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COVID-19 Updates

Published on Monday, June 8, 2020

Dear Campers and Camper Families,

We hope you and your loved ones are well.  Thank you for your patience with us as we work through the challenges created by the pandemic.  We know that you and your family are dealing with your own set of challenges.  We hope you are finding your way nicely and that some of the pandemic’s “silver linings”, though sometimes tough to recognize, are presenting themselves periodically.

After significant soul searching and constant deliberation, we’ve come to the sad conclusion that the challenges and risks of operating summer camp this year are too great to overcome. 

Many factors were considered in making this tough decision.  While we believe that summer camp could have been heavily modified to meet public health guidelines, the program would not have resembled the high-quality experiences we pride ourselves in offering every summer.  Further, we are not comfortable operating when the likelihood of infection is still so high – when in full swing, our summer camp community consists of over 400 campers and 125 counselors and volunteers.  We hoped that conditions would improve more significantly by now.  They have not. 

Campers, we know this news is another disappointment in a year of disappointments.  What you are going through was not a part of my childhood, so I can’t claim to know how it feels – though I’m disappointed too.  Summer camp is the highlight of my year and a summer without it is very tough to accept.  We’ll get through this together.  Please know that we love you and that we can’t wait for the day you come to camp – whenever that may be. 

Parents, we will contact you in a separate email to share refund information.  We feel honored that you entrust in us the care of your child(ren).  Thank you.  We are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  Camp Ondessonk is here for you and your family.  Until you return, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King

Ps.  We’re working on expanding our family programming options for this summer.  Please standby for further information… 

Published on Monday, June 8, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

We hope you are well. Sad days don’t often happen at Camp Ondessonk, but here we are. Today should be the first camper departure day of summer camp 2020. COVID-19 altered our plans, but we’re adjusting.

Yesterday afternoon our first “Family Camping for Camp O” groups arrived. We are elated to have guests again! Phase 3 of the “Restore Illinois” plan allows us to host group sizes of 10 or fewer people. We are easing into the re-opening process by initially offering just lodging, but limited services like meals, swimming, and other activities will be offered once our new operations and sanitation procedures are perfected. Our plans aren’t settled yet, but we hope to offer a packed program and service schedule on Father’s Day Weekend (June 19-21). We’d love to host your family and/or friends’ group sometime soon.
      
At this point, we know that Summer Camp Sessions 1 through 5 are canceled. Illinois is on track to transition into Phase 4 in late June. If we do enter Phase 4 and the Illinois Department of Public Health approves, the earliest that we could possibly serve summer camp kids is Sunday, July 5.

As I keep repeating, we can’t wait for the day that you drive down the camp road. Until then, stay healthy, lift the spirits of those around you, and remember that God loves you and so do we.

May you find ways to keep camp in your life for the rest of your life. 

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King

Published on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Surf Adventure for Summer 2020 scheduled for July 5 – July 15, 2020. The Camp Ondessonk Leadership Team does not feel that we can responsibly operate this program to keep your camper(s) safe while traveling to another state. We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a one week traditional or adventure camp offered during the remaining weeks of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be.

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

Please reply to registration@ondessonk.com and indicate your preference(s) below.  Due to the high volume of calls, email is highly recommended. We will reconcile your account as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.                                                                                                                         

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King

Published on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce that Camp Ondessonk will not be providing bus transportation for Sessions 6 through 9 during summer 2020.  It was a difficult decision, but such decisions are made with highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.  We hope that this will not affect your camper(s) attendance this summer.  Kids need camp!

You do not need to contact us.  If you have a balance due for your camper’s registration, we will automatically apply the transportation payment to that balance. If you have paid your registration in full, we will be providing you with a 100% refund.

If this change in transportation has changed your summer camp plans, please reply to registration@ondessonk.com and indicate your preference(s) below.  Due to the high volume of calls, email is highly recommended. We will reconcile your account as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King

Published on Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear Camp Families, 

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Session 5 of summer camp (June 28-July 4, 2020).  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a session scheduled for the second half of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be. 

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

Please reply to registration@ondessonk.comDue to the high volume of calls, email is highly recommended. We will reconcile your account as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with the highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.       

Please feel free to contact us at registration@ondessonk.com or 618-695-2489 if you have questions or if you need assistance    

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director

Published on Monday, May 25, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Session 4 of summer camp (June 21-27, 2020).  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a session scheduled for the second half of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be.

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

Please reply to registration@ondessonk.com.  Due to the high volume of calls, email is highly recommended. We will reconcile your account as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with the highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.       

Please feel free to contact us at registration@ondessonk.com or 618-695-2489 if you have questions or if you need assistance    

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director

 

Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dear Camper Families,

We know the cancelation of sessions 1, 2, & 3 was disappointing to many campers and parents.  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.

We want to share the rationale behind our decision-making process.  Camp Ondessonk’s leadership team is continually checking in with public health authorities for guidance while often reviewing COVID-19-related information from the IDPH and CDC.  We will continue to follow Governor Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen Illinois.  According to the plan, the state of Illinois is organized into four regions.  The four regions are based on combinations of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s eleven Emergency Medical Service regions.  Upon achieving measurable benchmarks, each region will move through the phases of the reopening process independent of the other regions.  Camp Ondessonk is in the Southern region.  The Governor’s plan allows for more activities to open as the coronavirus slows its spread.

To learn more about how each phase breaks down, click here.

The Southern region is currently in Phase 2 but expected to reach Phase 3 in late May.  Camp Ondessonk will have the opportunity to serve campers in Phase 4 of the Governor’s plan.  Elements of our Camp programming and activities are being redesigned to meet the CDC’s group size guidelines of 50 people.  Among other measures taken to minimize the risk of disease transmission, we are in the process of adding handwashing and hand sanitizer stations.  We also hired additional Health and Sanitation workers to clean commonly touched areas a minimum of three times a day.

Camp Ondessonk leadership staff is working towards a goal to implement best-practices published by the American Camp Association and the public health consulting firm, Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc., in their Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance.  This field guide is designed to provide camp directors and staff with a practical guide and tool kit to implement specific recommendations provided by the CDC in relation to risk reduction at camps.

Thank you again for your patience during this difficult time. We truly appreciate your continued support of Camp Ondessonk’s mission.

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director

   

Published on Monday, May 18, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Session 3 of summer camp (June 14-20, 2020).  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a session scheduled for the second half of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be.

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

Please reply to registration@ondessonk.com.  Due to the high volume of calls, email is highly recommended. We will reconcile your account as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with the highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.       

Please feel free to contact us at registration@ondessonk.com or 618-695-2489 if you have questions or if you need assistance                                                                                            

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director       

Published on Monday, May 11, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Session 2 of summer camp (June 7-13, 2020).  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a session scheduled for the second half of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be.

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with the highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.       

Please feel free to contact us at registration@ondessonk.com or 618-695-2489 if you have questions or if you need assistance                                                                                            

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Published on Friday, May 8, 2020

Dear Camp Friends,

Greetings from camp. Two weeks ago, we shared an update to inform camp’s supporters of our current operating status. We’ve since been told how important this information is to many of you. Therefore, our goal is to share such news periodically as we work through these tough times. We are flattered that so many people are concerned by what’s happening at camp when so many individuals, families, and organizations are experiencing their own challenges. Thank you for caring.

I hate to start with bad news. I promise there’s good news as well. You likely already heard that summer camp session 1 has been canceled. It was scheduled to begin on May 31. We were planning to serve 185 campers, a smaller group by Camp Ondessonk standards. Approximately 50% of the campers whose families have responded to the cancellation have enrolled in sessions planned for later in the summer. We remain hopeful that conditions will allow us to serve those kids and any others affected by the cancellation. A decision regarding session 2 will be announced on May 11.  

On #GivingTuesdayNow (May 5), many of camp’s supporters worked in cooperation with our staff to encourage gifts to camp. This expression of kindness and love resulted in 47 individual gifts ranging in size from $25 to $1,000! In addition, 48 people committed to ongoing monthly giving by becoming Campfire Circle members. Ninety-five friends came together to show their commitment to camp in just a single day. This type of giving makes a big difference as we fortify the organization for the challenges ahead.

This is normally the time of year when camp is bustling with school groups, weekend campers, volunteer groups, and Road Scholar programs for adults. We’re busy, but we miss having people on site. We can’t wait for the day that you’ll drive down the camp road. Until then, stay healthy, lift the spirits of those around you, and remember that God loves you and so do we.

May you find ways to keep camp in your life for the rest of your life.

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director

 

Published Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Session 1 of summer camp (May 31 to June 6, 2020).  We remain optimistic that we will serve campers in 2020, but we will not do so until conditions improve.  With this in mind, we encourage you to switch your camper(s) to a session scheduled for the second half of the summer.  Kids need camp!

These are challenging times for all of us – children included.  While generally resilient and flexible, we know that many kids will take this news hard, especially those that have been to Camp Ondessonk in the past.  As a parent, you’ve likely imagined how you would have handled growing up during this pandemic.  We encourage you to speak openly to your children about whatever emotions result from this cancellation.  Please let your kid(s) know that we love them and that we can’t wait until the day they come to camp – whenever that may be.

Please know that we are praying for you and your family during this difficult time.  When this is all over, Camp Ondessonk will be there for you and your family.  Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

We ask for your patience as we work through these challenging times.  Like it is for you, this is uncharted territory.  Operating decisions about each session of summer camp will continue to be announced four weeks in advance of each session.  Such decisions are made with the highest emphasis on camper and staff well-being.  Our approach involves consultation with qualified medical professionals that understand day-to-day summer camp operations at Camp Ondessonk.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring guidelines and directives produced by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the office of the Governor, the American Camp Association, and other authoritative sources to inform and direct our decision making.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you need assistance.

 

Sincerely,

Daniel W. King
Executive Director

 

Published Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Camp Friends,

Covid 19 updates Camp OndessonkHello from Camp Ondessonk. We hope that you and your family are happy and healthy. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious issue for all of us, camps included. Please be assured that our staff members, with support from many Camp Friends like you, are working diligently to navigate this new landscape. 

Though a great deal of uncertainty remains, we know that Ondessonk’s cabins will be filled with campers someday in the future. Hopefully, the days during which it will be safe to resume the most joyful part of our work – serving kids and their families – are coming soon.

As you likely know, our historically busy spring programming and services season was canceled. Though manageable, the associated loss of operating revenue is significant. We are working to reschedule programs and groups for dates during the coming fall, but it has become clear that most of the season’s net fee-income loss of approximately $80,000 can’t be fully salvaged by rescheduling. We do, however, have some good news to share. One of our largest Outdoor Education groups, a Catholic School from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, rescheduled its program for this fall. This is not just great news for camp – a self-funded ministry – it’s great news for current sixth-grade students from Immaculate Conception School of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, because they’ll experience Camp Ondessonk as seventh graders!

More good news is that Camp has been approved to receive CARES Act / Payroll Protection Program funding. This development is significant, but it is just one part of the viable path to organizational recovery for which we are working. We’ve also placed a freeze on non-essential spending and made other operational adjustments intended to conserve operating dollars. The tough times of the past taught us well.

Please be assured that we are diligently preparing for summer camp to begin as scheduled on May 31. That’s a big job any year. We also developed a contingency plan for the possibility that summer camp cannot safely open as planned. The plan calls for session decisions one month in advance of each session. Therefore, the status of Session 1 will be announced on Monday, May 4; Session 2 on May 11; etc. The prospect of a partially or fully canceled summer camp season is sad for us and the kids we serve, but we face this challenge with what non-camp people might describe as “outlandish optimism” – an organizational trait forged by more than sixty years of service to kids that deserve nothing less.

We find comfort in knowing that people like you are there to lift camp in both prayer and support. When this is all over, we know you’ll continue to be there for the Campers of Ondessonk. Until then, we are sincerely grateful for your past, present, and future dedication and support.

May you find ways to keep camp in your life for the rest of your life. God loves you and so do we.

Sincerely,


Daniel W. King
Executive Director

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