Friendly Pines Camp

Camp & COVID-19

Last updated: Saturday, May 30th at 10:45AM

Below are FAQs and information regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting Friendly Pines Camp’s summer programs. 

On Thursday, May 28th, we made the difficult decision to cancel Session 1, Pioneer A and B, and the CILT session. Please read the email sent to those families below: 

Dear Camp Families,

Now that most people have had 48 hours to investigate their testing options, below are the road blocks that the majority have encountered.

  1. Doctors/Pediatricians don’t do testing in office
  2. Children under 18 aren’t tested if they are not presenting with symptoms or have been exposed.
  3. No one gets tested unless they have reason to be tested, and going to summer camp is not a reason.
  4. Results are 7-10 days out. (An increase of the 3-5 day estimate we were getting two weeks ago.)
  5. Testing can be found, but because the child has no symptoms insurance won’t cover it, and the cost could be as high as $500.

Some have managed to find testing through dogged persistence. Or luck. Or both. Most have not. 

We clearly have misjudged how available testing is to young people. It is not available in any convenient reliable fashion at this time. We were hoping ASU might be able to offer a solution, but the COO of the lab told us that they were initially making the tests available for front line workers, and though they intended to expand their reach over time, the leap to healthy children was going to bypass a large population of essential workers. They were very professional with us, and we are grateful for the time they dedicated to our cause.

From our conversations, we are envisioning a situation over the next 10 days where

  1. A significant number of the campers arriving on June 7 can’t get tested
  2. A significant number of the campers who do get tested won’t get results before June 7.
  3. Parent frustration will be high. Many parents will feel responsible/guilty if they can’t get the testing or get it in time.
  4. Our staff will be trying to put out the brush fires of panic and frustration and will not be able to focus on the business of camp.

As we have stated several times, Friendly Pines Camp will be disciplined in its adherence to two objectives:

  1. That we can provide the safest possible environment for campers, staff, and families.
  2. Friendly Pines Camp will still possess the qualities that make it a unique and invaluable childhood experience. Camp will be Camp!

Without testing and the isolation that follows, we don’t feel that we can claim with any level of confidence that we have done everything we can do to protect the health of everyone on our grounds. The idea of inviting families to join us for summer camp and then fail in our charge to keep them safe, haunts us. We are already on the “high risk” end of the CDC guidelines for communal living – and the testing would only provide an added level of assurance.  

Bottom Line: We don’t feel at this time that we can responsibly get everything in place to provide the kind of safe and relevant experience that we are obliged to provide. Session One, Pioneer A, Pioneer B, and CILT program, therefore, will be cancelled for 2020.

Having talked to so many parents and campers, we are fully aware of just how crushing this news is. Summer Camp is for many the only thing boys and girls had to look forward to. The three months locked up in the house was only made bearable by the hope that camp would happen.  The mission of Friendly Pines Camp is more critical this summer than it ever has been in the camp’s 80 year history. It is heartbreaking to not be able to play that role in children’s lives, but the weight of these uncertain times is crushing, and we don’t feel we can responsibly do all that our campers and families deserve. This decision is the result of long and labored deliberation, tears, and sleepless nights. We know it has been no less challenging for our families.

Friendly Pines Camp will be forever grateful for the parents who stuck with us. Your encouragement and willingness to go the extra mile is humbling. We only regret having dragged this out so long. We have given you hope and then a few days later snatched it away.  We pray you can forgive us.

We tried as hard as we could. We could not prevail against the circumstances. We are sorry.

We will be sending another email shortly addressing refunds. We will include other summer options for your family. We are dreaming up ways to make the most of this. We wanted you to digest this information first.

Kevin and Megan

As of right now, our first campers are set to arrive on June 21st. 

*IMPORTANT*: We have rescheduled our Adventure Camp to July 19-25, and cancelled Session 1, Pioneer A/B, and CILTs. Otherwise, all camps are operating the same, during the same dates as originally advertised. 

Our staff will take all appropriate best-practice precautions for safety and hygiene when the stay-at-home order is lifted. Our President, Dr. Christopher May, will be consulting with physician colleagues who are specialists in infectious disease and pediatrics to fine-tune the procedures by which the children will be screened for illness before camp and kept healthy while they are here.

We are maintaining communication between our local and state health departments. We are also utilizing resources from the CDC and websites like this one which provide useful predictions and information to help us plan for the effect of the virus in Arizona for the weeks to come. 

The following documents were sent to our registered camp families on Monday, May 25th. Please click the link to read in detail how we plan to handle things this summer.

Our 2020 Mitigation Plan

FPC & COVID19: Our Plan

The following letter was sent to our stil-enrolled camp families for Sessions 2, 3, Explorer A, Explorer B, Trailseeker A, Trailseeker B, New Adventure Camp, 4-Day Half Sessions, and CIT sessions.

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

The problem we have run into with testing is availability, particularly for those under 18, and turn-around time. We are hoping that this changes in the short term. It may not.

We are asking you to start looking into testing NOW for your camper. Here are some details.

  1. It should be testing whether your child has the virus.
  2. Antibody tests will tell you if your child has the antibodies, which means that he or she has had coronavirus or may have it now.  We can assume if a child has the antibodies he or she is now immune. This assumption is debatable in some circles. There are some serious questions as to the validity of these tests. The viral tests, therefore, are our first choice. There may be some doctors or health professionals among our families who can shed some scientific light on antibody vs. viral test. (See Facebook group). For this test to be accepted, they must produce a positive test result, indicating they are positive for having the antibodies. If they produce a negative result, that will not be enough, and the camper will need to get a virus test to satisfy our testing requirement. 
  3. The test should be not much more than 10 days before camp. We would love it earlier, but under the current conditions that is now unrealistic. That means if you arrive on Sunday, June 21, the test should not be earlier than Thursday, June 11.
  4. Make sure the turn-around time on results will allow you to have results before coming to camp. The labs have been recently backed up with tests and the turn-around time seems to be getting longer and longer – which for us, is not a good thing.
  5. Do not pay hundreds of dollars for a test. If you’re running into this problem contact us and maybe we will have information that would be helpful. (See Facebook group)
  6. Please isolate your child as much as possible after the test to avoid exposure. Kind of defeats the point of proving they’re negative for COVID19, if they go out and hang out with a bunch of friends after the test and possibly get exposed.
  7. Let us know when you have scheduled a test. We need to keep a sort of running total of how many have been successful.
  8. We plan to make a decision about the fate of Session Two, Explorer A, Explorer B, CIT between June 7 and 9. It will be based on whether the testing system is robust enough to serve our needs, and whether or not we are able to hold on to staff.

Many parents have forwarded me information about where they have found testing. Friendly Pines Camp has created a Facebook group called “FPC 2020 COVID19 Info & Discussion”. This is a private group for Friendly Pines Camp families to share information about what they are finding. It will also help us monitor how the testing search is generally going. You can find the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fpc2020covidinfo/

Now, to answer some FAQs.

Why is Friendly Pines Camp requiring testing?

We get asked this question a fair amount, and to be honest our standard of requiring testing goes above and beyond what the CDC recommends. It is important to note that there are other areas in which we are below what the CDC recommends – i.e. keeping cabin groups together at all times and wearing masks – therefore Friendly Pines Camp falls into a higher risk category on the CDC charts.

Testing, despite all of its flaws, is one layer of protection that we feel is important before inviting hundreds of children and staff to live in a communal situation. Yes, we will do all of the temperature taking and monitoring, which will reveal potential illness after the fact of a symptomatic child – many of them are asymptomatic. We feel if testing helps us discover only one infected child before camp, it will help us prevent exposing scores of others at camp. If we don’t test, how would we know that there aren’t several infected children on the campgrounds living in the cabins and mingling with staff and other campers in activities? A reality of summer camp is that we cannot guarantee 6’ distancing all of the time.

But kids don’t really get sick from coronavirus.

That certainly seems to be true. But adults do get sick. We have 60 some adults on the staff, and it is Friendly Pines Camp’s job to protect everyone it invites on its grounds. Even from a practical standpoint, if half a dozen of our young, healthy staff get sick and can’t work for two-weeks, the camp will be crippled in terms of manpower, not to mention having eroded the staff’s trust that camp is a safe place to be. This is not like day care where everyone goes home at night. Our staff are on the grounds for the entire summer. 

And children, though maybe less susceptible to the effects of the virus, return home to adults. Even though families are making their own informed decisions about the risk (and signing waivers), Friendly Pines Camp doesn’t feel it can take your money and never consider how what it is selling may impact your family or the families with whom your children will come into contact. It has to be part of our calculus.

It is very possible that 6 months or a year from now, we will look back on this testing requirement and say to ourselves, “Wow, that was a total waste of time. We threatened the existence of Friendly Pines Camp on a bogus notion.” We may find out that children hardly ever get the disease. Or asymptomatic people don’t spread the disease. Or that by June of 2020 70% of the population had had the coronavirus, giving us a herd immunity. We are operating in a world of imperfect information. A world of competing voices. Maybe we are over-reacting, maybe we are under-reacting. Right now we are just trying to do what is best to protect the health and safety of those in our care. 

 

We appreciate your patience and understanding. Please let us know if we help or clarify anything else. 

 

Cordially,

Megan & Kevin

*Featured in order from newest to oldest*

May 28, 2020
Subject: Session One, Pioneer A, Pioneer B, and CILT

Dear Camp Families,

Now that most people have had 48 hours to investigate their testing options, below are the road blocks that the majority have encountered.

Doctors/Pediatricians don’t do testing in office
Children under 18 aren’t tested if they are not presenting with symptoms or have been exposed.
No one gets tested unless they have reason to be tested, and going to summer camp is not a reason.
Results are 7-10 days out. (An increase of the 3-5 day estimate we were getting two weeks ago.)
Testing can be found, but because the child has no symptoms insurance won’t cover it, and the cost could be as high as $500.

Some have managed to find testing through dogged persistence. Or luck. Or both. Most have not. 

We clearly have misjudged how available testing is to young people. It is not available in any convenient reliable fashion at this time. We were hoping ASU might be able to offer a solution, but the COO of the lab told us that they were initially making the tests available for front line workers, and though they intended to expand their reach over time, the leap to healthy children was going to bypass a large population of essential workers. They were very professional with us, and we are grateful for the time they dedicated to our cause.

From our conversations, we are envisioning a situation over the next 10 days where

A significant number of the campers arriving on June 7 can’t get tested
A significant number of the campers who do get tested won’t get results before June 7.
Parent frustration will be high. Many parents will feel responsible/guilty if they can’t get the testing or get it in time.
Our staff will be trying to put out the brush fires of panic and frustration and will not be able to focus on the business of camp.

As we have stated several times, Friendly Pines Camp will be disciplined in its adherence to two objectives:

That we can provide the safest possible environment for campers, staff, and families.
Friendly Pines Camp will still possess the qualities that make it a unique and invaluable childhood experience. Camp will be Camp!

Without testing and the isolation that follows, we don’t feel that we can claim with any level of confidence that we have done everything we can do to protect the health of everyone on our grounds. The idea of inviting families to join us for summer camp and then fail in our charge to keep them safe, haunts us. We are already on the “high risk” end of the CDC guidelines for communal living – and the testing would only provide an added level of assurance.  

Bottom Line: We don’t feel at this time that we can responsibly get everything in place to provide the kind of safe and relevant experience that we are obliged to provide. Session One, Pioneer A, Pioneer B, and CILT program, therefore, will be cancelled for 2020.

Having talked to so many parents and campers, we are fully aware of just how crushing this news is. Summer Camp is for many the only thing boys and girls had to look forward to. The three months locked up in the house was only made bearable by the hope that camp would happen.  The mission of Friendly Pines Camp is more critical this summer than it ever has been in the camp’s 80 year history. It is heartbreaking to not be able to play that role in children’s lives, but the weight of these uncertain times is crushing, and we don’t feel we can responsibly do all that our campers and families deserve. This decision is the result of long and labored deliberation, tears, and sleepless nights. We know it has been no less challenging for our families.

Friendly Pines Camp will be forever grateful for the parents who stuck with us. Your encouragement and willingness to go the extra mile is humbling. We only regret having dragged this out so long. We have given you hope and then a few days later snatched it away.  We pray you can forgive us.

We tried as hard as we could. We could not prevail against the circumstances. We are sorry.

We will be sending another email shortly addressing refunds. We will include other summer options for your family. We are dreaming up ways to make the most of this. We wanted you to digest this information first.

Kevin and Megan

May 8, 2020
Subject: More Thoughts On Summer – May 8

Dear Camp Families,

Well here we are. It’s May 8. The temperature in Phoenix is over 100 F. And the cancellation deadline for camp is in three days. Anxiety levels are rising. Understandably, I have been fielding several calls from parents who are hoping for a little more clarity and direction as they prepare to make a decision over the weekend.

So, I will attempt to share all of the clarity we have and hope it offers direction.

As of today, we have not cancelled any sessions. We are still planning to run camp from Sunday, June 7 through Sunday, August 2.

Like you, however, we are compulsively monitoring and assessing the situation. We are trying to see the future through a looking glass that goes in and out of focus.

We are measuring what we can predict against two firm standards.

  1. We must offer a safe environment for campers, staff, and the families to which campers return.
  2. After we make the necessary adjustments for safety at camp, the experience must still be relevant. It must still feel like camp.

If, on any day between now and the start of camp, we feel we cannot meet these two critical standards, we will cancel the session, or possibly the season. We are not ready to make that decision today.

Many of the parents I speak to have said that the summer programs in their area have cancelled, and they wonder what Friendly Pines Camp knows that the school day camp doesn’t. We don’t have a crystal ball. And as much as I have searched for one on Amazon, crystal balls can’t be found – even if you have Prime. We are all working from the same menu of information. I might speculate and say that many of the school day camps and summer programs that have cancelled have a funding source like the school, the local Girl Scout council, the YMCA, or other foundations. Friendly Pines Camp doesn’t. Out of necessity, we need to be more “patient” than other programs.

I have to make a decision in three days. What if I don’t cancel, but later on camp is cancelled? If Friendly Pines Camp cancels camp because it is mandated by a government body or because we decide on our own that going forward would be the wrong thing to do, you will be refunded. Friendly Pines Camp is committed to making full refunds as promptly as is reasonable and possible.

What if I don’t cancel, but just before camp starts, I grow too uncomfortable with the whole situation and I cancel? At that point you would be risking the deposit you have paid and any other money we have taken if we end up running the session from which you cancelled. It is our plan right now to charge as little money as possible before your session begins. We anticipate these kinds of decisions and don’t want families to put lots of money at risk.

Can I cancel by May 10 and then re-enroll later? Yes, as long as there is space in the session you want. In fact, because these are unusual times, and we all need to make accommodations, we will honor any Early Bird discount that you had when you originally enrolled.

If I cancel, when will I get my refund? We will address that question in greater detail after May 10. As I have told many of you, after the official cancellation date, we are going to need a little time to survey the financial landscape and determine how we will best be able to make full refunds to our families.

As we move forward, we eagerly await hearing from Yavapai County Health Department, the Governor’s office and ADHS. We have a meeting set with them early next week. With the state’s official stay at home order expiring on May 15, we expect more information. We are also monitoring the CDC reports and information from other federal bodies. When the three phases of opening were first laid out, summer camps were mentioned in Phase 2.  

These are confusing times is probably the understatement of the year. It is so difficult to know what to do when you can’t even guess what next week will bring. Please know, that we will work with you, counsel you, advise you as best we can. Never hesitate to reach out.

I hope this gives you something to work with. I wish I could be more definitive, but I’m afraid an incomplete answer is fitting in an unpredictable world.

Be safe.

Kevin

P.S. This email was intended to go out to only those who are enrolled for the summer. If you have cancelled, and you got this letter, my apologies, but please email us and we’ll correct the error. 

April 27, 2020
Subject: Thoughts About Camp on April 27

Dear Camp Families,

We hope this letter finds you and your family well. I believe I am sending this to everyone who is registered for a session this summer. There are some in the cancelled Adventure Week, who may get this letter, because they are technically still registered as they decide what do for the summer. If it goes out to someone who has emailed us and requested to be cancelled, please let us know so that we can make our records accurate. 

As the cancellation deadline of May 10 approaches, we wanted to reach out and let you know our thoughts about summer. I have received a few phone calls to this effect, so I thought the time was right to present our thoughts (as of today) in writing. I know this letter is a little long, but I hope you will take the time to read it.

Most importantly, we ARE preparing for summer camp! We are still interviewing staff. Megan and Adam are busy transferring a lot of our staff development to an online format. Much of our training, Rope Course and Riding training in particular, must be done here at camp, but those things we can do online we are doing now.

We also are working on the grounds and physical plant (cabins and stuff) – painting the corrals, raking and trimming trees, putting a new finish on the log-sided cabins. We haven’t had any business since early March due to COVID 19, but we’ve managed to keep our staff on the payroll with modifications. They have been busy doing any other tasks that we can do without spending money on materials.

Our office staff has been processing enrollments. New enrollments are still coming in as people seek an island of normalcy for their kids in this sea of uncertainty. The staff is also checking incoming medical forms, and sending out handbooks and clothing lists via email. On the subject of medical forms, we know that a lot of you are not able to get in to see your doctor for a Physical Exam. Let’s revisit this in about a month. We will obviously have to make a few adjustments. But for now, please don’t worry. We’re aware of the challenges.

Our summer staff is scheduled to arrive around May 29, and we are making all the preparations we can to start our first session on June 7. As you may know, we have adjusted our season a bit. Below is what it looks like now.

Two Week Sessions

  • Session One: June 7-June 20
  • Session Two: June 21-July 4
  • Session Three: July 5 – July 18

One-Week Sessions*

  • Pioneer A: June 7-June 13
  • Pioneer B: June 14-June 20
  • Explorer A: June 21- June 27
  • Explorer B: June 28-July 4
  • Trailseeker A: July 5-July 11
  • Trailseeker B: July 12-July 18
  • NEW Adventure Camp: July 19-July 25

4-Day Half Session**

  • Half Session A: July 26-July 29
  • Half Session B: July 30-August 2

* All of our one-week camps are the same in content and programming. Even the NEW Adventure Camp will be structured the same as all of the other one-week camps. The different names just help us keep everything straight.

**Because this summer is something of a moving target, we may open up the 4-Day Half Sessions to campers who wish to stay a full week. So some of the campers will be in camp for 4 days, and other will be at camp for 8 days. This decision will be made after May 10. If you want to know more click here and then go to the topic “What’s The Difference Between Our Sessions” at the bottom of the page.

Navigating the unknown. One of the hardest things about living in a Coronavirus world is the day-to-day uncertainty. We would love for Friendly Pines Camp to be something families can count on and plan for. Everyone needs a week or two that feels normal – that feels like living again. But we also recognize that we have only so much control over tomorrow. 

Though May 10 is our cancellation deadline, Friendly Pines Camp will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic and how it might impact summer camp. The Arizona Governor is considering the date by which the state will begin the process of slowly opening up. The medical experts in the President’s Administration have talked about the three phases of opening up, and summer camps were cited as an element of Phase 2. But if we have all learned anything during this event, it is that everything changes every day.

As we make our decisions, Friendly Pines Camp will be guided by two principles.

  1. We must provide a safe environment for our campers, our staff, and our families. We will be guided by directives from the CDC (from whom new guidelines are expected in early May), from the federal government, from state and local government (We have already been visited by the county health department with information on cleaning cabins.) The American Camp Association is providing its members with all kinds of information regarding how to run activities, health centers, food service in this time of coronavirus. Friendly Pines Camp will not make up its own policies regarding these critical health and safety issues. We will rely on the science and the directives of experts.
  2. “The Friendly Pines Camp Experience” must be what campers and families have come to expect. Camp is not something that easily conforms to social distancing. We are in the people and human interaction industry. Half of our income goes to salaries. At camp we eat together at tables. We live together in cabins. We ride in vans. We dance. We sit together at the benches and sing songs. We push one another on swings. We strap on harnesses and clip-in on the zipline. We build forts. Summer Camp is about community and interacting, both of which rely on a degree of physical closeness. Yes, we can make some alterations that would spread us out a little more and wouldn’t detract from the camp experience in any significant way. We believe most families understand some modifications will be necessary. But if at the time that summer camp is scheduled to begin, the Health Department and other governmental bodies are still strongly encouraging vigilant distancing and discouraging normal camp interactions, we would not feel right having you send your kids to a program that, through necessity, has been drained of the very things that make summer camp valuable and memorable. It would feel irresponsible and dishonest for us to do so.

So, given this what are we thinking might happen? We don’t know. We are not trying to be coy or elusive. This is one of those times in life when certainty about anything is in high demand but short supply. Will we know exactly what will happen on May 10? No. We’ll know more, but experience has shown that there will be more to know. All we can do is pay attention and make responsible decisions.

Because of the uncertainty, we will NOT be taking any payments until after June 1. This includes those on a payment plan. We will get by until then. When we get closer to June 7, we will be contacting you and letting you know that we are ready to take payments.

If any of you wish to change to a different session, now is a good time to do it. There will be no additional fees. A simple email or a phone call will get the job done. We have plenty of space in Session Two and Session Three. A lot of the one-week camps have limited availability now, but we have lots of space in the NEW Adventure Camp. If you ask to change to a session that is full, we will put you on the waitlist, and then if we get cancellations by May 10 or beyond, we can move you into the opening slots. Please know that we will make every effort to get you in a session you feel comfortable with.

I know this letter is a bit of a mixed bag. The lack of decisiveness is merely a reflection of the uncertainty of our world. I hope, however, that it is helpful to you in your thinking.

Be safe. We miss you all.

Kevin Nissen

April 10, 2020
Subject: IMPORTANT: Status of Adventure Week (May 23-May 29)

Dear Adventure Camp Families,

Even though models suggest that the COVID 19 will have tailed off significantly by the mid to late-May in Arizona, provided we all continue to do our part, we have decided it would be best for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the confidence, comfort, and safety of our camp families, to reschedule Adventure Camp (May 23-May 29) to Sunday, July 19 through Saturday, July 25. At this time, we do not plan to offer the equivalent of Adventure Trails, though someone will be contacting those of you enrolled after May 10 to explore the possibilities of an Adventure Trails session later in the summer.

Despite the rescheduling of Adventure Camp, we are still planning on continuing with the rest of our summer schedule as planned.

We are consolidating our entire season into the 7 week period from June 7 through August 2, with the new one-week Adventure Camp session running from Sunday, July 19 through Saturday, July 25.

So where do you go from here?

  1. Every enrolled Adventure Camp and Adventure Trails camper may switch to any one-week session at no extra cost. In other words, if the session you are switching to is $1475, you will pay the $1045 rate. This includes the New Adventure Camp session.
  2. As stated earlier, we are not planning to replicate the Adventure Trails program, though someone will be contacting each Adventure Trails family to options that might satisfy your camper.
  3. You may cancel for the 2020 summer. Friendly Pines Camp is fully committed to making good on the money that you have paid, but in all honesty, we will need to hold off on the specifics of how that will happen until we have a clearer picture of our own financial capabilities and obligations, which will be after the cancellation date for all of our other programs of May 10. We appreciate your patience.

To make your decision, we ask that you log in to your account through our website. The link below will take you right to the log in page.

LINK TO LOG IN PAGE

Once you’ve logged in, click view details for the campers in the 2020 season. You will see a form on the right side of your page called Adventure Camp Decision. Open it up and make your selection from four choices.

  1. Transfer to the New Adventure Camp (July 19-25)
  2. Transfer to ANY other one-week session. You will select the new session within the form.
  3. Withdraw from the 2020 season.
  4. Wait to make a decision until May 10, 2020.

Note: If you withdraw, because we are effectively cancelling the session you originally applied for, we will not be withholding the $75 admin fee.

We are sorry about being the bearers of bad news. We all are ready for some good news.  But we are in this together, and it is together that we will get out of it. We realize that many of you are facing unplanned economic hardships. We encourage you to contact us, and let’s explore how we can help you send your campers to camp. Things will get better. The summer will come, and we will be ready for our 80th Season.

Feel free to email us your intentions at info@friendlypines.com. You can also call us at 928-445-2128.

The Staff at Friendly Pines Camp

 
March 28, 2020
Subject: Open House was Cancelled

Dear Camp Families,

Just in case you missed it, the scheduled Open House was cancelled. We realize you may have received a post card and newsletter saying otherwise, but those were sent out before the decision was made to cancel.

We are always available to give tour of camp and answer your questions. If that is something you’re interested in, schedule one with us when it is convenient for you.

Cordially,

Kevin Nissen, Co-Director

 
March 24, 2020
Subject: Let’s Give Ourselves Time: Cancellation Date Has Been Moved to May 10

Dear Camp Families,

We hope this letter finds you safe and healthy.

Because of today’s uncertainty and the coming of uncertainty of the next couple weeks, we are moving the cancellation date to May 10, 2020.

We will not be taking any payments from now until the May 10. The scheduled April 10 payments will be delayed for a month.

We also will not be taking any payments from those on the payment plan. If this move puts some of you in a bind, don’t worry, we will work out something on an individual basis.

It is our hope that this change in cancellation date will allow you to relax, take a breath, and have more time to survey the landscape.

We are still planning for summer camp at Friendly Pines Camp. If you have any questions, please call us at 928-445-2128 or email us at info@friendlypines.com.

A couple of other notes:
1. The March 28 Open House has been cancelled. You, however, can arrange a tour of
camp at any time. Call or email, or complete the Online Reservation Form.
2. The March 24 Round Up at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has been cancelled,
BUT you can join us for our Virtual Round Up scheduled for tonight (Tuesday, March 24) at 7 PM. Go to the Friendly Pines Camp Facebook page for details.

Cordially,

The Staff at Friendly Pines Camp

 
March 16, 2020
Subject: Friendly Pines & COVID-19

Dear Camp Families,

The owners and directors of Friendly Pines Camp would like to take a moment to touch base with all of our camp families in regard to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. This is one of the greatest challenges we have faced in our 80 years of providing “Fun with a Purpose” to the children of Arizona and the world, but we believe we are up to it.  

Our foremost obligation in this crisis is to the safety of our campers, staff, their families, and the rest of the community.  After that, our top priority will be as it has always been, to provide our campers with the most fun and personal growth they can possibly have during the summer break. We are taking steps that we hope will let us take your kids out of the house, into the fresh mountain air, in the safest, most secure, most isolated summer alternative to hanging out at the shopping mall or traveling to crowded tourist destinations during this difficult time.  Even though children thankfully seem to suffer few serious consequences of the infection, we hope that keeping them at camp and out of the community at large in the coming weeks will also help to protect their parents, grandparents, and other susceptible older relatives from exposure.

We have been closely monitoring the situation in consultation with the Yavapai County and Arizona State Health Departments, and utilizing the best available resources like the American Camp Association (ACA) and our insurance underwriters to gauge how the virus will affect summer camps. We think we have the answers to many of the questions you have about COVID-19 and how it will affect Friendly Pines Camp this summer, so let’s address some below:

“Will you be having Open House/Round-Up before camp?”

It was just announced within the last hour that there is a national recommendation for the next 15 days to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, even in people’s homes. Likewise, the CDC currently recommends holding off on unnecessary gatherings of 50 or more people through May 11th, well before our summer sessions begin, in the midst of the critical social distancing period. (You can read their advisory HERE). As a result, we will be canceling our final Round Up which was set for next Tuesday, March 24th; instead, we will be broadcasting the event via Facebook Live on our camp’s page, so you can watch and ask questions from home. We will set the live event to start streaming at 7PM MST on Tuesday, March 24th, and you can tune in on our Facebook page

We have canceled our Annual Open House, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 28th. We don’t think hosting such a large gathering right now would be appropriate or helpful in fighting the spread of this illness. However, the camp property will still be open for business, so you are more than welcome to still come up as a family and tour the camp with one of our directors. If you like, you can even book ahead and schedule a tour online! We will be practicing ‘social distancing’ guidelines, so show us your “jazz hands” instead of expecting a handshake when you get here. For safety, we will not conduct any tours after Friday, May 8th (two weeks before our first campers arrive). 

Of course, please stay home if you or anyone in your household is suffering flu-like symptoms or is under surveillance or quarantine for potential exposure.

“Will you be opening camp this summer?”

As of the writing of this email, we are planning to run our Summer Camp program as normal, beginning May 23rd with Adventure Week. However, it should be obvious that there may be changes in these plans that we cannot control, anytime between now and the beginning of camp in late May. We are optimistic that we will be over the emergency by that time, but it is possible that the county, state, or Federal authorities will prohibit groups events like summer camps from gathering for part or all of the summer, and of course we will comply. But if no such mandate is made, we will run as usual! 

“How will you keep our kids safe from this new illness?”

As you’re probably aware, summer camp is a close knit community, with children in near proximity to each other night and day. However, we are proud of our good health and safety record, attributable to the standards that we adhere to, both internally and as a part of our ACA accreditation. All good summer camps have always taken great care to develop and maintain medical practices to address a variety of communicable diseases, both common and rare, and Friendly Pines is no different. 

Some of the health care precautions, procedures and policies we are planning to ramp up for the coming summer include:

Before camp:

  • We now will require ALL campers to have their medical form filled out within 7 days or fewer prior to their camp session, and bring it with them to camp. We encourage you to make your doctor’s appointments NOW so you are not scrambling for a physical exam in the last few days.
  • The medical form will be updated so that the camper’s doctor and parents can confirm they have no flu-like symptoms, no reason to undergo quarantine or further testing, and are not known to have any exposure to a patient with COVID-19 or any other communicable disease within the incubation period prior to the appointment.
  • If your camper is coming to a session during the first part of the summer, then attending another session later in the summer, you must get another confirmation from your doctor that they are physically well and not under observation for exposure to an infected individual, again within 1 week before their second session.
  • We expect that by the time camp opens, supply restrictions will have eased, and we will work hard to lay in a fully sufficient stock of protective gear and EPA-approved products for sanitation.
  • Our staff will be trained about the early signs of sickness, both in campers and other staff members, and instructed about sanitary precautions and the use of protective gear.

At check-in:

  • One of our nurses will be taking temperatures and doing other health screening during camper drop-off at the start of each session. Any child that displays flu-like symptoms or is otherwise felt to be at risk will unfortunately not be able to attend camp until written clearance is received from a physician. A tuition credit for a future session will be issued in this situation.
  • We strongly encourage campers to take the bus to/from camp, so we can screen them away from our facilities and limit the number of visitors. If parents bring the child to camp, they must leave immediately, with no visiting the cabins or other facilities.

During the session:

  • During the summer session we will be locked down and closed to all visitors, other than essential services like food deliveries, and will require our vendors and suppliers to take appropriate precautionary steps with their own employees and practices.
  • We will boost the number of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer pumps available around camp, and educate our counselors and campers about the importance of hand washing and sanitizing cabins and communal areas. We will be especially diligent about cleanliness in the dining lodge, bathrooms, and activity areas. 
  • Mandatory time-outs for hand-washing with soap and water will be scheduled throughout the day.
  • Kitchen staff will be carefully instructed on the necessary precautions. We are proud to be the winners of multiple “Golden Plate” awards from the Yavapai County Health Department. The Golden Plate award is a welcomed recognition of our food safety excellence. To earn the award, the following must be met:
    • Operate throughout the entire calendar year without a cited food handling violation.
    • Have an approved and implemented food safety plan.
    • Have a person-in-charge with an accepted and current manager-level food safety certificate throughout the year.
  • Our staff will be instructed to limit their day-off activities to essential shopping and uncrowded outdoor activities only. Even if large concerts and sporting events are again allowed by then, we will ask the staff to forgo attending them.

At all times:

  • We will be keeping up to date with State and Federal guidelines and health and wellness resources, and continue with frequent, transparent communication with our camp families.
  • For further reading, we would like to direct you to the ACA’s page on all things Coronavirus, which has been a great resource for Friendly Pines for the last few weeks. You can access the page HERE.

“What about cancelling our summer camp registration? What if the camp is required to close?”

We have decided to modify our cancellation and final payment policies in the hopes of encouraging camp families to go with the ‘wait and see’ approach for summer. 

  • April 10th will still be the cut-off date for cancellations. However, we have decided to not take the full, final payment on this date, like we normally do. Instead, 50% of your final payment will be due on April 10th, with the remaining amount due on May 20th. 
  • If you cancel before April 10th, you can do so without losing any money, minus a $75 admin fee. 
  • If you cancel between April 10th and May 20th, you will lose 50% of your final payment (which includes your original deposit)
  • If you cancel after May 20th, but camp stays open, you will lose 100% of your payment, just as in any other year.
  • Those of you enrolled in a payment plan will just continue the original payment schedule.
  • Instead of cancelling and losing your deposit and payments, you may move your child’s enrollment to a later session in 2020, assuming camp is allowed to stay open and there is space. We still have availability in our late June and July sessions. Please let us know if this option interests you ASAP, as those sessions may fill.
  • In the unfortunate event that we are mandated by the US, State, or local government to close operations during the summer session, we will provide a transferable tuition credit to all affected families on a future session once the situation has passed. You can use this later in the summer of 2020, if there is still space available and camp is allowed to reopen, or you can use it in 2021.

Again, the health and well-being of our campers, families, and employees is our first and foremost priority. We will do everything in our power to run a summer program that’s safe, healthy, fun, and equally up to the high standard Friendly Pines has established for the past 79 years. We understand that there is a lot of fear and uncertainty during this time, so we are here to talk and answer any questions regarding COVID-19 or any other health and safety issues. 

Our greatest hope is that the measures everyone takes in March and April will slow down the spread of the virus, and come May, things will be under control and returning to normal. We promise to remain diligent in our communication with our camp families. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at info@friendlypines.com, or call us at (928) 445-2128

Cordially,

Christopher May, M.D.  |  President, Friendly Pines Camp, Inc. 

Bebe May  |  Owner & Sr. Director

Megan May  |  Co-Director

Kevin Nissen  |  Co-Directo

Our cancellation date has been moved to May 10, 2020. 

We will not be taking any payments until June 3 for our first sessions. After that, we will process final payments in the final week before each session starts. 

It is our hope that this change in cancellation date will allow you to relax, take a breath, and have more time to survey the landscape.

If you are not comfortable with waiting, please send us an email to info@friendlypines.com, and we will take care of changing your registration status. We will be contacting our families about how refunds (less a $75 admin fee) will be processed after the May 10 cancellation date. We will need that time to get a complete view of our financial capabilities and our financial obligations to our camp families. We appreciate your patience. Please know that we are completely committed to making our families whole.