Our Letter on Coronavirus

On March 16th, 2020, Camp Nebagamon’s Directors, Adam Kaplan and Stephanie Hanson, sent the following letter to our current camper families:

Dear Camp Families,

We have all been receiving letters from the different segments of our communities about the challenges that we are facing with respect to the Coronavirus situation. Many of them feel similar, but all express the same idea: that these are unique times and that our communities matter in a time like this. This sentiment could not be more true than with your Nebagamon community.

To us, our community is everything. More than many of the transactional institutions you have received emails from, we are truly a community. We have spent time in your homes, we have spent (in many cases) months living together, we appreciate each other, we have worked through challenges together, we really know each other. In a very real sense, we are a CAMP FAMILY.

It is with this in mind that I write this note today. I want you all to know that that we are thinking about all of you and the giant curveball that the world has thrown your way.
As is so often the case though, with every curveball there is the opportunity to knock that thing out of the park! As you are probably well aware of by now, the unexpected result of this moment is lots of family time. While there is no doubt that this, at times, will be challenging, it is also a great opportunity. I have written many times in my updates about how valuable I think stormy days at camp are. It is a time for cabin groups to spend time together in a different way. They are compelled to be creative in their play. They are compelled to work together to agree on games and activities that all can enjoy…and practice the art of compromise. They really get to know each other in a way that can only be facilitated by a rainy day. This is the opportunity that we, as families, all have right now. During the summer, I often caution the homesick boys not to wish their days away. Not to hope that the days go by as fast as possible so that they can get to the end….because then it will have all passed them by. Now, I am not quite so Pollyannish (or nuts!) to say that we shouldn’t be wishing this time to pass as quickly as possible….but I will say, there is something to not letting this time slip away from us without making it special.

With all of that said, here are some rainy-day camp activities from camp, just to prime the pump!

  • The standby: Board Games
  • Learn how to play a role playing game and do it as a family.  That’s right, a family Dungeons and Dragons game.  It will be great…trust me.
  • Hide and seek…really…try it!
  • The Alphabet Game:
    • Variation #1-Famous people.  Choose two letters at random and family members must come up with famous people with those initials.
    • Variation #2-Find items around the house.  People need to walk around the house and collect (or take photos of) an item for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Make an awesome fort.  Yes, this will make a mess, but how fun to create a fort as a family?!  And the good news is that, because of the curveball, you have plenty of time to clean it up!
  • Folding story – One person writes the first line of a story.  The second person reads that first line and writes the second line.  Then they fold the paper so that the only thing visible is the second line.  They pass the story on to the third person who reads that second line and writes the third…and so on and so on as long as you like.  Great stories come out of this!  (Can easily be done on a computer…just less campy!)
  • Make Derby Pie!  (Yes, we are sharing the secret Derby Pie recipe!)
    • Crust : Mix all ingredients together. Roll into a ball. Flatten and mold into a pie pan.
      • ½ cup butter
      • 1 cup flour
      • ½ cup water
      • ½ teaspoon salt
    • Filling: Cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat together. Stir in flour until completely blended. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour into the unbaked crust.  Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes.
      • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 eggs, beaten
      • ½ cup butter
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup flour

As the famous sermonette reads, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”…or Derby Pie!

We also wanted to write to let you know that at Camp Nebagamon, like all over the world, we are thinking seriously about the Coronavirus situation and potential impacts it might have on the upcoming summer. We are very busy planning for various contingencies. While of course the picture is not clear yet, we are lucky in that we still have three months to see how things progress and to determine what decisions would be the safest and wisest for our community. The health and well-being of our campers is of utmost importance and we put them first in all of our decisions.

Please know that we take our role very seriously and are closely monitoring the situation. We are receiving information and recommendations from our state and local health departments, the American Camp Association, and our own network of infectious disease doctors. This information is critical to us, and we will continue to stay on top of it.

To be clear, let me say that we fully expect that camp will be in session this summer.

While we already have excellent sanitation and disease prevention programs in place (both involving the campers and behind the scenes), we will be ramping up our focus in these areas to ensure that we keep camp as clean as possible. This will involve increased attention to camper handwashing (as in SUPERVISED hand washing!) and personal hygiene. It will also involve stepped-up kitchen, dining hall, and food prep attention. While we always get GREAT marks from our health department visits, we will be intensifying these efforts. Additionally, the cleaning of our jops (bathrooms and showers) will receive extra attention from our beloved maintenance crew. We are confident that camp will be an even more hygienic and clean place than ever this summer!

In the meantime we remain busy planning for the upcoming summer. We are hiring staff. We are planning programming (traditional standbys as well as exciting new stuff!). We are fixing all of the things that the kids broke last summer!

Finally, as I tend to do, let me just tout the value of camp in a time like this. After we emerge from this challenging time, our kids are going to reap the benefits of camp more than ever. After a stressful, anxiety inducing time, imagine the feeling of having a month (or two) to spend running around carefree at camp, or sitting around a campfire with your best friends in the world telling stories and roasting marshmallows, or singing those crazy fun songs that we sing together in the Rec Hall on a daily basis, or captaining a sailboat out in the middle of a Wisconsin lake with your buddies, or participating in a non-cancelled sporting event! And, oh yes, after this long period of intense screen, smartphone, computer time….imagine putting them down for four or eight weeks!

I can’t wait!

Thanks for your support and flexibility.

Keep the Fires Burning,

Adam and Steph

P.S. On a personal note, we just want to thank all who have sent an email or placed phone calls of support. That during this very uneasy time, you would make the effort to reach out to us to let us know you are thinking about us too has really touched us. A real CAMP FAMILY indeed.