by Matt Kaufman
on April 30, 2021
Jackie and Jared discuss face coverings, visiting days and nights, new activity areas, and reminders about what to expect next!
Welcome to our April 30 edition of the weekly Ramaquois Video Blog. Welcome back for those that have been with us before and welcome to those who are viewing for the first time, I’m Jared and one of the directors here at Ramaquois. And joining me, as always, is one of our assistant directors at Ramaquois, Jackie Port. Hello, Jackie.
Hi, Jared. Hello everybody.
We have had this tradition in all of our videos, of being very clear that we are going to be as transparent as possible with you and answer any of your questions with the best information we have available to us. We will continue that trend today. Before we dive into the questions, I just want to throw out a few reminders for anyone that’s viewing this. If you’re a staff member that’s watching this video, please don’t forget to send in your forms. Send us your vaccine cards, send in your medical forms with your vaccinations, not just your COVID ones, but others as well.
If you are parents that are watching this, please make sure that you fill out any of the online forms that we’ve talked about several times and have emailed about. Many of you have done them already, and that’s great. We appreciate it. But those who haven’t please take care of that. Don’t forget that there’s a form that has to be completed by a physician or a physician’s office to make sure that that is done as soon as you possibly can. We know some of you are waiting to have your pre scheduled physical exams still a couple or a few weeks away, but as soon as you can get those to us, and if you have not yet already ordered your camp clothing, don’t forget to go to Ramaquois.com/clothing and place your orders not only for your complimentary shirts, but any additional items that you would like to purchase for your camper or for yourselves or any alumni. They make lovely stocking stuffers if you want to do some advanced shopping for the holiday season, but I think that’s it for our kind of warm up. So, Jackie, I’m ready if you are, you want to get started.
The most common question that we still get is our policy about face coverings this past week, some government agencies have made different recommendations. There’s a lot of information out there and becoming available that’s a little confusing. So I think we should clarify with everybody where we stand now on face coverings and what if anything, will change and why.
Yes, it’s definitely been an interesting week for us, with some announcements on a national level and some in particular that were specific to camps. And that always raises the antenna of all the families that are so invested in camp as much as we are. So the first thing is that when a federal agency makes recommendations about camps or anything, they are exactly that. They’re recommendations. They’re not guidelines. Ramaquois, as a summer day camp in the State of New York. We are governed by the New York State and Rockland County Departments of Health, and those are the organizations that provide the specific guidelines with which we have to comply and are the ones that regulate us to make sure that we are in compliance with those. To date, New York State has not issued updated guidelines for summer 2021.
All of our planning has been revolving around the guidelines that have been in place since last summer. So while we expect that there will be some updates, we have not yet received any of them. There’s a lot of interesting things that are in the news. Just yesterday, we heard Governor Cuomo say that he anticipates that by the beginning of July that New York State may be back to full reopening of businesses. And so there’s obviously a chance that that could have an impact on decisions that they make regarding camp and what we’ll be permitted to do and the different guidelines we follow. Our goal is always to maintain the highest levels of safety and health, and whatever the New York State and Rockland County health departments decide is the right policy, whether it’s for mask wearing or otherwise, is what we’re going to follow. Those are the things that we’ve always done, and it’s something that we will continue to do. We are a very compliant camp. We are known for it in some of the agencies with whom we work, and we can have every reasonable expectation to continue to be among the most compliant and to follow the rules as strictly as possible.
So the short answer is, we still don’t know as soon as we know, we are going to tell you and let you know. And we do understand that everybody has different levels of feelings and emotions about what rules should or shouldn’t be. But our plan is to follow the strictest interpretation of the rules that are given to us by New York State and by Rockland County.
And then I just want to add one more thing. I spoke to a parent earlier today that asked me the question about face coverings, and I answered it appropriately. And then the parents said to me, Well, if I want my child to wear a face covering outdoors, is that okay? And the answer is yes, of course it is. If that’s your level of comfort. And our guideline is that they do not have to wear it outside when they’re with a cohort, if you’re more comfortable with your child wearing it outdoors, just let us know. And it’s absolutely. Of course, it’s accessible and perfectly fine.
Yeah. Like we said before, there’s so much information that comes out, it seems every day. So we’re trying to remain patient and have every expectation that we will be able to have a wonderful, incredible camp season and simultaneously be in compliance with all the guidelines that are set forth. All right. Enough about mask wearing and guidelines. Let’s get to something that I know many of our families are anxious about. I think one of the things that we know is that people love being at Ramaquois and that is not exclusive to our campers and our staff. Many parents really enjoy the opportunity to come and visit us at camp. So, Jackie, what’s the deal with visiting days and visiting nights? Where are we with that?
Again, we’re waiting. There’s still no decision at this time. And most of the reason for that is, again, the guidelines from the Department of Health. The hang up right now is a contact trace and having hundreds of people at camp for whatever reason, even though outdoors, we need to know from the Department of Health what a contact trace would look like in that situation. And then once we have that information, we can make a final decision.
Yeah. I think we just don’t want to put ourselves in any kind of position where we increase any likelihood of something negative happening. We only want to be able to do it if we know that that wouldn’t be the case. So we, of course, would love to welcome as many families, parents, friends whomever to come visit and see camp in action. We love showing off camp, but we’re only going to do it if we know that it could be done very safely.
So every year, Jared, we know that Ramaquois always is trying to improve and get better and better. And a lot of that is offering new and fun activities. So even this summer, with certain restrictions, are we planning anything new, any new programs or anything the campers can look forward to that maybe they haven’t seen before as a returning camper.
So one of our goals this year was to come up with some new programming ideas that perhaps required less equipment and really was founded just on the idea of being a little bit more creative and some of the older school types of camp activities. So three programs that we have added for this summer, which we think are going to be incredibly exciting and dynamic are a theater games, one where kids are going to have opportunities to really kind of old school, bring back some of the acting, performing and doing it in a very unique, creative ways. We’re really fortunate to have a new staff member joining us who is just an incredibly engaging and dynamic person who’s going to make this a remarkable activity. We are adding something called story time. Those of you that have been here before know that we have done each year, we do sort of a junior camp Story Day. We’re taking that same concept and expanding it a little bit larger. So there’s a little bit of acting and performing involved, but the idea of telling great stories and getting kids excited about that and being really imaginative and having just some real excitement about something like that and the third program that we’re going to be doing this year is kind of founded on two concepts. It’s based around the idea that at a lot of sleep way camps, you know that Ramaquois is a day camp, as complete as a sleep way, a lot of sleepaway camps, they do a lot of very creative, interesting evening activities where it’s less about vendors you bring in and more about how creative can you be in house. Our goal is to sort of replicate that to some extent. And number two is to take advantage of and I mean that in a good way, take advantage, but take advantage of the talent and skills of a long time, very popular, very well, like staff member at Ramaquois. So for those of you that know Samantha Schnapper, she’s going to be running an activity that at the moment is really just called fun with Schnapper, because I think just being with her is fun. And she’s going to be doing a lot of those evening activity types of fun, high energy, exciting, interactive types of things. Those who were her campers in the past know what we’re talking about, but we’re really excited about it. Sam is amazing. And having her back this summer is just a real plus for Ramaquois and for all the campers that point to our activities for sure. So those are some of the exciting new things that we have. Okay.
And I think we have one final question, and I think we may have touched on a little bit, but maybe we can expand a tad. So today is the last day of April. We’re getting into May, and that’s when certainly in the camp world, a lot of things start to pick up for us in terms of preparation. What can families expect in terms of hearing from Ramaquois over the next several weeks? What are some things they should be looking out for or anticipating as we get closer to camp?
We mentioned this last week, so I’m just going to skim over the first few and focus on one right now. But these videos, of course, we hope that they’re informative we’ve been getting wonderful feedback. So thank you for that. We are going to schedule a few webinars coming up in the spring with different topics, and you will have advanced notice if you’d like to sign on to the webinars that will be recorded if you’re not able to see it or participate at that time. But what I’d like to focus on for a moment is the division leader phone calls, because that’s really how the division leader is going to get to know your child very specifically. To really share any information, you will have the opportunity to share any information you have that will help us set your child up for success at camp. So I think it’s really important that you realize that the division leaders are going to talk to each of you if you have more than one child in camp, you’re going to get more than one phone call, assuming they’re not twins and in the same division, of course. But each camper you will receive a phone call about each camper. Those phone calls are probably going to start mid May. And here’s the important thing to please remember, it is very likely that the division leader is going to contact you by email first to try and make an appointment to speak. A lot of our division leaders are teachers in the school year during the year, and they’re working. And as are you probably working remotely and teaching remotely. So the best way to find the time convenient for both of you is to make an appointment to speak, and that appointment will be facilitated through an email. So please watch your emails. Please open an email that you think you might not recognize the name. If it’s between mid May and mid June, it might be one of our division leaders, and we will keep trying until we reach you. But if you could respond as quickly as possible, we can make that marriage for an appointment happen a little more easily. So please watch out for that. And the parent website also is always a source of information. And your general email inbox which we’ve mentioned many times if Ramaquois is reaching out to you, it’s because we have something to say. So when you receive the emails, please open them and read them.
Yeah. And again, I think the part to emphasize there is that those phone calls from the division leader are meant to help create a partnership between us and you as the parents. For those that are parents watching this video, we want to work together with you to provide your child or children with the greatest possible camp experience. So please take that time to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with him or her.
And I’m also going to jump back in Jared for one moment if you could do your personality profile, the online form on the parent website. It’s really helpful for our division leaders to have that completed so they can review that information. Therefore, if they have any questions about something you wrote, it’s a great time to discuss it. So if you could please complete the personality profiles soon as the division leader calls are going to be starting mid May, that would be very helpful for us.
Definitely. So I think that’s it for this week, right. We have no other burning questions that are on our list for today. I’m sure there’s plenty of questions that people have, but that’s all the time we have for this week’s video. Thanks again for taking the time to view. As always, if you have any questions for us, please feel free to send them our way. You can email them to me. It’s Jared at Ramaquois dot com that’s J-A-R-E-D at Ramaquois. Com. Don’t forget to continue to follow us on our social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook. We try to provide some updates and then some interesting things along the way just to keep you engaged and get you as excited for a camp season as we are. And I think that’s all the time we have for now. So as we end all of our events at Ramaquois, lineups or otherwise, and I guess now videos all the time too. We say thank you for your time and have fun. There’s a camp out there. Bye.
Matt has spent his summers at Camp Ramaquois since 1984 — as a camper, counselor, and in various administrative positions, including his current role of Associate Director. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University. At camp, Matt works in program development, staff training and camper engagement. He has served as the program chair of the Tri-State Camp Conference and authored a book about summer camp staff training entitled The Summer Camp MBA. Outside of camp, he enjoys hiking, reading, website development, and spending time with his wife, nieces, nephew and dog.
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