Ready for Camp in 2021

In just a few short weeks, Rockbrook will be welcoming girls back to camp for the opening of its summer 2021 season. All spring we’ve been considering new information about the coronavirus pandemic, hearing from communicable disease experts, and receiving detailed guidance from the American Camp Association and our state Health Department.

Using this advice, we have established a number of new protocols and made a few changes to our camp program that will help protect against a COVID-19 infection, and reduce the spread of any disease at camp. Our goal throughout this process has been to take reasonable precautions, but with an eye toward retaining the core elements of the Rockbrook experience.

More Questions!

Here are a few questions we know many of you are asking about how COVID-19 will affect camp this summer.

Our answers provide important information that will help you understand and prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

What pre-camp COVID-19 guidelines will we have?

two camp girls on NC sliding rock

This summer, as we take precautions to guard against COVID-19, there will be several important pre-camp health protocols we are asking campers and their families to follow. All of these are designed to help us achieve the goal of every camper arriving at Rockbrook healthy and covid-free.

14 days of pre-camp quarantining:
We ask that each family follow common sense precautions during these few days leading up to their camper’s arrival at Rockbrook. By “quarantining” we mean wearing a mask and distancing when interacting with those outside your immediate family, avoiding gatherings of people (e.g., parties, playdates, weddings, etc.), and unnecessary travel. We also ask that campers do not eat inside restaurants during this time. To protect your camper, we encourage family members to likewise follow these precautions.

7 days of pre-camp symptom monitoring:
During these final days leading up to arrival at camp, parents will track the symptoms of their campers by completing a simple “health check” and recording their temperature on a paper form.  This form is available in your online account. You will need to download it and print it. The form asks if your daughter is experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 that day, or has been exposed to anyone with a contagious illness. Important! We will collect this signed and completed form when you arrive on opening day.

Pre-camp Molecular PCR test sampled 3-4 days prior to arrival:
Campers must arrive with a recent negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test result. You may arrange for this test anywhere that can guarantee you receive the results prior to your arrival date. We want this test to occur as close to your arrival as possible, but still with enough time to receive results.  Most PCR tests take 24-36 hours for results. You must bring written evidence of the negative COVID-19 test result with you on Opening Day.

Strict Quarantining following PCR test sample:
Campers should strictly quarantine after taking their PCR test, as they await results and during the time leading up to their arrival at camp. Please take extraordinary care during this time, especially when traveling to camp.

Testing Positive or Recovered from COVID-19:
If your camper has recovered from COVID-19 (tested positive in the past), it is important you contact our office with details of her positive test and recovery.  We will need written evidence of her positive test. The date of her positive diagnosis may change these pre-camp requirements.

If your camper is vaccinated by the time her session begins, she still needs to take the PCR test, and we ask that she still complete the 7-days of symptom monitoring and careful quarantining during those last days leading up to camp. We will would like a copy of her vaccination record as well.

Will there be other testing at camp?

At this time, we are not planning to conduct camp-wide surveillance testing of all campers during their session. Instead, we will be carefully monitoring everyone’s health on a daily basis, and administering a rapid antigen test only if a camper presents convincing COVID-19 symptoms. We will confirm the results of any positive rapid test with a followup molecular PCR test.

Our medical staff will contact parents if we determine their daughter should be tested, and keep them informed every step of the way.

How will activities work this summer?

young horse camp girl

Ordinarily at Rockbrook, campers select their individual activity schedules after they have arrived at camp. This summer in 2021, as we take COVID-19 precautions, we will schedule in-camp activities according to cabin “family” groups.

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 free time and opportunities to enjoy the Rockbrook lake.

Horseback riding will remain an individual signup. Our riding director will interview girls on opening day.

What about out-of-camp trips?

Many out-of-camp adventure trips will allow individual choice. Girls will be able to sign up for canoeing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, backpacking and day hiking trips. Choosing to go on a trip means a camper will be skipping her scheduled activities for the duration of the trip. Cabin groups who are 5th grade and older will go whitewater rafting together.

Who will be vaccinated at camp?

At this point 99% of the counselors and activity instructors at Rockbrook will be vaccinated this summer. We are urging everyone on our staff to be vaccinated if eligible. We are grateful for the efforts our staff are taking to protect our camp community.

While a few campers will likely be vaccinated, and more so as the summer progresses, we do not plan to alter the health and safety measures established for this summer. We encourage all eligible campers to become vaccinated if medically advisable.

When will masks be required during camp?

two camp girls goofing around

Campers will not need to wear a mask when they are exclusively with their cohort (family cabin group). This means that for long stretches of time during the day, they can be mask-free: anytime when inside their cabin, at mealtimes with cabin mates, during activities held exclusively for their cabin group, and when it’s unsafe to wear a mask, for example when doing water sports like swimming, rafting and kayaking.

Otherwise, when encountering anyone from another cohort cabin family group, we will follow a “2-out-of-3” rule. This means we will make sure two out of the following three conditions are always met: outdoors, distanced and masked.

Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask Needed
Outdoors + No Distance = Mask Needed
Not Outdoors + Distanced = Mask Needed

In other words, girls will need to wear a mask only when distancing between girls in other cohorts is not possible, or when in an enclosed space.

How will Opening Day work?

For the summer of 2021, there are assigned arrival times staggered by age group. To prevent long lines of cars, we ask that campers arrive as follows (Your child’s grade is the one she just finished.):

Juniors (K-4th grades): 8:45am – 9:30am
Middlers (5th & 6th grades): 9:30am – 10:30am
Seniors (7th-9th grades): 10:30am – 12:00pm
Hi-Ups (10th grade): 3:00pm – 4:00pm (prior Saturday)

girls nc summer camp outdoors

Once you arrive at Rockbrook, you will first enter the Rockbrook Horseback Riding Center, located just south of the main camp entrance. This is different than previous years!

There is a new “drive through” check-in procedure that will include stops for meeting the directors, office staff, and nurses.  We ask that all family members stay in their car during this process.

When you arrive on opening day, it is critical that you have written evidence of your camper’s negative COVID-19 PCR test, plus the completed 7-day symptom monitoring form. She must also be feeling healthy!

After checking in at the riding center, you will then drive into camp through the main entrance to meet your counselors and unload your luggage.  This will be the last stop, and will be the time to say your goodbyes.

We know this may be a difficult time for families, but rest assured, our counselors will take extra care helping your daughter get settled into her cabin and begin the fun of meeting her bunk mates.

We will distribute pre-ordered camp gear, and do our regular head lice check after parents depart. Camp will launch into action right away!

What if my camper feels sick while at camp?

As always, we will do our very best to keep your daughter healthy and safe while at camp, and will be ready to care for her medical needs if she feels ill. Our medical team will be on the lookout for common COVID-19 symptoms throughout the session, and when concerned, will perform a rapid antigen test (We will try to contact parents prior to testing, but will not delay if they cannot be reached.). If a camper’s test is negative, we will continue to monitor and treat her symptoms in our Health Hut until she is fever-free for 24 hours (just as we do with any potentially contagious illness). If a camper’s test is confirmed with a second test to be positive, we will ask that you come pick her up as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). We have a special building dedicated to keeping sick campers comfortable and isolated from others at camp.

What if someone in my child’s cabin tests positive for having Covid-19?

If we verify that someone in your daughter’s cabin has COVID-19, we will contact you right away. Our medical staff will immediately evaluate everyone in that cabin group and arrange for a PCR test for each camper. If those campers test negative, we will screen them for any symptoms or signs of illness for seven days. They will take extra care to remain in their cohort distanced from others at camp, but will be able to continue to take their activities.

If we do have a positive COVID-19 case at Rockbrook, we plan to let our greater camp community know as well. Without discussing the specific camper infected, we will identify the cabin group exposed, and any other specific contact tracing information. Our decision to organize campers into cohorts (“family cabin groups”) and to properly distancing between them should make this information clear, and give us all confidence that the positive case is limited to that single cohort. If your daughter is not within that specific cohort, it is very unlikely she would have been exposed.

What is your refund policy?

camp children hugging

Ordinarily Rockbrook does not offer refunds for campers who arrive late or must leave early from their camp session.

For this summer of 2021, we have put in place a thorough set of reasonable measures to diminish the risk of contracting COVID-19, but we still cannot guarantee anyone attending Rockbrook will not become exposed or infected.

For this reason, this summer we will make an exception. If a camper must leave camp with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we will refund a prorated amount based on the days she is unable to attend.

Wow! That’s a lot!

Yes it is! Reuniting as a camp community while still grappling with the coronavirus requires us to be cautious. At the same time, we are working to do everything we can to recreate the special feeling of camp we all need— now more than ever. This summer will still mean time outside, lots of fun activities to try, a beautiful natural setting everywhere you turn, and the freedom to relax with friends in a caring supportive community. We’ll eat well, play hard, and laugh like we used to.

Thank you again for the support and confidence you have shown as we prepare for your daughter’s camp experience. We’re excited to see everyone back at Rockbrook!

If you have questions not covered here, or you need something clarified, please let us know.

three young teenage camp girls wearing climbing helmets


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  1. Avatar for Jennifer Sander
    Jennifer Sander
    3 years ago

    Thank you Jeff for the detailed email and info. When I spoke to Jeannie a month ago she said you would follow guidelines as they changed. My daughter is in second session starting June 27th. I hope that by then rules become even more relaxed after a successful first session and our girls can have a mask free summer. Obviously there are many feelings about mask wearing, but I feel any parent comfortable enough to send their daughters are also of the mindset that coming to camp with a negative test would be enough to be free of mask in a very safe setting. Best wishes for a smooth first session. I know this has been a difficult time for all of you and we love our camp!

  2. Avatar for Heather Ricks
    Heather Ricks
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for all that the team is doing to set up and maintain a safe and fun environment for our girls. Everyone is so excited for Rockbrook 2021!