To The Entire Equinunk and Blue Ridge Family,

The world has experienced dramatic change in the past few months. Our own lives and interactions with others have shifted in ways that were once hard to conceive. Through all of this, the connection to Equinunk and Blue Ridge and each other has only grown stronger. Our desire to be home at camp, and welcome our campers to EBR, has become even greater. While Equinunk and Blue Ridge will continue to be a constant presence in our lives, and a true part of each of our identities, our family has made the heartbreaking decision to not bring us all together at camp this summer.

For our campers, parents, staff, alumni and ourselves, the thought of a summer not together at camp was once unimaginable; now the reality of it is almost unbearable. While sharing a profound sense of loss and sadness, our tears and heartbreak are tempered by knowing that we explored every pathway to bring us to camp this year. After consulting with physicians, statisticians, psychologists, government officials, dozens of camp directors and our extraordinary leadership team, the outcome of our decision process made it very clear to us - we can not provide the powerful and exceptional Equinunk and Blue Ridge experience while ensuring our highest standards for a healthy, safe and nurturing camp environment.

Each of us will process and feel the impact of this in our own ways. We empathize with how our new campers and families are feeling without even having had the joy of attending camp yet. While this first year is not what any of us would have imagined for your children, the connections you have already established with one another and CECBR will prove to serve as a cohesive foundation on your path to 2021 and beyond. To the CBR PCs and CE Upper Seniors of 2020, your journey has led to this pinnacle summer of camp leadership; the added pain you feel must be immeasurable. You have shown great strength, patience and a positive attitude under these trying circumstances.

Our family invites all camp parents to a brief Zoom call this evening at 7:30pm to provide greater insight into the determining factors of our decision.

This will be followed by two Zoom calls for our campers on Friday; CBR at 5:00pm and CE at 5:30pm. Details for the Zoom calls to be emailed shortly.

Beginning early next week, we will be reaching out to arrange additional Zoom calls for our PCs, Upper Seniors, New Families and staff, as well as an email to parents on enrollment and finances.

Please give your children a hug from us and let them know how much we care for and about them, and are sharing in the pain and sadness they feel. You must also remind them to remain strong, and that inner strength comes from sharing their feelings, keeping their heads high and exhaling when emotions get too high. We are proud of the courage and fortitude of our camp family - this will see us through another day and another season until we all return home to Equinunk and Blue Ridge in 2021.

With love and our great appreciation for your trust, confidence and compassion during these exceedingly challenging times,

Sheryl, Richie and Adam

2020 Operations & Health Updates

Without question, we are living through an unprecedented time and our immediate thoughts are with the health and well-being of our loved ones, friends and entire Equinunk & Blue Ridge family. It is with the support, and in support, of one another that we will get through this.

CECBR wants to reassure you that we are determined to continue our planning and preparations with all intention to be fully operational this summer. Having said that, we know that this is an evolving situation and we are committed to providing you with ongoing communication.

Acting in transparency, we are publishing our communications to families here. Please check back for the latest information to be posted here.

As always, please contact us with any questions or concerns!

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - May 21, 2020

Dear Equinunk & Blue Ridge Families and Staff,

Your patience, understanding and trust in our decision making process over the years, especially these past few months, is recognized and greatly appreciated. Some decisions are made on experience, some on raw data along with expert advice, and the most important ones through a combination of all. While we share in the same angst in wanting to know if camp can open and what the experience will bring, we ask for just a little more time in allowing our exceedingly thorough process to come to conclusion. In full transparency, as we have promised and shown from the onset, allow us to share the final components of this process and decision.

  • Our family and leadership team must be confident that a healthy camper and staff population arrives to camp and remains that way for the duration of the summer. Should we open, we have decided the physical and emotional well being of our camp community is most achievable in a 4 week ‘controlled campus' setting.
  • Our exact opening date will be determined once Governor Wolf makes his determination on camps' operating season.
  • Thorough analysis of the data relating to community infection prevalence, daily new virus counts and trends, and testing efficacy continues to be a driving factor in our decision making. Recent data points in conjunction with newly FDA EUA testing modalities has had a significant impact on our confidence in opening camp.
  • To achieve an exceedingly low risk of the virus entering camp, having both RNA lab-based genetic testing and rapid-onsite antigen testing is an absolutely crucial element we want in place to confidently open camp.
  • The additional time we have allowed in our decision making process has presented a new testing capability with the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization of a point-of-care, rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen test - such as the Quidel Sofia 2. In addition to the already identified genetic testing component that will be implemented for campers and staff, the recent development of on-site antigen testing may fulfill our goal of a duel testing protocol.
  • While prevention is at the foundation of our approach to opening a healthy campus, there must be measures for on-campus identification of the virus to maintain a healthy environment. The recent developments in point-of-care testing will allow for both weekly screening of all campers and staff (with significantly greater frequency for specific staff teams such as medical and food service) as well as being a diagnostic tool for on camp medical staff.
  • Without both the genetic and point-of-care testing in place, we will not open camp. This new development in testing and its procurement has become a driving focus of our work. This has led, in a very positive way, to the extended process of our decision making.
  • As we continue to work with established equipment sources and a new contact within Quindel to obtain the antigen testing equipment, we need the help of our extended and extensive CECBR Family to further those connections. If you or someone you know could be of help relating to point-of-care antigen testing, we ask that you please email adam@cecbr.com.
  • This morning, we were connected with the Chief of Infectious Disease for one of the nations Top 10 largest health systems and are extremely appreciative of his consult. Again, made possible by this additional allowance of time.
  • In addition to securing reliable and available testing, we must also review the requirements and guidelines put forth by the State of Pennsylvania which have yet to be released.
  • CECBR can only be the engaging, supportive and wonderful community it is through our daily social interactions amongst and between groups. We must evaluate any restrictions placed on social interaction and then decide if the impact would prevent camp from running as we know it; if the restrictions were to require significant change to our communal interactions, that would weigh heavily on our decision to open or not.
  • The final component in our ability to open camp this year rests with Governor Wolf. Unfortunately, the timing of his announcement has not been set, though it is widely believed to be at the end of this week or next.

Each camp has committed to criteria and process they believe to be best for their camp and community. While some have reached conclusions sooner than others, we believe this additional time has been instrumental in allowing our team to explore every pathway to open, and in doing so, has found open doors in testing that were obstructed or not even possible as recently as last week. We are so close in being able to make a decision and you have been so resilient in this process. For the Equinunk & Blue Ridge family, and most importantly for yourself and your children, let's all remain strong and join in seeing this process to conclusion. While we cannot guarantee this process will end with us all returning home to CECBR this summer, in our heart of hearts we know we are doing everything possible to educate ourselves and make the best informed decisions along the way. Our year-round and seasonal leadership teams have been extraordinary in their work to find a safe path to opening. Many camp parents, staff and alumni have provided direct support in our purchasing of supplies and equipment, others have shared deep subject knowledge and/or their perspectives on this crisis and its impact on camp, while all families have shown remarkable patience and support - we cannot thank you enough.

Please stay healthy, stay strong, and together, as this special Equinunk & Blue Ridge family, we will take these final steps together.

With love and appreciation,

Sheryl, Richie and Adam

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - May 15, 2020

These past few months have been filled with many conversations regarding COVID -19 and its potential effects on camp for this summer. The sentiments amongst parents and staff remain optimistic and strong with passion for Equinunk and Blue Ridge and the connection we universally share. As expected, the release of camp specific information along with opportunities in testing and operations have come forth with increasing speed in recent days. We were recently invited onto a Zoom platform with the scientists and corporate people who are developing the latest domain coming out of Rutgers. They feel very confident in the accuracy of the testing and there was further discussion on how, when and where the testing should be administered. Our own camp doctors have shared their expertise and their guidance has served as a great sounding board for us.

We have had many conversations with other camp directors for whom we have the utmost respect. Their high standards, integrity and values are in keeping with our own and the ongoing dialogue amongst us has been helpful as we have shared thoughts and resources. As you are most likely aware, some camps have made the decision not to open this summer. Although our desire remains strong to welcome our campers home, we are also realistic of the imposed limitations.

We made a commitment to gather all relevant facts and guidelines, including those from the CDC, American Camp Association and the State of Pennsylvania as some of the key elements in our decision making process. At this point in time, we await the ACA Camp Field Guide, to be released in sections on May 15th and 18th, and the Pennsylvania State guidelines shortly thereafter. We thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we see this process to its conclusion.

Wishing you and your family an enjoyable weekend together and we will stay in touch with an email update early next week.

All our best,

Sheryl, Richie and Adam

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - May 5, 2020

The spread and management of COVID-19 remains fluid, and so must our preparations. With this in mind, we created a resource page on our website to share with you the most up to date considerations and protocols as we prepare for and operate camp this summer. In addition to posting previous and future COVID-19 specific emails, there is a password protected section for developed protocols and policies. This creates a single location for parents and staff to view all pertinent information - additional topics and details will be added as they are developed and we will contact you when important additions or updates have been made. While no confidential or family specific information will be posted here, we chose to password protect this information from those who might casually be reviewing our website - this information is not private and we are comfortable with you sharing it with your family and close friends.

Please visit cecbr.com and click on the '2020 Operations and Health Updates' at the top of the page. The 'Protocols and Policies' section is available to you by using the password that was supplied within the sent email.

Of particular importance, please click on the '2020 Session Length and Camp Dates' tab in this section. We know and appreciate the careful planning our families undertake in preparation for the summer and therefore felt it was imperative we share with you at this time our thinking and recent decisions on the opening and operating of camp. While details of anticipated session length are shared on the website, allow us to express to you the careful consideration, emotional impact and deep breaths we took in considering this likely outcome.

We continue to wish you and your family good health, strength and optimism in the weeks ahead.

Sheryl, Richie and Adam

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - April 23, 2020

As our world continues to be challenged, the importance of family, humanity and compassion has taken center stage. Our emotional strength and resilience, individually and societal, has been pushed past what many believed possible, and in doing so, we believe has taught us all valuable lessons in what we as people, family and community can achieve. For those who have experienced a loss in their family or community, we are deeply sorry. For those professionals in the medical and service industries on the front lines, we extend our deep gratitude. We remain optimistic we will be together this summer at Equinunk and Blue Ridge and our team has been working tirelessly to understand the questions we face and how best to care for our campers, parents and staff. However, please know that while the state may permit camps to open, we will only do so if we believe camp can run in a way that will best protect the health and safety of our campers, families, staff and Wayne County community.

Guiding Principles
For over 35 years, our camp decisions have been grounded in health, safety and the same values that we mutually share in raising our children. We respect the reality of this situation, and our decisions will be based on the guidelines determined by the State of Pennsylvania, DOH, CDC and American Camp Association (ACA). Those guidelines are currently being developed and the ACA shared their target of a mid-May release. We have made the decision to not put our preparation on pause; we are planners, and while we have hope, we will not leave our preparations to hope, we will leave it to good planning.

Decision Timetable
Like you, we want nothing more than for Equinunk and Blue Ridge to open for a safe, healthy and terrific summer - and share your angst in wanting to know when that decision can be made. In addition to the anticipated mid-May release of the ACA/CDC guidelines, our regional team of camp directors have been in direct contact with Governor Wolf's office and anticipate a decision from him by the end of May when camps may open. At this point we will have the necessary information to determine our dates for this summer.

Decision Factors
Influenced by decisions and guidelines made at the federal and state levels, we must be confident that we have the staff, operations and resources to run a safe and healthy camp. We remain optimistic there will be camp, though must consider the possibility of a delayed start or shortened season. For our oldest campers, the PCs and Upper Seniors, they will have that once in a lifetime opportunity to lead our camps and in the unlikely event that it cannot be this year, then certainly in 2021. The decisions we are making now are not only about next summer; they are to ensure Equinunk and Blue Ridge is here for you and your children next summer and for the generations of children to follow. We have worked extensively with our banking partners and have secured a financial contingency plan to ensure that we are.

Financial Considerations
Understandably, finances are of great concern to all of us. Though the application 'terms and conditions' state that a refund less deposit will be given for any cancellations prior to 4/30/20, we are pleased to offer these new commitments. The following policies will apply under each of the following circumstances (refunded amounts will be less the incurred credit card fees as applicable):

  • If camp does not open, 100% of all 2020 payments will be rolled to the 2021 camp season.
    • For those returning families who are paid in full by 8/30/20, camp will hold their tuition at the 2020 rate and they will not be subject to the approximate 3% annual tuition increase.
    • If a family rolls over their tuition to 2021 and the child later decides not to attend, we will refund all money paid in 2021 as cash allows.
  • If camp does not open, as decided by the government or CECBR, and families would like a refund rather than rolling the tuition to 2021, we will refund all money paid; 50% in Summer 2020 and 50% in Spring 2021.
  • If camp does not open, we are developing plans for a 'Super CA/CIT Summer' in 2021.
    • For families who do not enroll in this program, we will refund all money paid by year's end.
  • If camp opens and families choose not to attend, camp will refund money paid, less the $3,250 deposit; the refunded portion will be paid 50% in Summer 2020 and 50% in Spring 2021.
    • This deposit may be used as a credit towards future enrollment.
  • If camp opens for a shorter session length, you may choose to have the difference in tuition credited or refunded in 2021.
    • We will make that exact financial determination based on the session length at the time that decision is made.

In our profession, we are fortunate to create experiences for our children and staff that truly shape who they are as people - good, integral, compassionate people; we are blessed that it is you and your family who have chosen to join us on this journey. We, nor our 100 years of Equinunk and Blue Ridge tradition, would be here without you and we could not be more grateful. In the past few weeks, we have seen wonderful engagement from our families on our ‘Evening Lineup' social media posts and hope this has brought you warm memories and excitement for what is to come. For us, these posts have made us even more excited to hear the sounds of dribbling basketballs, splashing and laughter at the pool and lake, singing and cheering in the mess hall and even reveille in the morning.

They say it takes a village, over 400 staff members each summer certainly speaks to that. We say it takes a family to see each other through the most difficult of times. Our 'nuclear' camp family has been remarkable in their dedication, passion and intellect in working to help CECBR navigate this challenge. Please allow us this opportunity to express our appreciation and recognition of Caralyne, Lori, Nicki, Jordan, Eric, Jamie, Stefanie, Gil and our caretaker Jeff. Additionally, your phone calls and emails have been incredibly supportive and have become a source of strength and reassurance for us in navigating our team through these unprecedented times, thank you.

Wishing you and your family good health and great strength in the weeks and months ahead.

With admiration and respect,
Sheryl, Richie and Adam

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - March 18, 2020

As each day passes, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and impact everyone. This includes, for many of you, concerns about camp. We write to you today to try to alleviate some of that stress.

As we stated 48 hours ago, we reaffirm our confidence that we will be opening camp this summer. We continue to plan and prepare and like you, are both incredibly excited and in need of CECBR 2020!!!

An immediate concern that has been raised is one regarding an insurance policy to protect your money. After doing our own research on this and consulting with our insurance company, who are leading experts in the camp insurance industry, we strongly advise against this kind of coverage with a third party. In essence, it appears you will be asked to pay for a policy for which you may not receive any coverage and financial return; the policy does not cover ‘foreseeable' events nor does it provide coverage for a government-mandated closing of camp. We are not a third party company who is far removed from you. We are all a part of this EBR camp family. No matter how long it takes and how it would impact us personally, we will continue to act with integrity to care for our campers, parents and staff. We have always felt protective of our camp families and we do not feel comfortable having parents spend additional money, especially in moments of great uncertainty, to take out tuition insurance. It is our responsibility to protect your commitment to Equinunk and Blue Ridge.

We stand by you and your children. To reduce any immediate financial concerns, we have made the decision to hold on the processing of the payment due on April 1st. We will evaluate rescheduling this and the final payment later this spring.

Every one of us has issues to contend with at this time and despite your own individual stresses, so many of you have taken the time to reach out to us in caring support. For that, we are extremely grateful and now, more than ever, appreciate the love and devotion of our camp families. Remember, we are all in this together and the sweeter times we all look forward to will be that much sweeter.

Continue to stay healthy, strong, safe and optimistic!!
Sheryl, Richie and Adam

COVID-19 Letter to CECBR Families - March 16, 2020

Without question, we are living through an unprecedented time and our immediate thoughts are with the health and well-being of our loved ones, friends and entire Equinunk & Blue Ridge family. It is with the support, and in support, of one another that we will get through this.

The main purpose of this letter is to reassure you that we are determined to continue our planning and preparations with all intention to be fully operational this summer. Having said that, we know that this is an evolving situation and we are committed to providing you with ongoing communication.

CECBR may, in fact, be one of the safest places for your children to be this summer, since they will be in a protected, remote and largely self-contained environment.

Thankfully, camp is still over three and a half months away. In the coming weeks and months we will all be learning a great deal more about the virus itself, and therefore, how to best prepare and respond to its impacts, if any, this summer. Because camp is still a few months away and the situation evolving, it is too early for us to set any protocols or institute operational changes for this summer. Though as you know us, and the intentionality and long term thinking with which we do our meticulous planning, for over a month our team has been examining a variety of different impacts COVID-19 and an adjusted school calendar might have on camp this summer.

Even in light of the latest school, restaurant, and venue closures we have every expectation that camp will open on-time this summer. In fact, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo just lifted the 180 day school year requirement, furthering our confidence of an on-time open on June 28th.

Camps are a wonderful and healthy environment. As proven over the years, camps have become a safe haven for children during times of medical crisis given our ability to elicit greater control of the interaction with people outside of camp and administer stringent health and wellness protocols within. Given the unusually minimal impact this virus is having on children, should the virus still be around, camp may be the absolute best place for children to be.

One of the questions we have been asked most centers around what impact travel bans may have on staffing. We are working closely with our international staff agencies to monitor current travel restrictions - as of now the J-1 VISA restriction will be lifted on May 10th, which is still a month and a half before camp opens. Even so, we have begun to make contingency plans for a variety of impacts on staffing. With the cancellation of college and travel programs, we have already seen an influx of both new and returning domestic counselors applying to work with us this summer. Fortunately, the head culinary teams in both the CE and CBR kitchens are comprised of all domestic staff; this allows us great flexibility to adapt to any effect on our supporting international culinary and wait-service team members. Actions that we are taking now include hiring for an increased number of medical staff for the summer as well as already placing orders for medical, cleaning and sanitation chemicals and equipment in the event they become unavailable later this spring.

Childcare has always been at the heart of who we are and what we do. In being your committed partner in parenting, we would like to take this opportunity to share our reflections and advice in speaking with your children about the coronavirus and its impact on our lives and routines.

  • In our society we are confronting higher levels of anxiety around a variety of issues to a much greater extent than we once have. We believe it is important we work hard to minimize the stress and anxiety for our children around this issue the best we can. Our advice is to not allow any virus related concerns about camp, which is still over 100 days away, add to the uncertainty and stress our children are currently experiencing along with their concerns of staying healthy and managing the impact on daily life.
  • We very likely have a shared concern regarding the information and messaging our children are hearing and processing around coronavirus - children do not process information the same way adults do and are exposed to small bits of information, along with misinformation, from their peers and social media that is likely adding to their already valid concern. We must remain acutely aware of what information they are receiving and from whom.
  • In working with children, we come from the belief that children want the truth, deserve the truth, and in fact can handle the truth. We encourage your discussions as a family to be direct, truthful, share facts, ask questions, ask what have they been hearing at school and from their friends (and correct any misinformation) and ensure their feelings are validated and they have a voice in the conversation.
  • We often receive calls in dealing with tough situations. Now, as always, please do not hesitate to call us. For the past four decades we have been one of the resources parents have turned to in difficult times and worked with to help frame uncomfortable conversations with their children, and we continue to always be available.
  • For those with younger children, you may find a story and supporting cartoon from NPR's ‘Goats and Soda' blog on discussing coronavirus with children helpful ».

In support and strength,
Sheryl, Riche, Adam and the entire CECBR Leadership Team

WE LIVE FOR THIS