The coronavirus continues to change the way the world operates. Camps, including Camp Fontanelle, are being changed to protect campers and staff alike.
Camp Fontanelle Communications Coordinator Jane Van Horn said their camps are going virtual.
"We are using the word suspended because we don't want to miss out on the opportunity, if by chance the governor's directed health measures change, that we would have the opportunity to open back up," she said. "We are not anticipating that it's going to happen, but we want to be able to have that option and that language allows us to do that."
Van Horn said the summer camp counselors who were hired for the summer are at Camp Fontanelle now training and are going to put together the virtual camp materials and get engaged with the campers.
"People already registered are automatically rolled into the virtual camp," Van Horn said. "We're still encouraging people to register for the camps because virtual camp may look different for the Splish Splash campers focused on water vs. Zoobilee campers focused on animals and a trip to the zoo."
Van Horn said parents are disappointed but fully understanding.
"We had a grandparent registered for a May camp and she said she wouldn't move the registration but keep our registration fee 'because you are going to need it,'" Van Horn said.
Van Horn said some campers have already registered and paid, some paid part or planned to pay on site. Campers can request a refund, apply it to the 2021 season or make it as a donation to cover expenses.
"The camp counselors are very excited to be here," Van Horn said. "They have a love for camp, kids and super excited about sharing with the campers their love of God and how to take God with you throughout the day. They still have the enthusiasm with them."
Van Horn said they did self-quarantine for 14 days before they came on site.
"We made sure they were COVID-19 free, filled out questionnaires before they came and wanted to make sure they were healthy and for those who work here to stay healthy," Van Horn said. "They are staying on site for the time they are going to be here. We did have one that was worried and opted to not come on site. We respect that totally."
Camp Fontanelle is a facility of the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"There are five camps in Kansas and Nebraska and we have a local site council and a governing board for all five camps — the Great Plains Camps Inc made the decision to suspend for all five member camps,” Van Horn said. “Each camp makes their own decision based on health departments whether to open at a later date."
Van Horn said they knew it was a possibility this was how summer was going to look. They listen to governor and the Three Rivers Public Health Department.
"We had already cancelled our May camps with the younger kid camps that come with an adult. It might be grandparents bringing the kids," she said. "We have people registered that were the vulnerable population. It was a hard communication but we had to do it with them. I made personal calls to every family to notify them and then sent out general updates."