Health and Safety Updates

Safety is our priority. As we prepare for summer 2021 we’ll continue our dialogue about our safety planning. This is a work in progress and will ultimately be based on best practices from the camping and medical community along with implementation of Federal and Pennsylvania regulatory requirements.

Updated as of June 1st, 2021

1. Introduction

The information surrounding COVID-19 is constantly changing and evolving. This playbook was updated on June 1st based on new CDC guidelines and specifically CDC guidelines for summer camps.

Although experts agree that there can be no guarantees that COVID-19 will not enter Camp, we have instituted multiple levels of protection to help mitigate risk including: face coverings, hand hygiene, physical distancing and frequent surface sanitization, the use of testing, strict cohorting, and the creation of a stable environment (or camp bubble). These policies adhere to CDC  guidelines, the American Camp Association (ACA) field guide, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and are based on the recommendations of the Capital Camps Medical Advisory Committee as well as learnings from our own experience in running Cabins@Capital. 

With parents, campers, and staff all working together to keep our camp as safe as possible, we are confident in our ability to have a great summer. 


2. COVID-19 Response Team

Capital Camps’ COVID-19 Response Team is comprised of Havi Goldscher (Interim CEO), Ron Siegel (COO), Lisa Handelman (Camp Director), Dr. Shira Weiss (Medical Director), Sarah Gamerman (Head Nurse), Natasha Oksenhendler (Head Nurse), and members of our Medical Committee led by Dr. Brent Berger.  Questions regarding contents of this Playbook or anything related to COVID-19 preparedness at Camp should be directed to Lisa Handelman at LisaH@capitalcamps.org


3. Home and Camp Partnership

We rely on a deep partnership with our camp families each and every summer, but this summer that collaboration will be more important than ever as we strive to build the safest possible community for our campers and staff.  This year, our partnership will require that our families follow all pre-camp requirements, including, but not limited to, quarantining, COVID testing, daily symptom and temperature monitoring, and reporting of any and all physical and mental health concerns.  As the Association of Camp Nursing reminds us, A Healthy Camp Begins at Home      


4. Core Assumptions

In 2021, Capital Camps & Retreat Center will resume our traditional summer camp program filled with connections, values, growth, and fun. To keep our community safe and to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, we will be making adjustments to our program that strike an appropriate balance between precautions, safety, and the enjoyment of being at Camp for our campers and staff.  The core assumptions listed below are the foundation upon which our COVID-19 Playbook was created. As the situation on the ground regarding the pandemic and related guidance continue to evolve, we reserve the right to adjust these assumptions and the components of our Playbook accordingly.

We can operate safely.  Through our experiences with Cabins@Capital last summer, we learned a lot about operating during this pandemic. This experience, along with what we have learned from the camps that operated in 2020, the CDC, and the ACA, has given us confidence in our ability to apply a comprehensive strategy of multilayered nonpharmaceutical interventions in order to safely operate Camp this summer.

COVID vaccines will not be widely available to all of our campers.  Based on consultation with medical experts, we do not expect a vaccine to be widely available for children under the age of 12. Nor do we anticipate the distribution of vaccines to be evenly distributed geographically among all the places our staff and campers live during the year. Although the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved for those ages 12-15, it may not be possible for all campers in that age group to get vaccinated prior to the start of camp.

COVID will remain a public health concern well into the summer.  While as a nation we are still in a very serious situation, the rates of infection across the country appear to be decreasing. We are continuing to learn how variant strains of the coronavirus will affect the pandemic.  National health authorities continue to estimate some return to pre-COVID normalcy by mid- to late-summer.

Testing will be adequately available to allow for early detection of the virus in our campers and staff.  A major difference between June 2020 and June 2021 will be the availability of PPE and testing supplies. Testing before and during camp, and requiring the use of appropriate PPE will be essential for keeping camp as safe as possible.   We are in contact with a number of companies which offer testing and will finalize our plans as we get closer to the summer.

 

5. Pre-Camp Protocols

Each year, parents complete standard medical forms.  These forms are important to prepare for our normal medical needs and they need to be submitted to camp no later than May 1.   Questions about COVID-19 will be included on these forms. In order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 being brought into camp, we will ask all campers and staff to take additional safety measures prior to their arrival. We strongly encourage all campers who are eligible to get a COVID vaccine. Someone is fully vaccinated if they are at least 14 days past receiving a 2nd dose of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. Please support Capital Camps efforts toward the health and safety for the community by talking with your child about the importance of following these measures.

We may change and update these procedures as we continue to review the latest data and guidance from public health officials and our medical advisory committee. 

Expected Behavior During the Pre-Arrival Period

 It is necessary to choose safer activities, return to being more vigilant and limit interactions with others prior to camp. We are asking all our families to follow the CDC guideline to protect themselves and others.  This includes wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, staying 6 feet apart from other who don’t live with you, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces and washing hands often with soap and water.  In the days leading up to camp, we ask that all campers and camp families stay extra vigilant.  

We are asking campers to stay extra vigilant for approximately 10 days prior to coming to camp.  For campers starting camp on June 28, this period of being extra vigilant should begin no later than June 18.  For campers starting camp on July 27,  this period of begin extra vigilant should begin no later than July 17. During this  period, we are asking that all household members take appropriate preventative measures (wearing a mask, staying 6 feet away from other people, and washing hands with soap and water frequently). During this period, please refrain from attending any large gatherings; this includes but is not limited to, school graduation parties, weddings, and community events.  In addition, all campers will be asked to self-monitor for symptoms related to COVID-19.  All campers should avoid non-essential travel

Starting 14 days before camp, we ask that the entire family be extra diligent in monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.  All campers, even campers who are vaccinated need to send to camp two negative COVID-19 PCR tests.  Before driving to camp, all campers and staff need to complete a Health Survey Questionnaire.  The questionnaire will ask if your camper has had a fever of 100.4 or above in the last 72 hours or if they have taken any fever-reducing medication in the last 6 hours.  Your camper will also be asked about new irregular breathing, shortness of breath, a cough, other flu-like symptoms, including but not limited to headache, body-aches, extreme fatigue, chills, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or other GI symptoms.  Your camper will be asked about any new loss of taste or smell and if they have had a known exposure to COVID-19.  Exposure is defined by the CDC as any close contact for at least 15 minutes cumulative, regardless of masked or unmasked with a person with a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 pending a PCR test.  While the Health Survey is specifically for your camper, if any member of the household would answer yes to these questions, please do not come to camp. If there is any question about whether to be tested, stay at home, or what constitutes a known exposure please err on the side of caution.

COVID Testing

We are utilizing a three tiered testing procedure, two rounds of COVID-19 PCR tests would take place prior to entry into camp for unvaccinated campers and one test would take place 3 to 5 days after the start of each session. For campers who have received a full regiment of a COVID-19 vaccine and have uploaded the completed vaccination card to the CampInTouch dashboard, we are only requiring that they get tested during the 1 to 3 Day (72 Hours) Out Testing time period noted below. Testing results should be submitted as soon as possible and nolater then 5:00PM EST the day before campers arrive at camp.

Camp Start Date/Session

10 Day Out Testing Dates

1 to 3 Day (72 Hours) Out Testing Dates

Monday, June 28th/ 1st Session, Rookie A, & Mini Session A

Friday June 18 to Sunday June 20

Friday June 25 to Saturday  June 26

Tuesday, July 27th/ 2nd Session, Rookie B, & Mini Session B

Thursday July 15 to Monday July 19

Saturday July 24 to Sunday July 25

*Capital Camps recognizes that each of the testing ranges overlaps with Shabbat.  Please identify a time that accommodates the needs of your family while also staying within our necessary testing window.

Vaccines

We continue to carefully track the vaccine distribution in the United States. It is our expectations that campers and staff who are age 16 and above will be vaccinated.  We are hopeful that campers age 12 to 15 will also be able to be vaccinated. As of May 11th, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized as a safe and effective vaccine for those ages 12-15. Campers and families should schedule their vaccinations keeping in mind the start and end date of their Capital Camps’ sessions.  We have asked our counselors to submit proof of vaccination and ask that families upload a PDF or JPG file of their camper’s vaccination card on their CampInTouch dashboard once a camper is able to be vaccinated.

6. Transportation to/from Camp

This year, in order to maintain the highest possible level of safety, group transportation to camp is not feasible, and personal arrangements will need to be made for camper drop-off in Waynesboro. 

At this point, we do not anticipate the ability to bus your camper/s home.

In the interest of preserving a healthy camp environment, we encourage our long distant families to be extra diligent in monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.  Families are expected to adhere to public health guidelines and follow CDC travel guidance.


7. Arrival

The specific details and logistics around drop-off and pick-up, i.e., assigned times, meeting locations, etc., will be shared with our families closer to the start of Camp.  You can expect a careful and responsible check-in process that supports the stable environment inside of Camp we are trying to create and maintain.

On arrival day, we will confirm that we have received documentation of the two negative COVID tests (one from 10 days before camp and one 72 hours before camp), and that each camper has completed their Health Survey Questionnaire.  All families will receive luggage tags in the mail ahead of their camp session to be attached to camper’s luggage before their arrival at camp. Upon their arrival at camp, All families will receive a welcome packet.  Everyone is expected to stay inside their cars until the camper drop off point where only the camper will exit the car. 


8. Creating A Safe Camp Community

Based on what is currently known about COVID-19, best practices to operating safely during this pandemic include creating as stable of an environment as possible. 

Similar to past summers, all staff who work directly with our campers, including those working in the kitchen to prepare food, will live on camp property.  Our doctors and nurses typically work one or more weeks at camp and this will continue to be the process this summer with our medical staff entering our community throughout the sessions.  Our Retreat Center will remain closed during the summer camp session.

We are also mindful that for any number of reasons, campers and/or staff members may need to leave our stable environment, i.e., for receiving additional medical care.  In addition, the new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals makes leaving camp for safe activities possible.  All circumstances surrounding who can leave/return and what takes place while they are gone from Camp will be assessed and an objective determination will be made by our Medical team, Camp Director, Chief Operations Officer and/or Interim CEO.

Similar to past summers, all staff who work directly with our campers, including those working in the kitchen to prepare food, will live on camp property.  Our doctors and nurses typically work one or more weeks at camp and this will continue to be the process this summer with our medical staff entering our community throughout the sessions.  Our Retreat Center will remain closed during the summer camp session.

We reserve the right to reassess these protocols based on new information about vaccines, herd immunity and infection rates. We are committed to keeping our environment as safe as possible.  


9. Interventions at Camp – Use of NPIs

Camps that operated successfully last summer note that their success was due in large part to what is called non-pharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and primarily being outside. Other NPIs that we will be implementing include, but are not limited to, frequent handwashing, daily health screenings, cohorts, increased disinfecting, cleaning and ventilation and activity zones.  We have a lovely 270-acre facility and have added additional designated outdoor space for each of our individual villages.  

Masks

Capital Camps will fully comply with any mask wearing requirement or mandate from Federal, State, or local governments.   The CDC recommends wearing face coverings that cover the mouth and nose and fit under the chin. A face mask may not have an exhalation valve and bandanas and neck gators are not permitted to be worn as a mask.   

We are asking every camper to bring at least two mask per day (double layer cloth or disposable surgical masks).  Please follow the CDC guide for masks.  If your child is staying two weeks or longer and will be using cloth masks we will following CDC guidelines for storing and washing mask.  Please send you campers with a Ziploc bag to store used masks until they can be washed and also send them with a mesh laundry bag (click here for examples of mesh laundry bags).  Please make sure to label each cloth mask and the mesh laundry bag with your camper’s name.

 

Daily Health Screenings

Cabin counselors, who have extensive training from the medical staff and mental health staff prior to camper, report on their campers physical health and social emotional well being daily.

COVID-19 Testing Policy While at Camp

While Capital Camps & Retreat Center, our campers, counselors and families, are working together to take the precautionary steps to keep our community safe from COVID, the virus may still enter camp this summer. We are partnering with Capital Diagnostics to conduct PCR testing during each summer session. Strong prevention strategies will reduce the spread of COVID-19 but may not eliminate it completely.  Campers and staff that test positive for COVID-19 from the pre-camp PCR tests will be asked to stay home until they have met the criteria to end isolation and can join camp with a letter from a healthcare provider documenting the positive test date and stating the individual is cleared to end isolation. 

While at camp, if a camper displays symptoms of the virus, they will be placed in isolation and COVID PCR tested by our Health Center staff, test results are expected within 24-36 hours from the lab.  If the test result is negative, the individual will remain in the Health Center until his or her symptoms have improved in accordance with existing camp policies.

 All campers and counselors will participate in PCR testing while at camp.  If a PCR test returns positive, the CDC recommends isolation for 10 days.  Capital Camps will notify the parents of the individual and arrange for their pickup ASAP so isolation can take place at home. The cohort of the individual will be notified and parents of the remaining campers will be notified with the option to pick up their camper by choice. The cohort will be monitored for symptoms, quarantined from other campers, and tested in an appropriate time frame.  Parents will be notified if additional positive results return from testing.

Campers sent home due to positive testing for COVID-19 will receive a refund of $50 a day for each unused camp day.  Campers will be welcomed back to camp after they have completed their 10 days of isolation.

Cohorts

Following American Camp Association’s best practice recommendations, we are prepared to create cohorts of the smallest practicable groups of campers who live, eat, play and do most group activities together.  The bunk is everyone’s first and primary cohort.  Having campers initially gather in small cohorts is also the best way to meet their social/emotional needs.   For the first 5 to 7 days of each camp session, we anticipate that campers will experience all the fun of camp while remaining as part of this bunk level cohort. It is our intention to explore the expansion of our initial cohorts into micro-communities only after we have established a stable environment (a camp bubble) through negative test results for COVID-19 from tests administered at camp.  We anticipate expanding the cohorts from bunk level to micro-communities (multiple bunks) and hopefully being able to form full village cohorts. 

Zones

In a typical summer, it is not uncommon to have campers move from activities in lower camp such as the lake, farm, teva (nature) or baseball to activities in the center of main camp such as arts and crafts, Israeli dancing or drama.  At the same time as campers may be moving from the pool, soccer field or climbing wall to hockey, tennis, basketball, volleyball or archery.  This summer we will be redesigning our schedule so campers in a particular village will have several activities in one zone before moving onto another area of camp.  This will create soft village bubbles within our larger camp bubble.  When possible (and weather permitting), camp activities will be held outdoors in these zones.  


10. Interventions at Camp – cleaning, sanitization, & ventilation

Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures and Enhanced Hygiene

CCRC has greatly expanded our cleaning, handwashing, and sanitization procedures over the past year and those practices will remain in place for 2021.  Sanitation protocols will be in accordance with CDC guidelines.  Sanitization enhancements will include a daily electrostatic spray to be used in high touch areas, additional hand sanitizer stations, new handwashing stations across camp, and additional cleaning and sanitizing of all public bathrooms, shared spaces, and highly touched services.  Activity areas and equipment will be cleaned on-site by specialist counselors after each use and housekeeping staff for harder to clean areas.  This includes but is not limited to sports equipment, life jackets, art supplies, and much more.

Increased Ventilation

All HVAC systems in all buildings will be compliant with air-flow rates and air quality/disinfection requirements recommended by the CDC. Enhancements include the installation of exhaust fans to increase fresh air turnover rate, upgrades to HVAC filters and reconfiguring ventilation to maximize purification of air. 

Additional measures include the use of individual portable air-conditioning units to isolate air flow to individual sleeping facilities.


11. Meal Time

We have traditionally eaten together to create a sense of community and this will still take place, family style, within cohorts. All campers will be eating in cohort groups all summer.  Campers in Benjamin, Reich and Kaufmann will be eating in bunk level groups.  Macks, LITs and CITs will be eating by village.  We will continue to offer healthy, nutritious kid-friendly meals with choices, and specialty meals to accommodate those with specific allergies and other dietary needs. We have set up additional handwashing stations and are prepared to eat in a variety of locations. We will be adjusting our daily schedule to provide staggered mealtimes and multiple locations. All meals will be served in safe, efficient and clean environments. Afternoon Chatif (snack) and evening snack (for our older campers) will still be part of our food program. Campers will continue to enjoy their snack out and about in Camp.


12. Mirpa’ah (Our Health Center)

We are fortunate every summer to have a health center staffed by high quality physicians and nurses as our Mirpa’ah (health center) plays an important role in operating safely each summer.  In addition, our Yoetzot (mental health professionals) are an integral part of our camp care team working throughout camp to ensure the mental health of our campers and staff.  Recognizing the trauma of this past year, we have hired additional Yoetzot this summer.  In 2021, our medical staff will continue to provide medical care for our entire camp community, while helping us stay safe from COVID-19.  Many of our health care providers have been working throughout this year in communal settings and they are well-versed in operating within the parameters of COVID-19. Our health care staff will follow guidelines based on recommendations from the CDC,  state and local health authorities, and Capital Camps’ medical advisory committee.


13. Programming

Daily Schedules

We are planning to have our full line-up of activities at camp – including favorites such as sports, arts, aquatics, outdoor adventure, teva (nature), the farm and more. We are carefully examining how our activities may need to be modified due to COVID-19 and are following guidance from the ACA, CDC and Capital Camps Medical Advisory Committee in this planning. Modifications include additional time between groups for cleaning, relocation of activities to outdoor spaces, and smaller group sizes.  At the beginning of each session, campers will follow a bunk based-activity schedule, and participate in a wide range of rotating activities.  We will not be offering our chug (elective block) during the first weeks of each session and hope to offer a modified chug program that will allow for increased camper choice at the village level. Multiple groups in a cohort may be assigned to zone areas together, where they will remain socially distanced to the extent possible.  If there are no cases of COVID-19 after in-camp testing, we hope to increase the size of the cohorts (see cohorts above).

Shabbat

Shabbat links us as a Jewish community.  Gathering together, dressed in white, as we welcome in Shabbat is a highlight for us every summer.  This summer won’t be any different.  We’re exploring a number of options that will allow us to deliver on our Shabbat traditions, in a safe and responsible way.  This could include multiple Shabbat services, structuring Shabboptions (our Saturday morning choice activities) and our Shabbat afternoon free time by bunks and villages instead of camp-wide. Singing during Shabbat services, for the prayers before and after the meal, and for a modified song session, will be allowed within the confines of, and when in the company of those in pre-established cohorts. It is currently considered best practice that all participants should be masked when singing.  And of course, we will find a way to have our spirited Rikkud (Israeli dancing) on Friday evenings.  

Off-Camp Trips

We do not anticipate leaving camp property for any trips. Overnight camping trips will still take place and we will be utilizing a number of locations within our wonderful 270 acre property.  We are planning for some new and exciting experiences for each village.


14. Ongoing Communication

Camp Photos and Social Media

This summer you may notice a decline in the number of photos that we regularly share on various platforms like Smugmug, Facebook, and Instagram.  This will afford us as much time as possible to best ensure adherence to the high standards and best practices in health and safety we’ve established for our Camp community.  After the summer, all photos that were taken during Camp will be posted for our families to see.  We will continue to share smaller posts on social media, including our daily blog, with the focus on telling the story of our summer.  It’s important to us that our families still have that special lens and opportunity to see what’s happening at Camp and the meaningful experiences in which our campers are engaged.

Mail, Packages, and Deliveries at Camp

Just like in previous summers, families will also be able to send one-way email messages, mail and small flat packages are not only permitted to be delivered to Camp, they’re encouraged!  Our standard package policy regarding contents and size remain in place.   We will request that UPS, FedEx and USPS leave any mail or packages at our gate.  The Camp Office will coordinate with our security team to allow these deliveries to be completely contact free.

Our Yoetzot, camper care specialists, will still be accessible to you to answer questions and affirm that all is well at Camp.  Please call the Camp Office to leave a message if you have any questions or concerns.


15. Staff Expectations

In order to welcome our campers into the safest environment possible, the medical committee that all staff be vaccinated, that vaccinated staff get tested for COVID-19 and lengthening staff training.

We are optimistic that our counselors will be able to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the camp.  Someone is fully vaccinated if they are at least 14 days past receiving a 2nd dose of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.  Prior to entering camp, all staff will need to provide evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test and will need to complete the Health Survey Questionnaire.   

Based on this recommendation, Staff Training will run from Monday, June 14 to Sunday, June 27.

Training will include additional information about our COVID-19 safety protocols. For time off, staff have their own space, as well as are enhanced staff programs and amenities available so that they will have the opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge, since they will not be able to leave camp for days off.  Staff will be able leave campus in small organized groups that will follow all COVID protocols.     

 Staff will also be staying on campus for our intersession, enjoying some time off and getting ready for our second session campers.

Our staff will be following the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated adults.  While staff may be able to gather outside unmasked with other fully vaccinated adults, they will continue to wear masks when interacting with campers who are not in their cohort.      

If things change and we are able to relax these protocols, we will certainly do so.


 16. Thank you

Lastly, we wanted to say thank you in advance for partnering with us to deliver the best possible experience for our campers and staff. It is important to note that this document reflects the current conditions if camp were to start today. We will continue to update these policies and provide greater detail as we get closer to the summer.   The past year has presented our community with challenges that we have been able to overcome by staying together and protecting each other.


 

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