THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF GREENWICH
Great Summer Starts Here
How to offer a safe and fun camp experience in the summer of 2020
For 67 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich (BGCG) has been offering its Clubhouse Camp and Camp Simmons to campers ages 6-15 for nine weeks during the summer months. But as summer 2020 approached and the COVID-19 pandemic remained a serious health threat, the BGCG executive team needed to carefully and thoughtfully plan, first, if they could open their summer camp, and then, how they would open the camp.
To do this, the team turned to scenario planning. Scenario planning helps an organization react quickly and decisively, recognize or mitigate risk, plan for growth, and choose methods that work for it. It’s a disciplined way to imagine possible futures based on internal and external assumptions that may impact how the future could unfold.
For BGCG, scenario planning allowed them identify the uncertainties they were facing and map out different “realities” that might happen as they looked ahead to planning whether or not to have summer camp. It sounds simple, and part of it is.
A modified camp experience was created
The Strategy Group (TSG) was called in to help lead a meaningful conversation and guide the executive team through a series of scenario planning meetings. We met with the team every other day for three weeks to map out and talk through different aspects of the camp program.
In between the one-hour meetings, the executive team spent hours meeting offline, reaching out to local and state contacts to glean information around safety guidelines and practices, researching and reviewing the Office for Early Childhood and CDC frameworks for opening camps, and working through all the practicalities and pitfalls on their own.
Areas and questions (just a small sampling) that needed to be addressed included:
- Facilities (How many kids would the Office of Early Childhood allow on the premises? What kind of signage would be needed to direct campers in and out of cars, and up and down hallways? What Club improvements would be necessary to make the space safe for the employees and children?)
- Supplies (How would PPE and cleaning materials, already in short supply, be acquired and used?)
- Communications (What specific information about camp should be sent out and by when? What happens if a camper or staff members gets sick, how will parents be notified?)
- Registration (When will registration open? Should priority be given to Club kids whose parents are essential workers, whose parents are employed and Club kids who have already registered? Will camp be phased in over the first two weeks to allow staff to test out safety measures?)
- Daily Operations (How will the staff address transportation, social distancing, inclement weather, safety protocols, healthy hygiene practices, daily screenings, a sick camper or staff member?)
- Orientation (How will parents be educated about the start of camp? What do campers need to bring? What can’t they bring?)
- Town Partners (What are others community partners in town doing about camp and social distance practices this year?)
Three scenarios (No Camp, One Summer Camp Site, and Multiple Summer Camp Sites) were considered as seen here in these charts:
Ultimately, after careful consideration and planning, along with a thoughtful surveying of parents and staff to assess their level of comfort with sending their children to camp/working at camp, the decision was made to proceed with a modified camp experience at two sites, Clubhouse Camp and Camp Simmons, with reduced numbers, 90 kids at each site. Importantly, the safety and quality of camp were of the utmost importance to the staff at all times with each decision they made.
Scenario planning helped the BGCG team to react quickly and decisively, recognize and mitigate risk, and plan for summer camp. The executive team will again use scenario planning later in the summer as it evaluates how to open the Club for fall 2020 programming. To learn more about how you can use scenario planning, check out the TSG blog here: https://www.thestrategygroupllc.org/nonprofit-scenario-planning/.
We’ve updated the blog to include a list of resources and readings.