Summer 2021 Updates 3.0*

*April 29, 2021, v. 3.0. Updates made to:
Creating our “Vega Bubble”
– Pre-Arrival Protocols and Family Compliance
Testing Strategy
The First 5-6 Days of Camp.
New section: Layering multiple safeguards.
Removed sections covered in the 2021 Parent Handbook
This page contains an overview of our current policies and strategies for a safe and healthy 2021 summer at Vega. Some of the outlined plans may change as summer approaches.
In order to help you to plan for the weeks leading up to camp, please review our updated plans and we will send you our final pre-camp protocol and testing strategy in mid-May.

Creating our “Vega Bubble”

In order to create a Covid-free “Vega bubble” it begins with best practices at home prior to arrival. We need to limit and screen everyone who comes in camp to minimize the chances of Covid-19 getting in.

This means out-of camp trips will be limited and modified significantly. Intercamp games and social visits with other camps are very unlikely. Similarly, staff time-off will mainly, if not entirely, take place at “staff-only” zones on campus. Visitors will not be allowed.

Vega is fortunate to have 320 acres of beautiful forest and 2 miles of shoreline in addition to our main campus area. This has opened up the door for us to create new opportunities for campers to “fill the gaps” in missed off-camp experiences, and also create private, “staff-only” zones where our hardworking staff can recharge and enjoy the beauty of Maine and Echo Lake.

The hope is to create a secure bubble after the first 5-7 days, so we can transition carefully to a relatively​ normal program with individual campers’ schedule choices, of course with extreme caution.

Layering multiple safeguards

Our goal is to make camp this summer as normal as possible. In order to do so we first need to feel confident that our Vega bubble is secure.

There is not one strategy we can rely on to prevent Covid from entering Vega, or one strategy to prevent transmission if it does. Rather, we need to implement multiple control strategies, layering them to create the safest possible environment for your daughters and everyone in the Vega family.

Multilayered Control Strategies1

  • Pre-screening and pre-camp behaviors/compliance
  • Viral testing
  • Symptom screening
  • Masking
  • Cohorts
  • Move and socialize outdoors as much as possible
  • Physical distancing
  • Create a culture of safety and good habits
  • Decrease density
  • Ventilation in all indoor locations
  • Cleaning and disinfecting

If we all do our part before and after arrivng, and especially in the 10-14 days before camp and the first few days after arriving, we have a MUCH greater chance of successfully securing our Vega bubble.

**Pre-Arrival protocols & family compliance**

The most important step in successfully creating our “Vega Bubble” is everyone arriving healthy!!

We are counting on you, our Vega families, to be vigilant about minimizing the chance of exposure in the 14 days leading up to arrival day.

We are asking that all (unvaccinated) campers and staff members engage in a 2-week pre-arrival quarantine that includes physical distancing, mask-wearing when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of their households.2

Please avoid any high-density settings or situations where you cannot limit exposure, such as sports leagues, tournaments, large group gatherings, sleepovers, and even eating at restaurants.

When it doubt, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

**Testing Strategy**

Our final testing strategy will be communicated in mid-May.

PRE-ARRIVAL TESTING

We are asking you, our Vega families, to arrange for all Pre-Arrival Testing. PCR and Rapid Antigen testing is widely available nationwide. Please contact Emily or Kyle if you need assistance obtaining a pre-arrival test. You must email a copy/image of the official test result to a designated camp email address (TBA) by the due dates and times outlined below.

  1. 5-7 Days Pre-Arrival: PCR
    • Your daughter(s) must obtain a PCR test on Saturday, June 19th, Sunday, June 20th, or Monday, June 21st.
    • Official test results must be emailed to the designated camp testing email address (TBA) no later than 10:00pm Eastern on Wednesday, June 23rd.
    • This test is earlier than our original plan, and allows us to capture a greater amount of time both before camp, and on our arrival day test. Should any positive cases be reported, we have more time to develop a plan those families.
  2. 2 Days Pre-Arrival: < 24 hr PCR or Rapid Antigen
    • Your daughter(s) must obtain a PCR or Rapid Antigen test on Thursday, June 24th.
    • Official test results must be emailed to the designated camp testing email address (TBA) no later than 10:00pm Eastern on Friday, June 25th.
    • For West Coast/travelers arriving on Friday, June 25th, your daughter(s) must obtain a PCR or Rapid Antigen test on Wednesday, June 23rd. Official test results must be emailed no later than 10:00pm Eastern on Thursday, June 24th.
    • This test should capture any active infections before traveling to camp and is inline with the CDC and State of Maine recommendations for proof of a negative viral test 72 hours or less before arrival.3

ARRIVAL DAY & CONFIRMING “BUBBLE”

  1. Day 0/Arrival Day: PCR
    • Your daughter will need to provide a saliva sample for a PCR test on Saturday, June 26th. Samples will be taken in as relaxed a setting as possible and she will have ample time to provide an adequate sample.
    • Results expected between 12-24 hours, and by the evening of Sunday, June 27th at the latest. We will share our plan for communicating results with camp families prior to camp.
    • This test should capture any exposures since the June 19th/20th/21st PCR that may not have been detected on the June 24th test.
  2. Day 5-6: PCR
    • Your daughter will need to provide a saliva sample for a PCR test on Thursday, July 1st or Friday, July 2nd.
    • Results expected on Friday, July 2nd or Saturday, July 3rd.
    • Should capture any Travel/Arrival Day exposure.

DURING CAMP

  1. As needed Rapid Antigen and PCR testing for symptomatic individuals and/or for contact tracing.
  2. Periodic or pool testing is possible depending on early results. How much testing we will require beyond Day 5-6 depends on test results up to that point, compliance, etc.

PRE-DEPARTURE TEST

  1. 8 days Pre-Departure: PCR
    • All campers and staff are scheduled to receive a PCR test on August 5th.
    • Specific travel requirements can be communicated to Kyle and Emily and we will do our best to accommodate.

AFTER TRAVELING HOME

The CDC recommends the Campers (and anyone who is not fully vaccinated) should get tested with a viral test 3–5 days after traveling home from camp and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.3

What if my daughter tests positive in April, May, or early June?

The CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test if the person does not have symptoms of COVID-19. Campers and staff who have had a positive viral test in the 3 months prior to starting camp and have met the criteria to end isolation should have a letter from their healthcare provider documenting the positive test date and stating the individual is cleared to end isolation.4

If your daughter has tested positive for Covid-19 after April 25th, please contact Kyle and Emily.

The First 5 or 6 Days of Camp

This is the time for us to use every control safeguard at our disposal to minimize the possibility of an outbreak, IF there is Covid at camp.

Every cabin will be a “cohort” or “pod” or “household” and we do this to “limit exposure” or “limit close contacts.”

Activities and meals will run under a temporarily modified structure to attain the maximum possibility of cohorting. Once our “Vega Bubble” is confirmed on/around Day 6, campers should be able to begin following their individual schedules and camp overall can mostly operate “as normal.”

What about masks and physical distancing?

The CDC’s current guidance for what constitutes an exposure/a close contact is everyone in the infected person’s household/cohort and anyone else who was within 6 feet of the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The definition of a close contact applies regardless of whether either person was wearing a mask, inside or outside.5

So, based on the CDC’s current guidance:

  • No masks/distancing needed when only with your cohort, including inside your own cabin.
  • Masks and 6+ feet distance between different cohorts.
  • Sisters will be able to see each other within 6 feet, even give quick hugs, as long as they are outside, wearing masks and are within 6 feet for less than 15 minutes.
  • The whole Vega Community can come together during the cohorting phase, as long as we are outside, wearing masks, and cohorts stay 6+ feet apart from other cohorts.

If everyone follows our Covid protocols before and at camp, and our Day 6 PCR test results on/around Day 6 are all be negative, then we can expand cohorts (most likely to age groups), begin individualized schedules, and have camp operating relatively normally, with extreme caution of course.

Travel to camp

Whether your daughter is joining a Vega travel group, or you are dropping her off at Vega, please complete the Transportation Form on your Camp in Touch, or at least the TO camp portion immediately.

Answers to detailed questions about travel may not be available until after knowing who is on each travel group.

We will share information about limiting exposure on travel day when we send the travel confirmation email in early June. Both airplanes and our contracted motor coaches have measures in place to reduce virus transmission thus limiting exposure such as mandated masking, high air exchange rates, enhanced air filtration and high floor to ceiling air flow rates. With proper masking and distancing while in other congregate indoor spaces like airport security lines and waiting areas, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing, we will limit exposure within travel groups.

Accordingly, we do not plan to cohort at camp by travel group. although we will be keeping diligent record of seating locations, etc. to have on hand in case we need to do any contact tracing.

What if my daughter tests positive?

It is widely documented that children who test and are confirmed positive for Covid are often asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. However, even though a camper who tests and is confirmed positive may “feel fine”, it would be difficult, at best, for a child to be fully isolated at camp for the required time period of 7-10 days.

If your daughter tests and is confirmed positive while at Vega, we expect you to pick her up as soon as possible. We are prepared to isolate and care for her at camp until you arrive, and for the entire 7-10 day isolation period, but only under the most extreme extenuating circumstances. She could return to camp/her cabin after registering two negative PCR tests and is cleared by Vega’s physician.

If a camper tests and is confirmed positive on the Pre-Arrival PCR Test, she would be unable to come to camp until she isolated for 7-10 days, registers two negative molecular/PCR tests and is cleared by her home physician and Vega’s physician.

What if a positive case is confirmed at camp, and my daughter is considered a close contact/exposed?

If a positive case is found at camp, contact tracing will identify all exposed individuals, which is why we are limiting exposure through cohorts and other measures. All exposed individuals will need to be isolated for 7-10 days and register two negative molecular/PCR tests before returning to pre-isolation conditions.

Healthcare Team

Our onsite healthcare team is led by pediatrician Dr. Steven Shukan and his wife Candace (RN).  With over 20 years of summer camp healthcare experience, in addition to a pediatric practice, they are so excited to (finally!) spend their first summer on Echo Lake while helping us provide a healthy and fun summer. 

Dr. Steve and Nurse Candi were prepared to lead our health center in 2020, and are even more ready for 2021.  Their dedicated, kind and professional approach is always evident, and a key reason why RNs who have worked with them at camps in the past have also decided to join Vega’s health care team this summer, which will be larger than ever.

Dr. Jill Baren, MD, (Vega alum – camper and counselor) will provide telehealth back-up and support for Dr. Shukan throughout the summer. Dr. Baren is a board certified pediatric emergency physician who practices at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is the immediate Past-President of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. She is also working with us to develop and review our Covid-19 protocols.

In addition to our talented healthcare team, we are incredibly fortunate to have an extensive network of resources as we continue to develop and implement our Covid-19 protocols, such as other experienced camp directors, boarding school headmasters, regional and national camp associations and sections of the American Camp Association, Maine DHHS, CDC, leaders in testing and more.

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Ventilation

In addition to our daily housekeeping procedures, we are adding multiple layers of cleaning and disinfecting protocols to further reduce the potential for transmission.

Vega has purchased three electrostatic sprayers to effectively and quickly destroy viruses, including COVID-19, in high-traffic, indoor spaces. Trained staff will use the sprayers alongside our already rigorous disinfection procedures

Hand sanitizer dispensers are being installed at every building and location’s doorway or entrance, and everyone will be trained to “wash-in/wash-out” to further protect everyone’s health.

All camper cabins are already equipped with ceiling and window fans, industrial ceiling ventilation fans. UV lights above ceiling fans (where appropriate) will further help reduce transmission.

UV light wands will also be distributed throughout camp, including for each cabin for trained counselors to assist in disinfecting surfaces and items in the bunk as needed.

Until our Vega bubble has been confirmed, all indoor activities will be modified to take place outdoors. Tents for some activities (and the dining hall) will be installed.

The Dining Hall

“Dave and crew here’s to you!” That’s right, our award-winning Dining Hall Manager, Dave Roberts, is back for his 15th summer at Vega. You can look forward to popular favorites, yummy new menu items and the same array of delicious options you’ve come to expect.

There will be some differences. Instead of self-serve buffet lines, we will have staff-served buffet lines. We will also have to spread ourselves out, especially during the initial cohorting phase. To accomplish this we will take advantage of the beautiful Dining Hall Deck and are adding additional tented outdoor seating.

2021 Dates and Visiting Day

We are dedicated to provide as normal and worthwhile of a Vega experience as possible, which we have realized from a program perspective can just barely be accomplished this summer!

Opening day is Saturday, June 26th and the final day of camp is Friday, August 13th. This will give just enough time to achieve our summer activities and events after the cohorting program at the beginning of camp has been completed.

As you have expected, we will not host an in-person visiting day. We know parents of new and/or younger campers do not share in the enthusiasm of parents with returning campers. Returning parents, and to some extent their daughters, know how visiting day presents an unnecessary emotional strain when some campers are just reaching their flow at camp and will be returning home in less than 3 weeks.

We are developing a video-call program to both replace campers’ scheduled phone calls and create virtual visiting day experiences. Ultimately, visiting day’s most important element is communication, and we believe we can achieve a similar cumulative level of communication throughout the summer. Please know that we will facilitate calls as needed and will be flexible, this year especially.