COVID-19 and Summer Camp

All updates concerning the impact of COVID-19 on Highland Summer Camps will be posted here, starting with the most recent. Parents who have additional questions or concerns are invited to contact the Highland youth office by phone or email. Youth office hours in spring of 2021 are: Mondays 9-1, Tuesdays 9-5, Thursdays 9-1, and Fridays 1-5.

June 2021 — A few updates to the pre-camp screening policy

If you haven’t read all the information about the pre-camp screening, make sure you read that (here) for a more complete explanation of the policy. The changes are written here (in bold) as addendums to the original options for pre-camp screening requirements.

To be admitted to camp, we must receive one of the following types of documentation:

  • For unvaccinated campers, the temperature and symptom tracking chart for the full 14-day period prior to camp. For FULLY vaccinated campers (i.e., campers who had their second shot at least 14 days prior to the first day of camp) the temperature and symptom tracking chart is only required for the 7-day period prior to coming to camp.
  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test* dated in the 7-day period prior to camp, along with daily entries on the symptom tracking chart from the time of testing. *Molecular COVID tests (e.g., PCR) are strongly preferred, and required if the camper has symptoms or a known exposure to COVID during the screening period. However, if you don’t have sufficient turnaround time for a molecular test (for example, you enroll late in the week before camp), a rapid antigen test is acceptable for asymptomatic campers who don’t have a known exposure to COVID during the screening period.

May 14, 2021 — Letter to camper families

We are very excited about the upcoming summer and all the adventures that are in store for us. As you may have heard, our summer theme is “Up for the Adventure” – and we will be celebrating that theme in both our Bible study times and our activities! Along with some old favorites, campers will enjoy some brand-new adventures at Highland this summer; we predict an exciting and memorable year!

We also desire that this summer will be safe while still truly feeling like camp. Our plans to that end are now ready to share with you! New information that reflects our 2021 health policies has been added to our website in several places. The following links will get you started with some key information:

As you digest this new information, you’ll need to decide if you feel comfortable sending your child to Highland with these policies in place. The 3-week period from May 14 to June 4 is the time for you to reflect, ask questions, and make any necessary changes in your camper’s registration. Feel free to reach out to Dean Williams (email programdir@highlandretreat.org or call 540-705-0512) or Rachel Miller (email bookkeeper@highlandretreat.org or call 540-705-0554 x104) to get clarification or assistance.

If you decide you are comfortable with Highland’s policies for this summer, please confirm your child’s registration by paying the remaining 75% deposit. That’s $45 for Day Camp or The Lookout (a total deposit of $60) and $75 for all other camps (a total deposit of $100).

Not comfortable with these policies? We understand that, too. Just let us know that you wish to withdraw your child from camp. The initial $15 or $25 deposit is not refundable, but any additional payments may be rolled over to next year or (in some cases) refunded – but only if you cancel by June 4. On June 5 we’ll return to our normal cancellation policy, which is not as flexible.

Again, we welcome your questions and we hope to hear from you (one way or the other) by June 4!

March 2, 2021 – Facebook video announcement

February 1, 2021 — Highland’s Board has approved a 2021 summer camp schedule! More details will be worked out over the next month, with the goal of having registration officially open on March 1.

One of our main considerations as we plan for summer camps this year is for the physical safety of our campers and staff. Highland is committed to ensuring that we employ safe practices this summer, though the specifics of those practices are yet to be determined. Our safety protocol will be developed based on guidance from several sources.

  • The Governor of Virginia has stated that overnight camps will be allowed to operate in Phase 3 this summer, provided they follow certain safety restrictions (which may not be available until May). Highland will be careful to follow all state safety restrictions, once they are in place.
  • Through organizations such as CCCA (Christian Camp and Conference Association) and ACA (American Camping Association), Highland has been in conversation with summer camps in other states that were able to operate last year. Their knowledge and experiences have led to the creation of recommended best practices for safe summer camps, which we will use in our own plans.
  • A field guide for summer camps has been developed jointly by ACA and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). Highland’s summer plans rely on this continually updated document, full of excellent guidance from both healthcare experts and summer camp professionals.

Since COVID-related restrictions and guidance may change any number of times between now and the summer, we will not be making a firm plan for our summer camp safety practices until probably the middle of May. With this in mind, and in consideration of the general uncertainties we are all still living with, we have adapted our deposit structure for this year’s summer camps.

  • Just 25% of the normal deposit amount is required to finalize your registration this year. That’s $25 for most camps, $15 for The Lookout and Day Camp. This deposit will NOT be refundable, as it will be used to help us plan for the summer. We will have space for fewer campers than normal this year, and knowing how many spots are claimed is important as we hire staff.
  • We want to give families the chance to review Highland’s safety plan before fully committing to send their children to camp. Once our safety plan is finalized (mid-May), we will contact the families of registered campers. At that point, families will be able to decide whether they are comfortable with Highland’s plan and if they are ready to pay the additional 75% of the deposit ($75 for most camps, $45 for The Lookout and Day Camp) to maintain their registration.

Additional information will be coming in the next weeks and months. Keep an eye out for emails from camp, Facebook announcements, and updates here. We are looking forward to serving campers and families this summer!

June 6, 2020 Families are invited to participate in the special programs Highland is offering to families this summer. Learn more and sign up!

May 13, 2020 – Facebook video announcement

May 13, 2020 – Letter from Program Director Dean Williams

We know that many in the Highland community have wondered how COVID-19 will affect our summer camps this year. That question has been heavy on our hearts since the quarantine began, and has been the center of much careful consideration, discussion, and prayer. We keep returning to the same questions:

  1. What changes would we have to make to keep our campers and summer staff safe and healthy?
  2. Would we be able to maintain the essence of a Highland Summer Camp experience while following physical distancing requirements?
  3. How would the presence of even a single case of COVID-19 at Highland impact all other campers and staff (and their families)?
  4. Would we be able to give our summer staff and camper families ample notice about any changes to the summer camp schedule that might become necessary over the course of the summer?

Ultimately, our COVID-19 taskforce, our staff, and our Board of Directors all arrived at the same conclusion: Highland will not run traditional summer camps this year. For us, this decision inspired a sense of loss and many, many questions. We have in no way decreased our desire to be a place of Christian ministry, but this strange season means we are going to have to go about it in different ways. We are already working hard to move forward with new options designed for the current situation.

One of the ideas that has sparked the most enthusiasm in our staff revolves around serving individual families. We are generating many ideas for what this might look like, but we ultimately want to make sure that what we offer is meaningful to the families we serve. An unexpected benefit of this unusual summer is that family outings at Highland can be enjoyed even by those who are outside the normal age range of our summer campers! Whether your family currently has camper-aged children or not, we invite you to contribute your thoughts and opinions about the new options for family outings, so we can design experiences that could serve families like yours.

Share your thoughts by completing this survey.

If you have already made a payment for a 2020 camp, your options are explained here.

May 1, 2020 – Letter from Program Director Dean Williams

Over the past several weeks, many of you have been have wondering what’s happening with 2020 Highland Summer Camp due to COVID-19. Highland’s COVID-19 Taskforce is regularly updating Highland’s Board of Directors on the latest information obtained from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and camping organizations. With this guidance we hope to announce our plans for the summer camp program for 2020 on Wednesday, May 13th. At that time we will clarify whether we are able to run a full summer program, modified summer program, or no summer program. This is a challenging decision for us which requires careful consideration and prayer as the situation unfolds. We as staff and the Board of Directors covet your prayer as we seek God’s wisdom and plan for 2020 Highland Summer Camps.

March 19, 2020 – Letter from Program Director Dean Williams

Dear Camper Families,

Summer Camp registrations are coming in fast and we want to take the opportunity to proactively communicate with you concerning Highland’s response to recent developments concerning COVID-19.

  1. Our staff is busy preparing for another incredible season of Highland Summer Camps and we are, in hope, planning on holding each and every Highland Summer Camp this season!
  2. As always, we will work with our healthcare staff and other professionals to follow the highest level of recommended care and precaution to ensure safe and conscientious healthcare management for our campers and community.
  3. Our year round housekeeping staff is scheduled for an in-service this Tuesday concerning COVID-19 and best practices for cleaning surfaces, laundry, hands and more. A similar training will occur for all summer staff soon after their arrival and prior to any camper arrivals.
  4. A COVID-19 taskforce has been created by Highland to evaluate and respond to information from various health care agencies. If it becomes necessary to cancel any camp program due to taskforce recommendations, we will contact you well ahead of time and discuss options for your camper’s deposit.

Thank you in advance for trusting Highland with your children/youth. Honestly, when camp happens it is sure to be a breath of fresh outdoor air to all campers; to be present and among friends in a beautiful outdoor setting!

May God provide for you and keep you safe during these times and all times.

PS- If your family is struggling financially because of the effects of COVID-19, the camp scholarship program is available to make sure that you can still afford to send your child to camp.