Walden’s COVID-19 Protocols

Health Center Team and Facilities

We feel so fortunate to have at least one doctor and six nurses residing on premises at any given time. They work tirelessly to provide our campers and staff with unwavering care each and every day. We have a stellar and extremely experienced Health Center team, led by our returning doctors – Emily Bahler, Sarah Feldmann, and Margie Langer, all who have experience not only with Camp Walden but also working with Covid-19 and the necessary safety protocols. We also feel fortunate to welcome Dr. Sofya Kostanyan who will be joining us with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Our committed, diligent, and skilled nurses include Walden veterans Megan Bainbridge, Dianna Ciletti, Jenny Hirsch, Lisa Letz, and Catie Sitcoff, and we welcome our newcomers Nora Hennecken, Nicole Phillips, Kim Woodall and Laura Wright-Smith. And returning for her sixth summer is our Health Center administrator, Carla Hayman. Our nursing team will begin to arrive at the end of May and early June to help us safely check-in our staff and ensure all protocols are in place.

In addition to our excellent health care team, we have also upgraded our Health Center facilities. We have added a separate triage tent to minimize traffic in the Health Center. We have also allocated additional space on camp to be used by the Health Center team as needed. All rooms have been equipped with air purifiers.

Before Camp Protocols - Community Trust and Camper/Family Pledge

There is no way to impress upon each one of you how important a safe entry into camp is. Getting everyone to camp virus-free gives us the best chance to maintain a healthy camp community the entire season. We all need to be vigilant and do our parts to ensure that our campers and staff enter camp without illness. All it takes is one case of Covid to put our entire community at risk and to jeopardize the summer for our campers and staff. Because of this, we ask for your utmost compliance with the following protocols:

•   Please be extra careful in the days and weeks prior to camp. We ask that you avoid unmasked indoor gatherings with friends and family.
•   We ask that our campers not be anywhere (other than with their immediate family) without a mask in the 10 days prior to camp, including avoiding parties or backyard BBQs. Not even “just the cousins” or “just the neighbors” or “only my best friend” to say goodbye. No grad parties or any get-togethers (large or small) that can put our community at risk. PLEASE!!! We ask that you avoid sports leagues, tournaments, sleepovers and even eating in restaurants. Unfortunately, this also includes unmasked summer programs that are running prior to the start of camp.
•   If your child is attending in-person school, it is perfectly reasonable to follow your school’s protocols in the days leading up to camp as long as he/she is masked during that time.
•   If someone in your family or a close contact of your family tests positive for COVID-19 in the days or weeks prior to camp, please inform us immediately, so we can work together on a safe entry plan.
•   All families will need to sign a pledge that they will adhere to our before-summer protocols. This will include a Covid questionnaire.
•   All families will complete a health screening for each child in the 10 days leading up to camp. This will be done through the CampMinder Campanion App, or by logging into your CampMinder account.
•   All U.S. campers will need to show a negative PCR Covid-19 test within 5 days prior to arriving at Walden (International campers will follow the 72 hour flight guideline). All campers will be tested on Day 1 with a RT PCR test. See more information in our Testing Protocols section below. Please note, testing applies to those fully vaccinated as well.

For the safety of our camp community, these protocols will need to be followed by every Camper. Unfortunately, we will not be able to make exceptions.

Covid Testing Fee and Protocols

We have chosen to partner with Everpoint Health for our testing both prior to, and throughout the summer. Everpoint Health provides COVID-19 testing solutions to meet the needs of day and boarding schools, colleges, universities, businesses, and other organizations. They help clients navigate the testing options in order to create a safe, flexible, and cost-efficient testing plan. Everpoint Health has extensive experience in testing children, and provides on-site testing services for many private schools and universities throughout the Northeast. Everpoint Health is the sister company to Greenwich Medical Partners. Further information can be found on their website: www.everpointhealth.com.

We have worked closely with Everpoint Health to create a robust, non-invasive testing plan to protect our community while minimizing costs to our families. Our plan consists of two PCR tests prior to arrival, a post arrival PCR test, weekly PCR surveillance testing, and rapid antigen and PCR test for any symptomatic individual. We know there are some campers who may have tested positive in the last couple months. We will work with individual families to figure out an appropriate testing plan.

Please read below for detailed information on our testing plan/protocols. Please note that we will only be asking families to incur two additional testing costs:

Pre-Arrival PCR Test 5 Days Prior to Camp: $40 per U.S. camper
All U.S. campers will be required to take a PCR test 5 days prior to the start of camp through an Everpoint Health partner lab. This test will be an FDA authorized saliva test that may be performed at home.

While the laboratory fees will be covered by insurance, there is a $40 out of pocket cost for the kit to be shipped to your home as well as for the prepaid express shipping label to send the test back to the lab. Your insurance will be billed for the actual test. There will be no additional costs to families regardless of what is paid by your insurance company (even if a claim is fully rejected). Within approximately 24 hours of the lab’s receipt of your sample, you will receive an email with your child’s result. In the coming weeks, Everpoint Health will distribute information relating to ordering this test as well as a HIPAA release form to allow your child’s results to be shared with Camp Walden.

Please note all U.S. campers will be required to complete the at-home, pre-arrival PCR test. This will help us to ensure that we have all of the results sent directly to us in a timely manner, and that the testing procedures and subsequent results are consistent.

International families will need to complete a pre-arrival test on their own and also adhere to their specific flight guidelines, which currently require PCR testing within 72 hours prior to flight. This test will need to be completed and negative results shared with camp, regardless of whether your child takes a private or commercial flight.

We are relying on all families to do everything in their power to avoid exposure before the pre-arrival PCR test, and from the time of the test until your child departs for camp. A PCR test taken a day or two after participating in a large group gathering is useless and will only create unnecessary risk to our entire camp population.

PCR Express Test on Day 1 of Camp: $250 per camper (all families)
After careful consideration, we have determined that the best way to ensure a safe arrival at camp is to have all campers take a PCR test on Day 1 and receive same day results. We believe that knowing that each camper has had a negative PCR test on Day 1 will help ensure the physical and emotional well-being of our community.

Camp Walden has partnered with Everpoint Health to perform RT-PCR testing on Day 1 which will allow us to have results in approximately 1 hour. This painless shallow nasal test will be administered by Everpoint Health on camp property and at pop-up sites en-route to camp. Once we have confirmed arrival dates, Everpoint will send a scheduled time for each individual family.

Although there are many additional Covid purchases that Walden will need to make to run camp this summer, we will not be passing any of those costs onto our families. However, families will need to pay for the initial Day 1 PCR Express Test, which will cost $250. This will only be for your own child/children to test into camp as quickly, safely, and accurately as possible. This fee will be billed directly to you through our testing company, Everpoint Labs. Families will be provided with a receipt that they can submit to insurance but we cannot guarantee what percentage of this cost will be covered.

Once at camp, there will be no additional fees for camp-wide surveillance testing. The lab will submit insurance for any tests completed during the summer and there will be no additional costs to families regardless of what is paid out by the insurance. This is true for both U.S. and International families.

PCR Test on Day 5 of Camp: No additional fee
We will administer an additional PCR saliva test to our entire camp community on Day 5, and we will hand deliver those tests to the lab in the tri-state area for a quick turnaround of results. The lab will submit the cost of this test directly to your insurance. There will be no additional costs to families regardless of what is paid by your insurance company (even if a claim is fully rejected). This is true for both U.S. and International families.

Weekly PCR Testing: No additional fee
We will administer additional PCR saliva tests to our entire camp community on a weekly basis to closely monitor the safety and well being of all of our campers and staff. Again, regardless of what your insurance pays, this will be at no additional cost to our families.

Testing as Needed Throughout the Summer
We will have additional PCR saliva and shallow nasal tests available as needed throughout the summer. For symptomatic testing, we will utilize both PCR testing as well as the Quidel Sofia 2 rapid antigen test. We will only utilize rapid antigen testing for symptomatic patients as research shows that there is an increased risk of false negatives and positives when utilized for screening in asymptomatic individuals.

When our Second Session campers come in, they will have the same testing protocol as implemented at the start of First Session and they will be in pods separately until they receive Day 5 negative results. All of our Full Summer campers will do PCR saliva testing on Day 5 of Second Session as well. Following the Day 5 test, all campers will complete weekly testing.

Visiting Day

Because we will be limiting our outside exposure, we will not be hosting Visiting Day. We will work to create a memorable Full Summer weekend filled with fun for our campers and staff. We will also work to create a video-calling opportunity for each Full Summer camper to connect with their family. We know this will be challenging for some families but we also know that with our support and love, everyone will feel settled and cared for. We will work with each family to make sure their child has the right amount of connection and continues to thrive.

Masks and Camp “Family”

Campers will come to camp wearing masks. Each bunk/pod will be considered a “family”; when campers are with their “families” they will not need to wear their masks. While in these pods, our campers will still experience a full day and evening schedule of fun. We are planning to do a lot more outside activities.

After additional testing, and when it is safe and comfortable, we hope to be able to slowly begin to increase the pod size, and work to minimize the amount of time spent in masks. When pods come into contact with other pods, they will not need to be completely separated, they will just have to wear masks like they do in school.

Please do not send bandanas, gaiters or masks with vents.

If a Camper has Covid-19 Symptoms

If a camper presents to the Health Center with Covid symptoms, they will see our camp doctor who will advise on next steps. Campers may be Covid tested. Until test results are back, the camper will remain in the Health Center, and be cared for by our Health Center team. If testing returns negative, the camper will return to their bunk only after they are fever and symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

If a Camper Tests Positive

If a camper tests positive prior to camp, they would need to quarantine at home for at least 10 days and 24 hours after symptom resolution. At that point, they would need to be cleared by their home doctor and the camp doctor before arrival to camp. (If a sibling or any other family member in the house tests positive prior to camp, that camper would need to wait 14 days and show negative results before being able to enter camp). Please note, if a camper had Covid in the recent months leading to camp, and is still presenting with positive Covid testing results, we will need documentation of the initial positive test and medical clearance from your home doctor.

If a child tests positive while in camp, they will be quarantined and asked to be picked up from camp within 24 hours. We feel that living in quarantine at camp for 10 days, if positive, would be too difficult for the sick camper, and not in the best interest of our camp community. We know that this is challenging for some families traveling from farther away, but in an effort to keep our entire community safe, this commitment is necessary in order for your child to come to camp this summer. We will work with our International families on timing to get to camp as soon as possible. If you are planning to travel out of the area, we ask that families provide us with a contact person who can pick up their child in the event of a positive Covid result.

If a child tests positive at camp, we will notify our camp community to keep our families informed. We will notify our local health officials as well.

We will not be able to share specific names or personal information. Parents of the campers in the cabin where a positive case was identified will be updated on their own child’s health and will be provided with information as to the monitoring and management of the situation.

We understand that in the event of a positive case, some families will want to test their child again once they are home. Please note that in order to maintain consistency and take care of our entire community, regardless of what a child’s test result is when home, our test will stand and a camper will need to follow our protocols.

If a Bunkmate Tests Positive

If a bunkmate tests positive, we will create a quarantine pod out of the remainder of the bunk. We will continue to test to ensure that each child and staff member is healthy. We will also do contact tracing and testing for anyone who was exposed to that positive camper. We will, of course, let parents know, and while waiting on additional results, we will create safe activities for this person or pod.

If a child tests positive at camp, we will notify our camp community to keep our families informed. We will notify our local health officials as well.

We will not be able to share specific names or personal information. Parents of the campers in the cabin where a positive case was identified will be updated on their own child’s health and will be provided with information as to the monitoring and management of the situation.

Preparing our Facility

We have purchased a number of large tents to help create additional spaces for more outdoor programs as well as dining areas. We have added outdoor tents and triage space to our infirmary and office.

Camp-Wide Sanitizing and Daily Health Checks
We have hired extra housekeeping staff to sanitize all cabins and public areas daily, and all high-touch surfaces constantly. We have purchased foggers and sprayers to properly disinfect all cabins and indoor spaces daily. We have also purchased dozens of sanitizing dispensers to have all around camp. We will have daily protocols in place to assess the health and wellbeing of each camper and staff.

Food Service
We have modified our daily schedule and buffet service to allow for three staggered seatings at each meal. This will allow ample space for distancing, as campers will have both indoor and outdoor seating, and will allow us to continue to serve delicious and nutritious meals (including a salad bar and sandwich bar) all served by staff who will be masked and gloved. We are so fortunate that our head chefs have been with us for over 10 years each and have a wealth of experience.

Visitors on Camp
Only food delivery trucks and other essential services will be permitted into camp. These drivers will not have any direct contact with campers or staff, and will be required to wear masks and maintain physical distancing while on camp property.

Unfortunately, we have decided that we will not be able to host prospective families or referral agents on camp this summer.

Travel to Camp

Opening Day
Opening Day arrival will be staggered this summer in order to greet and health screen all of our campers.
Details about each camper’s arrival time and pop-up testing procedures for Opening Day will be sent to you from Everpoint Labs once we have confirmed everyone’s travel information.

•   Tuesday, June 29th – Special Invite for our Super Seniors (present 8th graders), Teens (9th graders), CITs (10th graders) and LITs (11th graders): We welcome you to join us a day early. We will provide further details on arrival times in the coming weeks. Siblings of campers this age are also invited to come in early, or if you would prefer to follow the sibling’s scheduled drop off time on June 30th, that would not be a problem either.
•   Wednesday, June 30th – We cannot wait to welcome our Younger Campers (5th graders and younger) and our Juniors (present 6th graders) and Seniors (present 7th graders). We will provide further details on arrival times in the coming weeks.

Camper Drop Off (all Tri State area and local families)
For this summer, we are asking families to drop off their child(ren) on their first day of camp. Parents will remain in the car, and a counselor will greet your child and bring them directly to their bunk to meet their camp friends. Please note that campers should only bring a small bag that they can carry themselves. In an effort to limit the outside contact with our already-quarantined staff, we will not be able to provide golf carts and assistance at drop off to transport belongings. All bags will need to be sent through Camp Trucking. Please do not arrange carpools for Drop off as this could potentially create unnecessary exposure.

All campers will need to complete a Day 1 PCR test which will allow us to have the results in approximately 1 hour. This painless shallow nasal test will be administered by Everpoint Health on camp property and at pop-up sites en-route to camp. Once we have confirmed your arrival dates, Everpoint will send a scheduled test time for each individual family.

Flights to Camp
In order to keep our staff in the modified “Walden Bubble,” we will not be able to chaperone flights to camp from Florida and Baltimore. However, if your child is comfortable flying unaccompanied, we will offer transportation from the airport if they arrive on our suggested flight. We ask that all campers flying, who need our transportation, arrive to camp on Tuesday, June 29th. Any camper who is flying to camp accompanied by a parent, should also arrive on Tuesday June 29th.

All campers taking flights will need to exercise extreme caution in airports and wear a mask at all times. We ask that campers do not eat or drink on flights, and do everything they possibly can to limit exposure to other people. Getting into camp safely is our #1 priority and we desperately need your help in following these guidelines. All campers arriving on flights will complete a Day 1 PCR express test.

Second Session Campers

Second Session campers will arrive at camp on Sunday, July 25th. They will need to remain in pods for the first 6 days. We will work tirelessly to settle our Second Session campers in while keeping our Full Summer campers safe. Our Second Session campers will have the same testing protocols as our First and Full Session Campers. Please make sure you are aware of all before-camp protocols and testing information.

Travel Home at the End of Each Session

Busing Home
In order to keep our community safe, we are limiting the number of outside people on camp. Families will not be able to visit camp at the end of their child/children’s session – this applies to First, Full, and Second Session campers.

Out of respect for how difficult it would be for our Full Summer campers to see their First Session friends with their parents, we ask that all First Session campers who have bus transportation back to their home areas take that transportation. We will run buses home from camp at the end of each session. Our plan is for buses to go to our usual locations (Paramus, White Plains, Cherry Hill and, hopefully, Montreal).

Local Families or Families Outside of our Busing Area
If you are going to be in our area and/or traveling somewhere outside of our busing zones, we will work to accommodate you (First Session) or to have a meet-up spot outside of camp. At the end of the summer, we might be able to accommodate those pick-ups on property; it will depend on how many people ask for this option.

Flying Home
We will unfortunately not be able to chaperone flights home at the end of First Session but we will offer chaperoned flights at the end of the summer, when our staff would not need to re-enter camp. If there are campers who are comfortable flying unaccompanied at the end of First Session, we will bring them to the airport and stay in the area to ensure that they take off before our staff leave the airport surroundings. Due to present restrictions, we unfortunately cannot guarantee that our staff will be able to go to the gate.

2-Week Campers
We will create a staggered schedule for our 2-week campers to be picked up at camp. We will ask all families to please stay in cars as we will be working hard to limit any exposure. You can either have our security team place your camper’s bags directly in your car or you can choose the Camp Trucking option for baggage, which will be shipped home at the end of the summer.

Camp Walden Program

People ask us all the time if camp will be different for the summer of 2021. The answer is YES!!! The world is different, and camp will be different too. That said, children will be able to be together with their bunkmates and best friends, smiling, laughing, playing, and supporting each other in a place filled with love and immense care.

Never before have we all needed community, laughter, and love the way we do now. That love and care will not change. One thing that this time has taught us is to be resilient and grateful for what we have. We will be looking at this summer through a lens of what we are gaining; not what has been taken away. The opportunity to be together, off of screens, active and outside…it sounds dreamy.

The spirit of Walden will be stronger than ever. We are working tirelessly to plan our daily schedule, evening programs, and special events that our campers are so accustomed to (Tribals, Color War etc….) and saying “how can we make it happen” in a safe way that preserves the spirit and tradition that we all love.

The First Week
From Day 1, campers will be able to unmask and enjoy time with their bunk. The bunk is their “family” and with that family, they can feel comfortable to relax, attend activities, and have their meals together. We have created very busy schedules filled with the activities and evening programs they love and enjoy. We look forward to running programs outside and in smaller groups whenever possible.

Once we have cleared the Day 5 testing, and when it is safe and comfortable, we hope to be able to slowly increase pod size and work to minimize the amount of time spent in masks. When pods come into contact with other pods, they will have to wear masks like they do in school.

Camper Orientation
We know our campers are coming off of a challenging year. Our stellar Leadership Team, along with our exceptional staff, will work with each camper individually to make sure they feel emotionally and physically safe at camp from the moment they arrive. We know for some campers, testing and being in a larger group may come with some worry. We will be there to support them every step of the way.

Each bunk will be oriented on all of our safety and Covid protocols, and all requirements for masking, social distancing, and handwashing. They will be continuously reminded about the need to follow all the protocols to keep themselves and our community safe.

Trips, Inter-camps and Out-of-Camp Excursions
At this time, we will not be planning any out-of-camp excursions for campers that would involve mixing with the general public. We are so fortunate that we will be able to use our island overnight facility as well as our hiking and biking trails that are on our property. We are exploring out-of-camp hiking options, and we will be using our pontoon boat on Lake George for our older campers. Inter-camps will not be possible this summer but we will look to create more leagues and competitive experiences for interested campers.

We have secured an off-site motel that will be exclusively for our Walden staff this summer to act as an annex to camp. We are happy to be able to share this experience with our Teens (9th graders), CITs (10th graders) and LITs (11th graders).

Family/Sibling Time
Siblings and families will, of course, see each other around camp, and will be able to check in on each other in the first week and throughout the summer. They will need to mask and distance to keep their own bunk pods safe, especially in the first 6 days of camp. Once we are 6 days in, and finished with our first round of testing, we will be able to have our more regularly scheduled sibling time.

Staff Arrival and Protocols

Almost all of our staff are scheduled to arrive at camp more than 14 days prior to our campers. All staff, like our campers, will be asked to limit their exposure to the outside world in the weeks prior to their arrival. They will need to complete a pledge and health screening prior to coming to camp. Staff will be required to submit a negative PCR test prior to arrival and will be tested upon arrival. They will also be tested 5-6 days after their arrival. Staff have been strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Almost all of our U.S. staff have received their vaccinations, and we have made arrangements with our local pharmacy to vaccinate our International staff as well.

Training for Covid
Our staff will go through an extensive pre-camp orientation, and will be provided with information to care for the physical and emotional safety of our campers. They will attend workshops led by our Nurses and Leadership Team on Covid safety protocols, podding, masking, handwashing, and social distancing.

Time Off
We have contracted with a local motel for our staff’s exclusive use of the property for the duration of their days off. Staff will not be able to leave the motel nor visit areas where there will be others from outside the camp community.

Camper forms and Campanion App

In order to ensure we have enough time to process information, we ask you to complete forms as soon as possible. Please submit all forms by May 15th, 2021. If your camper has a physician’s exam scheduled after May 15th, please notify us so that we can note that information in their records. Transportation and Additional Options forms will be sent soon.

This summer, we will be using the Campanion App, a user friendly mobile app, that mirrors your CampMinder account. While you can login to your CampMinder account on your computer or tablet, the Campanion App will be the easier/preferred method for families to complete the mandatory pre-camp health screening questions for each camper, view photos, and send emails to your camper. We recommend that you download Campanion today from the App store and log in using your CampMinder account information to familiarize yourself with this very user-friendly system.

Important Dates - Countdown to Camp!!!

Please note the following dates…

TODAY – Complete ALL forms & Download the Campanion App

May 31st – Deadline for all campers to register for Covid Testing through Everpoint Labs. This is necessary for US families to receive their pre camp test and also for all families to be scheduled for their Day 1 arrival test and for testing throughout the summer.

JUNE 16th – U.S. Families – Make sure you have received the PCR saliva test kit and if not call Everpoint at 203-987-5796 TODAY.

JUNE 19th – The countdown begins. Please stay safe! No unmasking outside of the immediate family. Please do not attend large gatherings. Log onto your Campanion App for your daily COVID Health Screening.

JUNE 24th – U.S. Families send in your PCR saliva tests TODAY! Please take the sample in the AM before food, water or brushing teeth. For the safety of our community, please limit all exposure (except school). Please
use a proper FedEx location for returning (not a dropbox) as dropboxes are notorious for missed pickups.

JUNE 26th – International Families PCR test (72 hours before flight).

FIRST DAY OF CAMP!! – All families driving to camp will need to go to their scheduled location/time for your expedited PCR Test.

June 29th – Super Seniors (present 8th graders) and up and campers flying in (siblings welcome)
June 30th – Seniors (present 7th graders) and down

We Can’t Wait!!!