It is with a heavy heart and much anguish that I must inform our membership that the decision has been made to cancel Hermann Sons Life Camp for the summer of 2020.
Our first priority is the health of our junior members and their families. During this unprecedented time, while we believe that Camp is needed more than ever, even with the strictest of protocols perfectly applied there is nothing that can be done to eliminate the risk of exposure to both campers and staff to the COVID-19 virus.
We understand that this decision will not be popular with many of our junior members and their parents and grandparents. We understand that many of you will point to Governor Abbott’s announcement on May 18 that declared summer camps could open on June 1.
This significant decision was not made lightly.
After reviewing the American Camp Association’s field guide to running a camp during the COVID-19 pandemic and the State of Texas’ guidelines, it has been determined that the restrictions that would be placed on our campers, counselors, senior staff, medical and kitchen staff make the operation of a summer camp impractical at this time.
The camp we would be able to run is not the camp that our campers and their families have come to expect at Hermann Sons Life Camp. This camp would be very different.
In 2002, after the 9-11 attacks, camp for our campers was an escape from the world at war. Camp was normal. The same elective program. The same evening activities. The same arrival days. The same day to day functions.
This summer, the campers would experience not a break from the social distancing and regulations, but a continuation and extension of the social distancing that they are experiencing now. Constant reminders of the new normal world we live in would be everywhere. There would be daily health screenings. Counselors and all other staff would be wearing masks and PPE. They would not be able to choose their daily activities but would do all of their activities with their bunkmates. There would be no dance and no game night. There would be no counselor-in-training program and so much more.
Camp would not be camp.
On top of these restrictions, the guidelines placed on staff hired to work with our campers cannot be ignored when making the decision to close camp.
Assuming we would be willing to take the risk posed to the health of our campers and staff, and assuming we would be willing to operate a camp 180 degrees different than that we have come to expect at Hermann Sons Life Camp, the requirements placed on the staff are difficult to comprehend.
To operate the camp (by following the guidelines) our counseling staff would need to quarantine in camp for 7 to 10 days before the camp season begins. The counselors would be required to stay at Camp from June 25 to Aug. 8 except for supervised visits to town (while wearing masks). This would mean, 45 DAYS of no going home on the weekends, no weeks off, no Fourth of July with their friends and family. No movies. No dinners at restaurants. No family weddings. All while staying socially distanced from their Camp friends who are living in different dorms.
The role of a camp counselor is an awesome one. One of great responsibility. The added stress placed on the role of the counselor, if we follow the guidelines, would be immense and would place a burden upon the staff that is difficult to comprehend. And even more difficult to ask of them.
I appreciate that this news does not come as a welcome relief to our families. I will be scheduling a Facetime Live where I will do my best to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will announce the Facetime live shortly on the Hermann Sons Life Facebook page.
Refunds are now being issued.