COVID-19 Updates

skylake

Our goal is to update this page as we learn more and are better able to make informed decisions about this summer ahead.

We know and can feel our campers and staff yearning for camp. We know how important Skylake is to so many people. We understand and feel this deeply as well. We are doing everything within our power to provide a safe haven this summer. Please stay tuned and contact us directly with any additional questions. We are here for you.

 

5/18/20 Important Update with final decisions coming this week

Adhering to our promise to provide updates every Monday we have the following information.
 
Can Skylake legally open?
That is the big question.  We are waiting for the State Department of Public Health to issue a guideline on this.  Madera County is reserving any decisions until the authorization comes from the State.   Both the County and the State know how time sensitive this is becoming.
 
What will the guidelines be if you open?
The American Camp Association released over the weekend the long anticipated “Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance.”  This is a “best practices” document on how to run a summer camp during the COVID-19 crisis.  This document goes much further than hand washing and staying 6 feet apart.   It is an A-Z specific guide that is 84 pages in length.  The goal is that with these very precise guidelines, the State and County will have confidence in the way camps will operate. The guide will assist camps with the implementation of consistent health and safety protocols.  
 
What does that mean for Skylake?
Camp will be very different this year.  It will not be the typical Skylake program.  Here are just a few examples of what we know will be different if we are permitted to operate:

  • No buses to camp.  All campers will be required to be driven to camp for drop off and picked up.
  • Parents will need to complete a screening document just prior to arrival regarding their camper showing no travel outside California, no contact with a person that has tested positive, and self-screened for two weeks for fever or other symptoms.  
  • No Yosemite Day Trips.  Once we get campers to camp, properly screened, we would hope to have no further outside contacts.
  • We will emphasize being outdoors.  Tennis court sleep outs and a lot more cabin walk suppers.  We will not be eating as a group in the dining hall.  We will take full advantage of our lakeside porch for meals.  

We hesitate to establish all of the changes that may take place until we know we have approval to operate and what the precise requirements will be. 
 
We anticipate having more information over the next two or three days.  We will immediately advise you as soon as we know more.

Open letter to community dated April 15, 2020

To the Skylake Community:

Three weeks ago, in the face of the growing outbreak of COVID-19, we presented an optimistic and hopeful message regarding camp for this summer. It would be foolish now not to admit that we are very worried about being able to conduct camp in the normal manner this summer. However, we remain committed to providing camp this summer, as long as we can do it safely.

We are watching all of the coverage of the crisis, and we are in direct contact with the Madera County Health Department and the Forest Service. The situation is fluid and no one is in a position to predict exactly what the social distancing policies will be this summer. We remain busy developing health procedures and contingency plans. It will probably be a few more weeks before we can begin to get anything definitive from the health department. We know families are feeling the stress of the shelter in place rules.

We know that camp could be a critical part of what we all need to begin the healing. We will continue with our existing policy that still limits the cancellation fee to $250. Alternatively, for those considering cancelling, you have the option to rollover payments to 2021 with no cancellation fee. No further payments are required by anyone until we are sure your child’s session is going to take place and that we will be able to accommodate your child. We are also ready to add an additional session in August if that would make sense.

On a cheery note. The recent rain and snow at Bass Lake now guarantees a full lake. Camp is being cleaned up and we even added a large air conditioning system to make the dining hall much more enjoyable. Adrienne has a full staff ready to go with many former campers. Jessica manages all of your emails and questions while Paul and Lyle are in camp daily. It is stressful not knowing what the future holds, but as a community we will get through this. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, and we hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Jeff, Adrienne and Jessica

Updated letter to Enrolled California resident families, announcing cancelation of International and Out-of-State campers, Dated 5/13/20

Dear Skylake Families,

From all of us at Skylake, we hope you and your family are safe and healthy.  These last three months have been very difficult for our country and the world. Nonetheless, optimism has been our mantra at Skylake as we follow the daily news and updates.

There is some clarity beginning to develop.  Although the actual CDC guidelines have been delayed, we are beginning to get guidelines from the American Camp Association and from The American Academy of Pediatrics.   We still have no knowledge if we will be permitted to operate this summer, but we do know that if allowed to operate the requirements are going to be rigorous.

Some of the critical requirements will be the screening of campers before their arrival and then maintaining social distancing while at camp.  In addition, the options of what to do if a child or staff member is found to be positive for the virus are very concerning. We are going to need the capability to have campers picked up from camp to return home We believe this requirement is going to make it impossible to accommodate campers that are not capable of being picked up by a parent or guardian very quickly.

Due to this determination, sadly today, we notified families with campers coming from outside of California that Skylake will not be available for any of the 2020 sessions.

This decision was not taken lightly and we did so with a very heavy heart. We are acutely aware of what Skylake means to our campers.  Going without camp this summer after having been homeschooled for three months seems so wrong.  Skylake will work towards providing some form of Skylake Magic this summer to help the campers through this difficult time.

Our fear now is that we will have to notify our in-state families with a similar message in the coming days or weeks. We are doing everything in our power to prevent that from happening. Some of what we are doing includes:

  • We have purchased a long list of Personal Protection Equipment, sanitizing fluids along with Electrostatic cleaning devices. We also have plenty of toilet paper.
  • We are working with the Operations Guide produced for the American Camp Association that covers communication, health screening for campers and staff, testing, prevention of spread, facility preparation including office, dining, cabins, and all equipment and facilities.
  • Other specific items included in the Guidebook cover transportation, activities, and food service.  There will be an entire section on our horse program.
  • We are in direct contact with the Public Health Officer and the Public Health Director of Madera County. 
  • We continue to receive information and emotional support from Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Jeff Klausner.

We know that many of you are working with alternative plans in the event Skylake is not permitted to operate in 2020.  We understand completely the bind you are in because of this uncertainty.  It may be the most appropriate action for some families to decide that 2020 will not work because of fears or other concerns.

We do know “Skylake 2020” will be a very different kind of camp than a normal Skylake summer.  The requirements for social distancing, group size, meal service, etc. are going to make camp seem very different this year.  We think it will be very special, but it will be different.  Please take that into consideration as you work through your decision making.

The most difficult aspect of opening may be the greatly reduced size of our camper population.  We currently may have more campers enrolled than we will be able to accommodate.  We really do not have enough direction yet to know how severe our limitations are going to be.  We do hope to have this information within the next 10 days at which point we will have some very difficult decisions to make.

Many camps have recently announced they will not be open.  Most the camps that have cancelled are agency camps or camps that have unique issues such as large international staffs. In addition, because the Los Angeles area currently appears to be more impacted many day camps are announcing closures.  Most of the California residential camps continue to hold out hope of being able to open.  Session A, scheduled to open on June 21st, is definitely in jeopardy of being canceled if we don’t receive some governmental guidance very soon.

It remains our position that if we can operate a safe camp we will offer camp.  As soon as we have enough information to make an informed decision we will notify you.  We would anticipate this will always be at least 30 days prior to your scheduled session.

We will now provide an update every Monday and/or whenever we have new information to share.

Jeff, Adrienne and Jessica

Updated letter to Enrolled families dated April 29, 2020

We hope you and your family continue to remain safe.  We have been hesitant to post too many updates because things can change so quickly.  Although the entire picture is far from clear, we are beginning to get enough information that we feel an update is now appropriate.

A few important points:

  • The Governor of California has announced Phase 2 is only weeks away, and we do believe limited camp activity will be included within this phase.
  • The Forest Service and Yosemite National Park have reached out to us for sharing with them how we would plan on using the Park or the Forest once the reopening occurs.
  • The CDC in consultation with The American Camp Association and other camp industry leaders are working on a set of guidelines for safe operation of camps.  These guidelines are due out within the next few days.
  • The guidelines that are circulating clearly indicate camp will be different this year.  The social distancing requirements will require some careful thought and planning to be able to make such a requirement work.
  • We still require final guidance and approval from the local Madera County Health Department for authorization to operate. 
  • The mention by Governor Newsom that schools might reopen early adds a new element to the camp calendar. We had already thought of adding some August camp dates and that might now be impacted.

We are in constant contact with many of the other camps in the state. A few have cancelled their summer plans but most are remaining hopeful that part or all of the season can be saved.  We are in that school of thought.

Skylake has taken the difficult step of advising all of our international campers that we will not be able to accept them into the program.  The tracking requirements are going to require quick and easy follow up with all campers and that would not be possible with international campers.

We know that very difficult decisions remain. If we are permitted to operate parents will have to make the decision if they are comfortable sending their child, group activities will need to be altered, and the size of our camp population may be under severe pressure to be minimized.  The rules for masks could be an enormous challenge.

We are quickly getting to the homestretch of being able to make some plans. Everyone’s patience will be required for another week or two.It does appear in that length of time we will be able to put a plan together that we will communicate.

Open letter to community dated April 15, 2020

To the Skylake Community:

Three weeks ago, in the face of the growing outbreak of COVID-19, we presented an optimistic and hopeful message regarding camp for this summer. It would be foolish now not to admit that we are very worried about being able to conduct camp in the normal manner this summer. However, we remain committed to providing camp this summer, as long as we can do it safely.

We are watching all of the coverage of the crisis, and we are in direct contact with the Madera County Health Department and the Forest Service. The situation is fluid and no one is in a position to predict exactly what the social distancing policies will be this summer. We remain busy developing health procedures and contingency plans. It will probably be a few more weeks before we can begin to get anything definitive from the health department. We know families are feeling the stress of the shelter in place rules.

We know that camp could be a critical part of what we all need to begin the healing. We will continue with our existing policy that still limits the cancellation fee to $250. Alternatively, for those considering cancelling, you have the option to rollover payments to 2021 with no cancellation fee. No further payments are required by anyone until we are sure your child’s session is going to take place and that we will be able to accommodate your child. We are also ready to add an additional session in August if that would make sense.

On a cheery note. The recent rain and snow at Bass Lake now guarantees a full lake. Camp is being cleaned up and we even added a large air conditioning system to make the dining hall much more enjoyable. Adrienne has a full staff ready to go with many former campers. Jessica manages all of your emails and questions while Paul and Lyle are in camp daily. It is stressful not knowing what the future holds, but as a community we will get through this. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, and we hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Jeff, Adrienne and Jessica