2021 Frequently Asked Questions
What resources is Mountain Friends Camp using to prepare for this summer?
- We are closely following updates and guidance from the CDC, as well as the New Mexico safe practices for overnight camps, and the field guide from the American Camp Association. We are also in touch with an informal group of New Mexico camps, and in close communication with our hosts at Collins Lake Ranch.
Why is there only one session this summer? Is there still room for campers?
- We want our staff and campers to be able to focus on having the best possible experience at camp, while doing what we can to reduce risk. We know that introducing new people coming and going between sessions would significantly increase our risks, and workload for staff. Our staff will also need to be even more attentive to camper health and well being than before, and we might need to keep everyone in the closed “camp bubble” without days off out of camp. After careful deliberation, our board decided that it would be best for all to scale back this summer, and we hope to offer more weeks of camp in 2022. We reached capacity with returning camp families quickly this spring and are currently wait-list only.
How will our family help to keep camp safe for everyone?
- We encourage all campers and staff ages 12+ who are eligible, and their family members to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible. This will help make summer camp, and our daily lives, safer for everyone. We are happy to talk with you if this is confusing or a hardship for your family.
- In order to reduce the risk of COVID-19, or other communicable illness at camp, we ask that all families and staff participating in Mountain Friends Camp 2021 agree to the following guidelines:
- All campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test taken no more than 1–3 days before arriving at camp. This should be a PCR (aka RT-PCR) COVID-19 test, not a rapid antigen or antibody test.
- 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.
- Campers and staff with potential symptoms of COVID-19 in the 14 days before arrival will need a negative test, regardless of vaccination status.
- If you need help in accessing a test before camp please ask your healthcare provider for ideas, and contact the camp director if you need more information or help finding or affording a test. You can look up testing information for your state here: https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html
- We ask all campers, their families, and camp staff to follow guidance for travelers in the 14 days before camp arrival to reduce exposure to COVID-19. For these two weeks, please limit exposure as much as possible, this includes physical distancing, mask-wearing when indoors or when unable to physically distance outdoors, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of your households.
- Fully vaccinated individuals should still be cautious and follow CDC guidelines for people living or working in conjugate living facilities, that is please continue to avoid crowds and wear a mask when indoors for the two weeks before camp. We know not every family can limit contacts to the same degree, and want to remain accessible while also doing what we can to limit the risk of communicable diseases at camp.
- For the 14 days before camp, campers and staff will be asked to report any symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell) or exposure to someone with known or suspected COVID-19, through their Campdoc.com registration form. If there are any symptoms or exposure, plan to test ASAP and contact the director and your healthcare provider.
- Bring all required items on the packing list, including personal supply of masks that fit the participant. Consider bringing “optional” and “group” items.
- Plan ahead to pick up your camper asap if necessary due to illness or exposure, at maximum within 12 hours of notification from camp. We will be unable, per New Mexico guidelines, to keep campers or staff on campus to quarantine. Fully vaccinated participants without symptoms may be eligible to remain at camp after exposure.
How many people will be at camp?
- We will be fully staffed, with reduced camper capacity to allow for physical distancing and smaller groups. Each camper group (defined as those sharing a yurt, with one “pod” on each side of a partial wall) will have no more than 12 campers. There will be two yurt groups, and no camper tent pods this summer.
What will you do differently during camp this year for safety precautions?
- At this time, with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, we are preparing for a summer camp with procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of illness spreading at camp. This will likely include, but not limited to, the following for campers:
- Our main advantage will be doing all possible activities outdoors, luckily we do this every year!
- Using smaller camper yurt groups for any indoor activities or those like meals and canoeing that do not allow for masks and/or physical distancing. Face masks will be an important part of camp safety practices, and there will be times when they are not worn including at a minimum when sleeping, eating, swimming, bathing, and most likely when outdoors with yurt mates.
- We’ll continue to screen all participants daily for symptoms of possible illness during camp, and test and/or send home those with potential symptoms and/or known exposure.
- All participants who are not fully vaccinated, and some of those who are, will be tested 3-5 days after arrival at camp.
- We are also increasing ventilation and air filtration indoors, adding handwashing and sanitation stations, and enhancing our already vigorous cleaning and food handling procedures.
Will camp still be fun?
- YES camp will still be fun! We will spend our days and nights fully engaged in most all of our regular camp activities, from yummy meals to waterfront, tie-dye to campfires, and most importantly we’ll be together in nature with our old and new camp friends! Our staff are mostly returning, and many former campers, and are focused on keeping camp fun, restorative, and safe for everyone.
What is your approach to the COVID-19 vaccine?
- We highly encourage and give hiring preference to staff and CITs who are able to obtain full vaccinations for COVID-19 prior to camp, and so far are glad to report almost everyone is already fully vaccinated. We are thrilled to see that campers ages 12 and up are now eligible as well, and encourage campers and family members to get vaccinated if possible. The vaccine is not required for campers or staff. We continue to recommend campers and staff receive routine childhood vaccinations as well.
We recognize that not everyone, and at this time none of the youngest campers will be able to be vaccinated, and that vaccines are not 100% effective for all, and so ask that all prepare to take precautions to protect our intergenerational camp community. We will not have two sets of rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated campers, but vaccine status will likely influence the procedures for testing and options for what happens if there are symptoms or COVID exposure at camp.
Won’t the pandemic be (almost) over by July? Is all this really necessary?
- We are following health guidelines and best practices as they currently exist, to conduct summer camp as safely as we can during a pandemic. Like everyone, we hope the public health situation improves and if guidelines change we will continue to evaluate our response. Our goal is to communicate with integrity and transparency, and to be cautiously responsive to changing information and guidelines.
Will New Mexico allow out of state campers?
- We are glad to share that out of state campers are now allowed in New Mexico with no additional restrictions, and we will welcome campers and staff from various areas. All participants should follow the pre-camp guidelines carefully, and consider how to minimize exposure during travel.
What if I have more questions?
- Please reach out to Ana Ebi, the camp director (Contact) to discuss anything about camp! I am hoping to have short phone calls with as many camp families as possible this year, to answer questions about camp and hear your thoughts, and how your camper is doing these days.
March 7, 2021 Update
We are happy to announce that Mountain Friends Camp plans to return to Collins Lake Ranch for a 2-week session, July 10-24, 2021! We missed seeing you in person in 2020, and are looking forward to being together again this summer. The COVID-19 pandemic will require some changes as we make plans for camp. However we know that the essence of camp– time spent in nature and with friends– is more important than ever this year!
This page is a living document and we’ll be sharing more updates as camp approaches. We are closely following public health developments and guidelines from the CDC and the American Camp Association regarding camp operations, and look forward to additional camp guidelines from the New Mexico Department of Health this spring. We have learned a lot in the past year from the camps and organizations that continued to meet in person about how to minimize risk for children and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our hosts at Collins Lake Ranch are also excited to welcome us back. They have developed ongoing safety procedures for their residents and staff at the Autism Center. They have used the yurt campground to host a remote learning pod of 15 Mora Public School students since the fall without COVID spread, and are making additional updates to the property.
Currently, the Mountain Friends Camp Health and Safety Committee is working on the details of our plan for returning to in-person camp. While we don’t know every aspect of what will be necessary come summer, we anticipate that we will be using multiple layers of protection in order to keep camp as fun and safe as possible. At this time, we expect to use measures including pre-arrival requirements, testing, outdoor eating and activities, masking, increased ventilation indoors, limited camper numbers, increased handwashing, physical distancing, and a “closed bubble” approach to our session. Every summer we take precautions to prevent and prepare for communicable diseases at camp, and while we know we can’t completely remove the risk of diseases, including COVID-19, we will work hard to make this a joyous, restorative and safe summer for all of our campers and staff.
Due to uncertainties of the pandemic, our director and board waited until February to determine our plans for this summer. The registration system is underway, and in the meantime returning campers (and siblings) can sign up to hold your space at camp here: Mountain Friends Camp 2021 Pre-Registration Form.
We will need to be especially flexible and diligent this year, and continue to appreciate the flexibility and trust from our camp families as we move forward. Please contact the director with any questions or offers of assistance. Thank you to all who have helped Mountain Friends Camp thrive over the years, we are grateful for all of you as we move forward together into our 12th summer.