This is a heartbreaking letter that just a few months ago I could never have imagined writing. We’ve heard from many of you that you were holding out hope for good news. Unfortunately, after much deliberation and a vote of the Board of Directors, YMCA Camp Coniston will not run this summer.
The decision was not made lightly. It comes only after we consulted the New Hampshire Department of Health, the latest CDC guidance, and other camp directors, and after seeing many of our peer camps close for the summer. Our priority is always the health and well-being of our campers and our overall community. While we know that young people are at a lower risk of getting sick from COVID-19, the Board and staff could not guarantee everyone’s health while offering the experience you know and love and that our facility is designed to deliver. Additionally, we are concerned that campers could return to their home communities as carriers of the virus.
After you’ve had a moment to digest this news and put on your game face, you’ll have the sad task of having this difficult conversation with your children. We recognize that you need time to do this gently; therefore, we will not make a general announcement to the greater Coniston community or the public until tomorrow to give you as much time as we can. That said, be aware that as other families have this conversation the news will spread rapidly.
To assist you in sharing the news with your children, we have created a video message from me that we hope will help. We have aimed this at your campers—in the same way we teach our staff to greet campers first and parents second on the opening day of each session. We also have Parent Resources and answers to Camper Concerns and Questions available.
We know your children have been counting the days until Camp and that we have just pulled the rug out from under all of you with this announcement. We have done our best to prioritize the health of your campers and staffers over the health of the organization itself. These are times when a community comes together to support each other. Indeed, these are the times when our responses will be measured.
We will be in touch by email early next week with specifics on next steps for you as a parent. These will include options for your family to decide the best course of action for your tuition payments as well as an explanation of Coniston’s financial position. If you’d like more details before then, you can visit the new COVID-19 FAQs page on our website. For now, take the time to be with your children, to help them grieve; we will be here for each and every one of you, even when we cannot do so in person.
In order for our organization to continue serving you, your families, our campers, and future Conistonians, we need your help reducing our potential $1.3M loss. If you’re in a position to do so we hope you will choose to help. Every gift has an impact. Every donation makes that projected loss smaller.