Baltimore Woods Summer Nature Day Camp COVID-19 FAQs for Parents

We are closely monitoring the evolving CDC recommendations and any requirements at the state and local level related to summer camp operations and what they mean for our camp programs at Baltimore Woods Nature Center. The safety of our campers is always of paramount concern and this year we continue to take extra precautions to maintain the health and wellness of campers and staff. While camp will be somewhat different, the core values of our camp remain the same – the benefits of playing outside for children cannot be overestimated, and the personal connection with nature they develop at camp will last their whole lives.

The following FAQs summarize our most up-to-date COVID-19 safety protocols based on the COVID-19 guidelines for summer camps issued by the NYS Department of Health. As new information emerges from health officials, these protocols may change and we will notify registered camp families via email.  

Click here to read the official summary of day camp guidelines issued by the NYS Department of Health on June 7, 2021.  

During COVID-19, camp groups will have no more than 9 campers with one Teen Volunteer and one adult Counselor. 

Each camp group will be assigned one “buddy group” with which they can interact. Buddy groups will have no more than 18 campers and will be treated as a stable cohort. This means that they may play games within the buddy grouping, but will not interact with groups outside of their own buddy group, and will maintain a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance from other groups at all times.

In general, camp groups will function as stable units that do not mix with other groups except with their buddy group (see above) or when camper safety dictates otherwise.

Camp groups will maintain six feet of physical distance between groups whenever possible, facial coverings will be worn by both staff and campers if groups cannot maintain this distance (during thunderstorm sheltering indoors, for example).

Campers within their own group are encouraged to maintain physical distance from one another whenever possible. When campers are within 6 feet from each other for prolonged periods or a specific activity they will be requested by their counselor to put on their facial covering.

As part of our multi-layered approach to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at camp, there are times when campers will be required to wear masks. In general, when campers are outside and able to maintain 6-feet of distance from other campers and staff, they do not need to wear a mask.

Although it is generally considered safe to take masks off when outside, there are times throughout the camp day where campers will be in close proximity to other campers and staff for longer than 15 minutes and will be asked to put on their masks. These could include games, crafts, learning skills, cooking around the campfire, observations of plants and animals, and during nature-play and exploration where campers are working together to build a fort, playing in the stream, moving within another camper’s space, and even sitting next to one another to talk. 

In addition to the activities listed above, there are a few instances where masks are required for everyone:

  • Inside buildings
  • During health screening at morning drop-off 
  • When interacting with campers or staff outside of their group
  • At afternoon pickup when walking to their car

Campers do not need to wear masks when:

  • They are within their own group and spread out from other campers and staff
  • They are eating lunch or snack and are sitting 6 feet away from other campers
  • While spread out during hikes or exploration times
  • When the nature of the group’s activity (i.e. running games) is such that a mask cannot be tolerated

Campers who wish to wear their masks even when not required will be supported to do so. 

Each day campers are asked to bring one mask and pack a spare.

Baltimore Woods will supply each counselor with extra disposable face masks if a camper or staff member needs a replacement.

Like campers, camp staff are required to wear masks during specific activities when they are in close proximity, inside buildings during severe weather, while in public areas such as the field and during pick up and drop off, and/or while passing another camp group or public hikers.

In accordance with the most current NYS guidelines for camps, staff who are away from public areas, within their own stable camper group, and physically distanced from others will be allowed to take off their masks.

Vaccinated camp staff will model proper mask wearing with the campers any time the campers are required to have their masks on. Unvaccinated camp staff will wear acceptable masks at all times when interacting with campers, staff, or other individuals when physical distance is not possible.

Any multiple layer fabric, surgical, or respirator mask that fits securely (without gaps) and is comfortable for your child to wear.

Counselors and camp staff will be trained in proper use and disposal of PPE.

Counselors will be provided with masks and gloves that they carry with their first aid kits at all times.

The camp health personnel will have additional supplies of PPE, including face shields and gowns, in the camp infirmary and available to counselors upon request.

Campers will be instructed on proper hand hygiene practices and all campers and staff will practice good hand hygiene upon arrival at camp, in between activities, and before leaving camp.

Handwashing stations with soap and water will be available at all portable toilets and behind the back deck of the Interpretive Center.

Counselors and/or Teen Volunteers will carry soap and water for frequent hand washing on the trails as well as hand sanitizer when camp groups are at remote locations. Hand sanitizer will also be available at activity areas near the Interpretive Center. 

Much of our camp activities will remain the same with only minor adjustments to allow for reduced physical contact between campers. 

Specific camp areas, such as Peanut Hill and Phillips Pond will be limited to one camper group, or one buddy grouping at a time.

Full camp games like Capture-the-flag, Kick-the-can, and Tug-o-war will not be available this summer. These can be played (with physical distancing modifications) by individual stable groups and buddy groups.

Campfire cookouts and swamp days will be done by individual stable groups. 

Meals and snacks will be eaten outside, and away from public areas whenever possible. 

Campers and staff will distance themselves 6 feet apart from one another while eating.

Counselors will oversee handwashing with soap and water before and after meals and snacks. 

Parents are encouraged to pack food items that are easy to open to limit the need for adult assistance and potential food contamination.

To reduce the number of vehicles and campers arriving at the same time each day, we use a staggered schedule and drive-through system for pick up and drop off.

Parents must remain in their vehicles and campers will be escorted to and from their vehicles by camp staff.

Families will get an email outlining the full details of this process and their assigned pick-up/drop-off times in the weeks leading up to their camp sessions.

Campers and staff who are sick, or who live with anyone who is sick, are required to stay home.

All staff and campers will be screened upon arrival at Baltimore Woods each day of camp. Parents with a specific need to enter the building or enter camp activity areas must call the Interpretive Center upon arrival and will also be screened.

Screening for campers will take place at their vehicles during drop-off and will be conducted by the camp health personnel or other trained Baltimore Woods Nature Center staff.

Campers, staff, and/or parents will be asked if they have:

  • knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 5 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19;
  • tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 5 days; and/or
  • experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 today or in the past 5 days, including having had a temperature of over 100.4 degrees F

Parents can answer these questions on their child’s behalf.

Screening will include a temperature check using contactless digital thermometers.

Camp health personnel will keep a daily log of screening results for all staff and campers.

Campers and staff displaying symptoms of COVID-19 as outlined by the CDC will be sent home and instructed to contact their physician for further guidance and testing before they are allowed to return to camp. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. Parents can find the complete list of symptoms on the CDC website here: Symptoms of COVID-19

A camper or staff member who displays symptoms of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, at any time during the camp day will be isolated from other campers and staff by a distance of at least 6 feet and sent home with instructions to contact their physician for further guidance and testing.

Parents and staff are required to notify Baltimore Woods of any positive COVID-19 test results within 24 hours of receiving them. Baltimore Woods is then required to notify the Department of Health who will supervise contact tracing efforts.

Campers, parents, or staff who have household members who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or other infectious disease or have tested positive for COVID-19 would be considered “close contacts” and can come to camp only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The camper is fully vaccinated and boosted (if recommended)
  • The camper is symptom free
  • The camper has a negative COVID-19 test
  • The camper wears a well-fitting mask at all times except when eating and drinking six feet away from other people. 

Children attending day camps are not required to get a COVID test before coming to camp, unless they have had a recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Because vaccination rates for children remain low and some of our campers are still too young to be eligible, and for the sake of consistency, our protocols will remain the same for all campers regardless of vaccination status.  

Summer camps in NYS are required to keep all vaccination records for campers on file, including COVID-19 vaccinations. If your child’s COVID-19 vaccination is not included on his/her physician’s vaccination documentation, please provide a copy of your child’s vaccination card or Excelsior Pass when you submit his/her vaccination records.  

Campers and staff will wash or sanitize their hands between program activities.

Activities will be modified to limit the amount of shared equipment among campers.

All equipment (such as nets, bug jars, and binoculars) will be cleaned with disinfectant after each use.

High use surfaces, such as benches, tables, and chairs will be sanitized daily.

Instructional and reminder signs promoting proper hand hygiene and physical distancing will be posted at hand washing stations and in high use activity areas. 

Portable toilets and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly once daily and spot cleaned between stable camp groups’ usage using a bleach solution recommended by the CDC.

All camp activities will happen outside. The Interpretive Center will only be used by camp groups as a shelter during severe weather. 

When campers enter the Interpretive Center, they will be required to wear masks and remain in their group’s designated location. Counselors will promote physical distancing between individuals and groups. 

Indoor restrooms will be limited to one camper at a time and disinfected after use. 

The Interpretive Center will remain closed to the public while summer camp is in session. 

During a thunderstorm or other severe weather, campers will be brought inside. The program room will be limited to four groups, separated by a minimum of 6 feet. The main entryway, library, log cabin, and pole barn will be used for one additional group each. Campers and staff are required to wear their masks while indoors.