2020 COVID-19 UPDATE
The 2020 camping season has been canceled. We are so sad we will not have our amazing campers and wonderful staff at camp this summer.
Thank you for your support, your patience, and please hang in there! We will be back together at camp in 2021!
Information about the 2020 and 2021 summer is below. Please click the links below to see it.
Dear Parents & Campers,
It is hard to believe that we are writing this email to you at this moment. When we started planning the summer of 2020 we never imagined what would be happening in the world. COVID - 19 has turned our entire world upside down including camp.
We are devastated to announce that with the risk and uncertainty surrounding COVID - 19, Timberlane will not be able to operate this summer.
This is a gut punch for all of us. There is no other place we would want campers and staff to spend their summer than the tranquil shores of Lake Towanda. We believed all along that camp is more vital to our kids this year than ever before. This has been an agonizing decision, there’s no other way to describe it.
Throughout the off-season we all have dreams about the summer. The campers and staff dream about new trips, activities and friends. Many of us dreamt about the 60th summer of camp and the huge celebrations that we were going to have. I have been looking forward to living out my childhood dream in my first summer season as the director of Camp Timberlane. I have dreamt of giving your sons the summer of their lives and I cannot say in confidence that we could have done that.
We fought hard to make camp possible this summer. We spent every day the last few months trying to find a way to get everyone here, create an environment to prevent the virus from entering camp, and have a plan to effectively deal with an outbreak should it occur. There were so many questions we needed to answer, and the information we sought was slow in coming and incomplete.
We wanted so badly to run this summer but in the end there were too many unknowns. We would take many preventative measures, but ultimately there is no way to be assured we would prevent the virus from entering camp. With campers and staff traveling from different parts of the country and world, there is no guarantee that we could prevent the virus from coming down Camp Road. If we had a case, we believed that we could “maybe” contain it. This “maybe” was unacceptable to us.
Our number one priority is to keep campers safe. Secondarily we want to make sure we provide a Timberlane experience. The guidelines that have been presented to us would have made it impossible to provide that Timberlane experience. Campers and staff would have had to remain on the property, likely for the entire summer. Activities and evening programs would have been separated by cabin groups only perhaps eventually growing to age groups. Wilderness trips would not have been possible to operate. When I took over camp I vowed to give the campers the experience that Mike and Leslie did for me, and it unfortunately became clear I would not be able to do that for your boys.
We arrived at a conclusion we have known all along. Camp is NOT about social distancing. Camp is NOT about restricting relationships and connections to singular cabin groups.
Social interaction is where the real “magic” of camp resides. Most of that would be curtailed due to concerns of spreading the virus.
IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS? Yes. Our decision reinforces our Timberlane values that place your son’s best interests up front at all times. AND we can now turn our attention to the summer of 2021. Oddly enough, it will STILL be our 60th summer, and we know for sure it will be the best one ever!
What about our PA’s (completed 9th grade)? We refuse to let this virus take away their last summer as campers. All 2020 PA’s will be able to return to camp in 2021. It will be a hybrid PA/CIT experience, giving your boys a summer they will never forget.
What about our 2020 CIT’s? 2020 CITs will be invited to apply as Junior Counselors for 2021.
More details about all our plans to make the 2021 summer great for all of our 2020 campers, PAs, CITs, and staff will come to you very soon.
What happens to our deposits for 2020? We will send you a detailed email very shortly to articulate our process for offering refunds, deferments to 2021, etc. Refunds will be available to everyone. We thought it best to first explain our decision and then help you prepare for breaking this news to your kids.
SHARING THIS NEWS WITH YOUR KIDS
What you might expect: In any adverse situation, some kids will respond well, and others may not. You can expect your kids to look to you as a model of how they might react to the news. If you are cool and thoughtful, that’s the best example you can set for them for this situation and future challenges they will surely face.
It is reasonable to expect your kids to feel a sense of loss, frustration, and even anger. They’ve endured so much already. Adults can grasp that concept that some things are beyond our control, and being upset about them is not helpful. Some kids can grasp that and many cannot. Even older boys may become very emotional, so be prepared to receive that and support them.
Balance frank reality & emphasizing the positives: There are no perfect ways to break the news to your kids. We suggest emphasizing the positives when you can, while also making sure you’re genuine and realistic.
Most kids believe responsible adults will look out for them. You can assure them we directors at camp are definitely looking out for them, and this decision was entirely based on our need to keep them safe and healthy.
Once the initial impact has subsided, then we recommend highlighting things they can now begin to look forward to.
- An eventual return to normalcy.
- The chance to reconnect in person with their friends, classmates, teachers and coaches.
- The opportunity to rejoin sports teams, youth groups, theater productions, etc.
- Of course - the biggest of them all - CAMP NEXT SUMMER!
We can’t say for sure when some of this will happen, but it WILL happen.
For some kids….
Camp is - for some boys- a real anchor in their lives. As they navigate changes at school, with friends and relationships, camp offers a reliably safe, accepting, and friendly haven year after year. This summer’s deficit may be particularly hard for them. Please...let us know if your son is struggling. We want to help.
Maintaining that camp connection until next summer: We suggest helping your boys make the effort to get together with camp friends this extended “off-season,” even those friends who are from different hometowns. Many have already been taking advantage of social media, Facetime and Zoom meetings. Please keep a lookout for more times to virtually interact. Once we are allowed to gather together again in-person, we hope our Timberlane campers will visit each other.
This is a huge loss for all of us in our Timberlane family. We are camp people, and this summer, we have no camp. No campers to play with and guide. No counselors to train and watch as they do their amazing work. No singing in the Lodge. No campfires.
We are devastated, and we feel for all of our camp family. We all need time to process this, to experience whatever feelings will come from it, and then to move forward. Throughout this unprecedented time, we have felt so much warmth and support, which has played a giant role in our ability to maintain a positive attitude. You have all been so patient and understanding, and we appreciate it very much.We know you may be thinking about the financial side of this. In just an hour or two we will send you an email that explains all of that.
Thanks for reading this, and again, thanks for the support we feel from all of you.
Sam, Mike & Leslie