COVID-19 Parent and Camper Resource Center
Dear Belknap Family,
Since 1903, Camp Belknap has always placed safety, the cabinal experience, and camp-wide joyfulness as its highest priorities. Belknap prides itself on being a safe haven for boys and young men, a second home where, with support and guidance from his leader, each boy has the opportunity to attain personal growth through a blend of independence, teamwork, and Joy. There is nothing more we want, especially during these trying times, than to provide the 1,200 boys registered for camp the opportunity to return under the pines for the 2020 summer.
Unfortunately, after careful deliberation, engagement with the State of New Hampshire’s reopening taskforce, and consultation with experts in the fields of camping, education, medicine, and public health, the Belknap Board of Trustees has unanimously decided to cancel all of Camp Belknap’s existing programs, Session One through Five, for the summer of 2020.
The decision is based on the following external facts and guidance:
- The State of New Hampshire’s phased approach to re-opening dictates that it is extremely unlikely we could be open, under any circumstances, in time for First Session (beginning June 27).
- Current safety guidance will likely limit our capacity greatly even if operation were permitted.
- There are many unanswered questions including access to accurate rapid testing and other advanced medical tools that we’d need in order to operate.
Although Belknap will not run as expected this summer, we recognize that the camper experience is enhanced by our internal leadership development, a cornerstone of the Belknap experience. We have therefore decided to implement the following measures, which are in keeping with the spirit of Belknap and will ensure that our summer of 2021 will be as strong as ever:
- We will refund all camper tuition and registration fees.
- We will pay all year-round and seasonal staff and leaders in 2020.
- We will allow all of our current leadership (LCs through DHs) to return in 2021.
- We will allow all graduating 2020 Senior campers to return as campers in 2021.
With the above measures our staff will be engaged for the summer, supporting Belknap’s mission remotely and with the ability to mobilize, should the opportunity arise for some form of limited programming at camp in late July, August, or September.
For those that have campers currently registered for this summer, we understand this news may be very difficult to deliver. We have prepared a handwritten letter specifically for your son in the link below, a copy of which will also come in the mail in the next week.
We thank all of you for the support, encouragement, and understanding you have provided us during this process. We would welcome the opportunity to answer additional questions and connect. With that in mind, we have provided various opportunities for our entire community to attend zoom calls in the coming week. To register for the appropriate zoom call please refer to the links on this page.
Above all else, we know that the Belknap Spirit is as strong as ever and that Belknappers everywhere are leading within their communities. Belknap will endure for generations to come, and we look forward to the day when we reunite under the pines.
Timi-Hi and until we meet again,
Seth & Steph
Updates from Belknap
Frequently Asked Questions
I have additional questions. What is the best way to ask them?
There will be an opportunity to participate in Zoom calls for parents/guardians of campers and separately for alumni to ask the Co-Directors additional questions. To register for the most appropriate Zoom call, please visit the website at campbelknap.org/coronavirus.
How do I share the news of Belknap cancelling with my camper?
We understand this news may be very difficult to share and process. We have prepared a handwritten letter specifically for your son, a copy of which will also come in the mail in the next week. We hope this letter will help provide a starting point for a conversation.
In addition, Dr. Chris Thurber (“Thurbs)”, one of Belknap’s longest tenured staff and Psychologist, has provided additional resources to support conversations with your son. You may access a handout here.
Will Belknap issue refunds?
Yes, Belknap will refund all camper tuition and registration fees for all enrolled campers.
How will the 2020 tuition refund policy be administered?
Families of currently enrolled campers will receive a separate email on May 15th with information about the refund process. Families will also have the option to convert tuition payments into a tax-deductible gift to Belknap.
What about camper registration for 2021?
Campers who were enrolled on March 13, 2020 or later will be considered returning campers for the 2021 summer registration process. However, campers will still have to register for 2021. Please look for an email in September with information and registration dates for 2021.
What will happen to Senior Campers who are aging out in 2020?
We are committed to providing opportunities for senior campers in 2021. All 16 year-old campers in 2020 will have the opportunity to return as senior campers in 2021. We are reviewing the Senior Recognition process and will provide additional information on leadership promotion this summer.
Is there any possibility of any onsite programming in late July, August, or September?
At this time, we do not know. We will continue to work with camp and medical professionals to determine what might be possible by late June.
Is Family Camp, Women’s Weekend, and other Fall programming still going to occur?
At this time, we have not canceled the programming for Fall 2020. We will reach out to those registered if the program needs to be canceled due to safety.
How will our internal leadership program be affected by COVID-19?
The Co-Directors, with the support of the Leadership Director, are developing a promotion and staff retention plan for all staff. We will provide opportunities for all of our current staff (LC’s through DH’s) to return in 2021. The staff will be provided additional information as we progress into the summer.
Are you paying the Summer Staff even though Belknap is not running?
Yes, we will pay all year-round and seasonal staff and leaders in 2020. Our staff will be engaged for the summer, supporting Belknap’s mission remotely. Additionally, should camp have the opportunity to provide limited programming in late July, August, or September, the staff will be able to mobilize and return to camp.
What financial measures have you had to implement to refund everyone and pay staff salaries?
Belknap has implemented a variety of financial measures to bridge the loss of revenue and while continuing to pay staff salaries for 2020 including: reducing expenses, deferring certain capital projects, borrowing funds where available with attractive terms, accepting loans/grants from the federal government, using a portion of our cash reserves, seeking additional gifts from alumni and parents, and making a modest supplemental draw from our endowment.
Can Belknap survive a summer without camper tuition?
Yes, Belknap will endure. Belknap’s financial situation is strong, reflecting both the long-term and generous support of our donors as well as sound fiscal management. More specifically, in response to the potential disruption from COVID-19, Belknap has conducted the following:
- We have frozen all spending except for salaries, health benefits and utilities.
- We have applied for and secured funding through a combination of low interest loans and gifts to cover certain essential expenditures.
- Belknap’s endowment is well-managed and could be available to provide additional support.
To help support Belknap, please visit campbelknap.secure.force.com/donate
What are the management guidelines Belknap has implemented to help guide a decision about summer 2020?
The Risk Management Committee, with support of the Board of Trustees, has outlined the following guidelines to support the decision-making process around COVID-19:
- Safety is our first priority.
- Understand and respond to the needs for our campers and their families.
- Engage with and honor, as best we can, our commitments to our staff in hopes of retaining our outstanding leadership.
- Be good stewards of Belknap’s financial resources and preserve our ability to provide the Belknap experience in the future.
Is camp currently open to visitors?
Belknap property is closed to guests at this time. When the emergency stay-at-home order was issued by NH Governor Chris Sununu on March 27th, requiring all non-essential organizations to close and discourage unnecessary travel, Belknap property closed to guests. We will post here when we open the property again to visitors.
Is Belknap accepting phone calls and emails?
Yes we are. Our staff are currently working remotely and actively monitoring emails and phone calls.
The Belknap staff are monitoring several key, reliable sources of information about COVID-19: