Dear Camp Families,
With the approach of summer 2021, we wanted to send out a quick note to let our valued camp families know that we are taking steps to ensure a safe, healthy, and FUN 2021 Summer Camp for all of our campers, families, and staff at 4-H Camp Overlook! While the situation continues to evolve, we are making plans based on the general guidance that we have received from the American Camp Association, the New York State 4-H Program, the CDC, The New York State Camp Directors Association, and the experiences of the hundreds of camps that did run in some capacity in 2020. We are confident we can run a safe, fun, and wonderful camp this year, but the final decision to allow summer camps belongs to the Governor.
To ensure we are running the safest program possible, there will be a number of changes at camp this year. Changes to our registration process, camper check-in, daily schedules, class choices, cabin groups, health and sanitation and more. But you know what isn’t going to change? The opportunity for campers and staff to build healthy, thriving communities at camp. The positive, life changing experiences that happen at camp every day, simply because of the culture we have developed over 75 years of summer camping. Campers are still going to have great experiences, make new friends, try new things, and gain the independence that comes from a week away from their families. These experiences are the cornerstone of what 4-H Camp Overlook is all about. And so, while some things may look different this year, we are beyond excited to get back to camp and see so many smiling, happy children playing outdoors again!
We know you have questions, and many of those questions revolve around what we are doing this year to protect your child. The truth is, a lot. Below are some examples of the steps we are taking this year to enhance the health and safety of our campers and staff in 2021.
Paperless Marketing and Registration: We are changing the way we reach out to campers, and how to register for camp. Though we’ve had an online registration system for several years now, we will not be printing postcards and distributing them by mail or distributing brochures to schools. Saving trees feels good! As always, if you need a printed copy of the registration form, just email us and we’ll be happy to mail one to you!
Staggered Camper Drop Off: Nobody enjoys standing in long lines to drop off campers on registration day. This year, we are working on a new drop off procedure that will give families a check-in window. You’ll be able to drive into camp, be greeted by a staff member who will conduct a basic health screening right at your vehicle, and then help your camper unload their gear. Parents won’t even need to get out of their cars!
Squad Up: This year, campers squad groups will be assigned based on cabin and age. Based off current expectations, squads will include 2-3 cabin groups. These squad groups will be important, as they will become the “family group” that rotates through the daily schedule together. Campers and staff assigned to a particular cohort will have limited interactions with campers and staff from other cohorts. This will allow us to run a safe camp and minimize camper risk.
Masks: While we are still awaiting firm guidance from the New York State Department of Health, we anticipate that masks will be a requirement for all campers, staff and guests of camp through the 2021 season. Overnight campers should plan to bring a weekly supply face covering, in a large, zipper style plastic bag, with their name on it. Campers will be responsible for managing their masks properly throughout the week under the guidance and support of their counselors. Absolutely no sharing of masks will be permitted. Camp will have a supply of disposable masks available if needed.
Sanitation: We have acquired bulk hand sanitizer, which will be available throughout camp, including inside the doorways of most buildings. Each Squad will be provided with a Sanitation Kit including liquid sanitizer, paper towels, and sterile wipes, so that campers and staff can sanitize program areas before they leave, preparing them for the next group. Program supplies will be sanitized between uses, and we will be hiring additional maintenance staff to ensure sanitization of communal spaces like the restrooms and the dining hall. We have portable handwashing stations being added in more remote locations where access to running water is limited.
Reduced Capacities: Based on current guidance, we will be reducing the numbers of people in certain spaces together at the same time. Our current plan calls for a reduced capacity in many cabins, Great Hall, and any other indoor spaces. This plan may be subject to change as we await further guidance from the New York State Department of Health.
Meals: We are privilege at 4-H Camp Overlook to already have outside eating as part of our wonderful camp tradition. We will be continuing this tradition with a slight restructuring to require squads to be eating lunch at the same table. In the event of inclement weather, we will look at the possibility of eating staggered inside our Great Hall. This plan will ultimately depend on final guidance from the Department of Health.
Daily Schedules: Big changes are coming to our daily schedule! We have developed a schedule that allows our campers to rotate through the shared programming spaces so that no more than one squad is using a particular location at a time. With all our campers on site and different squads, there’s a lot of moving parts! Our camper squads will be rotating through all class programs throughout the week, so rather than selecting four favorite classes this year, campers will enjoy all our camp programs programs during the week. Special programs like Counselor in Training will be run in the Squad format as well! We are excited that campers will be allowed to experience all that Camp Overlook has to offer in a safe format.
We hope that you will consider joining the fun in 2021! We are aiming to be able to open registration for our overnight camp in mid-February. If you know anyone who is interested in working at camp, staff positions have already been posted on our website! https://4hcampoverlook.org/employment/
Please know that due to the evolving scenario with the covid-19 pandemic and the development and distribution of the vaccine, any and all programming is subject to change. As we move closer to camp, if things change, we will be updating our website, and we will post changes to our Facebook and Instagram pages, so be sure to follow us on those platforms, and/or check your email regularly. We will be in touch!
The Camp Overlook Team