Are We Opening? HECK YES.
At-home and at-Cobbossee PCR tests. Creating a real bubble. Podding up by bunk (at first). Really careful transportation. Opening up in stages. . .
Yes, things will be a little different at first.
But the important things will also be exactly the same. Louis' laugh. Griff's t-shirts. The smell of a Maine morning. Laughing with your best friends. The sound of We Will Rock You. Playing sports in the Cobbossee sunshine. Real sports. . . with teams. The playscape. Fried chicken. The sound of Eye of the Tiger. Sailing. The sound of loons. It's time.
Read below how our practices will keep us as safe as possible, and how our Cobbossee families are part of the solution.
Bring on Summer 2021!
Let’s start with the most important question. Will Cobbossee be opening summer of 2021?
Heck yes! We are 100% opening. We spent all fall preparing program adjustments and safety protocols so that we would be ready. And ready we are.
Our goal for the fall was to get ready to run Cobbossee in the event nobody had a vaccine. As a result of taking this hard line, we are prepared to run as safely as possible in this context.
And that part is important: we are all in a different context these days. No children’s activity, summer camp or otherwise, is 100% risk-free, and it would be tone-deaf and unrealistic to issue guarantees about the complete absence of COVID at Cobbossee.
But we can move mountains to make that as unlikely as possible. And move mountains we shall.
Are you going to create a bubble at Cobbossee?
Exactly, yes. With strong testing procedures using the most accurate tests, both at home prior to Cobbossee and at Cobbossee itself, we will be creating a bubble at Cobbossee during summer 2021.
Our goal is to get everyone safely to camp and then to slowly stage up from bunk-pods to age groups to all of Cobbossee. This is going to take extra steps on everyone’s part – families, campers, and staff. We are bringing our staff in 14 days before campers arrive and making sure everyone is healthy and we are all set up. When the boys arrive, we will create an island out of Cobbossee. Imagine the NBA bubble with s’mores. If we take any trips at all, we will be taking them to isolated corners of Maine where we can ensure distance and bubble-integrity.
Our amazing staff has committed to staying in the Cobbossee bubble for the whole summer to protect this crucial division between the world and us.
What kind of testing will you do?
The short answer is we are going to use whatever testing tools give us reliable and timely results. Right now, that means a PCR test at home, another upon arrival, and another before staging up from pod to age group.
We may use the rapid antigen tests to quick-spot-check any normal symptoms we get every summer like sore throats and low fevers.
Staff and campers will go through the exact same procedures as everyone settles into Cobbossee.
IMPORTANT: we reserve the right to change this approach as new medical technology reveals itself or existing tools improve.
What will masking and cohorting/podding look like at Cobbossee this summer?
As we all know, masks are one of the most reliable ways to defend against COVID-19. All Cobbossee boys will arrive in masks and will be placed immediately in their primary residential groups: their bunks. This will be their cohort, or pod, for the next stretch of days (and this includes their counselors!). Outside of this pod, campers will wear masks to and from meals, and at any event or activity attended by people outside their bunk.
Within the bunk group (and inside the physical cabin itself) masks will not be required.
After about 7 days, everyone at Cobbossee will take another PCR test. When an entire age group gets the green light, that larger group becomes the cohort.
After another yet-to-be-determined set of time, and after clear indications all is well, we expect and hope to expand that cohort further to all of Cobbossee.
Will every one of your adult staff be vaccinated?
We have built our plans and protocols on nobody being vaccinated. Every vaccinated staff member will therefore be a bonus, but our plans for camper and staff safety do not hinge on a vaccine rollout that is hopeful-but-erratic.
This typifies our approach to all of this: make hard plans to run as safely as possible using only the tools of a strong bubble, good testing, and initial bunk-pods of campers and staff. Everything after that is great, but not essential for your boys to have the summers of their lives.
Will my child need to quarantine before Cobbossee?
We expect asking staff and campers to severely lower their exposure risk leading up to the home-PCR test and between that test and travel to Cobbossee. At this point, we expect this will mean adjusting family behaviors for about 10 days prior to travel to Cobbossee.
As we all get closer to the summer, this procedure will come more sharply into focus, but it will certainly mean ceasing all medium-to-high risk behaviors and gatherings and therefore delivering a PCR result that we can build a bubble around! This will mean attending no weddings, funerals, bar or bat mitzvahs, parties or crowded events of any kind.
Are you going to change or adjust your summer dates?
No, but our families’ calendars will be more affected.
We are going forward with the normal timing of normal sessions. However, it is vital that families plan for a longer ‘ramp-to-camp’ this year than in previous years. We are asking each Cobbossee boy to undergo and report a negative at-home PCR COVID test result 72 hours before traveling to Cobbossee.
For this test to be meaningful, that Cobbossee boy must ‘shelter-in-place’ between his negative test and traveling to Cobbossee. This means the footprint of a Camp Cobbossee session is actually a little LONGER from a family’s perspective, because it means changing behavior leading up to and then after that test. We need everyone’s help and compliance in this crucial first step.
Creating the Cobbossee bubble is going to take a true community effort. We can and will be successful.
What happens when a child is diagnosed with COVID-19 directly before or during a Cobbossee session?
We will follow the Maine CDCs guidelines as soon as we have confirmed the test result. Campers with a confirmed positive COVID test will be isolated immediately and cared for. They will need to be picked up from Cobbossee within 24 hours. We will use the pod-bunk groups to carefully contact-trace and test each of the child’s contacts. Provided recovery from the virus goes well, we expect to be able to welcome back any such camper after 10 days.
What is travel to and from Cobbossee going to be like?
We are going to ask a lot of our families to drive. Limiting group travel as strictly as possible and being very careful with the time periods before and after the home PCR test are the two things Cobbossee needs our families to do so that we can create as safe a bubble as possible for all of Cobbossee’s sons and our staff.
For those of our families that cannot drive due to living a prohibitive distance from Cobbossee, flying to either Boston or Portland and then bringing your camper to camp in a private rental vehicle is also a good option. In this case, we require that your camper be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult during their airport-airplane-rental-car journey.
Importantly, we will be offering bus travel HOME from Cobbossee this year, as by the time we load up those buses we’ll have spent 26 nights together at Cobbossee. If you are from one of our bus drop off locations (Boston, NY-Area), we will be able to deliver your son or sons to you by bus with confidence.
More travel information will be forthcoming in the bulletins mentioned below.
How will the culture and program of Cobbossee change because of COVID?
The program will change a little, especially in the first phase of each session as all bunks will travel from activity to activity in their bunk-pods. We will stage out of these bunk-pods as soon as the science tells us we can.
As for the culture, that’s going to be exactly the same! Just like after every other year, your boys are going to return from Cobbossee brimming with stories about epic adventures with their new friends, connecting with their favorite counselors, and Louis’ amazing food. . . just like every other year. Except this year it’s going to be even more amazing after all everyone has been through.
Campfire, Big Brother/Little Brother Night, New Camper Meeting, Intramurals, Banquet, Talent Show, MTV Night, Tribal Games and Color War are all absolutely happening. And, I might add, with all the added enthusiasm boys who are at Cobbossee after a year of COVID at home!
Is this all the information coming about Cobbossee in 2021? What’s next?
Expect to see very-precise bulletins coming soon about the following essential topics. We are being very careful this year to give you reliable information as soon as we can really hang our hat on it. That means timed release of aspects of our plan.
Bulletin 1 – Parent Handbook, Packing List, Camper Profiles and Health Forms.
Bulletin 2 – Travel to Cobbossee in 2021
Bulletin 3 – Exact testing procedures and what that means for each family.
Bulletin 4 – Right-Before-Camp Covid-specific online forms.