Dear Camper Parents,
I write to you with breaking news that is hard for me to share: we just learned that the Health Department made new policy and will not allow our resident camp program this winter. This news is hours old at time of writing this post.
How did we get here?
- I consulted with the Health Department in late November about our winter programming. A representative from the department noted that our plans seemed in line with the guidance they have set forth and as safe as one can be right now.
- I was instructed to follow the Governor’s orders, be aware of the law, and then make choices. In mid December, after reviewing all the available guidance and executive order again, and finding solutions for how to eat and sleep safely, we decided to open registration for resident winter camp for 21 campers at a time with a mostly outdoor schedule.
- A school nurse recently inquired (last week?) with the Health Department as to whether a child who attends Bethany Birches winter camp would need to quarantine before coming back to school. Officials felt that section 8.2 of the WorkSafe guidance did not have a good enough answer. As a state lawyer described it to me, he felt our overnight winter programs did not fit neatly into any of the ACCD guidance for Governor Scott’s executive order. He noted that our plans seemed very creative and worthy of consideration and that we should submit a request to the Health Department.
- They reviewed our request. There was discussion between high ranking representatives from ACCD, Health Dept., and Bethany Birches.
- Feb 9 in the late afternoon, I received notice that our resident camps were not allowed at the moment. This was a policy the Health Dept. just created: no resident camps for February.
Needless to say, we are somewhat stunned at this updated policy/guidance. Especially when our operating procedures seem safer than what I observe in many public places. I try to remember how much stress some of our government officials are experiencing, and that gives me grace toward them. More so than being stunned, I am sad and disheartened. We were so excited to welcome your child to camp, and to stimulate hope and love and joy… and share some of this deep fluffy snow!
Given the timeline it was important to me that we get you this information immediately.
- Money: tomorrow we will reach out about your preference. You will have three options. Roll your payment to summer camp, get a full refund, transfer your payment to a donation.
- Winter Camp: we will consider whether we can offer any day programming this winter, or, open our facility to you so your family can come to ice skate, ski, tube, etc.
- Summer Camp: it sounds like we may be invited to help craft guidance for resident programs in Vermont for summer 2021. This is good news for BBC families because it means that we will have early awareness of the new rules and be able to best prepare for what is quite likely to be another strange year. Registration for summer camp 2021 is open. Many have already registered. If you have not, you can find your session here.
Let me know of any questions, comments, and ideas. In the meantime give your kiddo a hug from me and the other camp staff. We miss them and hope they are finding ways to thrive.
Brandon “Tuna” Bergey
Bethany Birches Camp