Dear New England,
For over 150 years, camp in New England has been an annual tradition, but today’s unprecedented circumstances bring new challenges and considerations. The ACA, New England leadership and staff have been in daily conversation regarding what’s new, what we’ve learned, and how we can continue to support our members and camps.
Camp is an integral piece of a young person’s development. It’s still one of the best opportunities for children and young adults to develop soft skills, gain confidence and independence, make friends and grow. The health and safety of campers and staff is always the main priority for summer camps, and 2020 is forcing each of us to reflect longer and harder at how we can continue to offer camp programs and maintain the best interests for those within our communities.
Over the past few weeks, some camps have made announcements regarding their plans for the upcoming summer, and more camps will be facing these tough calls in the days and weeks ahead. Between state and local government regulations and resources from the ACA, CDC and others offering professional insight, camps have a lot to process before deciding what path best suits them.
We’ve been talking with camp owners, directors, and staff. We’ve engaged state associations, government representatives and countless other stakeholders in the camp community. Every camp is working towards what’s best for their unique circumstances. No two camps are the same, but all camps share one thing right now; 2020 will be a different summer.
Recently, there’s been a lot of conversation in the news and online about what’s the right call for camps. Some camps feel the need to suspend programs. Other camps are looking to provide virtual alternatives, and some camps feel confident they can safely operate amidst new circumstances and guidelines. These might be the most difficult decisions, both personally and professionally we have ever faced, and I encourage all of us to remember that each camp is earnestly trying to do what’s right for their organization and families.
In my 29 years with the American Camp Association, New England, I have never seen a summer like the one we’re approaching. In that time however, I have seen a community of camp professionals dedicated to providing safe, healthy camp opportunities for people of all ages. I have seen people work together to tackle common challenges and lift each other up when the chips seem down. Continue to talk, share and reach out to one another and to ACA, New England as you move down the road. As a community, I’m confident we can harness that collective passion, expertise, and support for one another to face any uncertainty that may lie ahead.
While not all camps will make the same decision, we need to remain a strong and collaborative community where we put aside our own opinions and support each other so camp will continue to thrive for another 150 years.
Please be there for each other and know that we will be here for you.