In NH, the State is referring to all its plans as “Stay at Home 2.0.” We think that is a clearer explanation of what is happening here in NH rather than “opening.” This is because only some segments of society are trying to open on a very limited basis. As we write this, Camp doesn’t have permission to open from the State, and no gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed by law. In comparison, Coniston serves over 500 campers and staff at every meal during the summer! Even when camps are permitted to open (if at all) this summer, it will likely be for much smaller groups and we just wouldn’t be able to offer the Coniston experience or serve many campers.
Coniston was able to assist our local hospital with a donation of masks and other emergency medical supplies from our infirmary stock. We have offered our facility as an overflow site for local hospitals and helped convene local organizations to inventory and assess potential needs in the event of a deepening pandemic. John Tilley has been involved in many nationwide conversations about summer camping and COVID-19. As the summer goes on, we hope to be able to create a program and a safe space for local families to get together while maintaining social distancing. We are optimistic that Camp will be able to serve area nonprofits and religious organizations to safely meet outdoors for specific events. All of this of course hinges on orders from state and local governments and recommendations from the CDC. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and check in regularly at www.coniston.org for upcoming details.
On March 16, when Governor Sununu enacted the Stay at Home order, Coniston had already spent close to $1.1 million on insurance, building repairs, supplies, reservations, vendor deposits, and store merchandise. Coniston also plans to keep our full-time staff employed in order to continue the work needed to register campers and prepare for 2021; this will add to the loss.
Thank you for your support—we are beyond grateful to all members of our community who recognize the challenges Camp is facing due to COVID-19. Camp relies on tuition fees and donations to maintain our property, pay our staff, and ensure Camp will survive. Your gift will help us continue many of the enduring traditions of Coniston as well as our camperships and diverse programming options where campers can develop their independence and personal strengths. For those of you who are able and interested, you can make a gift here. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for your support of the Coniston Community during these uncertain times.
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Currently, the answer to this is no. We realize that Camp is a refuge and second home to many alumni and families, so as our Stay at Home orders are relaxed this question will be revisited and updated. If things progress as we all hope, Coniston will take every measure to allow people to visit the facility safely later in 2020 while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Until those changes are announced, we hope you will do your part by staying at home.
At this moment the administrative staff is all working from home. Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
Preparing and staffing Camp for a successful summer in a normal year is a complex endeavor. With over 170 seasonal staff holding between 400 and 500 cumulative certifications in lifeguarding, first aid, CPR, nursing, food safety, horseback instruction, ropes course safety, archery, riflery, and more—staffing alone becomes a major issue. We also anticipate CDC and NH Department of Health and Human Services guidance requiring a significant reduction in the camper population which would lead to a complete redesign of the Coniston program as we know it, including limited food choice, activity choice, and “extreme social distancing measures” as described by the Governor’s Task Force on Reopening. Together, these would make the Coniston experience you’ve come to know and love unrecognizable and lead to additional financial losses for Camp.
We want you to make the decision that is right for you and your family. At the same time, we need to communicate the seriousness of the financial challenges Camp is facing. Without tuition money for 2020, YMCA Camp Coniston will experience a major financial hardship. We are currently projecting a $1.3 million loss. Because of that, we are asking our families if you will donate a portion or all of your tuition, or consider leaving your tuition on deposit with us, to help offset the anticipated loss. We realize many of our families are also experiencing hardships, so we are providing four options for your consideration:
- Help reduce Coniston’s loss by donating part or all of your tuition fees.*
- Receive a partial or full refund.
- Rollover part or all of your tuition payments as a credit for next summer.*
- Any combination of the above.
You will receive an email with a link to a form in your account where you can make your choice. If you have urgent needs please contact our Registrar, Lorraine Newcomb, at email@example.com.
*A donation or rollover will hold your child’s spot for 2021 until the deadline for 2021 applications for returning campers. All camper families will still need to submit the required 2021 application when it is available.
Feeling sad, or even lashing out about not being able to come to Camp, are very natural reactions for some children. In fact, we see these emotions and associated behaviors every summer when dealing with homesickness—which is strangely a similar situation only in reverse. This year your camper is likely to be “campsick.” Make certain you are in a head space where you can calmly listen to your child’s emotions. Hear them, understand them, and redirect them. You can find more information on strategies here.
We are running Vespers every Thursday and plan to offer many more virtual Camp events through the summer. In addition, we hope to provide opportunities for campers and families to pursue educational and recreational opportunities through links promoted on the Camp’s website and social media pages. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and check in regularly at www.coniston.org for details.