What will summer 2022 bring in the way of covid-19 precautions? We wish we had a crystal ball! What we CAN tell you is that we will do everything necessary to keep our camp community healthy, including requiring vaccines for all staff, including whatever booster shots might be recommended by the Centers for Disease Control come June. Any child enrolling in Walden 2022 from January 1 forward MUST be vaccinated against covid-19 upon arrival at camp. If you are curious as to how we handled covid during summer 2021, please read on. Some of these protocols may be necessary for summer 2022.
WE DID IT!
No cases of covid-19 in 2021 among our 450 campers
nor our 130+ staff over the course of almost nine weeks.
WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!
Keeping covid out of Walden last summer was a monumental effort. But our staff, campers, parents–and our amazing medical team–pushed through the discomfort, stress, exhaustion and inconvenience and kept covid OUT. Not all summer camps can say that. Even with a staff shortage, food-supply chain obstacles, and cruddy weather, Walden provided a safe and supportive environment where children grew emotionally, thrived socially, and discovered the best parts of themselves. We are so proud of this achievement! Here’s how we did it:
On May 10, 2021, Walden published our Covid Playbook for 2021, sharing it directly with all enrolled families. We offered two start dates for campers: Arrive for First Session on June 21, or arrive for Second Session on July 19. We took the same steps prior to each session. Second Session unfolded along the same timeline.
Partnering with Fever Free.ai, Walden provided each staff member and camp family with a portal for daily reporting their health status in the two weeks prior to arrival at camp. This included a video component to record the readout on digital thermometers.
Staff and campers were required to have a PCR test and a confirmed negative result in the few days prior to their arrival.
Upon entering camp or boarding the buses, staff and campers underwent a health screening and took a second, Day 1, PCR test.
Once at camp, we remained masked and cohorted in cabin groups until the results of our Day 1 test were received.
We spread out! The younger half of camp ate meals outside at new picnic tables. The older half of camp, most of whom were vaccinated, ate in the Mess Hall with tables spaced 10 feet apart.
On Wednesday, all Day 1 tests came back negative! We unmasked OUTDOORS and broadened our cohorts, but still did not mix freely.
On Friday, we all took a Day 5 test–campers’ third PCR test in 10 days; staff’s 4th PCR test in two weeks. Those results were back to us by Saturday evening. Confident that there was no covid among our camp population, we ceremoniously removed our masks!
Our staff remained on camp for most of their time off. We took group outings, renting out the local bowling alley and arranging to have the Cheboygan laundromat to ourselves twice a week.
Throughout the session, any camper with symptoms that could suggest covid-19 was immediately isolated (with staff nearby), rapid tested and PCR tested by our medical team.
Campers used freestanding handwashing stations in addition to their cabin washrooms. Common bathrooms were off limits until after the results of the third PCR tests were back.