Today marks the successful conclusion of StM Summer Care, a program created to provide children with a safe, enjoyable camp experience while allowing parents the opportunity to return to work.
In the months leading up to the opening, Summer Care Co-Directors Christine Berry and Juan Lumas, and George Cottage Camp Director Michelle Chauvin, worked closely with StM’s administration and school nurse, and with Ochsner Health. The team meticulously planned all policies, procedures, and training to ensure the safety of each camper and counselor.
Lumas said, “Honestly, nothing is 100% perfect. But the camp staff and school leaders have spent an immense amount of time and effort to put this program together. We did our very best to come up with a protocol, based on ACA (American Camping Association), CDC, and state guidelines, that would provide a safe space for our campers and counselors.”
Throughout the 5-week program, a system was implemented for educating children about healthy hygiene practices. Directors designed a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting the classrooms during the camp day to ensure the safety of all children and staff. Classroom procedures were adjusted to limit the sharing of materials and to practice physical distancing. Activities that would normally take place indoors were modified to allow children to enjoy them outside. Carpool and lunch procedures were revised to maintain static groups. Large camp gatherings were modified and held via Zoom, so that campers and staff could still be “together” but at a distance. Additional staff were hired to maintain cleaning and disinfection in bathrooms and on playgrounds.
“I am so appreciative of the parents, staff, and StM Community for walking alongside us this summer and supporting us as we navigated new policies and procedures in a territory that we had never visited before,” said Berry.
In the Cottage, days were filled with story time, nursery rhymes, sensory
play, water exploration, leisurely strolls, and more. New friendships were formed and familiar ones were strengthened.
Chauvin said, “The months leading up to Summer Care were challenging and the ‘To Do’ lists were long, but our ultimate goal of providing a safe, healthy, and engaging setting for our families remained our priority. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
In a letter to Summer Care families, Berry and Lumas summed it up best by saying, “This experience has been exhausting, emotional, and enlightening, but the impact is everlasting on the hearts of the campers and families, and on ours!”
St. Martin’s is deeply grateful to our camp directors, counselors, and staff for their dedication and unwavering commitment to providing a safe, enjoyable experience for our campers.