COVID-19 UPDATES

We know that these are uncertain times for everyone. Please know that at Killooleet we will do all we can to open, and run as normal a summer as possible. Please check this page for regular updates.


May 22nd, 2020

Dear Killooleet campers, families, and staff,​

In sadness we write to say that we have most reluctantly concluded that due to the corona virus pandemic we will not be able to run camp this summer.​

We know you are disappointed. So are we. Just as it is at cabin clean-up, though, we can’t let thinking about the things we want to do keep us from doing the things we know we have to do. What we have to do is keep everyone safe. We wouldn’t dream of operating in a way that we didn’t believe would be safe for you, and for our surrounding community.​

We are so grateful for your patience, your many generous offers of support and assistance, and for your care for the Killooleet community as we have all hoped for a clear path forward this summer, and we’re sorry that we don’t have one.​

We have held off on making this decision as long as we could. As you know, we have been working with the Vermont Camp Association and the state of Vermont to see what guidelines they, along with the American Camp Association and the Centers for Disease Control, would develop to specify if, when, and how residential summer camps could operate safely this year. Now that these guidelines have begun to emerge, it has become clear that we cannot welcome you all to Hancock safely this summer. The life or death stakes, the uncertain reliability and availability of testing, the fact that you can be highly contagious for days before you have symptoms, the absence of reliable treatment, and our limited ability to isolate and properly care for people who might become sick after arriving at camp—these factors all call for extraordinary precautions, including severe limitations on the number of people (campers and staff) who could be at camp, in a cabin, at activities, or on the dining porch, as well as consistent and vigilant cleaning and distancing.​

We’ve been considering how we can do all of that, and it is very hard to admit that our collective energy, creativity, and love for each other wouldn’t be enough. But when we ask ourselves and our health care staff the most important question, “Can we keep everyone safe?” the most optimistic answer we can get is, “Maybe, if we’re all really lucky.” That just isn’t good enough, for us or for you. You wouldn’t want us to run the waterfront, or target sports activities, or hikes that way. We can’t run all of camp that way, either. We want each of you, all of you, to be back with us at camp as soon as possible. Here is a link to a video with a little more about this: ​

https://youtu.be/aJb3YSiuXaM​

So, what next? First and foremost, we know how important the Killooleet community is to each of you. We always say that each summer is different, and that much of that depends on what we each choose to make of it. We are now facing the summer that will be “more different” than any other, but the outcome will still be determined by what we choose to make of it. Our community can and will survive this, and you will still be a key part of it.​

• Campers: we are holding your place for the summer of 2021, as we “freeze” cabin progressions. This summer’s oldest campers will be able to be oldest campers next summer; new campers who were looking forward to joining us as youngest campers will still be able to be youngest campers. Staff: we know that many things change over even a normal year, but we are holding your spaces, too, if you are able to make it.​

• We need an opportunity to grieve the loss of the summer we were looking forward to, and also to come together to plan how we can keep the flame of our Killooleet fire alive while we are apart for now. We’ll be reaching out soon to schedule some Town Meeting Zoom calls for the community, and also for particular groups—oldest campers, staff, new campers and families, perhaps cabin groups who would like them. And of course, please reach out to us individually. We’ve also attached a couple of resources, one in print and one in video, that might be helpful.​

• We all know that no video experience can ever take the place of being at camp. But we are actively exploring what kinds of programming and digital support we can make available to help you stay in touch with your camp friends, values, and experiences. We know that many people have enjoyed the virtual sings and campfire we have released. We will continue those, and we’re eager to hear your ideas about what else you would enjoy—virtual pro-nite?​

• Finances. Many parents have been making tuition payments even as the virus has changed the world around them, and that has been very helpful as we face ongoing costs like maintaining camp buildings and grounds and caring for the horses. Thank you. We also know that many families are facing significant hardships. We are offering every family a full refund, including deposit. Like so many other things at camp, situations vary by individual and family. We will be in touch soon to talk about timing and other options, which may include rolling some or all of your tuition over to 2021, or choosing to donate some portion to help reduce the size of the loan that we will need to operate for a year without revenue (as other executives have done, we are going without salaries this year, but since we typically make as much as a counselor does each summer there won’t be a big cost reduction there).​

• We are already beginning to think about summer 2021, when we hope Killooleet can come back stronger than ever. Perhaps this year we can tackle some maintenance challenges that are hard to get to during the season with everyone there. We may also have the opportunity to address some of the limitations that gave us such concern about this summer, from building more handwashing stations to expanding our capacity to isolate or quarantine patients at camp if needed in the future.​
This has been the most difficult news we have ever had to deliver as camp directors, and we know that all of us wish it did not have to be so.

We’ve shed more than a few tears, but we are also confident that it is the right decision for our community. We are grateful for your understanding, patience, and support, and look forward to hearing from you.

Warmly,

Kate and Dean
Document linksGrieving Summer 2020.pdf
Helping kids with their disappointment video:
https://www.tinabryson.com/news/video-helping-our-kids-manage-summer-disappointments

May 8th, 2020

Dear Killooleet families,

            We hope that you continue to be well, and are able to manage the challenges of virtual school for your child/children while you are juggling changes to work life, in whatever form those have been.  We are finding that juggling it all takes a lot of time and energy even without children in the house.  The State of Massachusetts is now requiring everyone to wear masks when outside or inside in public places.  Dean and I wear bandanas or scarves when doing dog walks on streets where it is easy to socially distance, and masks when grocery shopping or going on the bike path in our neighborhood. 

            We have been busy on Zoom calls and webinars, some hosted by the ACA (American Camp Association) others by our insurance company or the SBA (Small Business Adminstration).  We meet regularly with our colleagues in the VCA (Vermont Camp Association) and recently worked on a proposal for opening summer camps safely, which was shared with state officials.  We gathered this summer’s staff and some former staff together for a brainstorming session, because one of the challenges we are facing is assessing the many possibilities of what camp would have to be/do in order to open in Hancock this summer.  It was great to hear their ideas, creativity and energy, and get a sense of what they feel are the most important parts of our camp experience in program, schedule and philosophy. 

As we wait for more guidance from the State of Vermont and the ACA, it has become clear that we won’t be able to open camp on June 29 for the traditional eight-week season we were so excited about.   We have reached this decision reluctantly, and we still hope to open camp for at least a many-week season starting in mid-July.   Until we get more detailed guidance from Vermont and the ACA, we won’t be able to figure whether and how we can do what we would need to do to open safely.   The careful pace at which the State of Vermont is re-opening to business and travel, the current scarcity of a wide variety of  medical and ordinary supplies in Vermont and the question of getting training for staff in things like lifeguarding are just some of the reasons why we are convinced that a June 29 opening is no longer feasible.

We want to propose to campers and families the idea that since this summer at Killooleet will not be its usual self, the campers planning to come this summer would be in their 2020 cabin in 2021, perhaps joined a by a few new campers.   Campers and alumni sometimes call this a “freeze”, and we have had partial freezes before.   This would mean that the current pandemic wouldn’t cause the oldest two cabins to miss their Cabins 7 and 10 summer; and younger campers would get their full span of years at camp.  Since there is a great deal of individual and group growth each summer, it will give campers the chance to grow into their leadership skills, making for stronger individual experiences and a stronger community.   The campers who would have been in Cabins 4 and 1 will still get to be youngest campers in 2021.

 We wanted to propose this now because we know that many campers (and parents!) have been wondering about it.   Once we know what our program can look like, we will be able to address financial questions, and we will be asking parents and campers for their input.   This will probably take many forms, from Zoom calls to individual conversations, in addition to emails.  We will be in touch with you again when we have more information.

Thank you all for your patience and your support.  We really appreciate it!  As we have said in the virtual sings and campfires, (available on killooleet.com) Killooleet is a strong and caring family.  Together we will weather these challenges.  Take care and be safe,

Kate and Dean


April 26th, 2020

To the Killooleet Community,

Parents, campers, staff, new camper families, alumni (camper and staff), and friends,

Greetings. We hope you are managing to stay safe and reasonably sane in these challenging times.  Thank you to the many in our community and beyond who are working hard on the front lines of this virus:  in heath care, food stores, first responders, restaurants and bakeries feeding people, transportation workers, and others whose jobs are essential.

Like most of you, Dean and I are staying home, (Somerville, not Vermont) spending too much time on our computers with virtual teaching of classes (Dean) and zoom calls and seminars with camping colleagues and professionals, experts in fields of health, finance and education (Kate).  It helps that Sadie, our dog, needs several walks a day, so we mask up and take her for short and longer strolls, both around the neighborhood and occasionally farther afield. 

Like many of the other camps in New England and beyond, we are in a waiting game.  Waiting to see how the pandemic will play out, and what happens as states figure out their time tables for when and which businesses can open.  We are watching the development of testing, and most importantly availability and accuracy of those tests.   We don’t anticipate knowing much more before mid May at the earliest.

We are following the advice of the American Camp Association (ACA), which has been working hard to gather resources and make them available to all camps, not just ones like Killooleet who are accredited.  The ACA is working with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and teams of health experts as they develop COVID-19 guidance for day and overnight camps for this summer. The CDC’s guidance will help state public health authorities and camp directors with their summer decisions, as well as utilize best practices in health management, community involvement and camp operations.

Similarly, the Vermont Camp Association is closely monitoring conditions in the state of Vermont as it develops its guidance for businesses of all kinds.  While the situation is fluid, Vermont is currently expecting that some businesses in the hospitality sector could begin receiving out of state visitors as early as mid-June.   Just today the governor of Vermont announced that they are allowing a few more small businesses, for example garden centers, to open up.  There are restrictions to no more than 10 employees and customers at a time, with masks and physical separation requirements observed.     

We know how important the community of camp is to our campers (and staff!), so we are still hopeful and preparing to run camp if we can.  And as always, health and safety are paramount, so we are also starting to analyze possible alternatives in case we cannot operate camp as usual in accordance with the expected guidelines.  While we are waiting, we have been busy.  We have been hiring wonderful staff and talking with them about their responsibilities.  Planning virtual Sings and Campfires, and talking with alumni who have surfaced, are great reminders of how strong our community is.   

 We are thinking about potential changes in camp routines, and one easy one is handwashing.  We are talking with Keith and Ken about ways of making it easier for everyone to wash their hands many times a day.  At camp we are repairing horse fences, getting farm equipment ready for the hayfield, beginning to paint cabins when the sun shines.  It snowed several times last week, but the wildflowers are beginning to show their green shoots in the woods around the lake in particular.

  We have learned that since most doctor’s offices are postponing wellness checkups for the foreseeable future, the ACA has changed their guidelines for health forms.  Returning campers who handed in complete health forms last summer will only need send a health history update as well as probable COVID-19 related forms.  New campers will need to provide health forms based on their last office visit, which can be requested with an email-friendly form available online, as well as a health history parents fill out.  More information will arrive shortly for new families.

Mostly we are thinking about people, and are hoping, with the rest of you, that there will be safe and feasible ways to gather in Hancock this summer.  We look forward to zoom, skype and facetime visits with families.  Meanwhile, if you have questions or just want to talk with us, our contact information is below.  Kate prefers phone calls or texts, but please don’t hesitate to reach out in whatever form works for you.  Thank you to our many supporters.  Killooleet is a family, and we are here for you just as you have been there for us.  We are hanging on to our creativity and flexibility. Be well and be mindful.

Kate Seeger and Dean Spencer

Home: 617-666-1484

Kate cell:  617-413-8749                       kseeger@killooleet.com

Dean cell: 617-413-5609                       deanaway@aol.com


March 20th, 2020

Dear Killooleet families and community,  

          As the world reels from the effects of the Corona virus, our thoughts are with you.  We hope you and your family are safe and healthy, and that you are managing the challenges of the school closures and new restrictions that seem to change daily.   Like everyone else, we are monitoring developments and staying abreast of the advice and guidance given by the CDC and state health departments.  And like everyone else, we don’t really know what other changes will come our way between now and summer.  What we do know is that all of us will need to be creative and flexible.  We also believe that after weeks of social distancing, much of it indoors, children will need the kind of social connection and connection with the natural world that Killooleet provides, maybe more than ever. 

So we are still planning for summer 2020.  We know your children have been looking forward to camp, and many of you have filled out the enrollment forms.  We share your optimism and hope.  We are also beginning to discuss the challenges and possibilities with key staff and other camp directors.  If we need to make adjustments to program, we will be in touch as early as possible, and will of course make financial adjustments as well.  When the time comes for spring visits we’ll be in touch about whether we can see you in person or by video.

Killooleet is a family, and our connections are strong in times of hardship as well as joy.  Your child may have already reached out to their friends and cabin mates, but if they have misplaced their Banquet folder or we can be of other assistance, do let us know how we can help. 

Thinking of you, and wishing we could all sing together,

Kate and Dean