2021 COVID Updates – Keeping Our Camp Community Healthy

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We are excited to open camp this summer and can’t wait to greet you on Opening Day. It’s been over a year since COVID-19 changed and disrupted our world but it is encouraging to see numbers in the US decreasing and vaccinations rolling out. We have heard from a number of our staff who have already received their vaccinations and from others who should receive it by May. We strongly encourage our camper families and our staff, 16 and older to research where and when you can receive a vaccine to help protect our community and decrease the spread of the virus.      

Our top priority is the health and safety of our campers and staff. Although there will be changes at camp this summer to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19, campers will still have the opportunity to make long lasting friendships, form connections to the community and natural world, experience new activities, learn, and have fun!  We all need camp more than ever! We have been working hard to prepare for the 2021 summer: making plans, updating and establishing protocols, hiring great staff, and planning a fun and meaningful program. 

As we move closer to the summer, we continue to receive information and follow guidance from various agencies including the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Camp Association (ACA), the Transylvania County Health Department, and our medical advisory team made up of several of our camp physicians and nurses. The situation is fluid so policies and procedures are subject to change as new information and guidance becomes available. 

The American Camp Association along with the CDC are recommending we practice NPI’s (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions such as the 3 W’s) to help mitigate the spread of the virus. The goal of  practicing these layered protections is to try to keep our camp community healthy. Based on current recommendations, requirements, and information we plan to implement the following protocols.

Prior to Arrival

A Symptom Screening Form will be required upon your arrival at camp. We will require campers and staff to screen for symptoms for 10 days prior to arrival and complete the Pre-Camp Health Screening form. 

We ask campers, their families, and staff to limit their direct contact with others and to avoid large gatherings 10 days before camp. When in public or traveling to camp, please continue to practice the 3 W’s, wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

A negative molecular PCR COVID-19 test will be required upon arrival or proof of a COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 3 months. The test must be completed within 3-5 days prior to the start of your child’s session. This test will be viewed as your camper’s “Tajar Pass” for starting camp and must be presented upon arrival

For our longer sessions, we are considering an additional COVID test 3-5 days into your child’s session depending on the numbers and data closer to summer. 

Should my child attend camp this summer?

We understand that 2021 may not be the summer for your child to attend camp this summer due to the risk of COVID-19. Who should not come?

  • Campers whose families are uncomfortable with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. 
  • Campers who are in a vulnerable group or who live with someone in a vulnerable group.
  • Those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 less than 10 days prior to their arrival date. 
  • Campers whose families are unable to pick up their child within 24 hours should the need arise.

Opening Day:

Opening Day will look different this summer with staggered drop off times. For those families with siblings, you may arrive at either of your assigned times. We will send out more information as to what the time slots will be closer to the start of each session. Upon arrival, you will turn in your camper’s negative PCR test, the pre-camp health screening form, and your camper will receive their health screening. We will then help you unload your camper’s luggage and you will meet your child’s counselor and other leadership. Families will not visit cabins on Opening Day so hugs and parting with your camper will take place in the field where you park. Bunks will be pre-assigned by the counselors; you will have the opportunity before your child’s session to share if your child prefers to not have a top bunk. We will post photos early in the session of each cabin group and their cabin so you can get a glimpse into cabin life. 

We will transport your child’s luggage to their cabin. It is very important that all of their items be packed without loose items for easy transport. Good options for packing are:

  • A trunk, a duffle, or both, or two duffles
  • A pillow – your child can carry this to their cabin if it isn’t packed.
  • A day pack or backpack

You will turn in the following items upon arrival so don’t pack it in the trunk or duffle!

  • Your child’s negative PCR test
  • Your child’s pre-camp screening form
  • Your child’s medications in a zip lock bag to hand to medical staff

Medications for Opening Day Drop Off

Since Opening Day will be different this year, we are asking that all parents of campers who take medication adhere to the following guidelines.

All medication must be in the original package with a prescription label or in a blister pack with the prescription label. We are partnering with Gordon Family Pharmacy here in Brevard to “bubble or blister” pack medications. We will email a form to complete at a later date for those who would like to use this service. There is a $20 fee for blister packaging all medications whether this is done at Gordon Family Pharmacy or by our medical team here at Gwynn Valley. 

All over the counter medications including vitamins will also need a note from your child’s physician or licensed medical provider for our medical staff to be able to dispense and administer. These must also be in the original container with your child’s first and last name on it or in a labeled blister pack. There is a space on the physician health exam form where your physician can list this medication or s/he may turn in a signed note prescribing the OTC medication. Please remember we stock our Health Hut with all necessary OTC medicines so if your child needs a medication PRN, our medical team will have it on hand to administer.

Camp provides a lot of structure for children and we have certain times we administer medications: Before Breakfast / Before Lunch / Before Dinner / Before Bed

Whenever possible, it is important that we administer medications before meals to keep with the structure of our camp day. Nightly medications such as growth hormones or melatonin can be given right before campers return to their cabin for the night.

It is very important that you update any medication changes or time to administer on your child’s health form before opening day. This will help us avoid a back up with our staggered opening. Thank you for your help with this! 


While at camp, campers and staff will be screened daily for symptoms.

Cabins and Groups

There will be several layers of groups within our camp community that our campers and staff will experience this year: the cabin, neighborhood, and program area of camp (Main Camp, Mountainside, Riverside, Young Leaders).

Cabins will be viewed as a family unit and while in their cabin, campers and staff will not be required to wear a mask or maintain physical distance. 

A neighborhood will be a group of 3 – 5 similar aged cabins. These neighborhoods will allow for campers to interact with others outside of their cabin and sign up for activities. While campers and staff are interacting with others in their neighborhood, we will be requiring masks to be worn if they are inside, or when physical distancing is not possible. 

In the instance that a program would be gathered together as a whole, we will be outside and physical distance between cabin groups. The instances where this might occur would be an evening program like our Camping Skills and Nature campfire on the big field in front of our Office for Main Camp and Young Leaders and evening program for Mountainside. 


Campers will have a combination of participating in some activities by cabin group according to preference and through the opportunity to choose activities by neighborhood. After supper activities will be by cabin group and evening program by neighborhood unless cooking out, camping out or spending special time with your cabin.

Mask Wearing

We will require masks to be worn by campers and staff when they are inside a building, with others outside of their cohort (cabin group) and physical distancing of 6 feet is not possible, and when entering or exiting the dining room and bathrooms. Masks will also be required by campers and staff when in camp vehicles. Masks will not be required at water activities. 

Please be sure to pack at least 7 comfortable two-layer cloth masks and one pack of disposable masks for your child. Don’t forget to label their masks! 

Dining Hall and Meals

Campers will sit with their cabin group at meal times. While we are sad campers and staff won’t get to meet others at meals, sitting as a cabin group makes the most sense and is also the safest option. Tables will be placed 6 feet apart from each other. We are thankful to have such a large, screened dining facility! Cabins will also have more opportunities to have picnics, cookouts, and breakfast in bed. As always, campers and staff will be required to wash their hands following proper hand washing techniques before entering the dining hall. 


We are strongly encouraging our staff who are 16 years old and over to get a COVID vaccine before arriving for the summer. The CDC has listed camp staff / counselors as essential childcare workers / educators so we hope that our staff will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine. Many have already started their vaccination process.

Staff will be required to wear masks while in close proximity (less than 6 feet) with campers not in their cabin. For example, while attaching a harness to a camper at the climbing wall. Once they are able to maintain an appropriate distance, masks can be removed. Masks will not be required in water activities


If a camper has to leave early due to COVID-19, the family will receive a prorated refund for the remaining days of the session.

If a camper or family member tests positive before attending camp and has to be in isolation or quarantine, then the loss will be shared by the family and camp.

We encourage our families to purchase insurance similar to trip insurance in case of emergency or illness. 

Please read the full Cancellation Policy here:  https://gwynnvalley.com/summer-camp/registration/#Cancellation.

Probable or Positive Case – Camper


In the event that a camper is experiencing symptoms of COVID, we will isolate them in the Health Hut where our medical team will care for them. Our physician will assess your child and determine whether your child should be tested for COVID-19. We will communicate with you about your child’s condition and testing. If a test is positive we will ask that you pick up your child within 12 to 24 hours. 

The Cabin

If a camper or counselor is exhibiting COVID symptoms, then the rest of the cabin will quarantine with each other while still participating in activities. This means that rather than doing sign-ups with their neighborhood they will move to a set schedule together. The cabin will quarantine together for 5 days at which time the physician may choose to test the cabin group depending on the length of the session. We will monitor campers and staff during the quarantine period for symptoms of COVID and communicate with you to keep you informed. 

The cabin will eat together outside of the dining hall on the Pavilion or under a tent. 

We will consult with our local health department for tracing and testing procedures. We will use a combination of rapid and PCR testing for campers and staff who were in close contact to the symptomatic camper. 

Probable or Positive Case – Counselor or staff

We are encouraging our staff who are 16 years of age or older to get a COVID vaccine prior to their arrival, providing it is available to them.

If a staff member exhibits symptoms of COVID, then they will move to a separate area of camp where we have single rooms and a separate bathroom set aside for isolation. The physician will assess them. If the staff member tests positive then we will follow the CDC guidelines. 

Staff Training

Our staff will receive additional training in guiding and teaching their campers about the three W’s. Camp is set up with many hand washing stations and we will encourage campers to wash hands often and have hand sanitizer available at activities.

Bathrooms and Showers

Cabins will sign up for shower times when campers and staff will be able to take showers. We will sanitize and disinfect our showerhouses and bathrooms regularly which has always been a part of our communicable disease plan. 

Closing Day

We are asking our parents to remain patient and flexible with us as we continue to evaluate the possibilities for Closing Day. We will again have staggered pick up times and will be releasing information for our Closing Day schedule in early May. Unfortunately, we will not be serving  our farm lunch to campers or families on Closing Day nor have a closing ceremony. 

As we move into April and get closer to summer, we will continue to update and communicate with you about our COVID-19 preparedness and guidelines. As we all know, the situation with the virus is fluid and we continue to learn from the latest science and data. As stated earlier, our priority is the health and safety of our campers. Our goal is to partner with our families so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns. 

We can’t wait to see you this summer!