WE DID IT!
Not one case of covid-19 this summer among our 450 campers nor our 130+ staff over the course of almost nine weeks. WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!
Keeping covid out of Walden this past 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. In fact, a lot cannot. 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!
Below you can read how we approached this daunting task in the lead-up to, and during, summer 2021.
On May 10, Walden published our Covid Playbook for 2021. The Playbook, including this excerpt, has been shared with all enrolled families. If you would like to read the complete outline of protocols, please contact us.
Walden will be practicing a multi-layered approach to covid containment this summer: Every layer of prevention that we incorporate will have some vulnerabilities, but each layer will lessen the chance of the virus entering camp. This summer our mitigations will include:
• Shallow nasal RT-PCR testing (a.k.a. viral or molecular testing) on Arrival Day and Day 5. Possibly an additional test on Day 9 or 10.
• Daily symptom checks on Days 0-5.
• Continued surveillance testing of our community through the summer.
• Ongoing health screenings of campers and staff
• Meeting two of these three NPIs at all times (The 2 of 3 Rule): Outdoors, Distanced, Masked. For example, those who are outdoors and distanced do not need to mask. Those that are indoors need to mask and distance.
• Moving indoor activities outdoors when at all possible (e.g., Arts & Crafts).
• Maintaining cabin-group cohorts through the first week of camp (Groups of 8-12 campers and two-to-three counselors)
• Possibly moving into Unit-based activity cohorts the second week of camp (Groups of 3-4 cabins and 9-12 staff) OR, if deemed safe by our medical staff, proceeding with our regular, individual-choice A/B program.
• Use of a tented outdoor Health Center next to the Infirmary, where camp health officers and medical staff can attend to everyday camper medical needs.
• Handwashing before and after activities, before and after meals, and upon entering and leaving cabins. Walden’s maintenance staff is repurposing our numerous drinking fountains as hand-washing stations. (Note to campers: Boys Front will still double as a special water-bottle filling station, run by staff!)
• Scheduled time between activities for cleaning equipment and supplies.
• Use of hand sanitizer as an alternative method of hand cleansing when hands are not visibly dirty.
• Combining indoor and outdoor dining at meals to reduce the number of people eating in the Mess Hall at any one time.
• Limiting day trips and overnight trips to areas near camp where we can distance from others.
• Keeping our counseling and support staff “bubbled” on and off camp. Staff will spend time-off either on camp or as part of an organized outing in which they are distanced from the general public.
• Requiring vendors who enter camp to mask and distance from campers and camp staff at all times.