The following are Camp Echo's COVID-19 Response updates archived.
Update: June 1st, 2020: A Message from Camp Echo
To Our Camp Echo Parents, Campers, and Staff:
From day one this has been the fight of our lives, both personally and professionally. As Camp Directors we live for the work that we do, for you and with you. We have now explored every path. We have truly left no stone unturned and having come so far, it makes it all the more difficult to share with you, with profound sadness and the heaviest of hearts, that we will not be able to open camp for Summer 2020. Not even for a Taste of Echo.
In the most challenging of times we lean on our family. For us, that’s you. We have always felt a certain responsibility to be there, not just as a summer camp for children, but as a second home. For 96 years that is what Camp Echo has been for tens of thousands of Echoites. There is no doubting the incredible impact that camp has had on our lives, the friendships it has created, the memories, the moments - it’s hard to just let that go. Even more so when those are the things we need most right now.
Every decision we have made along the way has been to exhaust all options and fulfill our promise to you. After weeks and months of being told that camp-specific guidance was coming from the State, we felt we owed it to everyone to at least review it. This guidance never came and as much as we want to hold out hope that this summer is still possible, it simply no longer is.
We are so sorry. In being part of this family you know how all of us wanted to deliver even some of camp for you. As we searched for words to write this letter, knowing there are no words to describe the raw emotions that you are feeling right now, we looked to Camp Echo’s history to describe how we are feeling but it was last summer's Fiji Alma Mater that so perfectly describes this moment:
It’s hard to walk away, from the family we became
The pain of leaving you is too much to bear
Though time has won this fight, side by side we stand tonight
One by one the hours seem to fade
Can we just stay here forever
I can feel time slip away
Don’t close your eyes and let these moments fly
Just listen, hear me say
You have changed me for the better
Life would never be the same
Don’t hold your breath, don’t ever be afraid
Blue and white binds us together
And forever we’ll remain
To our campers -- please don’t forget that Camp Echo is your friendships, your bunkmates, your counselors, your memories, and your family. It’s this community that will get us through -- until next summer where we can all be together “under trees that touch the sky”. Please check in and take care of one another.
For our new campers, we will find new and creative ways to introduce you to our incredible community. You are a big part of this Camp Echo family and we will make it our personal mission to share with you the magic that makes Camp Echo the special place that it is.
Whenever it is safe to do so, we will find ways to bring you together. We need it just as badly as you do.
In the coming days, we will be touching base with each family to share specifics on financial refunds and rollovers for tuition, Camp Echo Shop purchases, Camp Trucking, and CampMeds. We appreciate your patience and understanding here as we work through these items.
We must thank you for your unwavering support. It means the world to us and rest assured that we will work tirelessly to ensure Summer 2021 is worth the wait.
With so much love,
Jeff and Cindy
Update: May 27th, 2020: Let's Reimagine THIS Summer Together
We first wanted to thank you for all of the love and support you have given to the entire Camp Echo community and to us personally. In these unprecedented times our Echo Family has been a beacon of light in very dark hours. We want to share with you our thoughts and hopes for moving forward.
With the Mid-Hudson region just now entering Phase I and an unclear timeline in between phases -- we sadly do not believe that a seven, or even a five week option is feasible, nor could it meet the high expectations we have all come to expect out of our summer home. This is not the end…
Having spoken to so many of you over these challenging few months we DO KNOW that:
You want your children at camp away from their screens, video games and stress of this situation.
You want them to be with their friends. They want to be with their friends.
You want to know they are safe, and so do they.
Our campers know that camp, like the world, may look and feel different -- but they still want those moments they have waited their camp careers to experience.
To deliver on all of this we must pause and REIMAGINE this summer. All of this will be predicated on the continued improvements in testing, decline in infection rates, and new guidance from CDC, NYS DOH, and ACA.
- Camp Echo would open for TWO WEEKS this summer (pending State/DOH approval) - July 18th - August 1st as a “Taste of Echo”. We would continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation - including the reopening of other camps across the country. These weeks will be prorated against funds already paid, with all remaining credits rolling over to 2021 (full details on refunds/rollovers to come after June 1). A Taste of Echo will include most, if not all, of our normal camp activities and camper favorites.
- We will take all of the safety precautions we have already shared with you - required testing, temperature checks, a closed campus community under the careful supervision of our excellent and experienced medical team. Specifics on our Prevention and Action Plan will be shared shortly.
- Our cabin staff will be all American -- they are already hired and eagerly awaiting information from us. Their time off will be on-camp only and they too will be tested, screened, and brought in prior to any camper arrivals.
- Our 2020 PICS & Hallers will become our 2021 PICS & Hallers as rising 11th Graders (CITs) and they will take their West Coast Trip next summer. Our 2020 9th Graders will still go to Orlando and Boston as part of their 10th Grade Summer in 2021. This will be a permanent change moving forward - so nobody misses the special moments they have been waiting for. Our 2020 CITs will be welcome to apply as Junior Counselors for next summer.
- We will have College Days and Silent Disco to complete our two week session, led by our counselors and 2020 CITs.
- From Wednesday, August 5th through Sunday, August 9th we will run Family Camp (Registration Required) where families can reserve cabins, have access to our campus activities, and spend time together under a new set of guidelines (i.e. social distancing, recommended masks, etc.).
- In the event that over time, through scientific data, and in seeing all types of camps open across the nation, we feel it is not doable or safe to proceed - we can cancel A Taste of Echo (with two weeks notice unless mandated or force majeure).
- A full set of details would be provided IF we move in this direction based on your feedback (See Below).
Around the country and the world, we are seeing reopenings (including colleges and universities) and we are learning more each day about process, procedures, prevention and mitigation strategies to keep our community and all those in it safe. We have always had confidence in our plans, and that is how we have come so far.
Since 1924, Camp Echo has been a summer home to tens of thousands of children and staff. To think that 210 Echo Road would sit silent all summer doesn’t sit right with us. If you want camp, if your campers want camp, if we can deliver it safely, and if New York State allows -- we have a responsibility to you and your children to deliver. A 2020 Taste of Echo accomplishes all of this and more...and we will be a better, stronger, Camp Echo because of it. This only works if we have your support.
We have explored every path and we have left no stone unturned, but we must admit...this summer is going to be different (just like the world) - that does not mean we should not work to be together and give our campers an experience they truly need.
As you can imagine, there are a tremendous number of moving pieces, so we would love to ask you to participate in a brief survey by May 30th to help guide our team as we move forward. Just as we promised, we will deliver some kind of decision to you by June 1st at the latest.
We have said it over and over publicly and privately, but it’s worth sharing again--we can’t thank you enough for your support. As Camp Directors, parents, and fellow Echoites, we live to be able to provide a life changing experience for your children. We are a community, and our future will ultimately be made by and for the community. This pandemic is bigger than all of us and we must adjust accordingly. We feel that we can, but only with your continued input and support.
Sending you love,
Jeff and Cindy
Update: May 19th, 2020: Quick Note On Timing
We cannot thank you enough for your patience during these challenging times. While these are some of the hardest days in our professional lives - it is not lost on us what you must be going through at home.
For the better part of three months, we have been working with our medical professionals, consultants, local/state officials, and the ACA (American Camp Association) to create an extensive Prevention and Action Plan . This plan goes above and beyond any and all guidance that we have received, it is built on a foundation of TESTING. Our team continues to work with our friends in camping to refine these plans on a daily basis. We look forward to sharing them with you soon.
With our enhanced precautions and safety measures in place for the upcoming camp season, camp will still feel like home with all of the activities, special events, and traditions our campers know and love.
At this time, we are awaiting more information from New York State and Governor Cuomo which we expect by June 1st - at which point final plans for Summer 2020 will be made. As we have said all along -- we remain optimistic and confident in our ability to run camp safely this summer.
While the state's guidance can change these plans, we are pleased to let you know that our new tentative Opening Day for 2020 will be Wednesday July 8th. We will provide specifics on earlier camper arrivals (i.e. Florida) and sessions after June 1st.
While this pandemic has tested all of our patience -- we need to wait a little while longer and we thank you for your unwavering support and sticking with us.
As always, our team is available to you with any questions and concerns that you have. Stay positive and we'll be back in touch soon.
All our best,
Jeff and Cindy
Update: May 11th, 2020: We're Remaining Patient As New York State Unpauses
We hope this message finds you well and having enjoyed a nice Mother’s Day weekend with your family.
Earlier today, Governor Cuomo outlined his reopening plan for New York. While some regions in the state will enter Phase I (construction and manufacturing) on Friday May 15th, Sullivan County (Mid-Hudson Region) will remain on-pause. The numbers in this region are moving towards meeting the state's criteria to enter phase one but we are not there yet.
Since we, like so many of you have been monitoring these numbers daily, this is not surprising. Sullivan County’s numbers have been low all along but the counties we have been grouped with regionally have experienced longer peaks.
It’s worth noting that despite this announcement from the governor today -- we remain optimistic about camp opening this summer.
We must also be realistic about the timeline. We have yet to receive guidance from the CDC, ACA, and/or Department of Health. There will be a tremendous amount of operational work that must take place between now and opening day in order for us to deliver the excellent experience both you and your campers expect. We now anticipate a later start date than June 28th and our team will begin to work towards our contingency plans for a shorter camp season.
From the very beginning of this unprecedented moment, our team has prioritized clear communication for our camp families and staff. We pride ourselves in being detail oriented, and as camp people we are the ultimate planners. It pains us not to have all the answers right now - or to be able to formally move towards a particular plan. With each passing day we continue to see encouraging signs that guidance, locally and state-wide, are coming. Once it does we will be ready to roll out an in-depth plan for you.
We remain committed to delivering as much of the camp season as possible. As the picture becomes more clear, we will be able to implement a direction on our summer sessions, until then we remain in a holding pattern. We hope to provide more answers for you in the coming weeks.
While we wait for the stars to align, rest assured that we will continue to work with our medical professionals, local/state officials, and colleagues in camping to bring camp to your children in the safest way possible.
Thank you for your unwavering patience and support. We'll be back in touch soon.
In good health,
The Camp Echo Team
Update: April 20th, 2020: Action Plan FAQs As We Prep for Summer 2020
We hope everyone is healthy and well.
Over the last month plus, our team has been working with our own medical professionals along with local state and government agencies to prepare for the upcoming summer. Late last week, our year-round team started the annual process of turning on our water systems at camp, prepping our pools for opening, and our bunks for camper and staff arrivals.
As we have said all along, we fully expect to open camp this summer and open on time.
Given the unprecedented nature of coronavirus and how it has impacted the daily life of us all, it’s important that we begin to discuss changes in procedures, protocol, and program that will guide us through a safe and enjoyable camp season.
Our team has created a series of Frequently Asked Questions which we developed in collaboration with our camp doctors. We are eager to share them with you. Before you dive into them, please remember that things are changing rapidly and nothing here is final. In fact, we understand that the CDC and New York State Department of Health will be issuing its own summer camp specific guidance in the coming weeks that will shape many of these ideas we are outlining for you.
In addition to releasing these FAQs for you today, we want to let you know that we are once again adjusting our final payment due date to June 1st. Please know, no payments will be made unless it is authorized by you.
Additionally, we will be making adjustments to our deadlines for required t-shirts, Camp Trucking, and Camp Meds. We will be sharing the details of these extensions later on this week.
The countdown to Summer 2020 continues and we hope you find this resource helpful as we all continue our preparations for another memorable camp season.
All our best,
The Camp Echo Team
Q: What steps is Camp Echo taking to ensure a safe summer at camp?
A: The health and safety of our campers and staff is our number one priority and we have spent the last month creating, reviewing, and revising an Action Plan in collaboration with our camp nurses and doctors.
As we know by now, the key to returning to a new normal (whatever that looks like) is testing. Camp Echo has contracted a global medical company who will work with us at every bus location (including Maryland, Baltimore, and Florida) to medically screen each camper. With every passing day, new advancements are made on coronavirus specific testing, so we will hold on providing specifics on this process for a later date.
We are planning for a staggered staging system, screening every child, getting the results, and loading our buses. We will have operations and leadership team at every bus location (as always) to ensure the smooth running of this new system and coordination with our sub-contractors.
Camp Echo has an incredible in-house housekeeping team supervised by a member of our Leadership Team. This group is responsible for cleaning, sanitizing, and maintaining our high-touch point areas...including camper cabins and common spaces. In addition to increasing the size of this team - we have pre-purchased every EPA-approved cleaning solution on the market. We will increase our daily cleanings and as always, go above and beyond to ensure we have the healthiest community possible.
Adjustments in protocol for vendors will be in line with CDC/NYS DOH guidance and in collaboration with our medical professionals.
Q: What about camp trips and inter-camp games?
A: One of the reasons we have been so incredibly optimistic about Summer 2020 is that in our environment, we have full control. We know who comes in and out of our community, we hire the best medical teams to keep our campers safe and healthy and we work with tremendous vendors who adhere to our safety and security policies.
Trips are one of the few exceptions. If we are being realistic, as of this moment we do not see a way that we can responsibly run either our day, overnight trips, or intercamps. We know how much our campers (especially our Seniors and CITs) look forward to these experiences but with health and safety as our number one priority...we don’t see sending campers to areas with such large mass gatherings (theme parks, baseball stadiums, museums, etc.) as the right decision.
The good news here is that we work with the very best travel agent in the country who has been with us for over 20 years. We do not need to pull the plug on these trips until next month in case anything miraculous changes, however we should plan on a summer without them.
We have created a committee of leadership team members, group leaders, and Echo superstar counselors who are working on creating incredible in-camp experiences that we are confident will help to deliver an unbelievable summer for our campers.
Q: What happens in the event that camp is unable to open this summer? Additionally, what would happen if camp could not open on time?
A: We have every expectation that camp WILL open and open ON TIME. In fact, our water systems at camp are ON, we’re prepping our pools to be opened, and our bunks for camper and staff arrivals.
Over the past few weeks, we have been working on a variety of contingency plans that include pushing camp back one week and/or shortening our summer to 5-6 weeks. IF we need to turn to a shortened summer, tuition will be adjusted with the balance rolling over to Summer 2021 as a deposit. CITs will be refunded.
Q: OK, so we know you are optimistic but for whatever reason camp does not open, will you be issuing refunds?
A: In the very unlikely event that we are unable to deliver a summer, we will of course do the right thing by our camp families either rolling over tuition to Summer 2021 or issuing refunds.
Q: What about Visiting Day? Will that still take place?
A: When we talk about exceptions to our controlled environment, Visiting Day (beyond trips) is the other challenge.
It is hard for us to make a decision on this right now but like everything, we are planning for every scenario. In total transparency, we may need to go a summer without Visiting Day. We will be collaborating with our friends in camping to brainstorm and come up with alternatives and report back to you when we have more information.
We’ll keep you posted here.
Q: How does this impact staffing, specifically international counselors?
A: Camp Echo works with large staffing agencies who work specifically in the camp industry placing counselors at camps across the nation. These agencies receive guidance from the State Department and work with the embassies in each country to do background checks, interviews, and visa processing before they ever arrive in the US.
Currently, there is a 60 day pause on J1 Visa programs (retroactive to mid-March). We will not have a full update on this program for another few weeks.
Fortunately, Camp Echo has our largest group of American staff that we have ever had and we continue to build on that with additional hires. The uncertainty around summer internships and college programs has provided us with an additional pool of applicants and possibilities to fill our needs.
Camp Echo will be fully staffed and ready to go for Summer 2020.
It is still our hope that we are able to have international camp counselors with us but that is dependent of course on the issuance of visas, status of travel bans, and the guidance provided by our in-house medical professionals.
It’s important to note that all staff will undergo the same level of screening as our campers will and many staff arrive several weeks before our campers ever step foot on campus.
Q: What will happen with staff time off?
A: As is the case with all of our planning, Echo has Plans A-Z for camp staff and their time off.
Time-off for staff is critical and it’s imperative that they get their well deserved nights and days-off. Our time-off policy will be in-line with our overall camp procedures and we have established a committee of leadership team members, group leaders, and counselors who are working with us to shape new ideas.
Time-off for staff IS a priority and we will make sure they are well taken care of.
Q: It sounds like you are having to make a lot of changes to deliver Summer 2020...is it worth it?
A: As we have gone through this process of building an Action Plan with our medical professionals and leadership team...it’s important that you know we have asked ourselves this question a countless number of times.
Now more than ever, after months of isolation, school cancelations, and yes, even that precious family time -- children need camp.
Our campers need a place where they can be in the great outdoors, being active and away from their screens, creating magical moments, re-establishing that independence -- all with their friends and camp family.
Camp has never been about trips, intercamp games, or the (nut-free) cookie cake on visiting day. Truthfully, it has never been about the trapeze or high ropes course, bumper boats, or basketball either.
It’s about the relationships you build with your bunkmates and counselors. If there is one silver lining of social distancing...it is a new-found appreciation for being together.
And for those reasons, and so many more...yes it’s always been worth it...and always will be.
Q: What should I be doing now to prepare for Summer 2020?
A: We’re so happy you asked that!
The best thing you can do is all the prep-work you would normally do now to get ready for the camp season. At your earliest convenience, login to CampMinder and complete as many forms as you can. Many of them are online or can easily be printed and scanned back to our office. We review EVERYTHING you send us and it’s imperative that we have this information on time so we can be as thorough as possible in our processing.
We know many families have waited to purchase required Camp Uniform, we strongly recommend that you visit CampEchoShop.com and purchase your Echo gear ASAP. Please know that if you purchase your Echo T-Shirts, in the unlikely event we do not operate camp - you will be issued a full refund. Any other item is non-refundable as it will be shipped in the coming weeks.
Most important, is Camp Meds! If you have RX or over-the-counter medications taken on a daily basis...they must be submitted via Camp Meds as we need to account for lead time. Please know again, in the unlikely event that camp does not happen - these prescriptions can be re-routed to your home.
Please also register for Camp Trucking via CampTrucking.com. The incredible team at CT has said they too will issue a refund in the unlikely event of a non-summer.
We must continue to move forward with all of these items to ensure we are ready to go for Opening Day. An email with updated Due Dates on the above items will be sent later on this week (April 20th).
Camp Echo will continue to update our section of FAQs as we move closer to the camp season.
Update: March 31st, 2020: We're Here To Help
We hope this message finds you well, in good health and spirits.
Each day as we prepare for Summer 2020 with our leadership team, we are reminded of the special community that we all share. This is especially true during challenging times. We love hearing the stories of Echoites virtual meet-ups on Zoom, families dancing together for our Instagram dance parties, counselors from around the world checking on their campers, and Alumni offering a helping hand. Simply...it's special and we are forever grateful.
It is also true that in these times, the biggest burden falls on you -- parents. Please know that we are not just partners for the summer months but year-round and are here should you need anything...just ask.
While not much has changed since our email from March 17th...through our conversations with local/state officials, our own medical professionals, and colleagues in camping - we remain incredibly optimistic and are counting down the days until summer. We realize there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the news and our world but please know we have Plans A-Z on the table. Each of these options prioritizes the health and safety of our campers and staff and the quality of our childcare. We will share these with you in greater detail as we inch closer to the camp season.
All of this will pass and as one of our campers beautifully shared with us this past weekend "we all need something to look forward to, and camp is that for me." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. It's why we do what we do and it's the reason we will adapt and adjust as needed to bring an incredible Echo experience to our campers.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed by email, our coronavirus update page at CampEcho.com, and across our digital communities.
Stay healthy and know we are here for you...
All our best,
Jeff and Cindy
Update: March 17th, 2020: Why Are We So Optimistic? Steps We're Taking Towards Summer 2020
Firstly, how are you holding up? We realize these are challenging and uncertain times for all of us. As camp directors, we are constantly reminded of the incredible camp community that is Camp Echo and we are thinking of you all, especially our campers as we navigate these weeks together.
As we mentioned in our update from last week, we are incredibly optimistic for Summer 2020 to go on as planned. We realize the constant stream of news and changing guidelines bring unknowns to tomorrow, let alone 100 days from now but we are confident, and we feel it's important to share with you why:
- We have time on our side. As of today, camp is 102 days away and we are confident that the drastic steps taken now will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Camp is the safest place for children to be. Overnight camps are isolated without people coming and going and without presenting a risk to individuals in the high-risk categories. We have the ability and the resources to refine arrival processes if need be (to include medical screenings) and we will continue to work with our medical team to make adjustments as summer approaches.
- Camp Echo has more American staff than we have ever had in our history (that's 96 Years!). This gives us the coverage needed for all of our cabins and program areas to run as we would in any other summer. Our staff applications remain open at CampEcho.com and we encourage those interested in working at camp this summer to apply.
- We have the best on-site medical team who provides tremendous TLC to our campers and staff each and every summer. This year will be no different and we are so grateful for their time and support over these past few weeks in developing an 'Action Plan' that can be put into place if required.
We need to take this day by day - together, and we will. Camp Echo has implemented the following:
- We have established a Coronavirus Update Page at CampEcho.com. Our team will work to update this as frequently as possible and as new information comes available. We will continue to send you emails with pertinent information as we move forward.
- We are adjusting our final payment schedule and changing the final payment due date from April 1st to May 15th. Please know, no payment will be processed unless it is authorized by you.
- We know there are camps that have sent Insurance Policies to families for purchase. We do not feel that this is necessary, and/or insures you sufficiently.
- Working and learning from home is hard! Over the coming days and weeks, we will be using all of our digital communities to provide some relief and entertainment...including our Palance Dance Party on Instagram LIVE this Wednesday at 8 PM! If you don't know what this is...ask your campers and be ready for a workout! Be sure to film and share your experience with us!
Please know, we're in this together. We will always do what's right for our camp families, campers, and staff. For 96 years, Echo has been providing memorable summers to thousands, because the work that we do is important. Our children need camp, and we are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that Summer 2020 is the safest and best one we have ever seen.
Please continue to check CampEcho.com for updates. We'll be back in touch soon!
Jeff and Cindy
Update From March 12th, 2020
Like you, we have been carefully monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the US and abroad and know that you may have questions and concerns as the summer inches closer.
As you know, the safety and wellbeing of our campers and staff is at the forefront of everything we do. We want to provide you with a brief update to share the steps we have taken (and will continue to take) with this developing situation:
- Camp Echo works very closely with the NYS Department of Health and will continue to do so leading up to the summer. We are using the CDC guidelines and recommendations to develop procedures and protocol in collaboration with our own medical team of Doctors and Nurses as a precaution.
- Echo has sent a team to The American Camp Association's Tri-State Camp Conference to learn more about COVID-19 and the best practices leading up to camp.
- We are in constant communication with our international staffing partners who work with agencies on a state and federal level to vet and regulate international staff working at camp. We have the highest level of confidence in these partnerships and can/will make changes if necessary.
- We are carefully monitoring cases in communities where our camp families are and will continue to do so.
We know that things are moving quickly but we have every expectation that Summer 2020 will go on as planned. Rest assured, Camp Echo will always prioritize health and safety and keep you updated as we move closer to opening day. We are counting down the days.
Jeff and Cindy