January 19, 2020
The United States is in the midst of a terrible covid-19 surge right now, and it will probably get worse before it gets better. So, will Walden open in 2021?
The news these days is dire, as U.S. experiences more than 200,000 cases per day. Yet there is a general consensus that the pandemic will ease its grip on the U.S. as we get into spring. Four months from now, covid-19 vaccines will probably be available to most adults. That’s reason for optimism and causes us to remain 110 percent committed to running our full seven-week program in 2021. The camping community as a whole has learned a tremendous amount about how to control covid-19, and has, in some cases, led the way (see the covid resources on our Parents page). The only way we would NOT run would be if the local, state or federal government prevented us from doing so, or a force majeure prohibits our opening.
How will camp prepare for covid-19 in 2021?
The United States will, in all likelihood, have widely available vaccines against covid-19 in April or May–at least for adults and teens. The American Camp Association and regional ACA offices are lobbying the federal and state governments to place summer-camp employees on the priority list for vaccines this spring.
And while vaccines may help protect some in our camp community this summer, they are not foolproof and will still complement other NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) at camp. Right now, Walden is adapting the covid-19 blueprint that we devised last spring with our medical team, and in consultation with other healthcare and public-health professionals.
Protocols will include asking families to provide proof of a camper’s negative RT-PCR test result within a few days of arrival; testing of campers upon their arrival at camp and then again within the first week of camp. 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. We will adhere to some measure of cohorting and social distancing for a period of time once at camp.
Will my camper have to wear a mask?
Yes, sometimes. Masks will not be required when campers are in their cabins or at a cabin-only outdoor activity (or an indoor activity at which there are no non-cabin staff.) Wearing masks when interacting with those not in our cabin or cohort will allow us to move more freely in activities and during less structured time, to sing and cheer outside, 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 create the least-restrictive environment 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 expand our cohorts to “Unit size” groups (three to five cabins) after the first week of camp. A larger Unit of approximately 40 campers would move through activity areas together–the waterfront, or athletics, or arts & crafts, e.g.–and campers in that Unit would be provided several options in each area. After 10-14 days of this schedule, and no sign of covid, we may then feel confident about returning to our regular A-B Day program.
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.
I rolled over some of my 2020 payment to camp for 2021. Do I still have to fill out an application?
Yes. A parent or legal guardian must fill out the 2021 application online and agree to the Terms and Conditions. All of the basic information you entered last year will populate the fields automatically.
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.