Last week, New Jersey updated its summer camp COVID-19 guidance, loosening its mask requirements at camps. After careful consideration of the updated guidance, we have decided to make the following changes to our COVID-19 policies:
Fully vaccinated campers and staff will not be required to wear masks, inside or outside
Unvaccinated campers will not be required to wear masks during the following times
When campers are with their cabin cohort – when they are sleeping, in the cabin, eating, swimming or participating in activities that is only with their cabin cohort.
During sports activities and high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities that take place on the field or basketball court.
During evening activity running games.
Because of the number of people on camp during change days, we require campers, families and staff to wear masks during change days
All campers and staff, irrespective of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks during any off-site trips during their time at camp
Free-choice programming and the inter-age, inter-gender friendships are intrinsic to the camp experience at Dark Waters, and are things that set us apart from many other camps. In order to preserve these foundational features of our camp, unvaccinated campers and staff will still be required to wear masks when not with their cohorts, or when not under the conditions specified above. We understand that we will all be making adjustments this summer as we continue to move forward from the pandemic and associated restrictions. People will adjust at their own pace and we will support any camper or staff member who wants to wear a mask at any time, even if they are not required to do so.
Camp Dark Waters will continue to be very conscious of the heat and weather and we will adjust our schedule accordingly to allow for campers to be without their masks during days where it could affect their health.
We will continue to review and update our policies if and when new guidance is issued by the State of New Jersey. The safety of our campers, staff and all in our community remains our highest priority
Summer 2021 Camp Dark Waters COVID-19 Policy and FAQs
This is a working document that may be amended as we learn new information and receive further guidance from the Federal and State Governments, the CDC and other agencies. New Jersey has announced that overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this year and have provided official guidance and mandatory standards for opening overnight camps. We are confident that the measures outlined below will allow for us to run camp safely and effectively this summer. Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility as we build towards a successful summer.
We hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and have been able to find a few silver linings over the past year. We have missed you and the rest of our community. Through careful thought and planning, we are committed and excited to welcome campers back to CDW in 2021. We know this pandemic has been hard and we recognize that the positive social interactions, relationship building and freedom offered at camp have the potential to be of huge benefit to children, this year more than ever.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), ACA (American Camp Association), and ACN (Association of Camp Nurses) recommend the use of multiple Non-Pharmacological Interventions (NPIs) at overnight summer camps to combat COVID-19 this summer, and our plan relies heavily on NPIs.
Consistent, conscientious use of multiple NPIs reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission to what we believe is an acceptable level for our program and population. It is the expectation that this summer, everyone who comes to Camp Dark Waters adheres to and participates in our Summer 2021 Camp Dark Waters COVID-19 Policy.
Effective use of NPIs are crucial before and during a camper’s time at camp, and will factor into all sections of this plan. We have laid out our plan below with sections covering the following:
Before arriving at camp: expectations of families, campers and staff prior to arrival at camp
Change days & picking up / dropping off campers: how drop-off / the first day of camp will look, and how it differs from previous summers
How we will keep our campers and staff safe while they are here, including changes to program and facilities
Steps we will take to care for our Community (as a whole and for individuals) if we suspect or confirm a case of COVID-19
We are committed to providing a fun, enriching, challenging and, above all, safe camp experience this summer. We made the decision to cancel camp last summer because we did not feel equipped to provide a safe and secure environment for our campers and staff. After careful planning and a lot of research, we are confident that we can do just that this year, and get back to doing what we do best. Hopefully any questions you or your child have will be answered in this document. If not, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Section 1: Before arriving at camp
Testing / vaccine requirements:
In order for a camper or staff member to come to camp we require evidence of one of the following:
Documented negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their arrival at camp
The CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test if the person does not have symptoms of COVID-19. Campers and staff who have had a positive viral test in the 3 months prior to starting camp and have met the criteria to end isolation should have a letter from their healthcare provider documenting the positive test date and stating the individual is cleared to end isolation.
A completed course of vaccination, with the last dose at least 14 days prior to arrival at camp
Without sufficient evidence of at least one of the above measures, campers and staff will not be allowed to check into camp. There will be no exceptions to this requirement.
We are not mandating that our seasonal staff receive the vaccine, although we are strongly encouraging them to do so. Our three year-round staff are fully vaccinated, and we anticipate all, or at least the vast majority, of our seasonal staff will be fully vaccinated by the start of camp.
Pre-camp behavior and symptom monitoring:
As required by The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health, we request strongly that campers, their families, and camp staff follow CDC guidance for travelers in the 14 days before camp arrival to reduce exposure to COVID-19. As per State and CDC guidance, unvaccinated campers and staff members should engage in a 2-week pre-arrival quarantine that includes physical distancing, mask-wearing when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of their households.
We ask that you perform a daily symptom tracking (fever of 100.4 or greater, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, vomiting, etc.) for 14 days prior to arrival at camp. If any of these symptoms occur, you must notify camp as soon as possible.
If you or your child are quarantining after an exposure, or you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to wait until the quarantine period is over and you and your child are medically cleared before sending your child to camp.
Consider the behavior of other members of your household and limit the exposure of your camper to them if necessary.
These steps are incredibly important. The best way for us to have a successful summer is to ensure that nobody carrying COVID-19 comes into camp. We will refund all tuition paid for campers who are unable to attend because they display symptoms. In addition, we will happily enroll them in a later session, assuming we have spots available and they can satisfy the requirements listed above.
Section 2: change days & picking up / dropping off campers.
To make arrival, departure and check-in/out safer, and lower the chance of exposure, we are making changes to our session start/end change day procedure. We will contact you in the days before you are due to drop off or collect your camper, but please anticipate the following:
Anyone coming to camp to pick up or drop off a camper must wear a mask, and attempt to maintain social distancing, while on camp property.
Staggered check in/out: you will be asked to arrive for pick-up/drop-off within a specific time window to limit the number of people arriving at camp at the same time.
Symptom screening: you and your camper will have your temperature checked and will be asked to confirm that you are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 before you can check in.
During change day, you will be required to speak to one of our camp nurses and will be able to speak to your child’s Counselor and any other staff members such as our Camp Director or Camper Advocate. We ask that, once you have had any necessary conversations, you say your goodbyes and leave camp promptly.
If your child is staying at camp for multiple sessions, you will not be able to visit them on the change day between sessions in which they are enrolled.
Limited access for campers’ families to camp/cabins. We will seek to minimize the number of people we have moving around camp and entering camper sleeping quarters.
It is possible that we will limit the number of people in camp by having families say their goodbyes at check-in, rather than helping their campers move into their cabins.
You will be asked to limit the number of people you bring to drop your camper off or pick them up. Wherever possible, please only bring the camper(s) who will be attending camp that session. We understand that this will not be feasible for everybody but, If possible, one adult and no other friends or family members should come to drop off or pick up campers.
If you have to make a stop on your way to camp (food, last minute items) please have your camper wash their hands and face immediately upon arrival.
Please remember to bring proof of your child’s negative test, vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 in order for them to check in.
New Jersey Department of Health encourages all unvaccinated campers to get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after traveling home from camp and quarantine for 7 days after their return home.
Other things to note:
Campers will not be permitted to leave and re-enter camp during a session, except in the case of true emergencies
Camper pick-up within 8 hours if we request it: We will require confirmation that parents and guardians have a reliable way to pick up campers within 8 hours, if requested.
Section 3: How we will keep our campers and staff safe while they are here, including changes to program & facilities
Life at camp will be a little different this summer, as we change things around in our program to keep everyone safe and ensure that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is mitigated as much as possible. Free choice programming and the ability for children to form friendships with people of different ages and genders are cornerstones of our camp culture. We will be implementing the following measures to ensure that we can run not only a camp summer, but a Camp Dark Waters summer safely this year:
After arrival: All unvaccinated campers/ staff will be required to receive a COVID-19 test within 3-6 days of arrival to camp. We will be working with a reputable testing company to perform the tests on site. The tests will be processed through the camper/staff member’s insurance with no charge to you. If your camper does not have insurance, the test will be provided at no charge.
Mask wearing and social distancing: with the exceptions of time spent with their cabin groups, campers and staff will be spending a lot of time wearing masks at camp this summer. When people are not in their cabins, eating meals or swimming, they will be wearing masks. This includes free times and all time spent at activities. In addition, we will all be expected to maintain social distancing whenever possible during these times. Free choice programming and inter age/gender friendships are important parts of life at CDW. For these to be possible this summer, we must ensure that masks are worn when campers are not with their cabin groups.
Cohorting: when arriving at camp, campers will form cohorts with the other campers in their cabin. When campers are in their cabins, or doing an activity with only other campers in their cabin, they will not be required to wear masks or socially distance. Because we will be allowing people to be maskless when with their cabin cohorts, campers will spend more time with their cabin mates than normal this summer, including the following:
Meals: eating with a mask on is not an option, so campers will eat with their cabin groups this year. This means that crews will not exist at camp this summer
Crew duties: in keeping with the Quaker testimony of stewardship, we all pitch in to help with chores and upkeep around camp. Usually, campers would do this with their crew; this year they will be doing so with their cabin groups.
Swimming: a staple of CDW has long been swim class. As being in the pool necessitates not wearing a mask, campers will have designated time to swim with their cabin groups, rather than with a separate swim class. Because there will be differing levels of swimming ability within cabins, there will not be formal swim instruction at camp this year.
Some evening activities: during evening activities where campers would usually be split up by crew, they will likely be split up by cabin instead.
The exception to being mask-free within a cabin cohort would be in the event of a suspected case. If this happens, our communicable disease plan includes wearing masks within the cabin, until testing rules out suspicion.
Symptom checks: each day, we will take the temperature of every camper, and a staff member will ask them how they are feeling and whether they are experiencing any concerning symptoms. If there is cause for concern, campers will be sent to the Camp Nurse for further evaluation. As is usually the case, the Camp Nurse will check in with each camper individually at least once per week.
Enhanced cleaning procedures: We will have additional maintenance staff this summer, who will spend time cleaning and sanitizing equipment, bathrooms and high-touch areas around camp.
Handwashing: we will have new handwashing and sanitizer stations available throughout camp. In addition to washing hands before meals and after using the bathroom, campers and staff will be required to wash or sanitize their hands before and after all activities.
Visitors: there will be no non-essential visitors to camp this summer
Trips and leaving camp:
We will be scaling back our usual trips this summer. It is possible that we will be able to take some trips into sparsely populated areas, such as hiking in the Pine Barrens, but it is also possible that there will be no off-site trips whatsoever. We will continue to offer on-site overnights.
Swim and horseback riding: usually, we bus some of our campers to a local pool as part of the swim program. We also take campers who are signed up for horseback riding to Flora Lea Farm for riding lessons. Unfortunately, we will not be doing either of these things this summer. We have made the choice to limit the amount campers leave camp, and are not prepared to take the risk of bringing our campers to environments where they will be around other people who may not be following the same procedures we are. Anyone who has signed up for horseback riding will not be charged for it. If you have already paid for horseback, you will receive a full refund.
Teen Adventure Camp (TAC): We will not be running TAC this year. The TAC trip involves traveling through multiple states and regions, using numerous outfitters, instructors and vendors, and being far from camp and from medical assistance. While it is tough to cancel the trip, we believe that it is the only responsible choice we can make, as we do not have the capacity to ensure the safety of all participants and do not have control over the environments to which they would be exposed during their trip. Anyone enrolled in the trip will receive a full refund.
Section 4: Steps we will take if we suspect or confirm a case of COVID-19
Camp Dark Waters will isolate symptomatic staff or campers immediately and send them for viral testing. They will remain isolated until the test result is returned.
If the test result is negative, the person will remain in isolation until their symptoms have improved, per our existing camp policies (typically, 24 hours without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication).
If the test result is positive, that person will be sent home to quarantine.
We will notify the family of any camper who has displayed symptoms or is otherwise suspected of having COVID-19. Once we have the result of their test, we will notify their family immediately.
We will notify the health department immediately following a positive test result and work with health officials to identify close contacts.
Close contacts include everyone in the infected person’s household cohort and anyone else who was within 6 feet of the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
If campers or staff receive a positive test result for COVID-19, all members of the cohort (cabin) will be quarantined as a cohort and sent for testing.
We will work with the health department to identify any other close contacts of the camper/ staff member who received a positive test result or anyone else in that cohort.
We will contact you if your child has been exposed to someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. You will hear from us via email which will include:
Information about the person’s COVID-19 status – suspected, confirmed, or negative, and the date of last exposure.
Notification of the date from which we have been monitoring your child for symptoms.
Section 5 – FAQs
Will campers and staff wear masks during camp?
Masks will need to be worn any time campers are in close proximity to people who are not from their cabin group. During times where cabin groups mix – such as free times, activity periods, evening activities – all campers and staff will wear masks at all times, and maintain social distancing where possible.
Free choice programming and inter age/gender friendships are fundamental to our camp program and culture. For these to be possible this summer, we must ensure that masks are worn when campers are not with their cabin groups.
The exception to being mask-free within a cabin cohort would be in the event of a suspected case. If this happens, our communicable disease plan includes wearing masks within the cabin, until testing rules out suspicion.
Will campers be tested at camp?
All unvaccinated campers and staff must provide evidence of a negative test, taken no more than 72 hours before their arrival at camp. In addition, all unvaccinated campers and staff will have COVID-19 tests administered on site, by a licensed testing provider, 3-6 days after their arrival at camp. We will also administer a test if someone displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at camp, as assessed by our Camp Nurse.
What if my camper feels sick while at camp?
If your camper needs medical attention for any reason while at camp, we will have a nurse on site and on duty at all times.
If a community member has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, our medical staff will assess their health. We will administer a test if we feel that the symptoms cannot be attributed to an illness other than COVID-19.
If it is found that there is a positive case, we will notify the family, and the families of any campers who may have been exposed. Plans will be made for the camper to return home for the remainder of their isolation due to the virus.
We will proactively check for symptoms each day. We will encourage campers and staff to self-monitor and let camp medical staff know if they are experiencing any of the following at any time: low-grade fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or the new loss of smell or taste.
How will camp handle it if someone in my child’s cabin is suspected of having COVID-19?
Working with the latest guidance, if there is a suspected case of a cabin member, we will begin monitoring those remaining in the cabin with greater frequency and begin mask-wearing within the cabin cohort. With increased testing available now, our medical staff will assess if testing is necessary for those in the cabin group. If others begin to develop symptoms, we will follow the protocol outlined above for any sick campers/staff. In all decisions, we will consider our operational guidelines, alternative programming, scope of exposure, presence of symptoms, assessment by our medical staff, and the use of testing, before sending anyone home.
How will you communicate with parents if there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of COVID-19 at camp?
If there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of COVID-19, we will notify the camp families in that session of what age group the camper was in, with a separate specific communication of next steps for the families of campers in that cabin.
How will you communicate with parents if there is a suspected and/or confirmed case of COVID-19 after the camp session has ended?
In the two weeks following a camper’s return home you are required to notify camp if your child is suspected of having COVID-19. Camp will then contact those who were in your child’s cabin, or who were considered to be in close contact with them.
Will there be any big changes to a typical day at camp?
There will be many adjustments to the operation of camp in order to reduce exposure, but we are committed to preserving the culture of Camp Dark Waters while mitigating the risk.
While we will continue to offer our free choice activities, some areas of camp’s program will need to change to help mitigate risk
In line with our cohorting policy, there will be no crews this summer
This summer we will not be offering swim lessons. swimming will happen, but campers will be swimming in cabin groups throughout the day
We will limit traffic in and out of camp as much as possible. We will not allow non-essential visitors this summer, including people stopping by to drop things off. We will not allow campers to leave and return during sessions, except in the case of a true emergency.
In an effort to keep our community safe as possible we will be limiting trips throughout the summer. This means that we will not be making trips to the other pool and will not be traveling to Flora Lea Farm for horseback this summer.
In general, the pace of camp will be a little more relaxed this summer. We will have extra time built into the schedule for allow for handwashing and equipment cleaning between uses
What will the Dining Hall look like this summer?
As stated earlier, campers will be eating with their cabin groups this summer. Campers will be maskless while eating, and each cabin group will be socially distanced from other cabin groups. In order to accommodate this, we will be utilizing the underneath of the Dining Hall to provide more distancing between tables.
We will be extra diligent in ensuring that everybody washes their hands, thoroughly, before meals
Campers will enter the Dining Hall wearing masks, and remain masked until it is time to eat.
We will not have buffets or salad bars this year. There will still be plenty of fruits and veggies (and cereal options at breakfast) available at the tables.
We won’t be singing in the Dining Hall this summer, but we’re sure the staff will come up with something fun!
Everyone will stay at their table during meals. Counselors will go to the kitchen for refills when required
Our kitchen staff will follow the same requirements as the foodservice industry, which include clear and actionable protocol to mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Will I be able to accompany my camper to their cabin on change day?
We will allow the parent or guardian of a camper to accompany them to their cabin. We ask that you do not enter the cabin and instead say your goodbyes outside. Your child’s Counselor will help your child make their bed and get set up inside the cabin.
Will I be able to visit my camper between sessions?
If your child is here for multiple sessions, we will not be allowing visits between those sessions. This is in line with our policy of not allowing any non-essential visits to camp this summer.
What is your refund policy?
We will continue to offer full refunds for families that decide not to send their camper to Dark Waters because of COVID-19. Families will receive a full refund if their camper is not able to attend because of COVID-19 exposure or illness. Tuition for any cancelled programming, such as TAC or horseback riding, will be refunded fully.