Trout Lake Camps
COVID-19 Safety Standards
(Download a pdf version)
On June 17, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced overnight camps like Trout would be able to re-open on July 1. Based on that information, below are just a few of the plans and protocols that Trout has in place for our 2020 summer.
While it is our hope that you’ll choose to send your child to Trout this summer, we understand that our families have to make the choice for themselves. But before you make this difficult decision, we want to share our plans so you can be confident making an informed choice.
Camper safety is not a new concept at Trout Lake Camps. We’ve always made safety a priority and have worked to minimize risk as much as possible. We have numerous layers of systems and protocols to ensure our facilities are clean but more so that Trout is an atmosphere where campers can stay safe and healthy. Our goal is to continue to learn, train, retrain, and work as hard as we can to keep everyone safe. In the mindset of continuing our well-established practices, we want to share with you our plans for this very unique 2020 summer.
Our staff has spent time in prayer for every potential camper and staff member this summer. It is our hope that your kids, our campers, experience unforgettable new friendships, fun, and spiritual growth at Trout this summer.
In addition to established policies, below you will find a summary of some of the new procedures that Trout intends to implement this summer concerning COVID-19.
Trout Lake Camps starts with our amazing staff: Most summers our staff train for two weeks prior to the start of camp. This year staff will train for over a month which will give us extra time to ensure they are confident in our new standards. We’ll never quit learning and making adjustments, so as each day passes and new information comes out, we will strive to retrain, reimagine, and recreate an amazing and safe camp experience for your kids.
Trout’s Health Lodge Volunteer Program: Trout brings in four medical professionals each week of camp to provide 24/7 medical support. These teams consistently monitor the health of our campers and staff, acting quickly to identify, contain, and treat any issues, illnesses, or injuries that may appear. For decades, this team and its leadership have done amazing work on behalf of Trout. We are also connected to a team of local health providers who work in unison with our staff should issues arise.
Below you will find policies we are implementing based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines as well as many other organizations and recommendations. Our goal is to make Trout as safe as we can for parents, campers, and staff.
Partnering With Parents
Pre-screening campers: We’ll be pre-screening all campers prior to arrival to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
- About seven to 10 days out from dropping your campers off at Trout, you’ll receive a new health form and questionnaire.
- We will ask our parents to monitor their camper’s temperature and health for the two weeks prior to their arrival.
- We’ll also be asking about any exposure that might be relevant.
- Any campers who are ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during the 72-hours prior to arrival will need to contact our office staff to reschedule your camp week.
- Any camper that arrives with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will need to return home.
How will opening day (drop-off) work? Only Trout campers and staff will be allowed on grounds this summer, so to minimize exposure, we’ve completely revamped our drop-off procedure. We call it Camper Curbside Drop-off. This will be similar to what happens when you drop your kids off at school.
- We will be staggering arrival times. Every camper will have a designated drop-off time so we can minimize exposure.
- Curbside Drop-off will be at our new Gateway entrance.
- Once you arrive at the front of the line, we’ll take the camper’s temperature grab their luggage, and you can head home after giving them a great big hug. If you haven’t completed your questionnaire you will need to do so at this time.
- We’ll get campers to their cabins via our brand new, open-air covered wagons.
We realize there are both pros and cons to this system, but it’s the best way for us to keep our grounds clean. A video example and more specific info will arrive seven to 10 days prior to your first day of camp.
Cabin Groups - Social Distancing at Trout Part 1
Let’s talk about numbers: In 2020 less is more, this summer we will be running Trout at less than our capacity. We are going to keep your camper in as small of a group as possible as we limit the number of campers and staff your camper has contact with. The MDH requires that we keep our cabin groups no larger than 10. That means your camper will spend most of their time at camp with seven other friends and two staff. We’ll clarify more camper movement details in the “How Cabin Groups Interact” section below.
Sleeping arrangements: In order to put as much space as possible between campers while they sleep, campers will be arranged in a head-to-toe fashion in their bunks. Because all cabins are not the same size, we will not use any of the smaller cabins where adequate spacing cannot be achieved.
Facemasks at Trout: Everyone wants to know about masks... who wears them and who doesn't? Our answer is pretty simple. Since campers and their cabin leaders stay primarily in that group of 10, they won't be required to wear masks while with their cabin group – inside their cabin or while moving about outside.
According to the new mask guidelines presented from the Governor's Office, starting on July 26th (Week #7) Trout will require that all staff and campers wear masks while inside any building with the exception of:
- When campers are in their cabin (the equivalent to being "at home")
- Eating during mealtimes (in the Dining Hall – lunch and dinner – breakfasts are in cabins)
- During indoor physical activities – such as while climbing our indoor climbing wall
We will not require staff or campers to wear masks outside unless social distancing standards cannot be maintained. Therefore your camper's mask wearing time should be minimal.
If a camper parent wants their child to wear a mask more often, we will do our best to make sure that happens in areas where it's feasible, for example, it would be unsafe to swim or sleep in a mask. Masks would also not be practical in some event areas such as High Ropes.
All campers should bring 2–3 masks to make it through their week of camp.
All support staff (non-cabin leaders) will wear face coverings whenever they are interacting with campers (indoors or outdoors) as long as it is feasible and safe for them to wear one.
Daily Schedules - Social Distancing at Trout Part 2
How will cabin groups interact with other campers? There are some activities around Trout that are simply done best in groups a little bigger than a single cabin. Therefore, at times we will mix a cabin group with one or two other cabin groups. Current CDC and MDH guidelines allow this scheduling as long as we limit this activity time and promote social distancing during the time these small groups are together. These small groupings will remain the same two or three cabins throughout the week.
That means your child could be in a group as large as 16 or 24 campers and their cabin leaders depending on the camp they attend. Our schedules control these small groups movements in every detail, so if there is an illness, we can trace any camper contacts accordingly.
This approach lets campers get to know a few kids outside of their cabin in a socially distanced setting and allows for the super fun Trout activities kids love, all while keeping everyone as safe as possible.
What about outsiders? Trout will be severely limiting access to our property this summer. There might be a UPS truck or vendor or two who drops off our groceries, but if you’re not a camper or staff member or a few key volunteers, you will not be allowed on the grounds. We have security teams, signage, and specific directives that will keep Trout’s boundaries safe.
Will We Keep Trout Clean?
How will cabins be cleaned? Our cleaning crews always give the cabins a thorough cleaning before campers arrive, but this summer we’ll have a more detailed disinfectant protocol. There are also no campers in cabins between camp weeks for at least 24 hours.
Cleaning cabins has always been a regular cabin chore during the week, but this summer we’ll take it up a notch. Every day every cabin at Trout will be rigorously cleaned by our staff. Cabin Leaders will handle the heavy cleaning, but we still expect campers to clean up after themselves. During the week, no outside staff or campers will enter a cabin unless they are Health Lodge or Housekeeping staff (wearing masks).
What about hand washing? Clean hands will be a priority at Trout! We have installed new sinks at the entrances of our dining halls and purchased portable hand washing stations for our activity areas. In addition, we have alcohol-based hand sanitizer for every cabin, building, and activity area throughout camp. We will also take time every day to remind campers to wash their hands before meals, at each activity area, building, and cabin, etc.
Campers will be asked to refrain from hand touching or high-fives.
What about mealtimes? Campers will eat with their cabin groups either in cabins (food delivered), outdoors (cabin-based picnics), or in one of our dining halls (properly socially distanced from other groups). We have a very specific mealtime schedules in place so that your child’s cabin is socially distanced from all other cabin groups. We also have systems in place that will allow us to continue to meet food allergy concerns.
Our food service areas are constantly cleaned in compliance with MDH standards, and we will continue to train and retrain as recommendations change.
What about Chapels and meeting rooms? Unlike any previous summer at Trout, there will be no filled-to-the-brim Chapels, skits or amphitheaters. This year your camper will attend a combination of both live and video-based Bible teaching times. All meeting rooms and Chapels (indoor and out), will be cleaned between groups.
What about activity areas? We have purchased a special, EPA-registered antimicrobial product from Omni Solutions. This antimicrobial solution is the same product that many hospitals and ambulances use to protect their surfaces. It creates a barrier on porous and non-porous surfaces that lasts up to 90 days. With this product, we will be able to add an additional layer of protection for campers when they touch things like ropes, saddles, or even canoe paddles. When used in combination with routine handwashing, as well as cleaning items in-between use, this will be a tremendous help in reducing surface contact exposure.
For more information go to: https://www.omnisaves.com/
What about shared items? Trout is working hard to limit the handling of shared items. We have been sanitizing and reworking our procedures to minimize the hand-to-hand contact of items all around grounds. One concern we have is money handling. Because of this issue, we will also be going cashless for all sales on grounds, and we are not going to be using any pop vending machines this summer. Campers and staff will be encouraged to deposit spending money into our camper bank system prior to arrival for use in food and activity areas that cost extra money.
What If Someone Gets Sick During Camp?
What if a camper or staff member shows COVID-19 symptoms during or following a camp week?
Our Health Lodge and leadership staff will contact parents if a camper appears to be showing any symptoms of COVID-19. If concerns arise, all parties involved will be asked to talk through options with camp management as we follow CDC and MDH guidelines.
Symptoms similar to COVID-19 can be common at camp. In previous years it was not unusual for campers to have a low-grade temperature, not feel well, etc., during a normal week at camp. However, this summer our staff will continue to respond rapidly to any symptoms campers demonstrate. Our staff will also ask campers how they’re feeling much more often. Daily health checks will be conducted by nursing staff at lunch every day. If symptoms occur, we will contact parents quickly and work through options.
What about testing? Trout is working with local health providers to secure COVID-19 testing opportunities for our staff. If testing becomes necessary for campers, parents will make those choices on behalf of their children. If someone at Trout tests positive we will respond as MDH directs (contact tracing, contacting staff and parents, etc.), in accordance with HIPAA rules and standards.
If, within 14 days of their arrival at camp, you find out that your child was in close contact with an individual that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or shows COVID-19 symptoms, we are asking you to contact camp as soon as possible. If your camper is still onsite, we will need to separate them from the other campers, and they will need to be picked up. Every parent from that child’s cabin will also be contacted concerning that exposure.
What Happens at the End of the Week?
How will I pick up my camper? Camper Curbside Pick-up will be the standard this summer. We will have your camper and their luggage ready to go at our New Gateway parking area. Pick-up times will be staggered just like during drop-off. More details will be emailed to you seven to 10 days prior to camp.
Updates to Trout Policies and MDH/CDC Guidelines
Trout will continue to update this list as the MDH and CDC makes changes to their guidance. We will inform parents as needed. Also, if the stay at home policy is reinstated, or Trout is provided direct guidance from the MDH, all parents will need to pick-up their campers.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
– Youth Programs and Camps During the COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/summer-camps.html
Minnesota Department of Health – Guidance for Social Distancing in Youth and Student Programs www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/guidance.html
Minnesota Department of Health – COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Overnight Camps https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/overnightcamp.pdf
Minnesota Department of Health – COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/clean.html
American Camping Association (ACA) – COVID-19
Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA)
Opening Up America Again Guidelines (PDF)
If Needed, How Do I Get a Refund?
One of the first questions everyone has is our refund policy, so let me explain how that works. We're willing to give a full refund (including your deposit), however, because of these trying times we have a few other options we hope you'll consider. Trout has always been a meeting place with God, but given the current uncertainty, we're facing a severe financial hardship.
With that in mind, we have a few options for your refund:
- Donate: Instead of taking your refund, make it a donation to support the continued work of Trout Lake Camps.
- Deposit: Turn your refund into a deposit for a future Trout event.
- Refund and donate: Do both. Consider taking a partial refund and making a partial donation.
- Full refund: We're glad to follow our COVID-19 refund policy, where you can get the full refund (including deposit).
Whatever option you choose, reach out to our office and we can take care of it: 218.543.4565
If you have any questions, please contact us. We hope everyone stays healthy and hopeful!
On behalf of Christ, campers and staff,