Summer 2021 COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Procedures

Dakotas and Minnesota United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries
Summer 2021 COVID-19 Safety Protocols & Procedures

Updated 6/28/2021

Summer 2021 protocols and procedures are based on current COVID-19 safety information and are subject to change as new professional guidance becomes available. 


COVID-19 Vaccine:  If eligible, we strongly encourage staff, volunteers, campers, and family members to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Ideally, wait two weeks after completing the final vaccination for COVID-19 before traveling to camp.


Face Masks:  CDC and state guidance is changing rapidly on the topic of wearing face masks at camp. Based on current safety information, the following protocols are in place this summer and are subject to change.  Campers (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will not need to wear masks within their assigned pod/cohort group. Campers will be asked to wear masks only in high density/mixing settings including indoor mealtimes and when gathering with other pods.  Vaccinated staff and volunteers will be asked to wear masks only in high density/mixing settings including indoor mealtimes.  Unvaccinated staff and volunteers will be asked to wear masks when meeting indoors with all camper groups, especially in common high density/mixing spaces including indoor mealtimes and worship spaces, and outdoors when 6’ of physical distance is not possible.

While camp is in session, other situations may occur when face masks are requested to be worn.  We require the use of well-fitted masks that cover the nose and mouth to be worn correctly and for the duration of high density/mixing situations.  We ask that campers, staff, and volunteers bring least one new mask for each day of camp.


Screening:  Camp staff will work to thoroughly monitor the health of campers, staff, and volunteers to maintain the safest possible environment at camp. Campers with pre-existing conditions are strongly discouraged from attending camp this summer.  Campers will receive an emailed link to complete a “Healthy Camper” survey one month before the start of camp.  It is important that all campers complete this survey as soon as possible. In addition, campers will receive a follow-up email with a reminder to be intentional about limiting exposure (for unvaccinated campers and volunteers only) for the 14 days prior to the start of camp.  It is essential that campers arrive healthy to camp.  In addition to our standard camper health check in, when you arrive at camp trained staff will verify pre-camp self-assessment information and conduct a temperature check using no-contact thermometers Campers who register a temperature of 100.2 or over or present with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to attend camp.  If a camper is unable to attend camp for these reasons, they have the option to attend a later session at any one of our conference camps or to receive a full refund per our refund polices for illness.  Throughout the duration of camp, daily health checks will be completed for all campers, volunteers, and staff.


Cohort Camping: For summer 2021, we will limit our group sizes by having all campers in cohorts or “pods” containing a maximum of 8-12 campers and staff. Placing campers in pods, with limited interaction with other pods, greatly reduces the possibility of sharing/spreading COVID-19.  Group sizes may differ for family camps and Grandparents camps.


Hand Washing and Sanitation: Handwashing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers are located in common areas all around our sites. Our staff will encourage campers to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. 


Physical Distancing: Physical distancing means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household, or at camp – your “pod”. It provides protection by reducing risk of exposure and limiting the number of close contacts when someone is infected with COVID-19.  Camp staff will direct campers to practice physical distancing as recommended by state and federal guidelines.  We’ve also modified common indoor spaces to allow for greater distance between campers.  Adjustments have been made to programming activities/areas including waterfront, climbing activities, archery, fishing, crafts, games, worship, etc. to maximize distance between campers.  


Keeping it Clean:  Our staff take great care to ensure our facilities and camper spaces are cleaned and sanitized daily.  Extra time and attention will be paid to increased sanitization of “high touch” surfaces as per CDC guidance.  


Spending Time Outside:  Whenever possible, campers will spend time outside including camper check-in, mealtimes, Bible studies, games, and worship.


Food Service Modifications: We are taking steps to eliminate exposure to our staff, volunteers, and campers by adjusting our food service practices. All food service staff will use personal protective equipment and will follow strict sanitary procedures to ensure our foodservice is safe. Face masks must be worn by everyone until they are seated and actively eating. Campers will always eat with their pod group and outdoors whenever possible.


Housing:  We have reduced the capacity of each cabin and campers will be arranged head to foot to allow for maximum distance when sleeping. We’ve also increased cabin ventilation, where possible, to allow for additional exchange of fresh air. 


Limiting Exposure: We will be limiting the number of staff, visitors, and vendors on our properties when camp is in session to help limit exposure to illness.


Traveling to camp:  We recommend that campers travel to camp with one member of their immediate household only.  If group travel is necessary, we recommend that all campers be screened prior to travel.   


When we would send a camper home:  If your child has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 while attending camp, or a member of their pod presents symptoms while at camp, campers and pods will be isolated, parents/guardians will be contacted immediately, and the whole pod may be sent home.  A full refund will be given in the event campers are sent home to due to possible COVID-19 exposure. 


Guidance: Our camps work closely with local and state health officials, and follow the Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance.  This guide was developed for the American Camp Association by Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) to offer guidance and assist camps regarding current practice considerations in addressing COVID-19. The Field Guide is a living document and will be updated as new information becomes available. 


Before Camp:

  1. Testing your camper for COVID-19 prior to arrival at camp is not currently required of all campers but may be necessary based on some circumstances.
  2. Campers are required to complete the “Healthy Camper” online survey no less than 3 weeks before the start of camp.
  3. We ask that all campers and volunteers intentionally limit possible exposure (for unvaccinated campers and volunteers only) for 14 days prior to camp.  Please create a plan to intentionally limit exposure outside of your household, avoid social gatherings, wash/sanitize your hands frequently, and always wear a face mask when in public for the 14 days before you arrive at camp.
  4. If your camper is showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days, they must stay home. Please contact the camping office for alternate dates or a refund.  If your camper must cancel at the last minute due to health concerns, please contact the camp directly.
  5. Please arrive at camp healthy, symptom free, well rested, hydrated, and excited to start you camp adventure. 


Check in:

  • All campers will be screened for COVID-19 at camp check-in via the following: a temperature check, brief interview about possible exposure and health history, and confirmation of 14-day preparation.
  • Detailed information about check-in procedures will be included in your two-week reminder prior to your arrival at camp.  Please note, parents will not be permitted to help campers move into cabins.


During Camp:

  • Mask Up – Wearing face masks in high density/mixing settings, including indoor mealtimes, reduces the transfer of COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible.
  • Stay in pods – campers will participate in nearly every aspect of camp in their pod, an important and effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Spread out and get outside – Our camps are blessed with beautiful outdoor space. We’ll be outside and with pods spaced apart as much as possible during camp.
  • Wash/Sanitize Your Hands – We have handwashing stations with soap, water, and plenty of hand sanitizer all around camp. Frequent handwashing/sanitizing is an extremely effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • At all times, a designated health care manager will be present when campers are on site.


After Camp:

  • In the event a camper, volunteer, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 within 10 days following camp, we will notify all those potentially exposed and actively participate in health department contact tracing.
  • We ask that all families agree to notify us of any COVID-19 positive diagnosis of their camper or immediate family members in the 10 days following their camp experience so that we can notify our other campers’ families.


If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us at, 855-622-1973 and/or check the COVID-19 FAQs For Summer 2021 section of our COVID-19 webpage.