Summer Camps COVID-19 Update

 

May 25, 2020
Dear Families,

I am sending best wishes and good thoughts to all moms, dads, grandparents out there trying to figure out what is the best decision for their child and family this summer. Having both my daughters at home from college since spring break has been my bright side of this COVID-19 crisis. My family is in good health and I hope that yours is too. While this Memorial Day weekend is the Phase 2 re-opening of restaurants and some businesses in Santa Barbara, please be careful and wear your masks. Although Santa Barbara has fairly low COVID-19 infection numbers, that in itself is a worry. Most of us have no immunity. 

I was thinking I would like to do something to support other small locally owned businesses who like me are struggling to survive. Some of you have emailed me that either you have lost your business, or you are fighting to survive as well. Since my ACTIVE database of families reaches about 2500 people, I would like to start a shout-out to support our locally owned businesses in Santa Barbara & Goleta. The ones below are some of my favorites. Please email me the names of businesses (including your own) that you would like our families to support and I will send it out to everyone. This is a way that we can “all be in this together” and support each other. 

 All of these below are local family owned or woman owned businesses…give them your business!

  • Skin Deep (skin and hair care products)
  • Via Maestro 42 (restaurant)
  • Trimnasium (dog grooming)
  • Jeannine’s Goodland (in Goleta)
  • Chaucer’s Books
  • Crushcakes
  • Lena’s Pilates (when she can open again)
  • Shear Artistry (when they open, ask for Julie K.)
  • Lane Farm Produce Stand
  • Island Seed & Feed
  • LaCumbre Feed

SUMMER CAMPS in whatever form is mandated will be part of the Santa Barbara Phase 3 re-opening. While I have held onto optimism for our summer camps returning in full glory, I have come to the agonizing decision we cannot safely run them in their current format with large numbers of campers intermingling with each other.  

In reading the RISE guide for SB County, reviewing the websites for businesses, https://recoverysbc.org/reopen-your-business/ and ReadySBC.orgState and CDC guidelines, as well as engaging in discussions with other camp directors and school officials, we have created a modified and re-imagined summer camp program that we can safely operate, be fun for your child, and be of service to our familiesParents must also decide whether they are comfortable with their child attending in-person programs or whether that child or someone in your family has an underlying condition and therefore should not be at camp.

Our Summer Camp Modifications are these 3 options:

  1. Half-day versions of our most popular camps, with staggered start and end times, and limited to 3 well ventilated classrooms at Providence School and a max of 10 campers per class. Each classroom will have an outside door that can be left open for fresh air. Staggered times to be: 9am-12noon; 10am-1pm, and 1:30-4:30pm. This option MUST be approved by SB Public Health. An attestation form will be completed specifying the safety protocols and plan for our program. Once approved, then I can post it for families to see. You should ask to see the Public Health attestation approval if your child is going to any camp this summer.
  2. Camp in a Box. These will take much more time to determine topics, put them together, videotape our instructors and make the kits available to families. They will be an option later this summer as well as during the upcoming school year. Given the unknowns as to how schools will operate in the fall, we believe these programs could provide support to reduced class time for children.
  3. Individual tutoring. We recognize that many children could benefit from reading or math tutoring either in-person or virtually. Some families have asked about coding/programming tutoring. We have certificated teachers available for reading/math, and professionals who can teach coding, art and other options.

Below are the safety protocols that will be in place for half day Mini-Camps. However, there may be others added once our plan is approved by Public Health.

  • Perform initial assessment of camp classrooms and implement site specific COVID-19 protection plan.   Training of our camp staff will be done according to RISE and CDC guidelines and an attestation form provided to SB Public Health for approval.
  • Parents must monitor the daily health of their family and child who is coming to camp to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
  • Three (3) different half-day camps will run each week with a max of 10 students per camp at Providence School. Staggered times will be: 9am-12noon; 10am-1pm, and 1:30-4:30pm. 
  • Campers may only register for one half-day camp per week. We cannot have children register for more than one camp each week as that would violate social distancing of our groups.
  • Campers will NOT intermix with other groups. They will stay in their own group with their instructor for all projects and have a short recess and snack together.
  • Socially distancing markers will be set up within the classrooms to assist campers in staying apart.
  • Instructors will be required to wear masks (Public Health will determine if children wear them).
  • For drop off, parents may drive onto the campus black top, follow the cones and wait for a counselor to come to their car. Everyone must remain in their car. The counselor will open the door for the child, do a temp check, and escort the child from the car to the check-in desk. 
  • Parents will be asked daily to respond to questions asking about contact with others who have been ill. 
  • Parents should wash their hands and ensure children wash their hands prior to dropping off for camp. 
  • At the check-in desk, every child will use hand sanitizer and be walked to their classroom.
  • At dismissal for each group, parents may drive their cars onto the blacktop, follow the cones and wait for your child to be brought to the car. Campers will use hand sanitizer prior to leaving camp.
  • PPE will consist of EPA approved disinfectants, hand sanitizers, foggers, ultraviolet which will be used on equipment/materials and in all classroom spaces. Flat surfaces, door handles, light switches will be wiped down with disinfectants as required by CDC.
  • Campers will be escorted to the bathroom at specific times and counselors will ensure hand washing with soap. Disinfectant wipes will be used on bathroom faucets and handles after each use.
  • Supervised hand washing will occur regularly in the classroom.
  • Campers may NOT bring any personal items from home such as backpack, phone, stuffed animal or other objects. They may bring a jacket, water bottle, and a paper bag with snack, and face mask(s). The paper bag will be thrown away each day.
  • All campers/families must abide by specific drop off and pick up times. There is no extended care.
  • Temperatures of all campers and staff will be checked each morning and as needed during the day. 
  • No child or staff will be permitted at camp with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, or any symptoms related to COVID-19. A specific list of symptoms will be provided. 
  • In the event of a child or staff presenting symptoms of COVID-19 during the camp session, they must be picked up immediately from camp, tested and information reported back to our camp. In the event, the test is positive, all parents will be notified, that classroom shut down and Public Health will determine next steps.

Since this email has only gone out to the families who are currently registered for camp, you will have first choice of the Mini-Camp half-day programs. We anticipate these Mini-Camps will occur In July/Aug. An email will be sent out regarding Mini-Camps registration as soon as we have those set up. 

Your current camp funds will be moved into ACTIVE credit. From there you may use them to register for Mini-Camps, Camp in a Box, Tutoring or keep for future credit. As explained in previous emails, there will be no cash refunds at this time due to our current financial situation, only ACTIVE credit. Like all small businesses, Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific has been severely impacted. Since January, we have purchased our camp materials and supplies, paid rent and payroll, and worked toward having a regular camp season. As registrations for camp came to a halt, so did our income. In accordance with the COVID-19 Small Business Federal Legislation, we applied in March for funding to enable us to process all refunds and stay in business to provide future classes and camps to our families. We were successful in receiving the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) via the CARES ACT which will pays my employees and rent for 2 months. However, we are still awaiting the results of our application to the EIDL Economic Disaster Relief SBA loan program. Once a loan has been approved, then full refunds will be issued to families as requested. Many of you have already said that you will take a credit for next year and that is deeply appreciated. Any family that does request a cash refund will be put into the queue for reimbursement. Because COVID-19 is both a health and financial crisis, please help us keep our programs alive in Santa Barbara. We want to be here next summer and the summers after to play our role in rebuilding our community and create learning opportunities for children.

Thank you for your patience as we do our best to provide options to our families. Watch for our upcoming email about Mini-Camps this week and email me names of your favorite locally owned small businesses!

Onolee Zwicke, Director
Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific

May 21, 2020
Dear Parents, 

I am still holding out that we may be able to run some form of summer camp. I have a request into SB Public Health at this time to consider a modified summer program. In reviewing the RISE guide for SB County (see attachment) for reopening, the website https://readysbc.org , Phase 2 criteria by Governor Newsom, and the newly released CDC guidelines, we cannot run full day camps in their current format. Most other full day camps have cancelled in Santa Barbara as they cannot run full day either.

Thus, we have decided to modify our camp program to ones that we feel we can safely operate, be fun for your child, and be of service to our families. However, we will need to receive approval to open any in-person program from SB Public Health. We are awaiting a response.

We want to provide 3 options to our families:

1. Half-day versions of our most popular camps, with staggered start and end times, and limited to 3 well ventilated classrooms at Providence School and a max of 10 campers per class. Each classroom will have an outside door that can be left open for fresh air. Staggered times to be: 9am-12noon; 10am-1pm, and 1:30-4:30pm. This option will need County Public Health approval to open.

2. Camp in a Box. These will take much more time to determine topics, put them together, videotape our instructors and make the kits available to families. They will be an option this summer as well as during the upcoming school year. Given the unknowns as to how schools will operate in the fall, we believe these programs could provide support to reduced class time for children.

3. Individual tutoring. We recognize that many children could benefit from reading or math tutoring either in-person or virtually. Some families have asked about coding/programming tutoring. We have certificated teachers available for reading/math, and professionals who can teach coding, art and other options.

Since this email is only going out to the families who are currently registered for camp, you will have first choice of the Mini-Camp half-day programs once they are approved to open. 

Your current camp funds will be moved into ACTIVE credit. From there you may use them to register for Mini-Camps, Camp in a Box, Tutoring or keep for future credit.

As explained in previous emails, there will be no cash refunds at this time due to our current financial situation, only ACTIVE credit. Like all small businesses, Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific has been severely impacted. Since January, we have purchased our camp materials and supplies, paid rent and payroll, and worked toward having a regular camp season. As registrations for camp came to a halt, so did our income. In accordance with the COVID-19 Small Business Federal Legislation, we applied in March for funding to enable us to process all refunds and stay in business to provide future classes and camps to our families. We were successful in receiving the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) via the CARES ACT which will pay my employees and rent for 2 months. However, we are still awaiting the results of our application to the EIDL Economic Disaster Relief SBA program. Once a loan has been approved, then full refunds will be issued to families as requested. Many of you have already said that you will take a credit for next year and that is deeply appreciated. Any family that does request a cash refund will be put into the queue for reimbursement. Because COVID-19 is both a health and financial crisis, I am asking you to help us keep our programs alive in Santa Barbara. We want to be here next summer and the summers after to play our role in rebuilding our community and create learning opportunities for children. 

Thank you for your patience as we do our best to provide options to our families. 

Onolee Zwicke, Director
Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific

May 3, 2020
Dear Parents,
I am encouraged that Phase II of Governor Newson’s reopening plan includes schools and childcare and that we may reach that phase by early summer. My optimism is to plan for camps in July/August and hope that we might have a few weeks of operation in June. As stated earlier, there will be no cooking camps this summer. 

Many parents depend heavily on our camps in order to go back to work or want their children to be able to interact again with other kids in an enriching learning environment, while other parents do not want their child in camp this summer no matter when they open. I understand and respect all of those decisions.  

Assuming we will have some weeks of in-person camps this summer, we will abide by strict social distancing regulations, sanitizing protocols, fever testing and group size. In anticipation of what those health guidelines may be, we have reduced some of our summer camp offerings. We will run only 1 of most of our camps and 2 of some of our most popular camps, while limiting the number of children to 10 enrolled in any one camp, in their own classroom, and seated apart. We are structuring new procedures for drop off and pick up, recess and lunch times to limit the number of people in any one area, at any one time. Following all COVID guidelines for the health of your children and our staff will be a new challenge, but one I can assure you will be taken seriously and carried out as stringently as possible. 

If you anticipate wanting full day camps in July-Aug, you may want to register now: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/ArtExplorersTerrificScientific  

Other Options
As I have asked for your help during these difficult times, I also want to provide as many opportunities to families to meet your needs. The recent survey that I sent out indicates that Zoom and virtual classes are not a big interest. I get it!! Minecraft and Minecraft Modding were the only two Virtual Gaming camps that had significant interest. For Camps in a Box, the highest rated were Art camps, followed by Building Robots, Gadgets and Gizmos, Think Like a Detective and Radical Reactions. While Stop Motion was of great interest, many parents did not want to use Zoom or worried there would be too much help needed from a parent. We now have another option. We can run a Mini-Camp Series of 2-hour classes M-F at our studio location. We moved in December, so we are now in a commercial building with a warehouse (lots of space). Address: 5330 Debbie Rd. Suite 100, directly off Patterson. We could offer art, science and robotics/engineering/gaming/coding programs in a very small group setting of 10 kids max. Two-hour classes each day (M-F for 1 week) would give parents some much needed “sane personal time” and kids the opportunity to be with their peers.

Please click below and take this SHORT survey. Your input is crucial to our decision making.
http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07eh29afxnk9kbhjhv/start

Thank you!
Onolee Zwicke, Director
Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific

REVISED Camp Cancellation Policy 4/26
Due to COVID-19, all deadlines for camp cancellations have been removed.  This change in policy ensures there will be no penalties in order to allow families as much flexibility as possible. In the event, we must cancel camps, or a family cancels a camp, credit to your ACTIVE account will be automatically issued. Currently, there is a wait time for refunds as we are in the pipeline for assistance from the Small Business Association Federal grants. Credits to your ACTIVE account can be used for future classes or camps and do not expire. If you need to change weeks and there is sufficient room in another camp, campers may transfer without charge. If your child is sick for an extended period of time, we will credit your account or transfer them to a different week.

April 26, 2020
Dear Families:

I am reaching out to all of our valued families and wishing you the best for your health and well-being during this time of stress and uncertainty. Like you, I am checking websites, COVID models, Public Health Dept, news reports and any place else I can to get a clue to our summer’s future.

Currently, we fully intend to hold camps whether it be June, July or August and anticipate a need for children’s camps and childcare so that parents can go back to work. However, that decision will be based on CA state mandates, the SB Public Health Department and community re-opening criteria. We will comply with all regulations for sanitation and group size. As we continue to hold hope for summer camps, I have removed deadlines for camp cancellations at this time. Previously May 31st was the deadline but there will be no penalties of any kind in order to allow families as much flexibility as possible to make decisions. 

In anticipation of what those health guidelines might be, we have reduced some of our summer camp offerings. We will run only 1 of most of our camps and 2 of some of our most popular camps, while limiting the number of children to 10 enrolled in any one camp in their own classroom. We are structuring new procedures for sanitation, social distancing, and fever testing. Following all COVID guidelines for the health of your children and our staff will be a new challenge, but one I can assure you will be taken seriously and carried out as stringently as possible. 

In the event live camps are not possible, we are reimagining camp options such as Camp in-a Boxand Virtual Gaming Camps like Minecraft, Roblox, coding and a few others. More details will be released very soon about these options. Other changes include not offering any of our cooking camps (Bakers Delight, Foodie Camp, Teen Chef or Mini-Chef camps). Given the challenges of close proximity in a kitchen and necessity for EXTRA stringent sanitation requirements, we are going to postpone these camps until 2021. Please check our website pages by age group for camp changes. If you anticipate needing summer camps, you may want to consider registering for them now.

To address the health of our business, Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific, like all small businesses, has been severely impacted. In accordance with the COVID-19 Small Business Federal legislation passed at the end of March, we applied for 3 different grants/loans to assist us with payroll for our small number of staff and rent since we have no income due to school closures and the unknown status of summer camps. Sadly, we were not granted funding in the first round due to the volume of applications and inadequate appropriations. However, in discussion with Montecito Bank & Trust (where I applied for the PPP loan), I am hopeful that with the second round of SBA funding to be passed by Congress that we will be able to receive some financial help.

On a very personal level, this standstill is crushing. I started 18 years ago doing art camps and classes and then evolved over time to provide science and engineering programs. I am a 100% woman owned small business, determined to create the best enrichment STEAM camps for children in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito. I started off teaching, creating curriculum, and developing camps. Then grew to where I could hire teachers, collaborate with other educators and create more programs. Over the last few years, I have loved being at camp, overseeing the delivery of what we do, watching children who started with us as Kindergarteners advance to be 6th graders. And have felt the warmth of a child who came back a foot taller each year, and said to me, “Ms. Onolee… I am back!” For some children, we were their last and best option. When kids have challenging behaviors, some programs turn them away. Our commitment is always to try our best to keep every child, work through strategies with the parent, and help turn things around in that child’s life. Lastly, I am deeply appreciative of the families who sign up their children with us for all 8 weeks and in awe of their commitment to us. I thank you for all the years of your support and the trust that you bestow on us by enrolling your child in our camps.

Because COVID-19 is both a health and financial crisis, I am asking you to help us keep our programs alive in Santa Barbara. We want to be here next summer and the summers after to play our role in rebuilding our community and create learning opportunities for children. My goal is to continue paying my small full and part-time staff (under 5) to be prepared in the event we do have camps and to come up with alternatives if we do not, as well as obtain the supplies needed to carry out live camps or build camps in a box. We rent a 3000 sq. ft. office/warehouse space and the property owner has generously waived our rent for the foreseeable future to help Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific survive this pandemic. Please support us through live camps, Camp in a Box, Virtual Camps or receiving an ACTIVE credit for next summer.

In the event that we cannot be together this summer and to maintain our programs for the future, I will put your camp payment into ACTIVE credit to be used at a future date. From there you can decide whether you will use it for Camps in a Box, Virtual Gaming or leave it for next summer. If your own financial situation is also dire, then please let me know that and I will put you into the queue to process a refund as soon as we are capable of doing that. Even selecting a combination of options would help us tremendously. Without receiving a federal Small Business Loan or CARE ACT stimulus, giving every family a full refund at this point in time is just not possible.

We remain hopeful, positive, and committed to creating and delivering programs for the children in our community. In closing, please take the time to listen to this beautiful song that I recently heard which says it all, “Swimming to the Other Side”. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcQPDQfOL8 

Stay Home, Stay Healthy… and we hope to see you in LIVE CAMPS soon! Look for our upcoming announcement about Camp in-a Box and Virtual Digital Camps.

Onolee Zwicke, Director
Art Explorers/Terrific Scientific

3/29
Dear Families,

Without a doubt, we are all feeling the impact of COVID-19. I am reaching out to all of our valued families and wishing you the best for your health and well-being. My family is home and well and I am thankful for that.

At this time, we intend to offer summer camps, as we expect our host locations to be open for all sessions.  We are optimistic that, with schools now closed through April, families will be more than ready to provide their children with an enriching summer experience away from home once we are given the OK. When this time comes, we will be there for you, ready to provide fun, brain stimulating experiences to get them ready for the upcoming school year. We will rely on the recommendations and/or requirements of the CDC, State of California and Federal Government to further guide our actions. As we learn of any new developments, we will share them and act accordingly.

We have revised our cancelation policies giving families much more time for decision making: “Due to COVID-19, we have pushed back the dates of our camp cancellation policies. In the event, we must cancel camps, full refunds or credits will be issued. 

Our flexible cancellation policy allows you to make changes in your summer schedule or receive camp credit if your child cannot attend. Full refunds for cancellation will be made through May 31stNo refunds will be issued after June 1st, however if you need to cancel, we will credit your camp payment to your account for future use. If you need to change weeks and there is sufficient room in another camp, campers may transfer without charge with one exception. Changes or cancellations that occur within 7 days of the start of a camp, may incur a $35 fee to cover administration costs. If your child is sick for an extended period of time, we will credit your account or transfer them to a different week.” This policy is on our website: https://terrificscientific.org/summer-camps/

We are optimistic that if everyone follows the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, we will get through this pandemic sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we encourage you to take care of yourself and those around you, wash your hands and practice social distancing. We are stronger and more resilient than we know and will get through this. 

In Community,
Onolee Zwicke, Director

 

 

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