We Belong

WE BELONG together

Dear 2021 Families,

As we near the end of winter, we are committed to communicating more regularly. We know that sometimes, even if there is little or nothing new to report, it helps to hear from us.

With each passing day since our February update, we become increasingly more optimistic that we will be together at Walden this summer. The work of the OCA Task Force has led us to an extremely positive place with the government. We have been assured that unless pandemic conditions erupt, we should plan for camp this summer. Although this news is very encouraging, we still remain quite unclear about the specific measures that will be required of all of us. Our planning, which is well underway, is based on “informed speculation” from the information we have gathered from across North America.

But there are some certainties we can provide: We would like you to mark your calendars with the following dates:

  • MAY 1 IS HANDBOOK DAY: No matter what the situation is on this day, we will circulate a draft of our Summer 2021 Handbook.  On this date, you will see our informed descriptions of new summer protocols.  This handbook will cover topics including:
    • Isolation before camp, 
    • Testing, 
    • Screening, 
    • Our protocol if COVID is detected, 
    • Cohorting, 
    • Optimizing outside time, 
    • Masking,
    • Bubbling,
    • any special changes to the normal program,
    • financial policies regarding cancellations that take place after June 1 or missed camp,
    • and more!
  • MAY 2 IS WEBINAR DAY: After you’ve had a day to digest its contents, we will hold a community-wide webinar in the evening.  This will be for parents, staff, parents of staff who wish to attend, and older campers who are permitted by their parents to attend.  The purpose of this webinar will be to walk the community through the handbook – to give a thorough “lay of the land”.
  • JUNE 1 IS FAMILY DECISION DAY: Families will have a month to consider these options (for example, and this is truly just a hypothetical example: do I still want to send my child to Walden if I have to drive them there?) and as such we have moved our “full refund no questions asked” date to June 1 to provide for this full month of consideration.  We are also moving all spring instalment dates to June 1.  Funny as it sounds, please do not send us any money until then.  But be prepared to pay the full balance on that day.
  • To summarize:

    • Up to 2 more months of waiting
    • May 1 or before we hope to have some concrete news
    • At least a month then to consider the plan
    • A June 1 decision date for you when we hope you will scream, “take my children please!”

To try and answer the most asked question: But when will you know the official status of camps for certain?

We are told it will be after the winter, after the second wave, and after we have gained some confidence about school reopenings.  Of course, you will be the first to know as soon as we hear anything more.  But we always want to be honest with you, and let you know, that the official word might still be some time away.

Furthermore, an obvious truth that we now all know is that even when things are opened, the threat of further changes is very real.  We saw this with restaurants and ski hills.  We continue to be increasingly optimistic that camps will open and will stay open, but even when the day comes that the Premiere announces that “camps are officially open”, we will still need to ready ourselves for turbulence along the way.  So the truthful answer to the question “when will I know about the summer” is… “We won’t.”  – at least not until we are waving goodbye to that last camper on the last day will we know what the summer of 2021 was all about.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Staff are extremely enthusiastic about returning.  After being told about all the “worst-case scenarios” like mask-wearing and having to be tested on arrival, they are re-signing up and totally committed to making your kids’ experiences an extraordinary one.
  • The Leadership Team is meeting regularly and preparing for a variety of different scenarios.  We explore the complex and the mundane e.g. If parents have to drive their kids to camp, there will be treats on arrival!
  • Walden is absolutely full for the first month.  This is unprecedented in our 50-year history.  We have closed registration.  The community is planning for camp.
  • The public is talking about camp.  Like with the movement to open schools in the summer, the media is broadcasting the pleas of kids: When it’s safe enough, camps should open first – kids BELONG somewhere they can feel free.

While this continued uncertainty can be so uncomfortable for our kids, we find ourselves realizing that camp has prepared us for moments like these…

Have hope, stay strong, and plan for camp…

We will be together soon.

All the best,

Sol (on behalf of the Walden Leadership Team)

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