COVID-19 Closes Onas

05/10/2020

To the Camp Onas Community,

We hoped that by this second week of May we’d be able to commit to opening Camp Onas as originally scheduled, or enact our “Plan B,” working toward a late-season open.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that neither option will be within reach for us this season, and today we write with very heavy hearts to tell you Camp Onas is cancelling our 2020 season.

We know this will be very disappointing news for everyone who has been holding out hope that Camp Onas would be a much-needed respite once COVID-19 loosens its grip. We know because we (the Onas Staff and Board of Directors) are heartbroken, too. 

Our priority is to care for and safeguard our community, and with the knowledge that we won’t be able to run a 2020 season, it is time for us to turn our attention toward returning deposits and payments. This is something we remain committed to doing, even though it presents significant financial hardship for Camp Onas.

Because of this, we are asking all families to consider converting part or all of their deposits to tax-deductible donations, and our extended community to consider making a donation to support Camp Onas.

We recognize that many families are not in a position to make a donation at this time, and we understand. There is no pressure to make a donation and we appreciate you considering our request.

Through careful planning and preparation Camp Onas will be able to make it through this … but it will be an extremely challenging year, financially. We had already incurred significant expenses preparing for the 2020 season, and there will be additional costs to keep Onas in good repair for the eventual return of campers.

As we grieve the loss of the summer season with you, we remain thankful for the support, positivity, and patience the Onas community has projected over these last two months of uncertainty.

We will be in touch with more information about our next steps when we have it.  For the time-being, please know you, your families, and loved ones are in our thoughts.

Sincerely,

Holly & Matt Hecht                   Stephen Kunkel

Camp Directors                         Clerk/President, Camp Onas Board of Directors

We’ve put together a list of anticipated questions and answers, below.  If you have other questions or concerns, please reach out to us!

Anticipated Questions and Answers:

Q: Your earlier plan was to open for half of the summer instead of cancelling, what changed? 

A: We didn’t feel we could, with integrity, continue to project hope about a shortened season when we no longer believe it is possible. The proposed re-opening timeline for our part of Pennsylvania would have Onas re-opening in late July, which is too late to allow for a partial summer. Continued lack of guidance from health authorities and increasing uncertainty about the availability of equipment and food supplies are also factors.

Q: When can I expect my refund?

A: While we will start processing refund requests as soon as we receive them, it may take up to 10 days to fully process your refund.

Q: When can we sign up for the 2021 summer? Are we guaranteed a spot?

A: We are planning to open in 2021 but need to acknowledge that COVID-19 could affect the 2021 summer. We need to wait until there is more information before setting session dates, length, and capacity. We will start by offering spaces to eligible campers who were registered for 2020.

Q: What are you going to do about campers who would have been Graduates this year?

A: The 2020 Graduate campers are at the forefront of our minds right now. Camp Onas will be looking to do something special with our Graduate campers as soon as it becomes possible to do so. We don’t know yet what that will look like, or when we will be able to, but it is a priority.  We are communicating directly with the families of graduate campers.

Q: Might you open up Onas for small group gatherings or family camping this summer?

A: This is very unlikely. Camp requires large-scale groups use to run economically, which means most of our facilities, such as the Dining Hall, Kitchen, Shower Houses, and Pool will be closed for the summer. 

Q: Will Camp Onas continue offering virtual programming?  What about a virtual summer camp?

A: We will continue to offer free virtual programming to campers for as long as it is practical.  This is not intended to replace summer camp, but rather help keep campers occupied during this period of Stay-at-Home directives. Camp Onas does not plan to offer tuition-based virtual summer camp this season.  

Q: Can I leave my deposit on my account as a credit for next season?

A: This is an idea we considered but decided against. We feel too much remains unknown about 2021 at this time.

Q: What about 2019 campers who would like to apply for staff next year? Will they be able to?

A: All staff positions will move forward when we next open … For example, individuals offered positions as Camp Aides this year can apply to be CITs next year, etc. This means there should be new positions available in our next season. We anticipate posting 2021 applications in December, and any schedule changes will be posted on our website. 

If you have other questions, please reach out!  friends@camponas.org, (610) 847-5858

04/14/2020

To the Camp Onas Community:

Greetings from Camp Onas, where green leaves and spring blooms are showing up everywhere. At a time when almost nothing feels normal, the constancy of spring inspires feelings of hope and optimism.

Since our last update about COVID-19 and Camp Onas, much remains unchanged:

We continue to hope you, your families, and loved ones are doing okay.

We continue to hold those experiencing loss, illness, and hardship in the Light and in our hearts.

We continue to share our community’s deep desire to see Camp Onas proceed as scheduled this summer.

     And … 

We continue to believe that Camp Onas is important, necessary, and will provide much-needed relief when this period of physical distancing, upended routines, and isolation comes to an end. 

We continue to plan and prepare for a fun, safe, and memorable summer, hoping with all our hearts Camp will be able to open as scheduled.

And, we continue to acknowledge and plan for the possibility that COVID-19 may alter our summer plans.

To this end, together with the Camp Onas Board of Directors, we’ve established preliminary decision-making criteria, timelines, and contingency plans for the 2020 summer. While a lot remains unknown, we want to be transparent about the process, and (to the degree it is possible) help families know what to expect.  

We’ve determined that we can confidently commit to running the summer program as scheduled (starting June 21), if the following are in place by May 15:  

  • There is clear guidance from government health agencies on how group activities and community living might take place safely and responsibly; and that guidance can be adapted to our overnight summer camp program.      
  • Staff, campers, and families are ready and willing to participate our program.
  • The Board of Directors and Camp Directors agree (through careful consideration) that it is a safe and responsible decision for Camp Onas to operate.

We will contact families by May 15 with an update on this. 

If, by May 15, we don’t feel we can open on June 21, we will look to our “Plan B”, in which Onas will try to open one month later, allowing more time to meet the same conditions. Under “Plan B”, sessions would be shortened (and camp fees would be adjusted accordingly), with the goal of offering all registered campers the opportunity to experience Camp Onas this summer.  We would work with families on an individual basis to accommodate schedules and concerns as much as possible, and more details will be conferred closer to May 15, (if it becomes necessary). 

Other information/ considerations: 

  • Financial Aid: We recognize that the economic effects of COVID-19 are far-reaching, and there may be families who now require assistance through our Camper Aid Fund. Because of this, we have re-opened the financial aid application process. If you would like an application, please email us at friends@camponas.org to request one.  
  • Cancellations: Our cancellation policy remains in effect, but the deadline has been extended to May 20, to accommodate our May 15th determination date. Camp Onas remains committed to returning or crediting deposits and payments (at your discretion) if Camp Onas needs to cancel or alter your camper’s sessions. 
  • Virtual Programming: Recognizing the need for connection, structure, and community that all people are feeling right now, Camp Onas will soon begin offering free virtual programming for campers to help keep them occupied and engaged while they are not in school. Please be on the lookout for another email soon with information on joining virtual programs.
  • Reach out: As always, we invite you to reach out to us via phone or email if you have questions or concerns.  We are available at the camp phone number most weekdays, from 10am to 6pm (610) 847-5858, and we both check friends@camponas.org frequently.

We are thankful for the entire Camp Onas community, and we look forward to being in touch with more information when we have it.

Warm regards,

Holly & Matt Hecht, Camp Directors

03/24/2020

To the Camp Onas Community:

In the last few weeks, our conversations with families, staff, and our extended community have underscored the importance of … and need for … Camp Onas. The connection, community, routine, and freedom Onas offers feels more important than ever. For many, looking forward to Camp Onas this summer provides a beacon of comfort and hope in a very uncertain time.

We want you to know: We see you, we hear you, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for a safe, healthy, and as-normal-as-possible Camp Onas summer.

That said, many factors will determine the viability of running a camp program this summer, and health and safety will be our primary consideration.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to monitor developments and recommendations around social distancing and transmission prevention. We are working closely with others in the camping industry (other Camp Directors and Camp Health Providers) to understand what COVID-19 will mean for summer camp programs. We are also using this time to examine and update our existing communicable disease prevention protocol.

While we may not have a firm determination by then, we plan to send all families an update (and post one here) by April 14.

In the meantime, we ask everyone to share our optimism about the summer, with the knowledge that:

  • Camp Onas will only proceed with summer programming if we are confident we can operate safely and responsibly.
  • If we have to cancel your session(s), your deposits and payments will be returned, with the option of applying a credit toward next summer.
  • The only change we are making to our cancellation policy at this time is extending the first cancellation deadline to May 10 (from April 15).

If you have questions or concerns, we would like to hear from you! Please reach out via phone or email.

We are thankful for the entire Camp Onas community, and we look forward to being in touch with more information when we have it.

Warm regards,

Holly & Matt Hecht, Directors

03/17/2020

To the Camp Onas Community:

Each of you and your families are very much in our thoughts as we write this. 

We have been hesitant to send a COVID-19 message out, because we don’t feel that Camp Onas has much of value to add to the conversation at this point in time.  Just like everyone else, we are reading information from the CDC and our local health authorities, and learning new information from one day to the next.

In addition, we are working closely with others in the camping industry (other Camp Directors and Camp Health Providers) to understand how COVID-19 might affect 2020 summer camp operations.  We do not know yet, but we are actively working to gain clarity, and we are hopeful we will have a better understanding in a few weeks.

There are many factors that will determine our next steps and the viability of running a camp program this summer, and health and safety will be a primary concern for us.  

Based on the information we have to-date, we are proceeding with planning as though Onas will be open this summer, as scheduled, and our cancellation policy remains unchanged. 

Please rest assured as you wait to hear more: In the event we have to cancel one or more summer sessions, tuition deposits and payments will be returned or credited to a future summer at the family’s discretion.       

We look forward to being in touch with more information when we have it.

Warm regards,

Holly & Matt