Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

Why are this year’s sessions shorter than usual?
Nature Camp’s facilities, in which most campers reside in one or two large bunkhouses, don’t lend themselves to a “pod” model in which small groups of campers are housed together as a family unit. Allowing for sufficient physical distancing between campers in the bunkhouses necessitates reducing capacity in each session; rearranging our schedule to have a larger number of shorter sessions will allow us to accommodate more campers during the summer than we could with a typical schedule of four, two-week sessions.

Why are grade ranges for sessions out of the usual sequence (i.e., why are 12th graders in Session 2)?
Several school systems in Virginia have high school graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 17, 18, or 19, and we do not want current high school seniors to have to choose between attending one last session of camp and attending their graduation. The only feasible way to schedule six 10-day sessions was for the first session to begin on Thursday, June 17.

Will my camper be able to get their first choice of a session?
We recognize that with more limited capacity in each session and overlapping grade ranges for most sessions, it may be more difficult for campers to decide on the appropriate session or to arrange to be in the same session as their friends. We strive to maximize the number of campers who can be enrolled this summer, and we encourage all applicants to list their first and second choices for a session and to submit an application as soon as possible after registration opens. We will try to place as many as possible into their first choice, and we will maintain a waiting list for those campers who must be placed, at least initially, into their second choice.

Why are there two different registration dates?
When Nature Camp decided to suspend on-site sessions last year, we pledged that campers who were enrolled for 2020 would have priority for registration in 2021. Registration for these campers will begin on February 1; applications from other campers may be submitted beginning on February 8. Please note, however, that campers who were registered for 2020 are not automatically registered for 2021; timely submission of a 2021 application form is still required.

What if my camper has a credit for 2021?
Many families (and some sponsoring organizations) elected to take some or all of the tuition they had paid for camp in 2020 as a credit for 2021. If you have a credit in any amount, you do not need to include a deposit payment with your application, and the credit will be reflected in the balance due by June 1. If your credit exceeds this year’s tuition of $690, you may request a refund of the difference, reallocate the remaining amount as an unrestricted donation to Nature Camp, or claim an additional credit for 2022.

How will classes, Sunday hikes, and other activities work?
We won’t be able to fit all of the activities of a 14-day session into 10 days, but we aim to provide campers with an experience that is just as meaningful, fulfilling, and memorable. There are many details to work out, but rest assured that we will still offer classes, take Sunday hikes (though they may be held on another day of the week), and end each session with our traditional Closing Ceremony.

Will campers and staff be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend or work at Nature Camp this summer?
At this time we don’t know, although we will follow guidance and recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Camp Association. It may be that by the beginning of the summer, no vaccine has yet been approved for treating younger adolescents or that the vaccine has not yet been made available to persons that age. It is important to recognize that while a vaccine is an important development toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, many summer camps operated successfully last summer before there was any vaccine. Non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as frequent hand washing, use of face masks, and physical distancing) continue to represent the best defense against further spread of coronavirus.

Will campers and staff be required to be tested for coronavirus before arriving at camp?
Although testing capacity continues to increase and inexpensive, rapid-result tests will likely become more widely available, it may not be feasible for Nature Camp to require or conduct testing of all participants. As with the vaccine, however, we will continue to monitor guidance from regulatory agencies and support organizations and will notify camp families as soon as possible if testing is advised or if Nature Camp decides to conduct its own testing of participants upon arrival at camp.

What happens if a camper or staff member contracts, presents symptoms of, or tests positive for coronavirus?
Nature Camp seeks to take all appropriate precautions to try to ensure that coronavirus is not introduced into the camp population, including screenings of all campers and staff upon their arrival at camp and daily wellness checks to identify any symptoms suggestive of or consistent with coronavirus. Anyone presenting with such symptoms will be isolated from the rest of the camp population, contact tracing will be initiated to identify other individuals who may have been exposed, and parents/guardians will be notified to discuss the proper course of action.

What if it turns out that camp cannot be held this year?
While we are hopeful that we can reopen our doors this summer, we recognize the reality of the ongoing pandemic and acknowledge the possibility that on-site sessions may not take place again this year. In the event that Nature Camp is not permitted to operate this year by regulatory authority or if the board of directors determines that it is impractical or imprudent to do so, those who have paid tuition for summer sessions will be given the option of a full refund, reallocation of tuition as a charitable donation, or a credit for tuition in 2022.