CHEPACHET — Mother of Hope Camp, a youth summer day camp for the Diocese of Providence on beautiful Echo Lake, is excited to begin its 70th year. With guidance from the state, the camp will follow strict guidelines in an effort to protect its campers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still providing activities that campers and families love about Mother of Hope.
Longtime camp employee Michelle Ficocelli, who begins the 2020 season as the camp’s new director, explained that they received and reviewed a lot of new information from a variety of agencies regarding COVID-19 as it relates to summer camp, most recently Governor Gina Raimondo’s reopening plan and a resource guide developed by the CDC and the American Camping Association.
This year, the camp will open for seven weeks beginning June 29. In a letter to families, Ficocelli shared the precautions the camp is taking, adding that the most important factor in their decision making process is the safety and well-being of all of the campers and staff.
“Since the situation is fluid, these will not be our final plans, and as we know Governor Raimondo said, “summer camp will look very different this year.’”
Some of the changes will likely include the following: Staying in contact with the Department of Health and the Governor’s Office and asking campers who are immuno-compromised to take appropriate precautions.
The camp will also continue to clean and sanitize all areas that are used on a regular basis, including sports equipment and the playground.
Campers with pre-existing medical concerns, especially respiratory conditions such as asthma, will need to have a conversation with their primary care provider and consider the level of risk. Parents are encouraged to contact the camp with health-related questions in the days before arrival.
Staff will be trained on illness-reducing strategies and how to properly clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces.
A health screening will be required for campers on a daily basis that may include the taking of temperatures. If a child’s temperature is above 100 degrees, he/she will not be able to attend camp that day.
The use of face coverings for staff will be required and campers are asked to bring a mask with them. Social distancing, frequent handwashing and sanitizing will be required.
The same campers stay with the same staff for the duration of the camp day and session. Each group will have their own day schedule. They will eat lunch with their group while social distancing from the other groups.
With the changes coming to camp, the traditional activities such as swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, fishing, sports will continue to be offered.
“The campers can always learn something new. We are bringing in members of the community to teach fire safety, dance, theater, honey making, science and jewelry making.”
Even with the many adjustments to this year’s season, Ficocelli said that the interest in the camp has been incredible, adding that most families are returning and many new families are reaching out to learn more.
She added that the Catholic faith shapes and informs the distinctive camp experience offered at Mother of Hope Camp.
“Campers are exposed to many opportunities within the theme weeks to foster and deepen their knowledge and love of God. Campers of all faiths and backgrounds benefit from the nurturing and loving community here. Camp should be a place of opportunity, a place for every camper to have a sense of community, a safe place. It’s important for the families to know that their kids can be themselves at camp and that we will try and bring out the best in them.”
Ficocelli explained that donations to the annual Catholic Charity Appeal directly help Mother of Hope Camp.
“Without the Catholic Charity Fund there would be no camp. The subsidy is essential to providing for the facilities and staff that make the experiences so amazing for kids.”
Mother of Hope also offers busing to and from many Rhode Island locations. Due to the new guidelines, only 20 people are allowed on a bus. There will be a $25 transportation surcharge per week.
“This is not something we took lightly. We thought about how we could best accommodate the guidelines and give everyone a chance to come to camp,” explained Ficocelli. “We hope that next year will bring changes that will allow us to continue to provide free transportation. During this time of change, we appreciate everyone’s willingness to work with us. This gives everyone a chance to experience our wonderful camp.”
As a 501(c)(3) agency, the camp works especially to help children of less fortunate families benefit from the many advantages of the Mother of Hope experience.
For more information including registration, sponsoring a camper or to make a donation, visit motherofhopecamp.com.
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