Summer 2020 COVID-19 Update

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to navigate the large amounts of information regarding COVID-19 and how it affects the opening and operation of sleepaway summer camps like Magischola Prep.

As you might expect, the information changes a few times each week as numbers are updated and federal, state, local governments, and venues respond. This creates a lot of uncertainty and contingencies for camp operations this year. 

We are doing our best to answer as many questions as possible, but some questions can only be answered with “we’ll have to see” at this time. That said, here is what we do know about Magischola Prep 2020.

  • Because we know how fun, enriching, and transformative Magischola Prep is for campers, an in-person camp in 2020 is our goal and preference. We are currently proceeding with the plan that an in-person experience will happen, with necessary modifications. This looks both possible and feasible given current CDC, federal, and state guidelines and is aligned with other summer programs that will open this year. 
  • That said, the safety of our campers and our staff is our top priority, and while we do plan to open and operate within all hygiene and protective guidelines, that decision may change if variables and conditions change. We’re all going to need to be a bit flexible this year, knowing that this is an ongoing and developing situation. If we do not feel it is possible to create a risk-mitigated environment for campers and staff, we will cancel the in-person experience this year.

Below is an FAQ of questions we can answer at this time. If you have additional questions, please feel free to submit them through this form. We will compile them into a weekly announcement and answer as many and as thoroughly as we can, given the information we have. Please respect this procedure so that our staff has the time to research answers to your questions and to communicate with the community in a timely and consistent manner.


Where will Magischola Prep 2020 be held?

Swarthmore College has announced that it will not operate any summer programs in 2020, including Magischola Prep. We completely understand — Philadelphia and the counties around it have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. We look forward to working with them again next year to host Magischola Prep at our regular venue. 

We anticipated this contingency and have several alternate venues tentatively reserved to hold camp. I know you want to know which venue precisely, but we have not signed a full contract yet as we are waiting for certain Pennsylvania and New Jersey localities to move to the phase of re-opening that will permit sleepaway summer camps. We expect some of that guidance on June 5, 2020 and can provide more information at that time.

The venues we are holding are all:

  • Within 2 hours of Philadelphia
  • Campgrounds or retreat centers with cabins and facilities, including full baths and partial air-conditioning. 
  • Venues that will allow us to create a “isolation bubble” where campers and staff will have no outside contact with others, limiting exposure. 
  • Venues that allow us to spread out to provide more social distancing.
  • Venues that will open and can accommodate the necessary hygiene and safety requirements.
  • Venues that offer fun locations and have spaces to fit our needs.

What are the dates for Magischola Prep for 2020?

Currently, our dates for camp are July 12-18, 2020. However, those dates may need to change to July 26-Aug 1, 2020 if the virus density does not decrease as expected or to accommodate a venue. We would ask that you tentatively block out both of those weeks, as either may be the week of camp. Most flights booked today have a flexibility clause for changes, but we encourage you to purchase a ticket that can be changed as well as travel insurance to help with costs if our event date changes or camp must be cancelled.


Will you be screening for COVID-19?

Yes. At this time, the precise procedures for how we will do so are being developed and are affected by the guidelines from the CDC and state requirements. 

Prior to camp, we anticipate asking all campers to take a COVID-19 test as close as possible to camp to receive the results in time. We will provide more information and suggestions on how to get a test since availability is rapidly changing. At this time, we know of several options for getting a test at home, at Rite Aid, or through your doctor or health department. 

Negative test results must be provided to the camp via email or at camp check-in. We may also ask campers to self-quarantine for one week prior to arrival at camp or after completing their COVID test. Members of the camper’s household will be asked to complete COVID symptom questionnaires prior to camp and must all have negative results. 

We also plan to do health and temperature checks upon arrival and daily during camp for all campers and staff. All staff must test negative for COVID-19 prior to camp and will also be monitored daily. We may add additional requirements as guided by the American Camp Association, CDC, and government authorities. 


How do you plan to maintain hygiene and social distancing during camp?

As Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in his recent announcement, “Social distancing in summer programs and child care may look different than the common practice of maintaining six feet of distance between individuals.” There are guidelines for limiting contact among children, and we will be following them. Some of these procedures are still in development and may change prior to camp. At this time, however, we know we will be doing the following per guidelines and to encourage safety and hygiene:

  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of all common spaces with nightly deep cleaning. 
  • Providing wipes, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies to campers to clean and sanitize their personal area, with time and routine to complete it.
  • Minimizing shared supplies.
  • Eliminating wearing school robes.
  • Following CDC and camp guidelines for mask-wearing and cleaning.
  • Eliminating some props and immersive decor that makes cleaning more cumbersome or may harbor germs.
  • Building time into the schedule for hand-washing before and after activities.
  • Eliminating contact from any people from outside of the staff and campers, creating a closed contact circle. This is a huge factor for mitigating risk with this camp vs. others.
  • Spacing out desks, seats, and beds for more distance.
  • Restructuring activities to reduce physical contact and cleaning any equipment between uses.
  • Keeping the total number of campers and staff to 50 or fewer. 


What resources are you using to develop your protocols?

One great source is the American Camp Association. They have an amazing set of guides and many online classes for camps to use. We have been going through their information as they build it out. The ACA also has some Covid-19 resources for parents

We are also using global and governmental guidance information. There are lots of great resources out there about cleaning, how to live in groups, and understanding the virus. 

  • Here are the CDC’s Guidelines for Summer Camps as of May 19. We anticipate that these will continue to be updated as we get closer to camp.
  • Here are the CDC Guidlines for Child Care Centers, as of May 19, which provide some examples for cleaning, etc. Some of these do not apply as we are not a daycare center or a day camp with daily exposure to people picking up and dropping off campers, or to changing groups of campers each day. In many ways, a closed sleepaway camp is less risky than a day camp experience for these reasons.
  • Here is the CDC’s Decision Tree for opening, so you can see some of the considerations and plans in place for opening.

What if I don’t feel comfortable with my child attending in-person camp this year?

We understand that even if we are able to hold camp safely in-person, you may not feel it is right for your child this year. There are many factors in play, and we want this to be a personal decision for you and your camper; as it was for each of our staff members. 

There are two options at this time for campers who are not able to participate in 2020:

  1. Give a gift: Donate your payments to Learn Larp LLC to help cover the costs of camp, pay staff, and help us survive the pandemic to continue our mission. We will provide a receipt for your tax purposes. 
  2. Get a credit: Apply the funds you’ve paid to a future camp experience or program through December 31, 2021. This includes Magischola Prep 2021 or another Learn Larp live or virtual event or program. While the $250 camper deposit is non-refundable, we will allow it to be rolled over to a future event, given these extraordinary circumstances. 

Let us know via this form, we will send you a confirmation email once it is reviewed. 


Will you be offering a virtual camp experience?

We are considering offering a virtual option and actively developing what that might look like. At this time we are considering a combination of synchronous and asynchronous text, voice, and video play, but we have not decided on the duration or format. If we choose to offer a virtual camp experience, there will be guidance for how to transfer in-person attendance and payments toward that experience. We’ll have more information soon!