new ways we sign up for activities, take out-of-camp trips, eat our meals, and gather for evening programs, for example. We will have to be careful in several important ways.
While there is some good news on the horizon as vaccines are becoming increasingly available, it’s difficult to predict every detail of what will be different this summer at camp. Even so, while we ask for your patience, we would like to share with you what we are anticipating so you can begin planning and thinking about the summer.
Here are a few of the questions we’ve been hearing, along with our best answers at this time.
Some of these answers may change as we get closer to the summer, but for now, this is what we know. We will certainly keep you informed when we have updates!
How will we practice “social distancing” at camp?
This summer we will consider every cabin group a “family” where the campers and counselors sleeping in the same cabin do not have to socially distance. These cabin family groups will eat their meals together, do daily activities together, and go on out-of-camp trips together. We will, however, practice distancing between cabin family groups. Partway through each session, as we are effectively managing the coronavirus (keeping it out of camp!), we hope to allow these family groups to form larger “neighborhoods” for evening programs and other special activities.
How will we sign up for activities?
At this time, we are planning for girls to attend activities with their cabin group. We will create an activity rotation for each group that will include a range of adventure-, arts-, and sports-related activities. We hope campers will be able to enjoy their favorites and try a few new activities as well. There will still be swimming, ziplining, and opportunities for free time most days. Horseback riding will remain an individual signup.
What about meals?
To provide more space between cabin family groups while they eat, we are expanding our outdoor dining space by renovating the hillside lodge porch and dining hall porch. We anticipate eating outside most of time, either picnic style on the hill or at tables properly spaced in the dining hall and on these covered porches. Rick, our long-time chef at Rockbrook, will be back this summer to provide our favorite meals (and muffins!).
When will we have to wear a mask at camp?
Right now, we anticipate campers and staff needing to wear a mask whenever they cannot properly distance themselves from a member of a different cabin family group. At the same time, if you are only with members of your own cabin group— for example, at meals, during most activities, and when inside your cabin —you will not need to wear a mask. We will ask that campers bring with them to camp several of their favorite masks.
What about the vaccine?
We are hopeful that our adult staff members will be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to working at camp this summer. As “out-of-school time” workers supporting children, camp staff have recently been made eligible for vaccinations like others in education settings (like teachers). At this time, it seems unlikely that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for children in time for camp. While helpful, having a portion of our camp community vaccinated does not eliminate the need for social distancing, mask wearing, and enhanced sanitation protocols.
What COVID-19 testing will be required?
We anticipate requiring all campers and staff to provide the negative results of a recent COVID-19 molecular (PCR) test prior to arriving at camp. Along with a few pre-camp precautions (limiting unnecessary travel and exposure to non-family members, and some symptom monitoring), we hope to increase the odds of beginning each session covid-free. As an additional check, we will use rapid antigen testing to screen everyone at camp a few days after they arrive. Since the availability and methods of coronavirus testing are rapidly changing, we will provide more details in the spring about how we will utilize testing. We understand the notion of testing is unpleasant, and we will do everything we can to minimize that.
What else will be happening to guard against COVID-19?
Above and beyond our regular American Camp Association standards, we will be implementing more rigorous cleaning procedures, regular hand washing and sanitizing, expanding our on-site medical facilities and staff, and ongoing self-reported health checks. Maintaining a healthy camp community will be our top priority!
Will there be changes to opening day?
Yes. We are planning to assign each family a staggered arrival time, creating “drive-thru” stations for all our regular opening day activities. We will ask that parents stay in their cars as our staff helps with your daughter’s luggage, you meet the directors and counselors, and your daughter is welcomed to camp. We will take great care helping every camper settle into her cabin comfortably.
Will there be any travel restrictions?
Currently, there are no restrictions against traveling into North Carolina, but to help socially distance while traveling, we prefer that campers arrive at camp by private car. We believe campers can still fly, but we ask they be extra cautious by wearing a face covering and maintaining proper social distancing while traveling. International campers should stay in touch with our office about travel plans.
What if there’s a positive case at camp?
While we hope to maintain a relatively closed camp community, one bolstered by many layers of protection, it will still be possible for someone to contract COVID-19 while at camp. We will be monitoring everyone’s symptoms daily (campers and staff), and when someone exhibits convincing COVID-19 symptoms, that person will be isolated and her entire cohort will be tested. Our medical team is developing a screening, testing, and quarantining plan, but at this time, we believe campers who test positive will need to be picked up from camp as soon as possible.
Gosh, should I still come to camp with all of these precautions?
If you have significant concerns about your daughter attending camp this summer because of underlying health issues, or for any other reason, please reach out to us to discuss things. We know camp will be a bit different this summer, but our goal is to keep everyone healthy while at the same time recreating the core of what we love about Rockbrook— the zany surprises, the fun activities, the incredible natural beauty, and that special feeling that comes from just being together at camp.
Thank you again for your support, cooperation and trust as we prepare for another amazing Rockbrook summer!
If you have questions not covered here, or you need clarification about anything, please let us know.