To Our Walden Family,
We continue to have such deep gratitude and love for our Walden community. The way we have come together over the last few months shows our unwavering strength and commitment to each other. This makes it even more heartbreaking to share that we will not be able to open camp for Summer 2020. We know this news is so difficult for our campers, staff and their families to receive, and please know that it is honestly just as difficult for us to share. We have dreamed of being back on Trout Lake surrounded by our camp family and immersed in the laughter, the love, and the spirit of Walden, but unfortunately we do not believe that there is a safe path to get there this summer. As upsetting as this news is, we are confident that this is the right decision.
Rest assured that we have left no stone unturned. We have conferred with our medical team, industry experts, and our governing bodies. If we could honestly and confidently say that we could keep everyone in our community safe, we would be opening camp. But with all of the uncertainties, we simply cannot make that promise to you. There is always an element of risk in running camp but this risk feels too high because there continues to be so much that is unknown about this virus.
You might be questioning why we are making this decision today, and not waiting even longer. Although the country is beginning to open back up and at this time the spread appears to be slowing, we are not confident that this will continue to hold true in our communal environment. We have been told by numerous experts that no matter what precautions we take, we should expect to have Covid-19 on our property. WIth all of the extensive research we have done, we believe there are too many conflicting opinions, known risks and unknown solutions. This precludes us from presently being able to confidently create a safe environment.
In addition to the potential physical risks, we are equally concerned about the emotional health and wellbeing of our campers and staff. We believe that although our campers “need” camp, the amount of anxiety going from quarantine to living communally, with hundreds of people, would be extremely difficult. We are very concerned that when a camper or a staff member would enter the Health Center with any of the most common ailments, we would have to treat their presenting symptom as Covid-19 or Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, and therefore isolate until we were able to further diagnose. This would create an untenable situation in our Health Center and such anxiety for our campers, our staff and our medical team.
After a thorough review of the long awaited recommendations from the ACA (American Camp Association), in conjunction with the CDC, one thing has become clear; it would be unrealistic to follow these recommendations and run camp as we know it. The proposed social distancing measures would require us to alter our day to day programs, our special events and most importantly, the camaraderie and connections that we all have with one another. We cannot imagine Walden without being able to give our friends a hug, or even a high five. We cannot imagine Walden without a bustling dining hall of campers dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. And, we cannot imagine Walden without our campers and staff linking arms all together swaying to the alma mater as one community. Ultimately, we know that we cannot provide the Walden magic that we all love and have come to expect.
This news will no doubt be devastating for our campers and staff who have been waiting all year to come to camp for the first time, or those who have been counting down the days until they are back in their summer home. We know that everyone will process the news differently and that many will be grieving the inability to be with their best friends in a place they love. We also fully realize that this news is difficult for parents to process as well, and creates stress and uncertainty. We understand, and please know that we feel it deeply too. We are here to talk and to support your family in any way that we can.
We will create opportunities for us all to stay connected, not as a replacement to camp but rather as a supplement to the summer. We will be scheduling Zoom meetings with all of our age groups in the coming weeks, and while this may be a small consolation, we will work to continue to provide opportunities for some Walden love and connections amongst our special community.
We know you have many questions and we are here to answer them all. Please click on this link for additional information regarding milestones, our Teen and CIT programs, and logistics.
We are filled with so much emotion at the thought of not being together soon. That said, we have seen the incredible strength that exists within our community over the last few months. We will all take care of and support one another as we already are counting the days to summer 2021.
With so much love from our family to yours,
Lauren and Mark