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Countdown to Summer – 4.9.2020

Today I decided to steer the title of the post away from “COVID-19 Update” and am beginning to focus on the steps we’re taking to get ready for Summer 2020 at Camp Nicolet.  This is Jeremy Starz, Director of Operations at camp, checking in with the latest from Georgi, Mary Anna, Muskie Matt, and I (our full-time team) from the north shore of Franklin Lake.

OK, you got me.  I’m definitely not minimizing the COVID-19 situation, and our sympathies and thoughts continue to be with affected families in cities (and rural areas alike) across the United States and across the world.  This is a tough time, no doubt.  As you already know, the effects are far-reaching.  Because camp is a global community, we’re feeling this right here in the North Woods.  We acknowledge it’s affecting planning for camp, but we’re doing our best to stay flexible, innovative, and positive.

Most importantly, if someone you know is struggling physically or emotionally, we send our support and caring.  Please let them know the Nicolet community is thinking about them.  If you need something from us, as you work to support others, please pick up the phone and call.  715.545.2522 is the office line here at camp, and we’re here 10am to 4pm each weekday until camp opens for the summer – then the hours expand.  You might catch Georgi or I on the weekend as well, as this line rings at our respective homes.  We’re always happy to help.

On to the Game Plan…

As of this writing, we’re planning on summer as usual at Camp Nicolet.  As stated in my previous Blogs, we’re closely monitoring information from the Center for Disease Control, the local Health Department, the American Camp Association, and the International Staffing Agencies with whom we have close working relationships.  We also routinely review information from the US Department of State, as it relates to the risk factor involved with overseas travel for camp’s International Staff members.  We continue to hold the health and safety of the Camp Nicolet Community at the highest priority.  With each update I read from various sources, I’m reminded that the Coronavirus is an evolving situation.  We’re optimistic, so all of us hope it evolves in the direction where it is healthy and safe to operate Camp Nicolet this summer.  With the tremendous details to be lined up in making a summer successful, our full-time team continues to plan and prepare, so we’re not caught “off guard” when summer begins (fingers crossed).  This goes for planning Activity programming, Northpoint Adventures trips, and now a more timely discussion around here – Staff Training and preparedness.

Camp Director Mary Anna Thornton has attended numerous American Camp Association-sponsored webinars over the past two weeks, and the message is the same throughout; be optimistic about summer.  At this point, ACA feels proper planning is the best-practice.  They suggest retaining hope for International employees to be on the staff team.  The American Camp Association is working closely with medical experts to create guidelines for safely operating camp, acknowledging the risk of COVID-19.  They are working to provide camps like us with guidelines for the Camp Health Staff; what to monitor, how to react, suggested medicines to have on hand, and ways to keep the camp community emotionally and physically safe.  ACA is advocating and researching best-practices for member-camps, working to educate all camp operators, collectively ensuring we can have positive experiences this summer.

The specific findings of their work and guidelines from medical experts won’t be available for another 4 weeks or so, according to Midwest region webinar hosts.  It’s therefore recommended operational decisions about summer not be made too quickly.  That being said, Camp Nicolet has established the following timeline in decision-making for this season:

  • If COVID-19 is in the deceleration phase by mid-May, then we’ll proceed with normal summer operation, with enhanced health and safety guidelines (ie., asking assistance from parents in comprehensive camper health screening before arrival, additional sanitary protocol in cabins and Activity Areas, and taking into account forthcoming ACA guidelines)
  • If COVID-19 is in the acceleration phase by mid-May, or should government agencies recommend against the operation of camp-type environments, we’ll delay the start of camp for 2020.  Programming will commence with Session II which begins on Sunday, July 12th.  Normal programming follows for the remainder of the summer.  Families registered for Session I will have the option to move to Session II for no charge.  Normal cancellation policies apply for families wishing to withdraw, or credit can be forwarded to 2021 without a service fee. Tuition will be pro-rated for campers enrolled in the 6-week program, who elect to shift attendance to 5 weeks.  Refunds of the tuition difference will be made to original form of payment.
  • If COVID-19 and/or governmental recommendation prohibit camp from operating this summer, tuition refunds will be made minus a $300 service fee, per our cancellation policy.  Families may apply the full amount paid for 2020 to the 2021 season without a service fee.  The $300 fee covers winter season operating overhead (payroll, insurance, utilities, etc.) and we appreciate your understanding of our policy, in addition to your continued support of Camp Nicolet.

What’s Next?

If you’re a parent of a Session I camper, we suggest you begin the “Countdown to Camp” with your daughter as stated in your copy of Nicolet Notes for Parents 2020.  Given the present circumstances, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of scheduling the required Camp Physical with your family doctor.  At this time, this might seem like an insurmountable task; and perhaps with no concrete timeline for an available appointment.  Please do diligence to schedule this appointment.  It’s of the utmost importance all campers (and staff) have their health forms and physicals complete before arriving at camp.  I can’t say it enough; please schedule a Camp Physical with your family doctor.

Above I mentioned asking assistance from parents with comprehensive camper health screening before arrival.  Please complete an extra careful check of the following before your daughter boards the bus or plane:

  • She’s not running a fever
  • She’s not coughing or seems to have a cold
  • She doesn’t have a sore throat
  • She doesn’t have bronchitis, onset of pneumonia, etc.
  • She hasn’t been in contact with anyone for at least 2 weeks prior to arrival who exhibits these symptoms
  • Please discuss with us any health circumstances which you deem of concern.  Education and communication is paramount!
  • On a different note, but important… please ensure she doesn’t have lice (we’ll check too, but we ask your assistance for a thorough pre-check and pre-treatment if necessary)

If your daughter needs to adjust her time at camp because of any of the above (or anything we didn’t include), please let us know.  We are happy to work with you and we will pro-rate tuition by the day if your daughter needs to arrive late.  For delayed arrival, you will be responsible for your daughter’s transportation.  We still offer airport shuttle service to RHI and CWA should you want to adjust travel arrangements.

Thank you all for your continued support of Camp Nicolet and Northpoint Adventures.  As always, please check the Blog for weekly updates, as we commence the Countdown to Summer 2020!

Very sincerely – Jeremy



“Camp is where you can learn who you are and always be yourself. Whether you are  silly, introverted, loud, musical, sporty, goofy or quiet,–you are accepted and appreciated for who you are and who you want to be.” – Camp Nicolet Alumna

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