We aim to keep families informed as we progress toward the summer. In 2021, we successfully implemented layered COVID protocols with no outbreaks and no positive cases within our community. In 2022 and 2023, we ran safe and healthy camp sessions, with 2023 being a very "normal" summer. As we plan for 2024 and summers ahead, we will change and adapt as needed to keep everyone safe.
Current Announcement - Sept 2023
As of September 2023, COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended, but not required, for attendance and employment at Maine Teen Camp. We will continue to follow guidance from the Federal and State CDC, as well as Maine DHHS and recommendations from American Camping Association and the Alliance for Camp Health.
Announcement - June 1st
We will continue to change this section when appropriate and details about summer 2023 are current as of June 1. We REQUIRE ALL CAMPERS AND STAFF to be vaccinated for COVID,and highly recommend (not required) that all members of our community receive boosters. We are requiring you to submit proof of vaccination. We are asking you to do a rapid test at home 24-48 hours prior to the start of your session date. You do not have to send us the results unless they are positive for COVID (and call us immediately!). Be aware that as with every camp this summer, we will are still required to follow to protocols the Maine CDC and the ACA (American Camp Association). We continuously monitor the latest information, and we have every intention to keep your camper and our community, safe and healthy for the whole summer. We are given a lot of optimism that these guidelines are now classified as recommendations, not requirements, and that the official position of the Federal and State health authorities is that this summer “when deciding which prevention measures to implement, camps should consider the local context and balance the risks of infectious disease with the educational, social, and mental health outcomes.” This summer is one more step toward complete normalcy.
3 STEP SUMMARY checklist for COVID protocols:
Submit proof of vaccination (along with your medical form).
Perform a rapid “at home” test within 24-48 hours prior to departure for camp. Do NOT send results UNLESS they are positive results. Call us immediately if positive.
Avoid unnecessary large indoor gatherings within the 7 days prior to camp arrival
UPDATE - May 11th 2023:
As of May 11th, the US Govt has ended the official emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID continues to be a concern for any congregant setting, we are confident that due to the low-risk nature of our population, the threat of respiratory illness presented by COVID is now approximately the same as that presented by other communicable diseases in the camp setting – cold or flu, RSV, strep throat, head lice, etc. We have always monitored, treated, and limited the spread of these “regular” illnesses in camp, and will continue to do so as a matter of course.
We are happy to be able to shift a larger portion of our focus to addressing the impacts of the pandemic on our camper and staff populations. In the words of medical experts and CDC officials, the challenge now is to “balance the risks of infectious disease with the educational, social, and emotional health of our youth”. For us at MTC, the mental, social and emotional health (MESH) of our population has always been the highest priority, and we are grateful that we can lean into that priority even more than ever. On that note, we will be rolling out a new MESH program later this month, please look for emails around that later.
In terms of COVID policy, here is where things stand right now.
We would ask families to engage their camper in healthy behaviors just prior to the start of their camp session
Please monitor your camper for illness, and communicate with camp prior to the start of any illness
Consider masking in large gatherings or during significant travel (eg. an international flight)
IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO CAMP
Look for our new MESH screening tool for your camper, which will be sent just prior to their arrival
Test your camper for COVID (using a rapid antigen test) within 24 hours of camp arrival. It is NOT necessary to send us proof of the test; please notify us immediately if they test positive
ARRIVAL AT CAMP
We will not be performing COVID tests upon arrival
We will be performing our standard health screening – temperature check, head lice check, symptom questionnaire etc. This has been our regular practice for many years.
Our goal is to balance the successful operation of camp focused on the MESH of campers and staff, with the physical health risks to campers and staff. We will treat all respiratory illnesses as per our Standing Orders Protocol. Symptoms will be treated, and for campers who have a fever or are not feeling well, they will be isolated in the health center while they are febrile. We will be using the modern acceptance of masking to reduce the risk of spread of all respiratory illnesses, and asking any camper with a sore throat or cough to please wear a mask when indoors or around others.
While we anticipate the Federal guidance dictating the need for a 5 day isolation period for anyone who tests positive for COVID will be rescinded by this summer, until it is rescinded we are required to follow that recommendation. As such, testing of campers and staff in camp will be considered on a case by case basis, with symptom screenings and health history being first considerations. This is not to say we won’t test, just that we will not test as a first option for every runny nose or cough.
SUMMER TIME OPERATIONS
Given a mandate to prioritize MESH for our population, we will be using several non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI’s) that align well with camp and allow our campers to be fully present in the camp experience. As always, ventilation is our super power, and we will continue to do any activity outside that can be done outside. But if an activity needs to be indoors, it can be. Camp indoor spaces are well ventilated, and so we will not be requiring masking unless a camper has symptoms of respiratory illness.
Trips out of camp will largely return to normal.
We reserve the right to implement more intrusive NPI’s if circumstances dictate (masking when indoors, or regular testing, for instance).
In summary – our goal for this summer is to maintain a physically healthy population (which our “regular” communicable disease plan aims to do) in order to facilitate a heightened focus on the mental, emotional and social health (MESH) of our camper population. Our camp community is entirely vaccinated and very low risk, camp is an extremely low risk setting, and we feel confident that we can have a successful summer providing a joyful, relaxing environment for our campers and staff.
UPDATE - April 2023:
Be aware that as every camp this summer, we will be guided through the Covid-19 protocols by specifics from the Maine CDC and the ACA (American Camp Association). This is only a preliminary list of points that we will continue to expand upon and make more concrete as time goes forward. Case rates and new variants could have a lot to say about how camp operates in 2023.
We REQUIRE ALL CAMPERS AND STAFF to be vaccinated for COVID, and highly recommend (not required) that all members of our community receive boosters.
Masking/face coverings. There will be significant reduction in use of masking. We may use them only as a precaution that we will take in some situations/scenarios. Largely, if someone is sick in camp, they would likely be wearing a face covering for a period of time.
Testing. There may be some need to have staff and campers tested prior to arrival, but time will tell as we approach the summer. Assume we will be testing all symptomatic individuals during the summer, although this will be more for clinical reasons, versus public health reasons.
Positive Cases. If we do have a positive case of Covid, we will follow the current CDC guidelines, whatever those are at the time of summer.
Sanitation and Hand Washing. We will continue to have increased sanitation throughout well used areas and strongly encourage handwashing diligence.
Outside Activities. Our activities will be done outside in open air as a first choice every time. We will aim to have evening activities in the open air most nights, and lots of the activities we have already are done outside. We will increase outside spaces where possible.
Meals. Meals should be able to be our typical buffet service.
Health Center. Our healthcare staff will continue to monitor illness as usual, and we will have Covid tests available. Accessible areas for quarantine may not be necessary.
Visitors. At this time, will be allowing visitors from camper families, with the ability to pull back and cease visits from families if necessary.
Pre-Camp Risk Management. We will ask campers in particular (and other members of their household if at all possible) to refrain from engaging in “high risk” activities in the 7-10 days prior to camper arrival. High risk activities for COVID exposure include large indoor functions (weddings, funerals, indoor graduation ceremonies, indoor concerts/performances, and parties).
UPDATE - Jan 2023:
Summer 2022 was a tremendous success. While we had some isolated COVID cases among staff, our camper's experience was not significantly impacted by COVID. For summer 2023 we are again requiring campers and staff to be fully vaccinated, and recommending vaccinations be up-to-date. While we will not decide on final COVID protocols for some months yet, we anticipate some range of NPI's (for example ventilation, symptom screening) to come into play. We await guidance from the CDC on requirements to test, isolate, and quarantine.
Keeping Safe at Camp
Healthcare at Camp
Our health center at camp is staffed by a full team of nurses and EMT personnel. We work with our local health center in Kezar Falls to round out our team of local medical professionals should any member of our community need further care. We have an advising physician on staff, available for consultation with our staff about treatment plans. We operate our health center in accordance with our standing orders that are reviewed annually. Our policies and procedures are reviewed in collaboration with our entire team.
Ticks in Maine
We focus also on tick bite prevention, reminding our community of routine “tick checks” and proper application of tick and mosquito prevention products. We have high standards of care of our facility, keeping grassy areas short and well maintained, and regularly pre-treat our grounds prior to the season. We talk frequently with our campers and staff about tick prevention and identification.
We are an accredited camp by the American Camp Association; we have regular standards visits, and certifications. We operate with care and caution always, and with attention to our ACA standards every summer. We are constant risk assessors, who take care to evaluate our entire facility and program to keep your campers safe. We consult annually with our insurance company and state inspectors to meet and achieve high standards of care for our community.
Emotional and Mental Health and Wellness
We have strong emphasis on the importance of mental and emotional health at camp. Our day is organized to keep campers active all day and encourage healthy social interactions. We have a sleep schedule that works for teenagers, allowing for 9 hours of rest each night. We take time to work with our Food Service Manager to provide a selection of healthy food choices that provide meals for every camper. We have two licensed professional counselors on staff, one exclusively for access to our busy staff. We make every effort to keep our community physically and emotionally well.
We interview, reference check and background verify all newly hired staff and annually, we perform the same background verification on all staff. We have a 10 day staff training prior to the summer for all staff and continuously provide feedback and evaluations of staff in specialized areas. We hire more staff than we need, to retain only the best staff we can offer your campers. We have many staff who hold expertise and certifications in outdoor education, teaching and instruction, have healthcare degrees, and membership to other professional organizations. Staff must be at least 21 to drive our camp vehicles and are driver tested for safety. We keep high staff ratios to make supervision of our upmost importance.
Each summer we have a “Crisis Team” on staff, who evaluate and assess, and practice emergency procedures with rigorous drills for possibility of extreme weather events or events that would threaten the health and security of our community. We host an Emergency Preparedness Consultant, who trains our staff on situational awareness and risk assessment. We review our procedures and policies annually to keep up to date on changing conditions in our own community, but also in the larger community outside of camp. Our healthcare “standing orders” are reviewed each year by our local health center physician, and our policies and procedures are reviewed by a consulting team of physicians.