Camp COVID-19 Information

Update: 6/26/20

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Camper Playbook


Update: 5/20/20
Dear Kawaga Family,

Although we have not made our final decision as to whether to open camp this summer, we didn’t want any more time to go by without letting you know our intentions. We are working round-the-clock to safely open Kawaga this summer. We believe we can follow all of the recommended protocols and still give your boys a summer of fun, togetherness, and growth. Yes, this will be a different summer. But, we believe we will be able to safely Be Kawaga.

If we do indeed open camp this summer, we will have one single six-week session. All campers will arrive on June 28 and return home on August 9.

As difficult as it is to separate emotion from fact in order to guide this decision, that’s what we’ve strived to do. In addition to our Medical Advisory Team reviewing all of the appropriate guidelines and providing us with their recommendations, we’ve looked hard at the statistics. In fact, we even commissioned a data scientist to run a probability analysis, using all our campers’ and staff’s ages and zip codes. Based on the protocols we’ll be following, the probability of a camper or staff member contracting Covid-19 at Kawaga is extremely low. Please understand, however, this is just one data point we’ve taken into consideration; we simply want as many facts as possible to guide our direction. And, we strongly recommend and expect that you do the same. Please consult with your own physicians and review all of the data and guidelines available so that you can make the decision that’s right for your son and your family.

We believe in our hearts that kids need camp now more than ever. “Standing up in the storm” is something we teach at Kawaga. Of course, this is a unique time, and the safety and health of our campers has always been our number-one priority. Part of our pledge has always been to nourish and guard our boys’ social and emotional wellbeing, in addition to their physical health. We want your boys to have the space, peace, fun, and growth that camp provides.

As I type this, our three kids are enjoying this beautiful Kawaga day, as are Ryan and Andi Daube’s four boys, three of whom are Kawaga campers. The Daubes, who are Kawaga’s co-owners with the Fishers, are planning to spend the full summer here, supporting us everyday and in every way.

So, now that we’ve shared our intent with you, we’d like to know yours. And, we can’t emphasize enough that as diligently as we’re working to minimize risk, there is risk. So, each family needs to make their own decision, which we will of course respect and support. The sooner we know your intent the more helpful that will be to us in our planning. Here is a link to a brief form that we ask you to complete no later than Friday.

If we do indeed open as we now intend, we will provide you with a “playbook” in the next 10 days that will provide the details on how we’ll safely open and operate this summer. We’ll ask you to review this information (over and over) with your son prior to his coming to camp. Yes, camp will look and feel different in 2020. But it will be a Kawaga experience that will provide your son with not only a fun-filled summer but, as always, one that teaches life lessons based on our core values.

We look forward to sharing details with you soon. Of course, we’re always here if you’d like to talk.

Be well. Be safe. Be Kawaga,

Ty and Lauren, Directors

Dear Kawaga Families,

We want to stay even more closely in touch with you by sharing updates on this page, as this situation changes quickly. Don’t worry, though, about needing to check here; we’ll also continue to directly email you.

Be well. Be Safe. Be Kawaga.

Ty and Lauren

Update: 5/6/20

Dear Kawaga Families,

A week in today’s world seems strangely longer. It’s only been two weeks since we last wrote to you. And, although we have no decision yet on the question that’s at the forefront of your minds — whether, when, and how we’ll open this summer — we want to stay in close touch with you. We have added a popup to our website that will direct you to the COVID-19 UPDATE PAGE that will contain up to the day information on our response. We’ll continue, of course, to directly email with any news.

As we write this, we’re imagining looking across the bay on Kawaguesaga Lake. Leaves are beginning to form on our beautiful birch trees, eagles are soaring over the pines, the grass is getting greener, and kids are exhilarated just being at camp with so much space and so much peace. There’s nothing we want more than to have your sons at camp with us this summer and enjoying all that Kawaga has to offer.

So, we all need to continue to be patient. Let us share with you what will ultimately inform our decision, in addition to the recommendations of our own Medical Advisory Team:

  • This Friday, May 8th, the CDC is expected to issue a report providing guidelines for overnight camps (what they call “resident camps”).
  • One week later, the American Camp Association is expected to release a study that will provide guidelines for overnight camps.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear a challenge, likely this week, as to its “Safer at Home” Order, which otherwise will expire May 26th. At that time, we’d also expect new state regulations that will hopefully define camps as “essential businesses.”

We want to share with you something else that’s particularly important to many of you. We are working closely with many of our neighboring camps, particularly in Oneida and Vilas counties, in sharing information and insights. We’d love for all of us to be aligned as to whether our camps will open this summer. Many of you have daughters, nieces, nephews, and neighbors who are hoping to spend this summer at one of our neighbor camps. So, we’re working closely together to make an informed decision that’s in the best interest of all our campers and their families.

We continue to enthusiastically plan for Kawaga this summer. As we’ve said, if we can open safely, we will. So, we’re busy working through how we’ll operationalize likely CDC and ACA guidelines. Our plans, as we’ve previously written you, span everything from transportation, food service, programming, and mail delivery to intensification of sanitation and disinfecting measures, as well as intensive training when it comes to healthy hygiene practices. As we get closer to our decision, which we expect to make before the end of May, we will provide you with more details.

We remain optimistic for a “go” decision — even if camp might start later and be structured somewhat differently. We believe that “discretion is the better part of valor.” You can be assured that the decision we make will put the health and safety of your boys first and foremost.

One last thing: we typically need you to submit your forms by May 1st. We don’t want to overload you right now, so we’re holding off for a bit, as there will likely be additional forms if we’re to open this summer. Please never hesitate to call us! We love speaking with you, listening to your thoughts, and sharing ours. We thank you for your trust and your patience. Now more than ever.

Be safe. Be well. Be Kawaga.

Ty and Lauren

April 17th, 2020

Happy Friday Parents,

We’ve spoken with many of you over the past couple of weeks. Please know that we’re hoping to speak with all of you soon. We’re grateful for all of your support and are pleased that you’re weathering this storm so well.

You’ve shared with us how much you hope that Kawaga will open this summer, even if we need to have a later start date or a shorter season. Even with yesterday’s news that the state of Wisconsin is extending its stay-at-home guidelines through May 26th, we share your sentiment. We are diligently preparing for the summer in order to assure we’re ready to have your boys join us if they can and that we’ll keep them safe and healthy once they’re here. And, of course, we’ll make sure they have a blast!

As has always been Kawaga’s philosophy, nothing comes before our boys’ health and safety. We’re approaching all of our planning with an appropriate rigor and want to share with you the following:

  • We’re currently planning to make a decision near mid-May regarding if, when, and how we’ll open camp. Combined with all of the preparation that’s already underway, this next 30 days or so will give us the time we need to be ready for our campers and make the right decision based on expert guidance.
  • We have made the decision to postpone Alumni Weekend, which traditionally begins a week before campers arrive, until the weekend after camp. This postponement will give us additional time to fully prepare camp for the boys and to minimize the number of people at camp prior to its opening.
  • There’s a strong likelihood that we’ll have all campers arrive at Kawaga on the same day. This, of course, would depart from our structure of having two four-week sessions. Once we bring the boys into camp, we want to minimize the risk of bringing in any infection from the outside. There are obvious implications to this plan; please know that we’re working through all of these and look forward to speaking with you about them individually.
  • In addition to planning when we’ll arrive at camp, we’re working through how we’ll arrive, which includes the bus service from Chicago and non-air transportation for our boys who live throughout the country. We have a geographic diversity to Kawaga which is something we greatly value; so, we will be following appropriate protocols in how we plan to transport all of our boys to camp.
  • Recent guidelines from the CDC include summer camps. In concert with those released by the American Camp Association, the Midwest Association of Independent Camps, and the Foundation for Jewish Camps, these protocols will advise our planning and decision-making. They also reflect the sentiment that kids need camp more than ever. For example, the ACA is engaging an independent team of public-health experts, pediatricians, epidemiologists, and camp health experts to provide resources to assist us in adhering to CDC COVID-19 guidance.
  • Our own Medical Advisory Team, which we’ve fortified with outside experts, is preparing for this summer by helping us implement these guidelines.

We’re sure you have many more questions. But, as we know you understand, this situation is so fast-moving that we want to be mindful of not only following the latest protocols but also of providing you with clear answers in as timely a manner as possible. And, of course, we look forward to speaking with all of you individually.

Finally, we hope you’ve noticed our “Fellowship Means Staying Home Now” social-media campaign, which we’ve begun rolling out, which is guided by experts in this specialized area of messaging to youth. We’ll be adding to this campaign with some surprises and personal touches for your boys.

Please be safe and be healthy.

Be Kawaga,
Ty and Lauren

March 30th, 2020

Dear Parents,

We hope you’re all enjoying “quantity” time with your kids! It’s certainly something we love at Kawaga — the more time together, the better! And, that’s what this message is about. As you can imagine, we’re busy planning for the summer on several fronts. But, the most important factor is that your boys arrive healthy. As some of you know, we often think of our time at Kawaga as “being in the bubble.” Now, there’s a new meaning to this term. So, parents (and campers, if you’re reading this, too), please make sure you follow every recommended medical guideline so that all of our boys will be able to come to camp this summer. We want them safely in the bubble. As you know, home sheltering isn’t easy for parents or kids. For kids, being away from friends and confined to their homes feels unnatural and, well, a bit boring. But, it’s what we must do to keep each other safe. One of our four values at Kawaga is Fellowship. This is a value that we talk about all the time at camp. Now, it’s more important than ever. Being safe and not taking ANY risks not only protects you and your family but also protects your friends and fellow campers. That means no hanging out with friends except virtually. No playing sports together except virtually. No getting together with girlfriends except virtually. We all went to be together this summer. In fact, we’re planning on it. But, in order for campers to join us, they’ll need to do everything that’s asked of them right now — social-distancing, consistent and recommended hand washing, and sheltering-at-home. We know this isn’t easy. But, it’s what we must do. An additional footnote: Our April 5th (final) payment date will be extended to the 5th of May. Thank you for everyone’s patience, love, and understanding

Be safe. Be smart. Be Kawaga,

March 24th, 2020

Dear Parents,

Lauren and I send all our best to you and your family. We appreciate all of your support during these times. We’ve always known that Kawaga families are special but perhaps never have felt it as strongly as in these past couple of weeks. Second, I don’t want too much time to elapse in between “updates” even though the situation is so fluid. We want you to know that we’re moving forward with all our planning so that we’re ready — as always — on Day One of camp. Of course, we’re monitoring the situation closely and developing contingency plans, if needed. We appreciate your understanding and patience. To answer everybody’s big question: Will there be camp this summer? If we can, we WILL! That’s who we are. That’s the Kawaga Spirit, 106 years strong. We’re steadfast in our determination to assure that the Kawaga 2020 will be our best summer yet. and we’re doing everything to make that possible. There’s much we plan to accomplish this summer. And, there’s no better place on earth for your boys to be. We’ll send you updates, as the situation evolves and our plans take shape. Finally, we’re here for you and your family, so please never hesitate to call.

Be Kawaga,
Ty and Lauren

March 17th, 2020

Dear Kawaga Family,

As you can imagine, Lauren and I have been thinking about all of you even more than usual. I wish I could tell you we’ve been through something just like this before. But, we haven’t. This truly is new ground. Of course, during Kawaga’s 105 years, the world has seen other times of great difficulties and challenges. And, of course, we’ve seen times of great hope and joy. I think it’s that balance between these two that makes us more grateful, more resilient, more connected and more empathetic. One thing that we can always count on is how relevant are the lessons from The Kawaga Ideal. There are so many passages that stand out at a time like this. Here’s just one for now: “Rear him, I pray, not in the paths of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenges. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm. Here let him learn compassion for those who fail.” We will learn from our current difficulties and challenges. And, I have every confidence that you’ll stand up in this storm, showing boundless compassion for others. We will get through this. And, we’ll be together. Please reach out to and stay in touch with your fellow Kawaga friends and family. For now, here’s a photo that just might bring you comfort and warm your heart, as it does mine.

Be Kawaga. Ty

March 12, 2020

Dear Parents, We hope this note finds you and all your loved ones well. We are as enthusiastic, as always, about the upcoming summer, Kawaga’s 106th. Our staff is set and we’re excited to surprise the boys with new activities that are sure to delight. Of course, there’s nothing more important to us – now or ever – than your boys’ health and safety. That’s always been our number-one priority. We want to assure you that we’re not only monitoring the extremely fluid COVID-19 situation, but we’re also putting plans in place to make Kawaga safe this summer. Specifically, we’re assembling a Medical Advisory Team, which will include infectious-disease and pediatric experts, to guide us in all of our decision-making. We are grateful that these experts will be there to inform and support us, as we review and implement medical and safety protocols, including the intake process, recent travel of our campers and staff, hygiene practices, and health monitoring. As you’d expect, we’re also closely monitoring the latest COVID-19 advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The American Camp Association (ACA), the Wisconsin Department of Health, and the Oneida County Health Department so that we keep our campers and staff members healthy and safe. We will continue to keep you informed about our decisions and specific plans of action, as we get closer to June. With our new Medical Advisory Team, together with our own Camp Medical Staff, we feel confident we’ll make the decisions and take the steps to assure the health and safety of all who will be spending this summer “on the Shores.” Please know that we’re here to answer all of your questions. Again, we’ll update you from time to time with more information as CK2020 approaches. Be assured there’s nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our campers and staff. Now, let’s hear it for another fantastic Kawaga summer! Be safe. Be well.

Be Kawaga,
Ty and Lauren