COVID-19: Camp Ockanickon’s Response

Council Service Center Temporary Closure and Staff Furloughs

Update 6/10/20

The Washington Crossing Council has been closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and continues to observe federal and state recommendations. Our first priority is the continued safety of our scouts, customers and staff. 

The closure of Ockanickon Scout Reservation for summer 2020 and the temporary cessation of all in-person scouting programs has been previously communicated, and these have had a financial impact upon the Council’s ability to conduct daily operations. Moreover, public health officials continue to advise that social distancing is the most effective strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As such, our Council Service Center at One Scout Way, Doylestown, PA 18901 will remain closed to all outside visitors, including customer walk-ins, through July 31st at the earliest. Many staff members at the Council Service Center regrettably have been placed on a temporary furlough that will last during the time the Council Service Center remains closed.

Until such time as we are able to reopen the Council Service Center and welcome back furloughed staff, here is a contact list you may use for continued service:

Field Service Matters: Andrew Nam, Field Director

andrew.nam@scouting.org

Fundraising Matters: Ray Garrison, Development Director

ray.garrison@scouting.org

Program, Virtual Scouting, Scout Shop: Todd Warner, Camping Director  

todd.warner@scouting.org

Youth Protection and Administration Matters: Magne Gundersen, Scout Executive/CEO

magne.gundersen@scouting.org

We appreciate your support and understanding of this decision, and look forward to the day we can reopen our service center again.  

Unit Activities

Update 6/3/20

Please refer to page 2 of the PDF for the reference websites.

Letter from the Scout Executive and Camping Director

Update 5/14/20

Dear camp leaders and coordinators,

It is with a heavy heart we inform you of the closure of Ockanickon Scout Reservation for the 2020 summer camp season. This unanimous decision was made late last night by our Council’s Executive Committee after a very thorough discussion. After reviewing guidance from the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health, the consensus was the risk of running a summer camp season was too great. The health and safety of our Scouts, Scouters, volunteers and employees must be our top priority.

As of today, Bucks County, Pennsylvania remains in the “red” zone of Governor Wolf’s re-open PA plan. Even in the “yellow” zone, restrictions would make camp operation untenable. Furthermore, we haven’t received our permit from the Department of Health to operate an “organized campground.”

For us as a youth, summer camp was the highlight of our Scouting year. Now as professional Scouters, we get to enjoy summer camp from a completely different perspective. It still remains the highlight of our year. I know this decision will be extremely disappointing for the many Scouts and leaders who were anticipating a summer camp experience. It is even more so for our dedicated staff.

As promised, your camp fees paid toward the 2020 season are fully refundable. Here are a few options for your consideration:

  1. If your unit wishes to return for the 2021 season, roll over the $150 unit deposit and we will lock in the 2020 camp fee rates. The balance of camp fees paid will be refunded.
  2. If your unit decides to return for the 2021 season and chooses to roll their 2020 fees paid toward the 2021 camp fees, the Council will provide a coupon worth 3% of the balance after deducting the $150 unit deposit. This coupon can be used toward any additional payments in 2021 camp fees. In addition, we will lock in the 2020 camp fee rates.
  3. If your unit is undecided on its 2021 plans, a full refund will be provided.

We will follow up in another email next week with your account balance and the process to select any of these options.

We look forward to serving you in the future.

With our personal warm regards,

Magne Gundersen
Scout Executive

Todd Warner
Camping Director

Continuing to Evaluate

Update 5/1/20

Dear camp leaders and coordinators,

As we start off the month of May, I wanted to reach out to give you an update. We are starting to hear of camps around the region make some decisions regarding their season. We are still trying to understand the various plans and announcements coming from the Pennsylvania Governor’s office and the Department of Health. There is still too much uncertainty for us to make a particular decision. We continue on our timeline of making some decisions by mid-May. In so doing, the originally scheduled May 2nd leaders meeting is postponed until tentatively May 16th. It will be conducted in a virtual webinar format. We will also hold off publishing any campsite signups and lottery Merit Badge signups. Our hope is we have a better picture of what a summer resident camp might look like.

In the meantime, Program Director Charley Kinsky, is meeting with each area director to understand how their program areas might be impacted by various restrictions. Ranger Josh Kuhns is looking at sanitization practices and housing capacities based on various scenarios. Food Service Director Jessica Stugart is preparing a plan for distribution of “take-out” food. Health Officer Jason Page is working with our Council Health Supervisor Dr. Brett Harrison on pre-screening and screening protocols while at camp. Assistant Camp Director James McCabe is reviewing modifications to trading post operations. It goes without saying that camp in 2020 will most certainly not look like 2019.

There are many questions circulating around the Annual Health and Medical Record. It is probably the most asked question on weekly webinars hosted by the National Outdoor Program team for camp directors. We’ve been told the National Health and Safety committee intends to have recommendations to Councils the first week of May. From those recommendations, our Council health supervisor and camp health officer will be able to provide guidance.

We realize there may be attrition in the number of attendees as some families will not be willing or able to send their Scouts to camp. To allow more time for families to make the decision, the Tier 2 discount rate of $440 has been extended until May 31st.

I understand how frustrating and hard to plan it can be without definitive answers. I will make every effort to keep you informed as we work to gain clarity around our camp season.

If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I wish you and your extended Scouting family well.

With my regards,

Todd

Tier 2 Discount Extended

Update 4/9/20

Dear camp leaders and coordinators,

I hope my note finds you and your Scouting family well. I know you and your families have a lot of questions regarding this coming summer. At this point, no decisions have been made regarding the season. The three possible scenarios are 1) camp opens as originally planned for the June 21st week; 2) camp opens later for a partial season; or 3) camp is closed for the entire 2020 summer season. I do not anticipate having enough information before the end of April to make any decisions but will update you all via email as soon as any decisions are made.

A question I have frequently received is in regard to our Council’s refund policy. Our executive committee approved a modification to our existing policy that allows for a full refund of all deposited funds to both units and provisional campers if the Council closes camp for the 2020 summer season or any part thereof, whether for its own reasons or because the closure is mandated by law or the action of any government agency.

Another question raised is: can we move our reservation to a later week this season? We do have room in weeks 3 (July 5th) and 5 (July 19th), 6 (July 26th) and 7 (August 2nd) to accommodate changes. If you know you would like to make a change at this point, please email Michelle at michelle.cathers@scouting.org and she will confirm available space.

The concern around camp physicals is another common question. I have engaged our Council’s health supervisor in a discussion on possible solutions. In addition, we are waiting on guidance from National on how to handle situations where a Scout might not be able to get a Part C. As soon as I receive guidance, I’ll pass that along to you all via e-mail.

In order to help your families through this time of uncertainty, I am extending the tier 2 discount deadline to May 31st. The campership deadline continues to be April 24th.

I am canceling the May 2nd in-person leaders meeting and intend to replace it with an online experience. In order to allow for more up to date information, I am looking at delaying the meeting until later in the month. Be on the lookout for updates via email on the leaders meeting and online sign-up forms for lottery badges and camp site requests.

As always if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the following individuals: Program-related: Charles.kinsky@scouting.org Payment, campership or reservation questions: michelle.cathers@scouting.org

You can certainly reach out to me as well. We appreciate your understanding as we do our best to navigate during these very challenging times. What will never change is our commitment to delivering to Scouts the best summer program possible regardless of the circumstances.

With Regards,

Todd

Council Office Closed but We are Still Here for You

Update 3/27/20

Dear camp leaders and coordinators,

I hope this note finds you and your Scouting family well. Here at the Washington Crossing Council our physical office is closed, but we continue to work remotely. Planning is still taking place for the 2020 camping season. At this point, our intention is to provide a positive Scouting experience at Ockanickon Scout Reservation this summer. If at any point this should change, we will notify you immediately.

Our camp program director, Charley Kinsky, has been working with area directors on program offerings and schedules. He has updated the camp leaders guide and created a parent guide. All of these resources are available at: https://bsawcc.org/resources/camping/ockanickon/forms/.

However, due to the disruption in our communities from the COVID-19 outbreak, we are making the following adjustments:

  • we want to extend the deadline for our campership applications to April 24th. Applications can be sent electronically to michelle.cathers@scouting.org. The campership review team will review all applications by April 30th.
  • The status of the May 2nd leaders meeting is still under consideration. As soon as we know for certain, we will send out an announcement. We are examining alternatives.
  • As soon as the online forms for campsite preference and lottery Merit Badge sign-ups become available, we’ll let you know.

We’ve had a few questions regarding camp physicals. This was a topic of discuss at a National video conference yesterday. We are waiting on guidance from National on how to handle situations where a Scout might not be able to get a Part C. As soon as we receive guidance, we’ll let you know.

Finally, we’ve received numerous questions regarding the Council’s refund policy. This question was passed to our Council Executive Committee and as soon as we have an approved policy addendum, we’ll send it out as well.

Our staff is anxious and excited to see you all this summer – this our 80th season. Please stay safe and be well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the following individuals: Program-related: Charles.kinsky@scouting.org Payment, campership or reservation questions: michelle.cathers@scouting.org

You can certainly reach out to me as well.

With Regards,

Todd