March 24, 2021
The pandemic is waning in the United States, and access to vaccines is nearly universal for adults. Will covid-19 still affect my camper’s experience?
The beginning of the end of the covid-19 pandemic is a tremendous relief. Covid cases have declined across most of the country, and the U.S. is on track to inoculate every adult who wants a vaccine by the end of May. Many states have begun to vaccinate anyone age 16 and older.
Yet the virus, and its variants, remain a serious threat to those who have not been vaccinated, and that group will include children for the foreseeable future.
At Walden this summer, we will be implementing Centers for Disease Control protocols, state of Michigan guidance, and best practices as dictated by our accrediting organization, the American Camp Association, in concert with Environmental Health & Engineering (you can find the ACA/EHE Field Guide HERE). Our goal will be to create a covid-resistant bubble around Walden, by testing, cohorting, mask-wearing, and remaining in–or moving with–that bubble the entire summer. A detailed roadmap to preparing for camp—as well as procedures at camp—will be available to all registered families later this spring.
Though the rapidly changing covid landscape prevents us from getting too specific, we can provide a general overview of how camp will function.
We understand that, for some people, life will potentially look quite “normal” come June. Children will be attending day camp and participating on sports teams. However, the safety of our camp community will rely heavily upon the vigilance of our families as camp approaches. We expect that our families will continue to mask and social distance in their daily lives, whether they are vaccinated or not.
More specifically, in the two weeks prior to their session’s start date, Walden families will avoid any non-necessary social engagements, including large gatherings, indoor dining, and play dates. Prior to arrival, campers will receive a PCR test and present proof of a negative result. Campers who arrive on Walden charter buses may be tested prior to boarding the buses. Campers arriving by car may be tested upon their arrival on camp. Day 1 testing is still to be determined.
Once at camp, cabin groups will act as cohorts or families. Each cabin will distance from all the others. Within a cabin family, campers will be free to socialize and interact without masking (There may be a 48-hour period in which everyone masks until we receive the results of Day 1 testing, should we perform those). Cohorts will expand–and possibly disband!–after each round of negative test results.
During the first five days of First Session and Second Session, activities and meals will almost exclusively take place outdoors. During inclement weather, cohorts will fan out across camp to our various protected venues (Mess Hall spaces, Rec Hall spaces, Pavilion, Arts & Crafts, Game Room, Radio Room).
In general, cleaning and sanitizing procedures will be amped up; “public” restrooms around camp, such as in the Mess Hall, will be closed or use will be restricted; and extra time will be allowed for campers to wash their hands at their cabins and designated hand-washing stations before and after activities and meals.
It sounds like my camper will need to wear a mask, right?
Yes, sometimes. Masks will not be required when campers are in their cabins with their “family,” at a cabin-only outdoor activity, or during water activities. Wearing masks during the first five days of camp, when carefully interacting with those not in our cabin or cohort, will allow us to move more freely in activities and to socialize in general.
My camper is very attracted to Walden’s camper-choice activity program. Will those choices be available this summer?
Our goal is to provide campers choice while still maintaining a safe bubble for our camp community. Our leadership team and medical staff will be making real-time decisions about how “open” camp can be based on the success of our preventative measures, as well as numerous other factors.
We expect to be able to open our program much more broadly after the first five days of camp, i.e. after a second round of testing finds no covid cases among us. At that point, we may then feel confident about launching our all-choice A-B Day program.
Can I get my money back if my camper or I decide the risks are too high for us this summer?
Walden’s current cancellation fee is $750 until April 15, when it rises to $1350. After May 1, a family that cancels is responsible for the full amount of the original tuition. If you are concerned about having to cancel, please investigate Program Protection Insurance. Walden offers one such policy in our application, but it does not cover “anxiety about covid.” Other policies do. Most require that you purchase the policy within 20 days of completing the camper application.
What if you ARE forced to close due to covid-19, by government or some other force majeure? Will I get my money back?
Yes. If covid-19 forces another closure, we would offer the same options to families as we did last summer, including full refunds.
What are the deadlines for registration?
For those who rolled over their deposits or more last summer, the deadline for locking into 2020 tuition rates is March 15. Tuition-in-full is due April 15. Late registration fees kick in May 1. For a detailed cancellation policy, see the Dates & Fees page.