Dear MCBC Community,
July is LITERALLY on Saturday and that means we are days away from CAMP MONTH! The MCBC Leadership team is busy finalizing the activity schedule, inventorying supplies to make sure we have enough tie dye for every camper, perfecting our new dance moves, and generally preparing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for an amazing week at MCBC. We truly cannot wait to boldly go where no camp has gone before and hope you and your camper feel the same!
In this moment of calm before this camp rocket ship blasts off into outer space, I wanted to review with you how MCBC is preparing to handle any potential outbreak of a communicable disease during the week of camp in 2023. “Communicable Disease?” – you say to yourself – “I thought we were just focused on preventing COVID?” While yes, we are still focused on reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, we have reached a point in the pandemic where we feel it is safe to treat COVID-19 like any other communicable disease that may occur at camp. And others agree with us.
MCBC has always followed closely the recommendations from Alliance for Camp Health (ACH), the American Camp Association (ACA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in developing a response to a communicable disease outbreak (where communicable disease is “an infectious disease capable of being transmitted from one person to another or from a surface or food”. In May, after the US declared the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, I received a joint letter from the ACH/ACA with their current recommendations (a full copy of which can be found here). They included the following main points:
- “Camps should discuss balancing respiratory disease management focused on preventing moderate/severe disease outcomes while also striving for balance within the continuity of the camp programming”
- “When deciding which prevention measures to implement, camps should consider the local context and balance the risks of infectious diseases with the education, social, and mental health outcomes”
- CDC recommendations on isolation of patients who test positive for a communicable disease and those who are exposed remain the same
Essentially, our approach to communicable disease has switched from “how do we modify our programming to fit our responses to a potential communicable disease outbreak” to “how do we modify our responses to a potential communicable disease outbreak to fit our programming”. We still plan our response to a communicable disease and we still take preventative steps to keep communicable disease from entering our camp (see Arriving at Camp Healthy). We do this to “balance the seriousness of the pandemic with the joy and benefits of the camp experience”
A complete narrative of our Communicable Disease Protocols and Procedures can be found here.
For now, let me address some of the FAQs you may have for 2023:
No. The only time that program participants will be required to wear a mask at MCBC 2023 is if they test positive for a communicable disease while at camp. At all other times, wearing a mask is optional.
No. Starting in 2023, MCBC is not requiring that program participants bring proof of a negative COVID test when they arrive at camp.
This year we are again fortunate to have Rapid Antigen Tests provided free of charge by the state of Missouri. These tests screen for both COVID AND the flu and will be administered if your camper begins to display symptoms consistent with either of these diagnoses according to the judgment of our medical team. We will follow our communicable disease plan according to the result of the test.
Campers without permission to test will be sent home if they begin to display symptoms consistent with either COVID-19 or the Flu.
No, vaccines are not required. However, it is our strong preference that all campers come to camp with all the immunizations and vaccinations that are required for public school attendance. This information is captured on our pre-camp medical form and the Burns Recovered office may reach out to your child’s
primary care provider directly for this information. Exemptions are made on a case-by-case basis.
It is also our strong preference that program participants ages 5 and above receive the COVID-19 vaccine and reach full immunity at least two weeks before traveling to camp.
No, we are not podding or using the ‘cohort’ system this year. There are no restrictions for who campers may interact with like there were in 2022.
Like any other emergency situation while at camp, we expect caregivers or an emergency contact to be always reachable by phone during the week of camp programming. This expectation is in place to maintain a safe and healthy camp experience for all. There may be times during the week where your camper needs to go home right away.
In the case of a positive test for communicable disease at camp, the camp Medical Director will call the camper’s caregiver to discuss a plan of action up to and including requiring the caregiver to pick up the camper within 12 hours.
While we were rewriting and updating our communicable disease plan for 2023, it dawned on us that this summer will most closely resemble what camp life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic turned our lives upside down. Will it be exactly the same? No, and that is OK. We have reached a new frontier of the pandemic and we face it boldly, as one MCBC camp community.
As always, please contact the Burns Recovered office at (314) 939-1550 or email the MCBC team at email@example.com if you have questions or need clarification on anything written in this document. Y’all are awesome and we can’t wait to share the MCBC magic with you this summer!
Yours in Service,
MCBC Camp Leadership