As we look back over the long days and nights of planning, meetings, phone calls, and webinars, a thought keeps coming back to us: this spring and summer were the epitome of the skills that we teach at camp. Creativeness, understanding, persistence, acceptance, embracing change, working together, and thinking of others first are all life skills and behaviors that our campers and staff faced this summer.
We have to say, while the work was hard, our staff and campers were absolutely wonderful. They embraced the changes, employed adaptability and flexibility (our words for the summer), followed the protocols and worked together better than any summer than I can remember. When all was said and done, several of our counselors even commented about how they left feeling more fulfilled about their work this summer than any before; and campers left with closer bonds with cabin mates and their counselors that they will cherish for a lifetime. With that being said,
It is our intent to forge ahead and uphold the Ton-A-Wandah tradition for Summer 2021!
Preparation for Summer 2021 is underway. As much as we would like to ensure our families that 2021 will be a traditional summer, we still must prepare on strict guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local agencies. We will be carrying forward many procedures that we utilized in Summer 2020 regardless of the status of the pandemic. In addition, we will also make adaptations to our programs if necessary. Changes in circumstance will hopefully allow for the loosening of restrictions. Nevertheless, it will be summer full of fun and laughter - guaranteed!
For your information, the following modifications were implemented in Summer 2020 to meet guidelines required by the CDC and DHHS:
- 14 day quarantine prior to camp arrival with additional pre-screening tools (temperature and symptom checks). We did not require COVID testing of our campers for Summer 2020.
- Opening day procedures were restructured to include scheduled, staggered arrival times. Parents remained in their cars and were greeted by their camper's counselors, campers were temperature checked and screened, luggage was removed from the cars, and campers were taken to their cabin via transportation provided by camp (just down a driveway and into camp!). This was actually an extremely efficient process and returning parents were thrilled by the procedures!
- Cabin (households) numbers were decreased from 14 (12 campers/2 counselors) to 10 (8 campers/2 counselors). Households were considered families while at camp and were not required to wear masks if they were within their cabin group.
- Our camp was split into four neighborhoods consisting of up to 5 cabins each. Within our neighborhoods, social distancing was required and masks were worn when close contact was inevitable. Campers did everything as a neighborhood group and did not interact with other neighborhoods at all.
- Campers attended their activities as a cabin group with their counselors. Counselors were providing training in all activities prior to camp arrival. Campers were offered a wide-range of activities daily that were pre-scheduled by Administration. They actually attended more activities and tried activities that they never would have chosen in a traditional summer!
- Nation activities were restricted during Summer 2020. However, with more time to plan, we hope to incorporate Nation activities during Summer 2021 regardless of whether guidelines are still in place that restrict large gatherings.
- All out of camp trips were cancelled, including dances! (sorry ladies!). We currently have all trips scheduled for Summer 2021 and plan on procedures to provide these opportunities to your campers, if possible.
- Staff arrived and quarantined at camp fourteen days prior to the first opening day. They were also COVID tested around day 7 of quarantining. They remained on site throughout the summer with very limited out of camp trips, which were monitored by head staff.
- Temperature and symptom checks were conducted daily. If a camper identified with any COVID like symptoms, they were sent to the Infirmary immediately for further consultation. A thorough examination was conducted by our lead nurse and/or medical professional and if was deemed necessary, a COVID test was conducted. The camper was quarantined in the Infirmary until results were received. Their cabin was quarantined as well with a fun activity planned just for them! (This never happened in Summer 2020!)
- A wellness clinic was created to accommodate medication distribution and common injuries. A designated quarantine cabin was opened for COVID suspected as well as confirmed cases while at camp (which we had none!).
- Procedure were in place that if a camper tested positive for camp, then the parents were required to be able to pick them up with 24 hours of the phone call.
- Mask wearing was required when social distancing could not be properly executed. Examples include: trips to the infirmary, crossing of paths between neighborhoods, etc.
- Outside vendors and visitors were not allowed into the main areas of camp.
- Meals were staggered to allow only a certain number of campers and staff in the Dining Hall at the same time. Procedures were set up to allow one neighborhood in at a time and masks were required while entering, exiting and moving around the Dining Hall. Meals were served family style with no buffet available. Strict cleaning procedures were implemented during and after every meal.
- Additional cleaning processes were administered throughout camp, but were geared specifically towards public and widely used areas.
- Handwashing stations and hand sanitizers were added throughout including all large buildings, cabins and activity areas.
We know Camp Ton-A-Wandah has been a cherished part of growing up for generations—and we want to honor it the best way we can. Although some of the guidelines seemed burdensome, we made them work and work well! While our program looked different, we are confident that we fulfilled the mission of Ton-A-Wandah—transforming our campers into women of substance by fostering mentorship, friendship, and sisterhood—while enjoying the freedom and excitement of childhood with her TAW sisters.
As we prepare for Summer 2021, we can hope that we will be able to return to a more typical camp schedule and program. Nonetheless, I know camp will still be able to provide an enriching experience and a summer full of growth and fun for our campers and staff. After going through the past 6 months, one thing is certain - the Ton A Wandah spirit lives strong and deep. And no matter what, we will be ready to take on the challenges that the next year will face!
Camp Ton-A-Wandah will be proud to welcome your camper to TAW this summer— whether it is in a traditional sense or a whole new approach. Although nothing can touch the heart of Ton-A-Wandah—or its legacy—the “new normal” brought about by the pandemic we have seen this year may modify our campers’ experiences, but they will still enjoy a summer with friends while doing our best to keep them safe and healthy!
If you have any questions or need further information regarding COVID procedures, please call our camp office!.
With much TAW Love,
Kim and Ben Haynes
We are so thankful to Ton-A-Wandah for “saving” our summer of 2020! During times of uncertainty, it was so comforting to have our daughter experience one of her most treasured constants—the joy of camp! The dedicated effort put forth to pull it off is never lost on us, and we are forever grateful. While the experience was some different, it was appreciated more than ever, and the girls patiently and enthusiastically embraced the new. Most of all, they found joy in each other, confidence in themselves, and a sense of renewed hope.