Mountain Friends Camp 2022 Approach to COVID-19
MFC has learned a lot about operating camp during a pandemic and avoiding infectious diseases over the last two years! After a successful pivot to virtual “community camp at home” in 2020, campers and staff were happy to return to in-person overnight camp in 2021. We worked hard to develop policy and learned how to use multiple layers of precautions to prevent Covid-19 or other illnesses from spreading at camp, and learned we can still have fun and build community while taking health precautions
Our focus, as Mountain Friends Camp, is always to follow our mission to provide a camp experience grounded in the Quaker values of peace, community, simplicity, integrity, equality and stewardship for a diverse community of young people and adults. In making decisions and communicating with families and our community, we strive to act with integrity and transparency, and prioritize camper and staff well-being. This long healthcare crisis has reinforced the importance of our mission and the crucial need to prioritize the physical, mental, emotional and social health of our campers and staff in everything we do.
Like last year, we look to CDC and State guidelines, the American Camp Association and the Alliance for Camp Health for information and best practices, and consider examples from other summer camps. The COVID-19 pandemic has only gotten more complicated to navigate in 2022, but fortunately the tools and knowledge at our disposal has expanded as well. We will continue to monitor public health developments and guidelines, and will communicate changes if needed.
- Testing before camp and at arrival
We will require all campers and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test before camp, AND take a second test upon arrival in the presence of camp staff. The preference is for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before arrival. Alternatively, a rapid antigen test may be performed 24 hours before arrival. If COVID levels are high and/or increasing, we will likely do additional rapid testing 3-4 days into camp of some or all participants
- Health screening
All participants will be asked to self monitor and report any potential COVID-19 symptoms or exposure for the 2 weeks prior to arrival at camp. Our health staff or director will verify on arrival, take a temperature and ask about any symptoms or exposure. Please do not come to camp with any recent symptoms or exposure to infectious disease! “MFC COVID-19 MFC Pre-Arrival Health Screening and Test Results ” link: https://form.jotform.com/221654390765158
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. The vaccine is highly recommended for campers, but is not required. We encourage everyone to get the recommended booster(s) as soon as you are eligible and at least two weeks prior to camp as well.
We continue to recommend campers and staff receive routine childhood vaccinations as well, and document immunization status for all participants.
We recognize that not everyone, and at this time no one under 5 including our camp director’s two children will be able to be vaccinated, and that the vaccines are much more effective at preventing serious illness than mild infection. Our staff and volunteers include elders in their 70s, and individuals with a range of health conditions participate at all levels, so we 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 influence the procedures for testing and options for what happens if there are symptoms or COVID exposure at camp.
- Precautions before camp
We ask that participants and families do your best to limit exposure to COVID-19 or other diseases for the two weeks before camp, especially during travel and if COVID levels in your community are high or rising. 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 crowds, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of your households
- Approach to symptoms
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 or known exposure as needed.
Families should be prepared to pick up campers within 12 hours of notification from camp.
We will require at least 5 days off camp isolation and a negative rapid test before coming to camp or returning after a positive COVID test, and 48 hours after a fever resolves without medication. If at least 7 days have passed but the participant continues to test positive with a rapid test, we will consider allowing them to attend with clearance from a doctor.
- Precautions during camp
Precautions at camp will in part be dependent on levels of Covid in the community (as measured by the CDC county guidelines).
Regardless of Covid levels:
Good hand washing, outdoors and fresh air activities, and screening/monitoring symptoms will be our focus throughout camp. The first few days we will eat meals and do most indoor activities with members of our sleeping pod/yurt.
If Covid levels are high in New Mexico and many of the counties and states our participants are traveling from, or moderate and trending upwards in the weeks prior to camp, we will take additional precautions. This can include but is not limited to: social distancing, doing more activities with only our yurt groups, and requiring masking indoors (with n95 type masks highly recommended). In a higher Covid level environment, we will also restrict staff activities off campus. If we take these additional layers of precautions, we would re-test a substantial portion of campers and staff after 3-4 days, and if we have no positive cases then our goal would be to consider the full camp as one “bubble” and make masking and social distancing optional in most situations at camp. Individuals who choose to wear a mask when not required to do so are always supported in that choice!
See 2021 Updates and Policies here: https://mountainfriendscamp.org/2021-information-and-updates/