Updated 6/7/20 (in italics).
Discovery Southeast is excited to open summer camps in a limited capacity. Click here for Enrollment! We’ve been working hard to come up with the structure and protocols (here) appropriate in light of COVID-19 and Alaska’s guidelines on opening day camps. Certainly things are evolving and we’re all still learning what’s appropriate, but it appears Discovery Southeast camps are well-positioned for the summer: we’re generally outdoors, in small groups, with limited exchange of tangible items.
We intend to start small this summer and build as we gain a better understanding of the reality of hosting an outdoor camp in this time of a pandemic and social distancing. We will reduce our group size from our normal 12 into smaller groups of roughly 4-8 participants. We also plan to spend 100% of our days out in the open air, which is how we like it anyway. That means parents will drop off and pick up children directly at that day’s trailhead, and we won’t initially plan on using 15 passenger vans for transportation. Finally, we’ll begin with just partial days, we believe this will be important for both staff and the kids who might be in a bit of shock resuming interactions with others.
Except for Bubble Camp, below, currently our regular camps are for slightly older kids, entering 4th – 9th grade, because they have the basic ability to monitor their masks, supplies, and social distance, which we are not yet comfortable expecting younger kids to do. While we share the desire to have camps for younger kids, we want to avoid disease transmission through our camps, as well as protect our naturalists.
A NEW option this year is °°°Bubble Camp.°°° For extended families or families who have expanded their bubble to include a trusted friend or neighbor, we are offering a custom camp that supports already-defined groups, even younger kids. This can allow children to play and explore with those they’re already exposed to, or simply let families have more say in their children’s groups. While the regular price is slightly higher, we still offer pay as you like tuition for this program! Complete the bubble camp interest list here.
We’ll also have new expectations of families. Besides transportation to the trail we’re at each day, families will likely need to provide cloth face coverings and food, and responsibly report potential COVID exposures and the health of their entire household. In the event a participant, staff, or even family member shows symptoms of illness, we may have to make changes or even cancel a session of camp. Ultimately, we’ll all need to be a bit flexible and understanding.
In the spirit of starting small and slow, we’re opening registration for just a few weeks at a time. Participants can enroll in multiple weeks, but only if they take at least a week off in between. As is true for all our camps, registration is pay as you can and first come first served. Our full price will probably be a bit higher this year, due to staffing expenses associated with smaller camps and increased protocols. We know the demand for camp is high, and we are doing our best to expand capacity safely.
We welcome your input, and you can email email@example.com if you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions on what an appropriate camp looks like this summer. To get updates when registrations open, please sign up on DiscoverySoutheast.org for our email list. Thank you for your continued patience as we all find the path forward!