BY DEBORAH MOON
When Oregon Gov. Kate Brown decided to prohibit overnight summer camps this year, B’nai B’rith Camp pivoted all its resources toward its two existing day camps plus an added day camp for middle schoolers in the metro area.
BB Day Camp rolls out in Portland June 29 for children entering kindergarten through sixth grade in the fall. The Lincoln City Day Camp for ages 5 to 14 will begin a week later (July 6) and run through Aug. 21. BB Camp Middle School Days will offer four one-week sessions in Portland, July 6-Aug.14. Camp days will run from 9 am to 4 pm, with no extended care options available due to state restrictions on maintaining stable, separate groups of 10.
“The health and safety of our campers is always our highest priority,” says BB Camp Executive Director Michelle Koplan. But to prepare for a safe experience in the era of COVID-19, BB Camp staff has implemented guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as ideas from a new field guide from the American Camp Association. “We are mitigating and modifying programs.”
“So much of the work we had done with the governor’s office preparing for (the hoped for opening of) overnight camp transferred beautifully for our day camps,” says Michelle. “We usually have 130 young adult counselors, so we are deploying those staff in both our day camps.”
“I am so proud of my staff for being so nimble and creative and pivoting and working with the governor’s office to create essentially brand new programs,” she adds.
In past years the two day camps have served about 360 day campers in Lincoln City and about 340 in Portland. Even with no preschool camps allowed outside of child care settings this summer, Michelle expects the numbers to grow in Portland. During a normal summer, the Portland day camp serves 60 to 80 children each week.
In Portland the elementary age and middle school camps are housed at Congregation Beth Israel in the education building, which has ample classrooms to keep groups separate as required by OHA guidelines.
“We have room to grow with classroom spaces,” says Michelle. “As summer progresses, if people are more comfortable (sending kids to camp), we may grow.”
She says the Middle School Days were added in Portland to meet the needs of former overnight campers who now have nothing to do for the summer. “We will have a similar schedule and similar activities as overnight camp with a focus on leadership skills.”
In Lincoln City, day campers will once again be based in the camp’s Mercaz Campus Center, which has multiple separate spaces to keep campers in stable groups of 10. With no overnight campers at the campground, day campers will also have “free rein of a lot of space.”
Camp specialists will wear protective gear and visit just one group at a time. For now, rather than field trips, visitors such as representatives from Echo Theater, Steve’s Creature Features and Mad Science will visit the camps. The camps may include field trips later in the summer.
“We are going to be flexible this year,” says Michelle.
So parents will know what precautions are being maintained at camp, BB Camp has posted its protocols COVID-19 specific Operations Manual on its website bbcamp.org.
Register for BB Day Camps at bbcamp.org/register/.
BB SUMMER DAYS
In addition to the BB Day Camps for elementary and middle schoolers in Portland and Lincoln City, B’nai B’rith Camp staff have plans to make this summer fun for all youth and families.
PORTLAND BB TEENS
Following strict guidelines for COVID-19 mitigation, day programs will connect teens with their BB Camp friends as they participate in some of their favorite BB Camp activities. For more information, email Assistant Director Purple Rattray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After months of spending time in our own homes, it is time to get away and experience a little bit of BB Camp magic together. The State has released guidelines for Family Camps to open in Phase 2. BB Camp is ready to launch our summer Family Camps when approved. More information will be available soon.
BB SEATTLE DAYS
BB Camp will bring opportunities for BB Campers in the Seattle area to connect with each other under Washington’s COVID-19 guidelines. These daylong programs will be filled with the BB Camp magic that campers look forward to each summer at BB Camp.
BB Camp will soon share a slate of online camper get-togethers and programs.
BB Camp's Teen Philanthropy program for 10th graders goes virtual. Each year, the Leaders in Training cohort learns to review grants and work together to decide which Lincoln City nonprofits should receive their allotted funds. This year the program will be virtual, but still rewarding.
Events are also planned for former staff and alumni.
Virtual BB Game Nights and BB Campfire/Havdallah are in the works.