Summer 2020 was truly unique in every way for many camp directors, parents and campers!
Despite all the challenges and obstacles involved in putting together a very partial camp program, it was still a very positive summer of learning and growth for us. Summer 2020 made some things even clearer . . . .
Our Camp Lee Mar family is truly amazing! – Our parents and campers kept in touch with us sharing pictures all summer long and keeping that Camp Lee Mar connection strong! Families who could safely travel to Camp Lee Mar did, and we spent some quality time together. Our camper families are truly amazing. In fact, many of them committed to the summer 2021 camp season as soon as we found out we would not have a full camp season in 2020.
We love our staff! – Our outstanding staff from the USA and all over the world stood by us every step of the way, willing to do whatever it took to make the summer happen. For many of our staff this summer was very difficult as the J-1 visa program was suspended for international staff. When people think of our international staff most people think counselors, but our support staff are often behind the scenes making sure everything is clean, our meals are prepared and delicious, and the camp grounds look amazing. We really missed our international support and counseling staff this summer. The international counselors and support staff bring such an amazing combination of skills and talents to our unique program. We are pleased that so many of our international and domestic staff have already committed to the summer 2021 season at Camp Lee Mar!
Camp directors always find a way! – After reading every safety precaution issued by the CDC and ACA it was decided that camp could go ahead with a smaller group for a limited amount of time, but it would be a challenge.
- Ari and I have our ServSafe certification so we would cook for the group of 38 alumni campers and staff while overseeing the program.
- We would have six American regional staff who would quarantine two weeks before the camp program would begin and would commit to staying on camp at all times for the duration of the program.
- We had an awesome RN and EMT to oversee medications and everyone’s general health at camp, including taking and logging temperatures twice a day.
- We arranged the rooms, cabins and dining rooms to accommodate social distancing. We arranged a program that offered both the fun and structure of camp, all while being safety conscious.
- Then most importantly, we had a small group of regional campers ages 18 and over who would be joining us. They all also followed a two-week quarantine before coming to camp.
So why is a summer camp experience so important, and what was the outcome of all of this planning?
It was the smiles of our campers as they were dropped off at camp. Their excitement of being back at camp, a touch of normalcy in such a crazy time. The fact that summer was finally here for them at their home away from home!
It was the happiness on the faces of our parents as they were able to provide their child with their summer camp experience. Our parents understood that our Summer Programs for Kids with Special Needs would provide the fun, socialization and structure our campers had missed over the past four months!
It was the staff that committed to providing such an amazing experience for our campers in such an uncertain time. Staff that were willing to go above and beyond to plan activities, special events, provide supervision and support, and even clean and sanitize during breaks in the day.
As directors, it was going from an empty camp, to hearing music at the pool, the chatter at the dining room tables, the laughing and singing of camp songs, and most of all, the knowledge that there is light at the end of this crazy tunnel! Even if things are still a little shaky next year in regards to COVID, we know how to prepare and run a safe happy summer. We know summer 2021 will be the best summer yet, because a summer at camp will never be taken for granted again.
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!