Putting The Cart Before The Horse:Navigating COVID in 2021

Sallie Ransom

Well, here we are…2021. While the date stamp says January, all of us are already working overtime to determine the best and safest way to deliver our summer programs (again for some) in a COVID world. The good news is that we have been living in this world for the past 11 months and have more options and resources at our fingertips compared to where we were in the spring of 2020. The challenging part, a least for us, is figuring out how to make a plan without knowing state guidelines, vaccine plans, etc.

Enter…the Cart and Horse. 

Last summer and into the fall/winter seasons, our camps ran modified programs. Even with this slight advantage of “been here before”, we are still trying to navigate the most effective way to move forward. Here is our current thinking: 

Lean On Resources

One of the greatest bright spots during this pandemic is how our camp community has come together more as colleagues than competitors to share best practices and plans. These are some of the resources we are relying on to help us make decisions:

  • NCDHHS Guidelines for Overnight Camps (11/23/20 latest version)
  • ACA Updated Field Guide (now details on testing, managing exposures, etc.)
  • Our Camp Doctors and Nurses (we’ve created a task force to help us determine the best plan for screening, isolation and testing)
  • Schools and Universities (learnings primarily around staffing time-off plans)
  • NCYCA and ACA webinars (proven platforms to help guide decision making)

 Our Cart

We have created a planning team that meets weekly to develop various scenarios related to staffing, program/cohorting, and dining. For each of these, we are using three filters: most restrictive, less restrictive and least restrictive. Here are some examples: Bed CapacitiesMost restrictive = 50%Less restrictive = 75%Least restrictive = 100%


Most restrictive = cabin pack outs

Less restrictive = buffet styleLeast restrictive = family style

Staff Time-off

Most restrictive = onsite only

Less restrictive = combination onsite and limited offsite (onsite fun options)

Least restrictive = offsite in cohorts as much as possible It is exciting to think about this coming summer and reuniting with our camp families.

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted positive enrollment numbers around the country so far validating parent’s interest in overnight camping for the upcoming summer. Fingers crossed. https://www.wsj.com/articles/despite-covid-19-outbreak-risks-summer-camps-are-filling-up-quickly-11610470954 

Please leverage every last resource to help with planning for this summer. It will be here before we know it, and what an amazing summer it will be.  

Sallie Ransom

VP of Camping ServicesYMCA of the Triangle – Sea Gull, Seafarer and Kanata

Adam Boyd
Adam Boyd
Summer camp has been a way of life for Adam Boyd. His father, Spencer Boyd, opened his first camp in 1954 and after graduating from Wofford College, and later earning a M.Div. and D.Min. from Reformed Theological Seminary, Adam returned to camp where he served for ten years as the Timberlake Director. In the fall of 2001 Adam began directing Merri-Mac also. Adam and his wife Ann (who he met at summer camp) are committed to sharing summers of fun and growth with camp age children. They have two sons who are Timberlake campers and a daughter who is a counselor at Merri-Mac.