COVID-19 Procedures for YMCA Camp Bernie


This document has been compiled by YMCA Camp Bernie with the assistance of the New Jersey Department of Health and Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. in conjunction with the YMCA of the USA and the American Camp Association. As the current coronavirus health crisis is an ongoing, rapidly changing situation, YMCA Camp Bernie will continue to monitor publicly available information.

Our 2020 COVID-19 procedures include implementation of the following steps:

  • Safety actions to implement Non-pharmaceutical Interventions
    • Promote healthy hygiene practices
    • Intensify cleaning, disinfection and ventilation
    • Ensure physical distancing and limited cohort sizes
    • Limit sharing
    • Additional staff training and education
  • Health monitoring and pre-screening
    • Check for signs and symptoms
    • Plan for when a staff, child, or visitor becomes sick
    • Maintain healthy operations to monitor risk-reduction strategies are in use
  • Community surveillance and response to COVID-19 positive persons and facility operations

Medical Considerations of the COVID-19 Experience in Children

A May 8, 2020, review of recently published medical and scientific papers concluded that: “COVID-19 appears to affect children less often, and with less severity, including frequent asymptomatic or subclinical infection. There is evidence of critical illness, but it is rare. The role of children in transmission is unclear, but consistent evidence is demonstrating a lower likelihood of acquiring infection, and lower rates of children bringing infections into households.”1

Considerable attention is being focused by the medical community on the health of children experiencing a condition now termed as pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a rare disease affecting children that is potentially related to COVID-19. Government announcements, media accounts, and the medical literature are being tracked to provide current advice on this development.

Coronavirus, COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily through person-to-person contact. COVID-19 can lead to severe illness, personal injury, permanent disability, and death. Even with the most stringent precautionary measures in place, participating in YMCA Camp Bernie programs could increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. YMCA Camp Bernie in no way warrants that COVID-19 infection will not occur through participation in camp programs.

1) DTFM COVID-19 Evidence Review, May 8, 2020,

1.0 Communications Relating to COVID-19

The YMCA Camp Bernie Executive Director and Camp Bernie staff will be communicating regularly with students and their guardians to address questions and concerns relating to COVID-19, including:

Prior to the programs: 

  • Providing documentation regarding rules and procedures for the programs. 
  • Identifying which participants are at higher risk for COVID-19.
  • Providing answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 as it relates to program operations.

During the programs:

  • Instructing participants and providing signage on how and when to wash/sanitize hands, coughing etiquette, mask, and physical distancing requirements in designated situations.
  • Instructing participants on what symptoms to look for and when to stay home.
  • Assisting participants in processing feelings and anxieties about COVID-19.

In the case of a confirmed or suspected case:

  • Contacting guardians if their child is experiencing symptoms.
  • Performing contact tracing and notifying appropriate guardians of potential exposure.
  • Notifying all guardians of participants on site as to the number of cases on camp, with respect to confidentiality, and if there is no reason to believe their child was exposed, as well as containment efforts.
  • Sharing any plans that are made that would impact the program schedule.

Communication may be in the form of letters, emails, website notifications, and social media.

2.0 Emergency Procedures Relating to COVID-19

The Health Officer will make all healthcare decisions for YMCA Camp Bernie. If any COVID symptoms arise in a participant or staff, they are to be examined immediately by the Health Officer.

Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Or at least two of the following:
    • Fever of 100.4º or higher
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell

If the Health Officer suspects COVID-19:

  • Notify the guardian. Mask and isolate the participant in a well-ventilated area within the designated healthcare location.
  • Give the guardian the option to pick-up the child or send participant to a testing facility or urgent care.
  • Camp Administration will perform contact tracing exercises.
  • The participant's cohort is masked and continues activities only at their base location once it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Parents are notified of possible exposure and encouraged to pick up participants.
    • If results are negative, resume regular programming.
    • If results are positive, notify all families within the cohort by phone and arrange testing and/or pick-up of participants within the cohort as well as those with contact of the cohort within 48 hours. Participants in the cohort may not return for two weeks, unless they choose to have an antigen test performed and can provide a negative result. Send communication via email to all participant families of positive result and any possibilities of exposure. Send staff member for COVID antigen testing and isolate until results are received.
      • If negative – reassign staff
      • If positive – staff is sent home for recovery for 2 week

Follow up this process with full cleaning/sanitizing of any potentially exposed facilities/equipment (including fogging of buildings).

Determine refund/credit considerations for infected/impacted participants based on the specific situation.

3.0 Student Check-in and Health Screening Procedures

Check-in guidelines will be distributed to parents prior to the start of the program to clearly outline expectations.

  • Designate one or a few limited individuals for pick-up/drop-off who are not at higher risk for illness.
  • Remain in your car for pick-up and drop-off. Your participant will be transported to and from the vehicle.
  • Expect sign in/drop off to take a few extra minutes.
  • Minimize goodbye times to allow for the continual flow of traffic.
  • If waiting in a line, use your hazards so other cars know to navigate around or wait behind you.
  • The speed limit at camp is 10 mph. Carefully navigate around other cars.
  • Do not bring pets to camp. You will not be permitted to walk them while here.

Check-in staff greeting cars will be wearing masks and gloves. Parents will not handle pens.

Program check-in will be conducted from vehicles. New participants will be given a decal to put in the front window. This will identify cars so counselors know where to direct cars & will serve as pick-up authorization for the end of the day. If the card cannot be produced at check-out, staff will ask for a photo ID.

Upon arrival, each participant will be asked COVID-19 screening questions:

  • Have you been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with, tested for, or quarantined as a result of COVID-19?
  • Have you traveled nationally or internationally within the last two weeks?
  • Have you been experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms within the last two weeks?
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Or at least two of the following:
      • Fever of 100.4º or higher
      • Chills
      • Repeated shaking with chills
      • Muscle pain
      • Headache
      • Sore throat
      • New loss of taste or smell
    • Have you taken any fever reducing medication this morning?

3.1 Participant Drop-Off and Further Screening

Cars will be sent to the appropriate drop-off locations. At these locations participants will exit vehicles, staff will meet participants, take temperatures, and ask a series of screening questions. If they pass the screening, participants will be given a squirt of hand sanitizer and sent to their cohort's meeting area. Participants will not be permitted to visit other tables or friends in other cohorts, except at a safe distance, though this rule may be lifted as New Jersey moves through the stages of opening and cohort sizes are increased.

Belongings will be stored in these locations, separated from each other.

Staff will be checked in each morning by the Program Director. They will be asked the COVID-19 screening questions and their temperature will be taken.

Anyone failing the COVID-19 screening, either by answering yes to one of the questions, or having a temperature reading above 100.4º will not be admitted to camp. Participants and staff must be symptom-free for 48 hours, cleared by a doctor, or have a negative test result in order to return.

If a guardian must exit their vehicle for any reason a face mask is required, particularly if entering the Main Office or other camp building.

4.0 Facilities Management

In preparation for the start of the fall season, the YMCA Camp Bernie Maintenance Team will perform an operational inventory of all camp buildings that may occupy persons during the programs, including checks of:

  • Doors and door screens
  • Windows and window screens
  • Exhaust and ceiling fans
  • Stand, box, and window fans
  • Water heaters and boilers

During program operation, ventilation in camp buildings will be maximized by keeping windows open and fans positioned to optimize air flow.

4.1 Aquatic Operations

Waterfront activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and raft building may be included in programs. There is no current evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in a waterfront. For natural waterfronts, it is best to follow proper physical distancing and good hygiene practices as outlined in other sections of this guide.

  • Efforts to maintain physical distancing will not impact existing YMCA Camp Bernie and American Red Cross safety protocols.
  • There will be routine cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas such as boats, paddles, lifeguard stands, railings, and gates.
  • Shared items and equipment will be limited, and any items used will be cleaned and disinfected following their use.

5.0 Food Service

YMCA Camp Bernie will not be providing food service as part of the programs this fall. Participants who will be on-site during lunch hours will need to bring a packed lunch. Participants are also welcome to bring snacks.

5.1 Trading Post

The Trading Post, a camp store for snacks & souvenirs, may be opened upon request, and will operate without participants entering. A designated staff member will be responsible for managing the Trading Post, handling items/supplies, and processing payments. All snacks/drinks will be prepackaged. They will wear a face mask, wash hands & wear gloves when handling items that will be purchased by students. As New Jersey enters later phases of reopening it may be decided that participants may enter the Trading Post in their cohorts. Commonly touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected between cohorts. participants will be discouraged from handling items and staff will limit displays to keep most items out of reach. Participants will sanitize hands before entering & when leaving.

6.0 Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning & disinfecting procedures will be utilized to reduce transmission risk to participants and staff. All staff will be trained on proper procedures for cleaning and disinfecting various supplies & equipment used by students.

  • Cabins: Common areas will be cleaned & disinfected daily. Control of cohort use will be strictly monitored.
  • Bathrooms: High touch surfaces will be cleaned & disinfected multiple times a day. Each common-space bathroom will receive a full cleaning every morning and afternoon. Cohorts will be assigned their own bathroom area to use which will not be shared.
  • Tables will be cleaned & disinfected at the beginning and end of every day as well as before & after mealtimes. Wooden picnic tables will be covered with tablecloths so surfaces can be properly cleaned & disinfected.

Plastic Picnic Tables/Plastic Surfaces

  1. Spray down table/benches with soap & water solution. Immediately wipe off.
  2. Spray down table/benches with disinfectant solution. Follow directors on bottle for disinfecting surfaces. a. Ex: Lysol= Spray down surface, let sit for 2 minutes, wipe off solution.
  3. Picnic Tables/ Surfaces food touches: Spray table with soap & water solution again & immediately wipe off.

Wooden Picnic Tables

  1. Must be covered with plastic tablecloth (pinned/taped down to be tight/smooth)
  2. Spray down table with soap & water solution. Immediately wipe off.
  3. Spray down table with disinfectant solution. Follow directors on bottle for disinfecting surfaces. a. Ex: Lysol= Spray down surface, let sit for 2 minutes, wipe off solution.
  4. Picnic Tables/ Surfaces food touches: Spray table with soap & water solution again & immediately wipe off.

Water Coolers

  1. Only staff touch cooler & push button for water. Participants hover their bottle underneath without making contact. Staff use wipes to disinfect any area they touched after use. Alternative: wear gloves when using.
  2. Coolers are scrubbed with soapy water & rinsed daily after being in use & left to dry.

Program Areas

Program area equipment/supplies will be cleaned & disinfected as directed by CDC and manufacturer guidelines. They include the use of soap & water and disinfectant wipes & sprays.

  • Archery Equipment (must put on a new set of gloves after handling all equipment cleaning, to put away.)
    • Bows: Wipe down bow surface with a disinfectant wipe. Let hand outside until dry. Spray string with disinfectant spray. Allow to dry.
    • Arrows: Wipe down arrow surfaces with a disinfectant wipe. Let dry.
    • Arm guards/finger tabs: Spray with disinfectant spray and allow to dry. Wash with soapy water at the end of the week & allow to dry.
    • Target faces: Wipe down with disinfectant wipe. Leave outside to dry
  • Mountain/BMX Bikes
    • Clean: Use a sponge to wipe down bikes with soapy water (avoid chain area) rinse with hose.
    • Disinfect: Use disinfectant spray/wipes on areas touched by students. This includes handlebars, gear shifter, seat, pedals, easy to wipe areas on bike (long metal bar).
    • Helmets: Spray with disinfectant spray. Let air dry.
    • Elbow/Knee pads: Wash with warm, soapy water. Spray with disinfectant spray & let dry.
  • Pond
    • Clean: When necessary (dirt, sand on seats or paddles) use sponge to wipe down with soapy water & rinse.
    • Between classes: disinfect seats, paddles and high touch surface areas on canoe with disinfectant wipes. Let dry. Separate worn PFDs from clean ones. Between users clean PFDs with hot, soapy water & spray with a disinfectant. Allow to dry if possible.
  • Nature
    • Only instructor allowed inside to clean/feed & generally care for animals. If animals are outside in their cages for students to view: wipe down table with disinfectant periodically throughout the day. Students are encouraged to not touch. Periodically wipe down outside of glass aquariums throughout day (if outside for viewing).
  • Challenge Courses
    • Challenge elements will be assessed on an individual basis. Equipment will be cleaned with a combination of hot soapy water, disinfectant & alcohol wipes between users & classes.
  • Sports Equipment/Plastic Toys
    • Pre-clean surface: rise with soap & water or spray with hose. Remove all visible dirt.
    • Spray all surfaces with disinfectant spray. Surfaces must be visibly wet for 3 minutes & let to air dry. Do not wipe.
  • Sports Balls (soccer, basketball, baseball, sprout ball etc.)
    • Clean with soap & lukewarm water to remove any dirt. Cold/hot water can affect ball quality.
    • Wipe off with a disinfectant wipe. Surfaces must be visibly wet for 4 minutes. Let air dry.
  • Markers/ Paint brush handles/ Glue/ Plastic Craft Supplies
    • Pre-clean surface: rise with soap & water. Remove all visible dirt.
    • Spray all surfaces with disinfectant spray. Surfaces must be visibly wet for 3 minutes & let to air dry. Do not wipe.
  • Crayons/”Soft Surfaces”
    • Wipe off any visible dirt with damp/soapy towel.
    • Spray all sides with disinfectant spray & let air dry.

7.0 Activities

All activities will be held outside unless there is inclement weather. Student cohorts will have a designated space separate from other cohorts. Cohorts will be spread out at least 6 ft apart from each other. Most activities will take place at or around this base location, as well as on trails or various nature spots. Any instructors that work with multiple groups are required to wear cloth face masks. Posters demonstrating proper coughing techniques, hand washing, etc. will be displayed throughout the camp. Students will be asked, at a minimum, to sanitize their hands before & after all activities.

Program Areas

Archery: Bows, arrows, targets & arm guards will be cleaned & disinfected between users, after each class. Students will use the same equipment for the duration of the class.

Arts & Crafts: Students are welcome to bring their own basic supplies (pack of crayons, markers, etc.). Supplies will be provided and cleaned & disinfected between users.

Bikes: Bikes, helmets, knee & elbow pads will be cleaned & disinfected between users. Students will use the same equipment for the duration of the class.

Canoeing: PFDs, paddles, seats & commonly touched surface areas will be cleaned & disinfected between users with hot soapy water and disinfectant.

Challenge Courses: Challenge elements will be assessed on an individual basis. Equipment will be cleaned with a combination of hot soapy water and disinfectant between users & classes.

Nature: Classes may take place in a cohort’s base location or various nature spots. Tables will be cleaned and disinfected following use.

Sports: Younger aged students will be practicing sports skills with individual equipment. Older students will play games in their cohorts that limit physical closeness. All equipment needing to be cleaned & disinfected will be put in a designated location. At the end of the day, this equipment will all be cleaned & disinfected.

Other Activities

Rainy Days: Indoor locations are specified for each cohort for inclement weather. These locations allow for social distancing between cohorts. Cohorts will participate in individual activities or group games that allow for social distancing (trivia, name that tune, etc.).

Individual Cohort Activities: Activities will be determined based on age group. Activities may include the above-listed camp activities as well as group games, scavenger hunts, board games, dances, hikes and more, based on the preferences of the group. Activities will incorporate social-emotional development and teamwork.

8.0 Students & Staff

Cohorts at Camp

As stated in the WHO/CDC guidance, in the current phase of reopening, groups of cohorts of up to 50 persons (students and staff) can assemble for discrete activities. Keeping cohorts separate by six feet from other cohorts serves to prevent these groups from mixing and optimizing infection prevention and control.

At YMCA Camp Bernie, our cohorts will consist of 1 staff and a maximum of 15 students.

Using the cohort strategy, contact tracing can be undertaken promptly by trained professionals in coordination with local and state health resources, with isolation and surveillance implemented in short order. The combination of NPIs and the cohort approach can support the development of effective communicable disease management plans for the 2020 Advantage Care program.

The following outlines how we will be grouping students to reduce the possible spread of infections and to allow for more rapid identification of suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

  • Students will be organized into the smallest practical group sizes (“cohorts”), and cohorts will be consistent throughout the semester as much as possible. While in these cohorts, students and staff are only required to wear masks while indoors.
  • Cohort sizes will comply with state and/or local requirements for proper staff to student ratios and minimum staffing requirements.
  • Staff will be trained in small groups and virtually prior to the start of the season as to new procedures regarding cohort sizes, social distancing, mask requirements, emergency procedures and cleaning and disinfecting.
  • At the start of the program, mixing of cohorts will be extremely limited, but this may extend into larger gatherings as New Jersey moves through the stages of reopening. Larger gathering would extend to a maximum of 50, and strongly favor outdoor gathering spaces.
  • Dining and programmatic changes will be implemented to minimize mixing, and increase physical distancing between cohorts. Facial coverings (as age and developmentally appropriate) will be utilized when distancing cannot be accomplished.
  • Each cohort will dine outside when weather permits. If weather does not permit, meals will take place in separate locations by cohorts socially distanced from each other.

8.1 Students & Staff with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Primary care providers are in the best position to make a professional judgment based upon an individual’s health status and their suitability for the camp environment at this time. If you are concerned about your child’s health condition(s) and level of risk, please consult your primary care physician.

8.2 Behavior Expectations & Management

It is the YMCA’s goal to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all participants. Children who attend the program are expected to follow the behavior guidelines based on the four core values and to interact appropriately in a group setting.

Behavior Guidelines:

  • We will CARE for ourselves and for those around us
  • HONESTY will be the basis for all relationships and interactions
  • People are RESPONSIBLE for their actions
  • We RESPECT each other and the environment

At times students may behave inappropriately. Some of their behaviors may even be injurious to themselves or others. In order to preserve the safety of the children, these behaviors must be controlled. Due to the increased concern over the spread of COVID-19 this fall, behavior issues that put the camp community at greater risk will not be tolerated.

The YMCA reserves the right to suspend any child from the program if necessary. If your child continuously displays inappropriate behavior (i.e. fighting, stealing, abusive language, running away, germ aggression, etc.) she/he may be dismissed from participating in the Advantage Care program indefinitely.

9.0 Transportation

YMCA Camp Bernie is working with local school districts to provide transportation between camp and the schools. Currently, only Lebanon Township Schools will be providing bus transportation. Below are the bus transportation guidelines.

  • Bus staff will be wearing masks and gloves.
  • Students will be expected to wear face masks while on the bus.
  • Students will be assigned seats physically distanced from other students on the bus, when possible.
  • Appropriate cleaning and disinfecting procedures will be performed by the bus company in between bus routes.

10.0 Cancelation & Refund Policy

Written notice must be received at least 1 week prior for any enrollment changes or program withdrawal. No refunds will be given after the 1st of the month.

  • If the YMCA or a Government or a Health Agency cancels a program, the customer will receive a full credit or refund upon request. The timeline for the fulfillment of refunds is likely to be slow.
  • Not attending the program (as opposed to canceling prior to the start of the program) does not entitle you to a refund in any cases.
  • Balances must be paid by the 25th of the month prior.
  • If your student is waitlisted and no space becomes available or you need to cancel, you will receive a full credit or refund upon request. The timeline for the fulfillment of refunds is likely to be slow.

*Please keep in mind that YMCA Camp Bernie is a non-profit charitable organization, and we ask that, in the case of cancelation, you please consider making a donation to our youth-serving and community-building organization.

Our Mission

The Ridgewood Y offers programs and community connections that positively impact lives through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, building spirit, mind and body for all.

The Ridgewood Y is a nonprofit charitable organization that serves youth, adults, and families founded on Christian principles and committed to strengthening our Northern New Jersey and Camp Bernie communities since 1902, as part of a worldwide YMCA.