Pre-Camp COVID Testing
ALL CAMPERS ARE REQUIRED
TO PRESENT NEGATIVE RESULTS FROM A PCR TEST
BEFORE ARRIVAL AT CAMP!
We strongly recommend you upload results before you leave for camp!
You can bring them with you on the day, but uploading ahead of time will let us catch any problems early!
You can upload PCR test results by clicking on the yellow button below (Please do not email results).
- We will only accept PCR tests
- We will NOT accept Antigen or Antibody tests
- Tests should be scheduled at least FOUR days, but not more than SEVEN days, before arrival
- Campers will not be permitted to stay until PCR test results are received
- Upload results before leaving for camp through our website by clicking the yellow button on this page
- You can get a test through your family doc, your local pharmacy, or purchase the at-home test kit (see button at left); the choice is yours, so long as it is a PCR test
- We are finding that MOST rapid tests are NOT PCR tests. Double check you’re getting the right kind of test!!
- Campers should ISOLATE at HOME after testing until arrival at camp; i.e. no trips, parties, hanging out with friends. The goal is to come into camp COVID FREE!
- Vaccinated campers: campers who are TWO WEEKS PAST receiving their second COVID vaccine dose do not need to get a PCR test before arriving at camp. They must however submit proof of vaccination (COVID vaccines are not required to attend camp!)
5/11/21 UPDATE: Recent developments show that many campers may now be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. We are by no means requiring campers to be vaccinated in order to attend camp this summer. However, fully vaccinated campers will not have to get a PCR test done pre-arrival. We consider campers and staff “fully” vaccinated once they are 2 weeks past receiving their second dose (or first dose, if they get the Johnson & Johnson jab). If they come to camp with only one dose, just a couple days after getting their second dose, or not vaccinated at all, your camper will still need to get a PCR test no more than 7 days before (but at least 3 days before) arriving at camp and isolate at home until arrival. Vaccinated campers will need to provide proof (email firstname.lastname@example.org with a picture of their vaccine card) of vaccine status.
2021 Camp + COVID Discussion, Part 1
TOPIC: TESTING CAMPERS AND STAFF
This is one in a series of emails that we will be sending out this month to detail our policy, procedures, thoughts, and general ruminations on specific COVID-related topics summer 2021. These are an effort to inform our camp families and staff of our pending policies and to avoid surprises when camp starts. These March emails, admittedly, are also information that you can use to make a decision whether or not camp will be a good fit for your family in 2021.
Please bear in mind, the policies we espouse today are based on the notion that we are opening camp TOMORROW. The policies deal with the world as we understand it now, rather than trying to predict the state of affairs two and three months from now. Surely, none of us believes that there won’t be some changes in the impact of COVID come late May, and we, naturally, will closely monitor the public health situation, pay close attention to local and national public health authorities, and make changes to our policies when we can. We will ALWAYS make decisions that keep camper, staff, and family health paramount, including not only physical health, but also the mental and social health of all concerned. It is quite a balancing act, but we are up to the task.
We are like each one of you. We are sick, tired, and frustrated at having been held captive by this virus for more than a year. We achingly long for the day that coronavirus is a great big “nothing-burger” (to employ medical terminology), and, yes, there are times when we want to throw our hands up and declare, “I’m done with it! I’m not playing at this any more! I quit!” The reality is that Friendly Pines Camp does not have that luxury. By accepting your tuition, we are not only promising to do all in our power to create a fun, meaningful, and memorable experience for each and every camper, but we are also promising to be responsible custodians of your family’s health as well as those under our employ.
Does my child need to be tested before coming to camp? Short answer, Yes.
Here is the longer answer. Our objective is to create an environment as free of infection as is possible. To meet this end, campers will be asked to get tested before arriving to camp. We are advised that the best practice would be for the test to be administered 4 days before the child arrives at camp. Please ensure that you will get the results back before the arrival date. We also ask that after getting tested, the camper will stick close to home except for truly necessary interactions such as medical appointments. (See how we avoided the Q-word, but you saw through it didn’t you?)
Each camper will be asked to come to camp with a negative test result in hand. If a camper has already recovered from a Covid-19 infection and can get a serology test before camp that shows the presence of antibodies, this will also be acceptable. Again, written proof will need to be presented at camp on the day the camper arrives. We will also be screening for fever and other symptoms on Arrival Day and every day thereafter.
At present, there is an ongoing “testing blitz” in Arizona that is being spearheaded by the Governor’s Office and Arizona Department of Health Services in cooperation with Embry Women’s Health. They now have 70+ drive-through testing stations around the state, and the turnaround time is 24-48 hours. The tests are free of charge and are available to minors if their parents give consent. We do not know if this program will still be functional when it is time for camp, but if so, it is likely to be the best option for Arizona residents. More information can be found at this site:
If your child gets tested elsewhere, or if the program is discontinued, families will be expected to bear the cost of these tests if it is not covered by your insurance. We are hopeful that living in a congregate setting will be reason enough for insurance companies to cover the costs, but it may vary from insurer to insurer. You may want to start exploring this now.
Will my child get tested at camp? Short answer, Not Likely.
Here is the longer answer. If your child is presenting symptoms, the med staff may call you and ask you if you want the camp to secure a COVID test for your camper. If you would rather your camper is not tested, you may need to pick him or her up.
(You will notice that we use the rather wishy-washy “may”. The reason for this is that we have not formalized certain actions into firm policy. The above is one of them. We will have a meeting in late March with our medical team, during which time questions like “what to do with a child presenting with symptoms” will need to be addressed with specificity. We are also in frequent contact with the Yavapai County Health Department, whose guidance has been especially helpful and encouraging. Come early April, the “may be” will give way to a “will be” if so decided.)
If your child is here for only a week, he or she will most certainly not be tested for prophylactic reasons . For campers here for two weeks or more, we don’t think that we will have them tested mid way through their stay; however, this is not yet a firm decision. On the one hand, we feel having all campers enter without infection, and then keeping them in their cohort groups or pods, will reduce spread as much as possible. Secondly, the logistics and cost of testing are problematic. From what we’ve learned, if we have campers tested on site, the cost is around $200 per test. In order to have it covered by insurance, the camper would have to see a doctor at the medical facility – apparently an insurance stipulation. The idea of transporting 125 campers into town, having them seen by a doctor so that a test can be administered, would be a logistical nightmare that would take several days to complete. Though we haven’t given up on the idea of testing for multi-week campers, the obstacles are pretty significant.
Will your staff be tested? Short answer, We don’t know.
Here is the longer answer. Our staff, as you know, have traditionally had dual roles. They live in a cabin with a group of campers, and they also teach an activity; therefore, staff represent a condition where one member of a pod will come in contact with members of another pod. Given this, it would make sense to have our staff tested weekly. As stated above, if we take them in town the cost can go on insurance (hopefully). If they are tested on site, we will need to bear the $200 test. With 75 staff members working 9 weeks….well, you can do the math. This is one of our burning topics of debate and we’ll need to come to a conclusion by sometime in April.
We have many hopes. We hope that infection rates are so low come summer that much of our plan becomes unnecessary. We hope that the variants cropping up can be knocked down by vaccines. One of our biggest hopes is that the data reveals that vaccinated individuals don’t shed the virus or shed it at a significantly lower rate. If that is the case…..gamechanger! Thoughts on this are thus far inconclusive; however, there is some promising data coming out of Israel, where a robust vaccination program is in place. Some early indications are that vaccinated individuals are much less likely to spread should they get the virus. We’ll have to wait and see, and prepare for the world as it is today.
Breaking News: Just before sending out this email, the CDC published guidance for vaccinated individuals. In that report it was stated that a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus to others. While some prevention measures continue to be necessary, the benefits of reducing social isolation “may outweigh the residual risk of fully vaccinated people becoming ill with covid-19” or transmitting the virus to others.
Maybe not yet a game changer, but a big step in the right direction.
Testing Update: After our TESTING email, we heard from several camp parents who had some connection in the testing business or had knowledge of testing procedures for large groups. Their input has been immeasurably helpful, and we believe that we now have several workable options for testing staff regularly and for testing multi week campers in a quick and less invasive fashion. More on that when we have something nailed down. Thank you all so much for your contributions and your partnership.