For ages 6-12 years old:
Camp Update – 4/13/2021
Hello, parents and campers! Things are gearing up for day camp, and early registration begins next week. You are eligible to register early if you’ve participated in day camp or Adventure Club summer programs in the past. In addition, a family friend or relative may register early for the same weeks as your camper(s); they just need to give your name to Raul when they call. The most COVID-safe recommendation is still to stay in “Camper Cohorts” of smaller groups, and we want to help our campers be with familiar faces.
At the time I’m writing this, I’ve planned most of our field trips and organized a general weekly schedule. Some things will be the same and some will be different, but our focus will remain: to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to learn, explore, and develop skills for life. This summer will also be an important one for our campers to relax, refresh, and socialize, and we’ve built time into the schedule for that.
Right now, here’s how we think it will look: campers will be in cohorts of 15 for each week, with two counselors and two junior counselors. Groups will have some freedom to choose activities, but campers will need to stay with their group. We will have special interest groups and lots of activities led by counselors; water field trips on Wednesdays; theme parties Thursday afternoons; and field trips on Fridays. Wednesday and Friday field trips are *mostly* to places where we will be the only group or where attendance is limited, or outdoors and socially distanced. We have our plans in place for rainy days and spaces separated for storing backpacks, gathering in the morning, and eating lunch.
Something a little different this year is that I want to try to be as digital as possible with our paperwork. Please ensure that we have a current email address with your registration! I will be sending permission slips, handbooks, and updates via email. I’m also looking at options for check-in and check-out that you can scan and use on your phone.
Our staff is hired! We welcome back Irene Knarr and Jenna Winterton from previous summers and are happy they’re returning. You may know Ariele Palmer, Colyn DeWitt, and Levi Schamper from their summers volunteering with us as Junior Counselors. We have some new faces, too–Katelyn Ackland and Madison Gunderson. I am super excited about this crew! If you haven’t heard, Colleen has retired and will be spending her summer kayaking, hiking, and camping in an RV. We’ll miss her!
As always, if you have questions for me, feel free to call or email.
815-234-8535 ext. 232
Camp Update – 3/22/21
It sounds like Illinois is moving forward! For now, day care and camps can be open at higher capacity as long as we follow health care guidance. In regards to our summer day camp, I will plan for the best, hoping that our metrics for vaccinations and positivity rate meet Phase 5 requirements before June. Regardless, I am currently working on scheduling field trips and planning weekly and daily activities. Yes, field trips! State guidance about field trips is still a little vague, but the Byron Bus Garage has confirmed that we can use their busses this summer. In the interest of planning on the safe side, many of our field trips will be to locations where we will be the only group at the facility, such as Plum Hollow and White Pines Skating. Pools had previously also allowed only one rental group at a time, and that may or may not be the case this summer. We will skip most of the typically crowded destinations, with the exception of a few venues who have spoken with us about how they are safely handling groups (including Santa’s Village, yay).
A “normal” summer of camp runs with:
Full capacity of 45 campers per week, 6-7 counselors, and 5-6 junior counselors/week.
Field trips twice a week.
Indoor and outdoor activities.
Mixed groups of campers throughout the week.
If we are in Phase 5, the above will probably still be true *but* we may need to keep campers in the same group throughout the week and may need to limit indoor activities. If we are still in the “bridge” phase for part of the summer, we will definitely be in small groups with limited indoor activities.
However, all of this allows us a chance to reboot and rethink our camp schedule. There are ways to adapt to meet the CDC and state requirements while keeping aspects of camp that the kids love. We will do more things in small groups no matter which Phase we’re in, which means that campers and counselors will have more flexibility with choosing activities. Groups will have a little more independence. There will be some “home bases” set up and spread out rather than crowding into the shelter for instructions and meals. We think these changes and adaptations will be a positive thing and will encourage us to grow and try new things!
Our plan is still to start sign-ups on April 19th for previous camp families and referrals, and open registration for new families on May 3rd.
I’ve heard from some of you asking about junior counselors. The state guidance seems to be leaning toward larger groups, which is a great sign! If you have a teen 13-15 who wants to volunteer and I haven’t heard from you, please email me or stop in (email@example.com). I will have more information on our counselor week (June 1-4) soon.
Hope you are able to get out and enjoy the spring weather! More updates soon.
Day Camp Director
Camp Update – 2/2/21
Hello camper families!
I wanted to let you know that we have every intention of running summer camp this year. It might not look quite the same, but we are working hard to return to as close to normal as we can. Every child deserves summer camp!
It’s early February, and I’ve been reading our Phase Four guidelines. We expect things to change before summer, of course, but right now, we are allowed to have a few groups of ten indoors. We can make that work. We should stay in separate groups outdoors through the week with the same counselors and kids. We can make that work. We don’t have access to busses and are advised against field trips. We can make that work, too! But things will certainly change before June.
Kids need time to be outdoors, to play, to learn new skills, and to develop friendships in a safe environment. We need moments of complete craziness as we race and run, and we need time to reflect and find peace. We want to try new things and have a familiar routine. We need people to care about us, listen to us, and respect us. That is what camp is about; that’s the important stuff. We can do that in small groups, we can do that wearing masks, we can even do that without field trips. It’s a challenge we embrace!
We will offer ten weeks of summer day camp starting June 7th.
Registration for previous camp families and referrals (**see below) starts April 19th with open enrollment of starting May 3rd.
Camp will run M-F 9 am to 4 pm with early and late latchkeys available at 7 am and until 6 pm.
We will follow all federal and state guidelines for Covid-19 to have a safe summer.
We will update here monthly (or more often!) to keep you informed of our plans.
**We don’t know what our total group size can be or if groups can intermingle. We will be allowing previous camper families to sign up for camp first. Returning families may also refer one NEW family to register early. This way, we can ensure that campers have a comfortable group of friends with them regardless of how we need to separate through the week.
Ideally, our junior counselors program will be a little different this year. We hope that the total group size allowed will be big enough to include volunteers. If so, the first week of June (1st -4th) will be counselor week! That includes both our paid seasonal counselors and volunteer junior counselors. We plan on running training that week, getting camp ready, planning activities, and also visiting some swimming destinations for water safety training. Time will be set aside for more social activities, which will continue through the summer! We hope that Covid guidelines will allow JCs both to help with camper groups and be their own group through the week. That would mean less pressure and “time on” and a little more time to just hang out. However, if we are only allowed to run—or have field trips—based on a total number of people, please understand that we must fill those spaces with campers first.
Field trips??? We’re trying. We’ve been in contact with the Byron bus garage and we are in the process of figuring things out. Current guidelines tell us no trips outside of camp, but we will still plan for that to change for the better.
An overnight camp out may or may not happen. But we will certainly try!
I will keep you updated on decisions and changes as they happen. I’m looking forward to day camp so much! Stay safe and enjoy the snow!
Day Camp Director
For Summer Preschool Programs (ages 3-5 years old), click this link: https://www.byronforestpreserve.com/programs/preschool/