May 4, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#7)
It is with a heavy heart that we announce we will be canceling of our camps during the summer of 2020 due to the continued spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The safety and health of our campers and staff is our highest priority at EverWonder and we do not feel like we can operate safely in-person this summer. I originally thought we would make decisions month-by month, but with COVID-19 continuing to rapidly spread and the potential for some type of social distancing to last through the summer it didn’t feel fair to do that.
Our programs are play-based and our campers explore, experiment and discover together both inside the classroom and outdoors. They share toys, books and materials and are in close proximity throughout the day. Any type of social distancing makes it impossible for us to run our programs with the same integrity and safety you have come to expect from us. The only way we believe we could have opened safely and with integrity is if we had access to reliable, quick-result testing and could test all our staff and campers daily with the help of a medical professional.
As schools moved to distance learning I thought, “Hey, we can do this really well, too!” While I do believe we could be successful moving our camps to a virtual format, after talking with friends and parents of campers we have learned that most people have distance learning fatigue. Moving our programs online will also likely cause logistical problems as technology can be tricky.
All that said, we are still very excited to offer our CampKits to families- except without the virtual portion except for a private Facebook page where we will post some fun content and where our campers can interact with us if they want to. By doing this, we can reduce the fee to $75 per kit. (Each CampKit contains enough materials for one child.) Our CampKits are theme-based and include materials for experiential, hands-on projects- there are at least 7 for each theme. We will also include ideas and materials for extension activities and a “S’More Fun” bag that is full of fun surprises. We also received feedback that most kids have everyday materials (markers, crayons, glue, glue sticks, scissors) at home. We will sell bundles of everyday materials for an additional $20 for folks who need them.
(Don’t worry- we will include simple step-by-step directions with lots of pictures and everything will be labeled.)
We will offer contactless pick up at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church on Sundays from 2:00-4:00. We can also deliver on Sundays within 10 miles of 22207 for a $10 flat fee no matter how many CampKits we deliver to you. Our first pick-up/delivery date is Sunday, June 14th running through Sunday, July 26th.
We can also ship our CampKits for $20 (they are heavy!) and will begin shipments on Wednesday, June 10th running through Wednesday, July 22nd. Please let your out-of-state friends and family know!
We have six different CampKit themes for school-aged children this summer and all kits will be available each week. Themes include Time Travelers, The EverWonder School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Toy Factory, Abrakadabra Alakazam, Super Sculptures (3D art), and Outta this World.
We are thrilled to announce we are partnering with Even Start to provide CampKits for their families. Even Start is a family literacy program run by Arlington Public Schools for Arlington residents new to the US. The goal is to empower parents to help their children be academically successful. This program is run out of Barcroft Elementary and serves families in their community.
We will also be donating $3 for every CampKit we sell to Read Early and Daily, a non-profit that provides new books to economically vulnerable families in Arlington.
CampKits can be ordered here
We wish we could safely meet in-person this summer, but look forward to emerging from COVID-19 even stronger than we were before.
April 29, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#6)
This email will also be posted to our website under COVID-19 for easy reference.
As we approach May 1st, we wanted to reach out to everyone registered for camps during the weeks of May 26, June 1 and June 8.
First, at the end of this email you will find screenshots of our plans for our A Camping we will Go! camp. These will be included in our CampKits in the form of handouts. We only included the directions for one of our projects here, but the directions for all the other projects will look the same and will all be included in our CampKits. (Apologies if the layout is funky.)
Second, after looking at shipping dates, etc. we are able to modify our cancelation dates/payment dates to give folks a little more time to decide what you would like to do. We will also keep registration open until these dates for folks who would like to register.
May 8th for A Camping we Will Go!
May 15th for Super Friends
May 22nd for Wild About the Zoo
Third, there have been some questions regarding our non-refundable deposits. If you choose to cancel camp, we will credit your account. Your credit will never expire. If you have paid in full we will refund the non-refundable deposit. We have staff working on our summer camps year-round, we have rent to pay, our registration system is an expense, we have office supply costs etc. and the deposits we collect help us offset these costs. We will also be able to give stipends to our teachers who count on their summer camp earnings to pay their rent and other expenses.
In the last couple of day we have forged a partnership with EvenStart. EvenStart is a family literacy program run by APS for Arlington residents new to the US. The goal is to empower parents to help their children be academically successful. This program is run out of Barcroft and families live in affordable housing near the school.
Another way to handle your tot camp credit is to gift it so that we can get CampKits to children whose families are enrolled in EvenStart. For every three tot camp credits that are gifted, one CampKit (a week of camp) will be donated to a child in EvenStart. You can also gift your entire tot camp tuition.. For every camp tuition gifted, a CampKit will be donated to a child in EvenStart. We already have a set number of CampKits we are donating without tuition gifts, but would love to get our CampKits in the hands of as many families as possible.
We will be sharing this information with all our families in the next couple of days.
Your gift will be acknowledged with a letter from the director of EvenStart.
Thank you for understanding. Again, we are a small community-based business. We don’t have investors and we are non a nonprofit camp without a large endowment (we have no endowment) or support from big umbrella businesses.
We hope you are excited by what you see here regarding our program and we hope to have your children join us this summer.
April 24, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#5)
This email went out to our entire listserv on Friday, April 24 and includes changes we’ve made to important dates in an effort to be even more flexible in these unprecedented times.
Two days ago we sent an email to families that have already signed up for summer camp to give an update on where we are with our plans for the summer. After the email went out, we had many folks reach out to see if we are still taking reservations so we wanted to let everyone know what we’ve been planning.
Important dates- We’ve made some changes to cancelation/payment dates in an effort to be more flexible. Read on to find out more.
Yes! We are still taking reservations for the summer!
We know that we are likely one of the first camps people are hearing from with contingency plans, but what we are undertaking takes a tremendous amount of time and we want to make it as awesome as we can for kids and their families.
All of us want nothing more than to have Virginia open up on June 10th and to have a “normal” summer. With the status of COVID-19 changing so rapidly none of us know what life will be like if our stay-at-home orders are fully lifted on June 10th. If restrictions persist all camps will be closed, summer school will move online, children will not be able to play with friends in-person, museums will be closed, amusement parks will be closed and many vacations will be canceled. Kids will be at home. It’s a reality we all have to be ready to face- I have two kids and I’m starting to freak out!
EverWonder is not okay with taking everything about summer away from kids so we have been working around the clock to create EverWonder@Home, a robust, hybrid program that includes both virtual and experiential learning. Campers will connect virtually in “classrooms” in SeeSaw (we can place your children in “classrooms” with their friends) with our teachers and they will also complete hands-on activities at home.
So far, ONLY our camps during the weeks of May 26, June 1 and June 8 have been moved into our EverWonder@Home format.
Each camper will receive a CampKit full of general supplies (scissors, glue, glue sticks, markers and watercolor paints) and project specific materials with directions organized by the day. There will also be a handout included with extension activities as well as a “Busy Bag” full of interactive materials. Oh, and there will be snacks!
SeeSaw is a wonderful platform because it is interactive and simple to use. Campers will be able to use creative tools to take pictures of their projects, draw, record videos and more. It is their virtual portfolio. What we will post in SeeSaw will include short read-aloud and demonstrations. We are partnering with folks like The Great Zucchini for Magic Moments, Groovy Nate for Music Moments, Bar-C-Ranch, Go Bananas Dancing and Urban Kangaroo for Movement Moments, PE teachers, a Spanish teacher and other folks in our community to make our program even more robust.
We anticipate that there will be families who would not rather interact over SeeSaw so we will post links to all our content in our “Welcome to Camp” emails.
Eby Okonkwo, an early childhood teacher at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School as well as a veteran EW teacher, is leading the virtual side of our EverWonder@Home program. They have had great success using this platform at St. Patrick’s while the school has been engaged in Distance Learning.
Eby is putting together a demo of SeeSaw that we hope to share with you early next week so that folks can get a better idea of what it will look like. We are also putting together CampKits for the children of some of our friends. They are going to put together a video so you can see what a CampKit looks like. We will push out those videos as soon as we have them.
We are a small, community-based business and our campers are our family not our customers. Our staff lives and works in Arlington, DC and in close-by in Maryland. They work in preschools, public schools and private schools. Many are on a 10-month schedule with their full-time employers and count on summer camp to help make ends meet. I always say that EW is only as strong as our people, and I’m telling you we have some of the best people working with us. Our teachers and staff are tirelessly dedicated to making sure your children receive the best camp experience they can whether in person or at home.
Thank you for understanding as we are doing everything we can to make it through the unknowns of COVID-19 so that we can continue to serve our community instead of having to shutter our doors once we get to the other side- and we will get there- we just don’t know when.
Stay tuned and be well!
IMPORTANT DATES (UPDATED) AND A REMINDER OF OUR POLICIES:
We are suspending all payments on deposits to match the dates below:
By May 15th we will make a decision regarding the camps scheduled for the weeks of June 15th-July 6th. If it is still unsafe to hold camp in person, we will continue with our EverWonder@Home format.
By June 15th we will make a decision regarding the camps scheduled for the weeks of July 6th-August 1. If it is still unsafe to hold camp in person, we will continue with our EverWonder@Home format.
By July 15 we will make a decision regarding the camps scheduled for the weeks of August 3-14. If it is still unsafe to hold camp in person, we will continue with our EverWonder@Home format.
If we cannot meet in person we will also consider adding more camp dates for “Big Kids’ in July and will add more camps for both “Tots” and “Big Kids.”
**We have moved our cancelation dates to the dates above (May 15th, June 15th and July 15th) for all camps scheduled to meet June 15th and later.**
We have had a lot of questions about our fees/deposits and refunds:
Our staff is tirelessly dedicated to making sure our campers receive the best camp experience whether at home or in person. As such, we are committed to compensating our staff. We have changed our policies to be more flexible, but will not be offering refunds on non-refundable deposits or on cancelations past the dates above.
If you cancel by the deadlines outlined above the following options are available:
1. Receive a credit that never expires. Even on non-refundable deposits. The credit can be used for any of our camps during the summer or the school year.
2. Forfeit your deposit. The non-refundable deposit for Tot camps is $75 per week. The non-refundable deposit for Big Kid camps is $20 per day for families that have not used EverWonder Insider Rewards. We will refund your tuition minus your deposit.
3. Switch your camp to a later week if there is availability. (Note: At this time, we do not know if we will be able to hold camps in-person this summer.)
4. Sell your credit. This credit can be used towards any of our school year or summer camps and never expires.
If you used EverWonder Insider Rewards to register for camp and you do not wish to participate in EverWonder@Home the days will go back on your pass. There are no refunds on EverWonder Insider Rewards.
Lunch fees and extended hour fees will be credited to your account in full for all our EverWonder@Home camps.
April 22, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#4):
This email was emailed to registered camp participants on Wednesday, April 22nd. We are prepared to move into a virtual camp format at least through June 15th (and possibly longer) called EverWonder@Home. You can read more about what we are planning below:
Dear EW families,
First, we want to thank you for your patience as we have been in a holding pattern regarding summer camp for quite a while. We hope everyone is well and staying safe. While we want nothing more than to be together at camp this summer, we realize we cannot be together safely at this time. Due to COVID-19, we will be offering EverWonder@Home through the at least the week of June 8th. These are all tot camps- A Camping we will Go, Super Friends and Wild About the Zoo.
By May 15th, we will make a decision regarding camps scheduled for the weeks of June 22nd through July 6th. If it is still unsafe to hold camp in person, we will continue with our EverWonder@Home format. By June 15th, we will make a decision regarding camps scheduled July 6th-August 1st. If it is still unsafe to hold camp in person, we will continue with our EverWonder@Home format.
We also plan on adding additional weeks of EverWonder@Home camp for “Big Kids” in July and late August if we still cannot meet in person. If we resume in-person camps our “Big Kid” camps will meet as previously scheduled.
EverWonder@Home tot camps will also be added to run through the end of August if we continue to offer camps virtually. If we resume in person camp, our tot camps will end on August 14th.
EverWonder@Home is a robust, hybrid program of virtual and experiential learning. Campers will connect virtually with our teachers and they will also complete hands-on activities (every child will receive a CampKit each week) to complete at home. Campers should watch our online videos before completing projects. Campers will also have an opportunity to share their work in virtual galleries. (Have more than one child at home registered for camp? No worries! Each child will receive their own CampKit.)
EverWonder will be using SeeSaw to connect with our families. We will be posting links to various resources as well as teacher-made videos. We also look forward to campers interacting back-and-forth with us through this platform. Videos will include read-alouds, demonstrations, songs, movement activities and extension activities. We will also welcome special guests for online assemblies including Groovy Nate, Eric Energy, DJ Andrew Ross, Urban Kangaroo and more.
Don’t worry if you’ve never used SeeSaw. We’ll post an easy, online tutorial on YouTube. We’ll also have tech hours available with live training. We will also post links to all of our online content in our weekly “Welcome to EverWonder@Home” letter emailed weekly to all families for those who would rather access the material through links rather than SeeSaw.
What’s a CampKit? If it’s your first week of camp you’ll find crayons, markers, glue, glue sticks, watercolor paints and scissors in your CampKit!
You will also find weekly activities, projects with instructions and materials, snacks, a “Busy Bag” and a book from R.E.A.D. a non-profit in Arlington in your CampKit. (And, for every book EverWonder@Home gives to campers, R.E.A.D. will give a book to an economically vulnerable child in Arlington.)
CampKits will be distributed to campers the Sunday before the start of each week camp in the parking lots at The Falls Church Episcopal (May 24th and May 31st) and Mount Olivet UMC (June 7th) from 1:00-3:00. (Additional pick-up dates will be added if we continue with our online format past the week of June 7th.) These will be contactless pick-ups and directions will be emailed to participants.
Families will also have an opportunity to pre-order additional books from R.E.A.D. that will be delivered via a BOOK BUS! on Sundays when CampKits are picked up. More information on how to order books will be emailed to campers. For every book campers order a book will be given to an economically vulnerable child in Arlington. How awesome is that?!?!
IMPORTANT: This is where we need to hear from families:
Our policy at the time of sign up in February states that the final date to cancel summer camp is May 1st and that balances are due on May 1st. Cancel on or before May 1st and you will receive a full refund minus your deposit. Deposits for tot camp are $75 per week. Deposits for our full day “Big Kid” camp are $20 per day. Families that bought discounted EverWonder Insider Rewards may cancel without a penalty and the days will go back on your card to be used anytime. Insider Rewards do not expire.
At this time we regret that due to COVID-19 we do not know if we can offer in-person camps this summer. Even if stay-at-home orders are lifted, we cannot say with certainty that we will be able to safely offer in-person camps. We will offer EverWonder@Home instead.
If you would like to cancel summer camp, please let us know in writing (email@example.com) by May 1st.
If we DO NOT hear from you by May 1st we will assume your child/ren are planning to participate in EverWonder@Home or at our in-person camps if we can safely hold our camps. Please refer to the dates earlier in this email regarding when we will notify parents about moving camps to our virtual format.
If there is still a balance owed on camp, your invoice will be processed on May 15th rather than May 1st.
If you do not wish to participate in EverWonder@Home the following options are available due to COVID-19. Please contact us on or before May 1st.
1. Receive a credit that never expires- even on non-refundable deposits. The credit can be used for any of our camps during the summer or the school year.
2. Forfeit your deposit. The non-refundable deposit for tot camps is $75 per week. The non-refundable deposit for “Big Kid” camps is $20 per day for families that have not used EverWonder Insider Rewards. We will refund your tuition minus your deposit.
2. Switch your camp to a later week if there is availability. (Note: At this time, we do not know if we will be able to hold in-person camps this summer.)
3. Sell your credit to a friend. This credit can be used during our school year or summer camps.
Reminder: If you used EverWonder Insider Rewards to register for camp and you do not wish to participate in EverWonder@Home the days will go back on your pass. There are no refunds on EverWonder Insider Rewards.Lunch fees and extended hour fees will be credited to your account in full for all of our EverWonder@Home camps.
April 1, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#3):
UltraCamp sent out an automatic payment reminder for our May 1st payment due date today. (We were caught off guard as we had forgotten that we scheduled the reminder back in January when we were loading camps into the system.) This reminder went to folks who made deposits on tot camps and our full-day camps.
We are aware that Governor Northam has issued a stay-at-home order until June 10th. He also stated that he could re-open the state earlier or push opening back up to a later date.
We are pushing the due date for payments back to at least May 15th.
We continue to plan for camps. We do have many folks emailing us about wanting to sign up for camps later in the summer and we do expect a rush of registrations if and when we get the all clear to open up.
We are also exploring the possibility of adding more weeks/days of full-day camps beginning June 10th (or earlier if Governor Northam changes the stay-at-home order.) As always, you will be able to register by the day for these camps.
If we have to cancel any weeks of camp the following options will be available:
- Switch your camp to a later week.
- Sell your spot to a friend for any other week of summer camp.
- Sell your credit to a friend. This credit may be used toward any summer or school camp and this credit will never expire.
- Receive a credit that never expires. The credit can be used for any of our camps during the summer or the school year.
March 23, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#2) : Today, Governor Northam announced that all Virginia schools (public and private) are to remain closed until the end of the academic year. In addition, all non-essential businesses have been closed for the foreseeable future. We are still nine weeks out from our first summer camp at the Falls Church Episcopal. We are hopeful the measures our government is taking to slow the spread of this disease will prove to be successful. We will continue to monitor the situation daily. At this time, we continue to plan for summer camps. That said, we are in an unprecedented situation and will follow guidelines to keep our community and our kids safe.
Please continue to practice social distancing. As hard as it is, our family has followed the advice of this article from the Today Show (https://www.today.com/parents/can-kids-have-playdates-amid-coronavirus-doctor-says-no-t176143)
I’ve copied and pasted a portion of the article as what Dr. Mantravadi says is so important.
As parents attempt to homeschool amidst kids’ complaints of being bored, they may ask whether or not it’s still OK for kids to have small playdates with other friends. Manasa Mantravadi, a pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, says no.
“Not in person at least,” Mantravadi explained. “This virus is highly contagious and may show minimal to no symptoms in healthy individuals and children, but can then be transmitted and cause severe illness and even death in vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with chronic conditions.”
We hope everyone is staying safe and that everyone is healthy. As we said before, we will get through this together.
March 14, 2020 COVID-19 Update (#1) : We have been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving news and information regarding COVID-19. Due to the uncertain and quickly evolving impact of coronavirus and in response to Arlington Public Schools closing through April 13th we have decided to proactively cancel our camps scheduled to take place April 6-13. All Spring Break camp reservations will be credited.
We will continue to accept registrations for summer camps. If any summer camp weeks are canceled (we will follow guidelines set out by our local public school systems), those registrations will also be credited. Proactively, we will adjust the payment due date for the balance on our tot camps until at least May 15th. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this difficult time. Please check on your neighbors, especially those who are older. We will all get through this together.