CAMP WILL OPEN ON JULY 6, 2020! READ MORE ABOUT COVID-19 RESPONSE

COVID-19

May 13, 2020

Hello Camp Families,

Based on many conference calls, webinars, Zoom meetings and conversations with public health experts and government officials over the last month, we know that camp this summer isn’t going to look “normal”. What won’t change, though, is our commitment to your camper. We know that Camp SAM is the best place in South Jersey for your child to unplug, explore nature and play outdoors, and kids need that this summer more than ever. We know that, no matter what protocols we have to follow this summer, our counselors will be the best at making your child feel welcome at camp and connecting them with friends new and old. These things won’t change, and providing that public health experts give us the green light and we feel it’s safe to do so, we’ll have camp this summer with those values in mind.

At this time, we are moving forward with our plans to run our camp as regularly scheduled. Our hope is to start camp on June 15th. However, we are patiently awaiting guidelines from the CDC, State of New Jersey, Local Department of Health and the American Camp Association. These are scheduled to be released on Friday, May 15th.

When we do open, here are 20 drafted precautions that we are considering putting in place for Summer 2020:

  1. We are limiting the size of camp this year. We have reduced the number of maximum participants.
  2. We will be decreasing our camper to staff ratio. We will have six campers for every one counselor (6:1). Camp groups will not exceed 12 total campers. We will do our best to keep groups from intermingling with each other and each group will be determined by age of camper. Before and After Care will be adjusted to reflect structured group activities, rather than open play.
  3. We will designate a box of supplies for each camp group to use during the week, so they will not be sharing communal art supplies or toys.
  4. In our Glam Studio, each camper will have their own labeled tool kit of personal hygiene supplies including, nail files, combs, nail polish, makeup applicators, makeup, etc.. These will be sanitized daily and never shared.
  5. Games and activities will be structured with little to no contact with other campers. In fact, all campers will be encouraged to be spread out at all times.
  6. Increased outside play during appropriate weather conditions. Our 18 acres of outdoor land will be utilized more, than inside space. The campers will be spread out, engaging in different activities, in different areas of our backyard.
  7. Cleaning and sanitation practices will be increased. We will have counselors whose job it will be to clean and sanitize every area touched by our campers all day long.
  8. All staff members will be required to wear a mask and possibly gloves. All campers will be STRONGLY encouraged to wear one, however we are awaiting guidelines on the requirement of campers wearing masks.
  9. We will be doing a temperature and health check before the campers AND staff can enter camp each day.
  10. If a child develops symptoms, they will be isolated and they will have to be picked up. There will be a strict 72 hour sick policy. If your child has a fever, they cannot return until they are 72 hours fever free without the aid of medicine, as recommended by the CDC. If a staff member develops symptoms, they will be isolated and sent home immediately. They will be unable to return without getting tested for Covid-19 AND being fever free for 72 hours without the aid of medicine.
  11. We will have increased hand sanitizer stations, handwashing stations and designated hand-washing times. All campers will be taught and expected to practice proper hand-washing techniques.
  12. During meals and snacks, all campers will be socially distanced from one another. Lunch periods will be adjusted so that we alternate time between our 3 cafeterias. We will sanitize and clean whichever is not in use.
  13. We will be staggering drop off and pick up times to limit the number of people congregating at the sign-in/out area, and may possibly enforce a drive through drop off/pick up plan if necessary.
  14. There will be no back-to-back activity periods at any of our indoor stations, including sport courts, Fit Kids, Craft Rooms, Glam Studio and the Turf Court. After an indoor area has been used, we will sanitize and clean that area fully and immediately.
  15. We will be canceling our field trips for the first half of camp. We may have to cancel more later on, but at this time, we will only be embarking on one field trip this summer. Later in the summer, we will be visiting Launch Trampoline Park. The facility is closed to other outsiders and will only be in use by Camp SAM. Launch Trampoline Park has ensured us that they will fully sanitize and clean their facility before we arrive. We will be adding experiences to our camp to replace field trips. We are in contact with a few locations that will safely bring their experience to us.
  16. Every camper will have a designated space to store their belongings, with ample space between other camper’s bags.
  17. We will have a full nursing staff this summer to assist with symptom recognition, temperature checks, any necessary isolation efforts, resource sharing, and strict adherence to guidelines.
  18. We will not be utilizing our plastic lunch trays. Instead we will serve lunches on disposable trays. In addition, we will be offering more individual packaged style options, rather than bulk items (ex. individual bags of chips rather than individual sized portions served from large bags).
  19. The water fountains will be turned off to avoid the spread of germs, and we will rely on our 5 gallon water jugs to keep the kids hydrated. The counselors will be responsible for refilling each child’s water bottle.
  20. We have invested in a Bio Blast Machine to treat our facility every single day. It is a misting spray of professional grade disinfectant used in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and food processing plants. It is stronger and more effective than bleach, and safe for use in the environment at Camp SAM. The facility and equipment will be sprayed every day.

We hope to have more announcements soon! Please keep in mind that all this could change at any time! We honestly do not know the future, but we are working towards a great and safe one. Kids need camp more than ever this summer.

If you have yet to register, we have some space left. Please register soon at www.campsam.net to secure your child’s spot. As you can tell, this is not the typical camp experience and it will look somewhat different than it has in the past. We are doing our best to offer a safe and fun experience. I apologize for not having firm answers on when we will start or what camp will look like, but I wanted you to know what we are working towards, and assure you that we will update all of you as we receive guidance from local and state authorities.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I am happy to assist.

Stay safe and healthy! We hope to see everyone soon!

Best Regards,
Tara Carr
Camp Owner
tcarr@campsam.net

April 20, 2020

Good morning camp families!

We realize that Spring Break is now officially over, however we want you to know we are still here to help keep your children entertained online while the Coronavirus keeps us cooped up at home.

Our creative camp counselors possess the natural talent of thinking quickly on their feet and helping children stay positive when obstacles like hot weather and thunderstorms come up throughout the summer. Camp people are constantly troubleshooting, exploring solutions, and teaching kids how to deal with situations and be resilient. This is our passion and we have worked diligently to put together hours of programming as a respite to our camp families who are stuck at home. We are so excited to share it with all of you!

Although Spring Break is over, we've decided to keep the fun going to keep our campers engaged and connected to their camp family and friends. Each day, we will provide activities, videos, crafts and games for our campers to enjoy. These activities can be accessed through joining our facebook group: Camp SAM at Home! This is different than our Camp SAM Facebook page. It is solely dedicated to Virtual camp Activities. Join the group here to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/campsamathome/

Providing virtual camp activities is definitely new and interesting for us, especially when we pride ourselves on unplugging and creating face to face social connections. However, we realize that in times of uncertainty, you look to the people you love for guidance and support, so we are embracing this digital connection now more than ever. Our goal is to be a positive, inspirational resource for our camp families during this time of need, teach resilience, foster creativity and give parents a glimpse of what their child's camp day entails.

The camp families who participated in the Spring Break Virtual Camp really enjoyed and appreciated it.

"I literally can't say enough about the Spring Break virtual activities that they have put together. It's been amazing. They provide exercise videos, interactive science activities, games, arts; it's been incredible. But even more important than what they are doing is just the fact that they are doing it. It gives my kids some structure, and gives my wife and I a chance to breathe. My kids have been the only kids on multiple Zoom activities, which is obviously great for us, but I feel like everyone should be taking advantage of this stuff. A HUGE "Thank You" to everyone there. Fingers crossed we can see you in person this summer!" ~Mullin Family

We hope you enjoy all of the new activities that we post each day, and we can't wait to see all of you! Camp is officially 56 days away! Please keep socially distancing so we can make memories together this summer! Kids need camp more than ever today.

Stay safe and healthy! We miss all of you!

April 11, 2020

Greetings Camp SAM Families!

At this time, we are planning to run summer camp as planned; all other camps in New Jersey are currently preparing to do the same. We have set May 30th as a date by which we will announce an official decision about our 2020 schedule, including potential modified dates and a revised operating and health plan. (We do reserve the right to push this date back in order to have the most current information and to make the best and safest decision.)

Like the rest of the world, we at Camp SAM are learning more about COVID-19 every day. We’re lucky to have medical contacts with ties to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have been providing regular updates and helping us stay ahead of the news cycle. We’re doing our best to digest new information and respond in the most intelligent and thoughtful way possible. As different as the world looks today compared to 30 days ago, we can only assume that June will look completely different than today.

The safety and well-being of our campers and staff will form the basis of every decision we make. The American Camp Association is currently performing a detailed and comprehensive study to determine best practices for summer camps this summer and under what conditions we may be able to safely operate in this new world.

As our hearts go out to the victims of the virus, and as we share appreciation and gratitude for the healthcare workers and people who work daily to help society function, we also recognize the toll the virus has taken on our children as they have missed out on so much this spring.

Never have we felt that summer camp is as important for kids as it will be this summer. Kids need a break from technology, an opportunity to run and play outside, a chance to be face-toface with friends, and time to relax, escape daily worries and simply have fun. We have never been more excited about camp, and we will do all in our power to provide the experience kids so desperately need.

We have been preparing for summer 2020 since September 2019 and are continuing to move forward. There are a lot of uncertainties, but we see signals that we may be able to operate during warmer and more humid summer months with a population less susceptible to COVID-19.

Beyond all the normal planning that goes into summer, we are working closely with our local health department and the American Camp Association to share information, review best practices and prepare for various contingencies.

We want you to know that the current recommendations for Coronavirus prevention have always been part of our standard operating procedures at camp:

  • We wash our hands regularly, before lunch and snack, and after using the bathroom.
  • We have hand sanitizer stations all over our campus.
  • We clean and disinfect all sinks and water fountains daily.
  • We eat balanced lunches and get plenty of exercise daily.
  • We have a Health Director on site during the full camp day daily.
  • Our staff will arrive prior to camp opening, providing ample time to effectively train them on any updated health & safety measures we will take. Health, hygiene, hand-washing, and camp cleanliness will continue to be an essential part of staff training.
  • Before opening day, we will work with parents to self-screen campers to ensure that everyone arriving at Camp SAM is healthy.
  • It’s too early to set our official screening and opening day policies. These will continue to evolve with the most current information. The list below is just a start.
  • Campers must be fever-free for two weeks prior to arriving at camp.
  • As with every year, parents will submit a pre-camp health screening form, which will now include questions about COVID-19.
  • Campers must feel well (beyond the normal first-day jitters) on their first day at camp.
  • Campers must live in a home environment that has been free of COVID-19 for over two weeks and be medically cleared to attend.

We will add screening criteria based on the latest information and best practices at a future date.

Upon arrival to camp, campers will now go through a thorough check-in, including temperature checks (must be under 99 degrees,) a questionnaire and a visit with our Health Director, where we’ll be performing COVID-19 screenings.

As opening day approaches, we will continue to modify and improve our camper check-in process to best guarantee a virus-free community.

We so greatly appreciate your trust in us and our shared belief in the importance of the Camp SAM experience. If you aren’t comfortable sending your child to Camp SAM due to uncertainty regarding COVID-19, we will be sure to work with you.

If the State of New Jersey or federal authorities do not permit Camp SAM to physically operate this summer or if we feel we cannot run a safe, successful and healthy summer and choose not to operate, we will:

  • Move tuition forward to summer 2021.
  • You may request a refund.
  • You may generously donate your installment to the camp.

We are also exploring the idea of offering Virtual Summer Camp if possible.

If a camper is sick or has been recently exposed to COVID-19, they should not attend camp on their first day. We can transfer tuition to a later week or parents can choose to take one of the three steps suggested above.

Many thanks to all of you who have sent encouraging messages at this time. We know you and your kids are counting on camp this summer. Camp SAM is our passion, and as we move forward together, let’s do it thoughtfully, carefully digesting the science without panic. We will always act in the best interests of our families, keeping the health and safety of our campers and staff as a top priority.

Stay Safe, healthy and happy! We hope to see all of you very soon.

Tara Carr

Camp SAM Owner

April 6, 2020

An Open Letter To Our Camp Community…

Just 3 weeks ago, our team was at the ACA Tri-State Camp Conference, learning amazing new things to share with our campers this summer. Every year, we leave that conference feeling energized, motivated and highly prepared to change lives all summer long. Those 3 exciting days of inundating our brains with new camp knowledge feels like a distant memory now. At Camp SAM, we took swift action to begin working remotely and to continue serving our camp families and offering them whatever virtual support we can during this difficult time. To say that these times are unprecedented and confusing is an understatement.

What a remarkable time it has been for our nation and the world as concerns with coronavirus and COVID-19 continue to evolve each moment. Our thoughts and prayers go out to families who have been directly impacted, whether through illness, quarantine, or disruption in everyday life. School closures, cancelled events, trips, practices, sports, performances, competitions, festivals, ever-changing restrictions – we realize it is overwhelming and deflating for our young children, who have worked so hard to prepare, poised to take center stage or field or studio, only to have it wiped away in an instant with no clear direction if or when they may have a future opportunity.

Nevertheless, we respect our health officials and are grateful to our healthcare heroes and emergency response teams who are acting in the best interest of the public during these extreme times. Naturally, for those of us who live and breathe Camp SAM, we immediately begin to think about summer and potential impacts on our camp operation. We are, of course, concerned. But we must also remain hopeful. As with all Camp SAM endeavors, the health, care, safety, and well-being of our camp community are paramount within our work. We can also assure you that, by the time summer rolls around, our young children are going to need a good dose of camp fun along with the opportunity to get back to socially connecting with peers and inspirational adults.

As the situation and response guidelines are changing daily, we know that many things will look different between now and summer. We are continuing to prepare for a great summer at Camp SAM. We are also consulting with camp and medical professionals to develop a variety of protocol adjustments in order to implement additional precautions that would benefit our campus environment. And we have revamped our refund policy to eliminate risk for families should withdrawal or cancellation due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic become necessary.

You can count on Camp SAM taking an aggressive and reasonable approach to enhancing protocols and addressing family concerns. Enrolled families will receive updates on our summer details as we move forward and you are welcome to contact us with questions and concerns at any time. We are looking forward to seeing you this summer, and are doing everything we can to keep our camp families engaged, hopeful and well-adjusted during this challenging time.

Many of you have asked if Camp SAM will be up and running for the summer 2020 season. We do not have that answer. The best we can do is watch the state’s decision as it relates to school re-openings. Initially that target decision date for schools in NJ was April 20th, and now that is April 30th based on federal stay at home guidelines. According to the Director of the NJ Department of Health, if schools get up and running, camps will be able to open. If schools decide to continue with distance learning for the remainder of the school year, but the state has lifted the stay in place rules, camps will be able to open. This is all very tenuous- so please don’t hold us to this, as things can change. Questions have also been raised about the state potentially limiting the number of children at camps in NJ, but preliminary discussions with NJDOH provide that if camps are open, they will be open without limitation.

Another common questioned asked is if camps are open what will happen if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case at camp? NJDOH will be watching what NJ Department of Education guidance will be if schools open and a case is identified at school. However, it will likely be treated similarly to any other communicable disease at camp - like norovirus.

Camp SAM’s administrative team meets regularly to plan and respond to this ongoing concern. We are monitoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and are in consultation with our local and state officials, as well as our licensing agency, the Gloucester County Department of Health and Human Services.

For me personally, to reach out to all of you with this information is devastating. There’s nothing I want more than to provide the wonderful summer camp experience that we have poured our hearts into for the past 14 summers. We at Camp SAM are passionate about the value of summer camp in kids’ lives. Camp is not just about fun and games. Camp SAM provides the social education that kids do not get in school. A short list of the reasons why kids need summer camp includes: new experiences, communication skills, confidence, independence, resilience, a sense of community, leadership, break from technology and more.

With three months left until summer, we feel cautiously optimistic about our camp season, and are currently planning to open Summer Camp 2020 on June 15. Rest assured, we'll be doing LOTS of hand washing this summer! Give us a call at 856-401-8111, ext. 206 or email tcarr@campsam.net with any questions about summer camp 2020.

Here are a few links with some useful and informative details.

State of NJ:
https://covid19.nj.gov/

How To Talk To Your Kids About Covid-19: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/parenting/coronavirus-kids-talk.html

Basic Facts About Covid-19:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/share-facts-h.pdf

Sincerely,

Tara Carr

Camp SAM Owner