Camp Mont Shenandoah’s response to COVID-19

To all of our Wonderful Camp Families: 

Camp Mont Shenandoah has successfully operated for 93 continuous summers, some of them through trials and upheavals, but nothing like what we’re currently encountering. With that said, I am heartbroken to write and tell you that Camp Mont Shenandoah will not be opening this season.

Simply put, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to confront distinct but also related challenges: the first is to provide for our campers the CMS summer experience that all of us love and cherish. The second was to do that safely. We had tried to figure out a way to meet both of these challenges.  We greatly appreciate your patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, and endless support as we grappled with the best path forward for your daughter and Camp Mont Shenandoah. We looked at every possible angle: proper screening, good PPE, quarantining, regular cleaning and disinfecting, excellent healthcare. We spoke with countless healthcare professionals, including two infectious disease specialists. We conversed with other camp professionals and attended webinars hosted by the American Camp Association. No matter how we approached it, though, we ultimately could not guarantee your daughter’s safety in the way we have every summer; nor, even under a best-case scenario, could we provide the kind of program that your daughter has come to expect. In addition, and as you certainly know, the situation continues to change. Virginia’s Phase 3 plan has yet to be announced, and because that would also likely dictate fundamental requirements for summer camps, we felt that we had no choice but to cancel the summer session.

Like us, your daughter is going to be crushed when she hears this news.  Camp is more important now than it has ever been to these young people who have lost so much in recent months, who have been deprived of close connections with friends, mentors, and, often times, extended family, and who have had to plug into a device for school or meetings or social gatherings. But as difficult as this decision has been to make and will be for the campers to accept, some things have not changed; indeed just in the last few days some seem to have grown even stronger: we are a camp of connections and deep and intensely meaningful relationships; our girls and staff are full of grit and resiliency; every summer, you, as parent, place your trust in us to watch over, nurture, and care for your daughter, and we accept that responsibility with great honor and feel that it is a privilege to become part of your family, and, you, a part of ours.

In the end, this seemed to us not only to have been the correct decision, but the only one. Camp Mont Shenandoah and her extended family are much bigger than a single summer. In that way this decision is not a concession, but an act of strength. In making it, we honor Camp Mont Shenandoah and her campers, not desert them. We acknowledge that it is precisely at times like these that her spirit is strongest, her call to us loudest, her place in our hearts most dear. As difficult as it has been, this decision is a celebration, for Camp Mont Shenandoah’s future — for her and her beloved campers’, for their shared summers to come. 

When we gather every summer on the athletic field beside West Lodge to join and sing “Crimson Sunset,” it is always a bittersweet moment. The lyrics are about the beauty of the evening as it descends across camp, but the lyrics are also about the constant passage of time. The last time we joined together in that setting to sing the song was the summer of 2019. None of us knew, or even contemplated, that we would not be together to sing it once again on a beautiful summer evening in 2020. But we won’t. What we can do, though, is what we did then: keep the song’s words in our hearts and allow them to be our guide: “We live within a world of love, till we meet again.”

This is enough for now. We will be in touch again shortly about some next steps and ideas for moving forward. 

With love and thanks,
Ann M. Warner