May 29, 2020
We hope this letter finds you well and safe. We have been working diligently to determine in what ways we will be able to provide a summer camp for your child while keeping them as safe as possible this summer during a pandemic.
As many camps are making hard decisions whether they can safely provide a summer experience, the Y is also taking the necessary time to come to our own conclusions. We have been a part of numerous webinars with experts from the American Camp Association (ACA), YMCA of the USA, the Aspen Institute, and many other leaders in the field of youth development and safety. We have poured over documents from the CDC, Department of Health, Maryland State Department of Education, ACA, and YUSA. We have met numerous times to determine a strong set of safety guidelines to follow given all the information we have been able to gather.
What follows is our plan in some detail as to how we hope to be able to operate a summer for our young population that is fun, engaging, follows all state and local guidelines, and is as safe as can be.
This is not without caution that the communicable disease, Covid-19, might come to exist within our summer camp offering. Every parent will need to fill out a waiver making the decision to send their child to camp, knowing that at the current time, there is still so much uncertainty about the disease and there is no fool-proof way to prevent it from spreading.
That being said, we hope to share with you today what we WILL be doing – both in terms of what we are doing for the safety of our young participants, and how we anticipate we will be required to operate (recognizing that the State of Maryland and Frederick County have not given any final word on when or how).
HOW WE ARE OPERATING
During the period of Governor Hogan’s Stay At Home order and now under his Safer At Home order, the YMCA of Frederick County has been operating childcare programs for Essential Personnel. We have been able to do so under revised instruction from State agencies and with new guidelines.
As Maryland continues on the road map to recovery, we will continue to expand our operations. While we have been able to offer essential childcare programs under Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), it also appears we will be able to operate our normal summer camp programs under the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) (which normally licenses summer camps).
Operating under either entity, we will meet or exceed the standards being put forth. We anticipate the timeline of re-opening to still allow us to begin summer offerings on June 22nd. Of course, this is subject to change with any further or additional updates from Governor Hogan, State agencies, and Frederick County executives.
WHAT WE WILL BE DOING
We will register children in our summer offerings on a rolling basis and as space allows. Tuition will be processed on a weekly basis (each Friday, 1 week prior to the start of the camp week). This is true both for draft payments and for issuing credits or refunds.
We have begun to reduce our capacity of our summer offerings while we continue to watch our enrollment numbers, confirm the facilities we are able to access, and wait on other items to be decided by governing officials. We are preparing ourselves the best way we can to provide the best experience to our currently enrolled families as well as our general community.
Please be mindful of 2 things: Space will be limited, so if you think you require care, please register early to secure your spot. If you will not utilize the care, please do not enroll your child as an “in-case” scenario. There are many families who require the care due to circumstances of work, lack of other caregivers in the area, or other factors. Only enroll your child if you do not have alternative arrangements. While we operate in a Phase 2 capacity, we are still not in Phase 3 of Recovery, and caution should be exercised.
Every day, both children and staff will be required to be screened for Covid-19 related symptoms as we have been directed currently by MSDE. Minimally, we will be taking temperatures and asking questions regarding symptoms and contact. If any further guidance is released to us, we will add components as required.
If someone shows signs/symptoms of being sick, they will be turned away at check-in. Returning to the program will only be allowed to take place after 48 hours after a fever and without medication; and up to 14 days depending on answers to other questions. If a child is identified as being sick while at camp, they will be isolated immediately until pick up can take place. If signs/symptoms are Covid-19 related, we will require the person to isolate at home for 14 days or until the results of a negative test are provided. This follows the current guidance under MSDE.
Parents/Guardians must be mindful that if your child or anyone in the household is showing any symptoms related to the most current guidelines from the CDC regarding Covid-19, you MUST keep your child at home. This is for the safety of your child, other children in the program, staff, and enables the program to remain open by minimizing exposure.
If either a participant or a person residing with a participant has a positive Covid-19 result, depending on timing and exposure, the Y may be required to close anywhere between 3-14 days as directed by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH). Our process is to notify MDH and follow their guidance.
All staff will wear facial coverings. During the time of instruction or active outdoor play, staff may remove coverings so that children can hear clear instructions and so staff can have sufficient oxygen flow during exertion. Staff will maintain proper social distancing during this time.
Group size and social distancing:
The offerings of the YMCA in Phase 2 (either under the approval of MSDE or MDH), will operate in small group sizes called cohorts, also seen as “household” units. These cohorts will be made up of 9-14 children (depending on the regulations at the time) who will interact with one another solely for the week and will not mix with other groups. Cohorts will distance themselves from the other groups as guided. Within the cohort group, the Y will do it’s best to social distance our young participants, though we do acknowledge both the benefit of healthy interaction as well as the difficulty of keeping children with the same cohort apart.
Cleaning practices and good hygiene:
Campers will be asked to wash/sanitize their hands multiple times throughout the day to include: upon arrival, before and after each activity or meal, after every restroom break, and upon pick up at the end of the day.
In order to keep all belongings separated, all of a camper’s personal items must fit in a backpack that can be hung on a hook or a chair. Campers will be required to bring their own clearly labeled, refillable water bottle to minimize the use of water fountains.
There will be heightened cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day as outlined by the CDC. Multi-touch surfaces will be cleaned between uses and an environmentally safe disinfecting fogger will be used regularly.
Rates and Deposits:
- In Phase 1 of our Essential Personnel Child Care and Essential Personnel School Age programs, the rate of care for school-age children is $225
- In Phase 2 and 3 of operating our youth activities, the cost of the camp will return to our posted prices that range from $200 to $360 depending on the type of camp and YMCA membership.
*Financial Assistance for YMCA programming remains in effect during this time. We will process requests as normal. For more information, please go to the website: https://frederickymca.org/join-the-y/financial-assistance/
We understand these are challenging and unprecedented times for everyone. With that in mind, we’re able to offer the following accommodations to families that are not able to continue with their original camp plans for this summer.
- 100% YMCA credit for the weekly camp fee. This is good for 12 months and valid for any YMCA of Frederick County program.
- Refund of the weekly Camp fee, less the $25 non-refundable deposit that will be donated to our Annual Campaign to provide financial assistance to our families in need.
- Refund of the weekly Camp fee, less the $25 non-refundable deposit where in return you will receive a Camp To-Go* enrichment kits (a different kit is available each of the 10 weeks of camp)
- If you find that the above three options do not work for your family’s situation, the Y will allow for a full refund, including the $25 non-refundable deposit, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Camp To-Go* – you will receive a Y bag full of supplies and enrichment activities for children in two grade-level groups: K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade. Each week of camp, we will offer a new themed bag of 4-6 activities (including the supplies needed) and will include a cooking activity, STEAM activity, and a book based on the theme. Please go here https://bit.ly/camptogokit to see an example for week 1. Registration for Camp To-Go kits will be available the week of June 8th.
Community Support and Survey:
We’d like to thank everyone that participated in the Summer Camp Program Survey. We received over 260 responses! Your feedback was a vital component to ensuring that we’re able to answer the questions most families have during this time as well as continue providing high-quality programming for our children. We are pleased to announce the winner of the Camp raffle is Kimberly Smith – Congratulations!
Again, we want to thank you for reading this letter thoroughly and for taking the time to understand what the YMCA of Frederick County is doing to provide families with a safe camp experience. Please continue to check the FAQ section of our website for any updated information. Many items are subject to change and we will update you accordingly. We appreciate your participation and commitment to the Y and we look forward to seeing your family at the Y again in the future!
Director of Camps and West Mar
VP of Youth Development