Coronavirus: Information for our Guests and Campers

May 6th, 2021 Update

DEAR CAMPER FAMILIES,

Warren Willis Camp & Conference Center is excited for the opportunity to partner with your family and church to provide a summer camp experience that will be fundamental to your student’s faith formation and a respite from the outside world, giving them a chance to reconnect with their Creator. Your trust in us is not taken lightly and we pledge to do everything we can to create a safe environment for our campers and staff. 

We would like to share with you the ways we have adapted our summer camp procedures, before and during camp, to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Please know we will continue to monitor developments in mitigating exposure and follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, State of Florida, American Camp Association and the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Hence, the following policies and procedures are subject to change, but we will always keep the safety of our campers and staff as our highest priority. 

BEFORE CAMP

Here are some of the ways your experience will be different before camp:

  • Campers who test positive, show symptoms, or have been exposed to COVID-19 within 14 days of their check-in at camp may not attend. Camp fees in these cases will be refundable per our refund policies for illness.
  • Should affordable, accurate, rapid testing for COVID-19 become available before summer, we may require a negative test result from each camper during check-in prior to entering camp.
  • Checking In: Campers will be checked into the program from the loop at the entrance of camp. This will allow camp to limit exposure of campers, families and staff to each other. Campers and adults will remain in their vehicle while the administrative portion of check-in occurs. 
  • We will have staggered arrival times to limit the amount of time camper families wait in line. 
  • Once checked in, campers will be assisted by staff in unloading belongings and getting them to their cabins. Adults will not be allowed to move campers to their cabins or leave the parking area. There will be plenty of helpful staff available to assist campers with moving in and getting settled. 
  • Adult Volunteers, who are staying for the week, will be encouraged to help campers but are not allowed into sleeping spaces. Their check-in will happen in the same manner and housing will be assigned at that time. 
  • Our regular check-in screening will include temperature checks and, as usual, campers who register a temperature of over 100.2 degrees will not be allowed to enter camp. Because of Covid-19, those campers will be required to both have a normal temperature for 24 hours and a negative Covid test to attend the camp session.  A medical refund will be given (if warranted).
  • Prior to camp, all summer staff will be highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. Those who cannot will be required to maintain a self-screening log for 14 days prior to their arrival for staff training. 

 

DURING CAMP

During the camp week a number of proactive mitigation measures and operational changes will be implemented, including the following:

  • The overall capacity of camp has been reduced and capacities within sleeping areas has also been reduced. Currently, in-cabin capacity for campers is 50%. This reduces the likelihood of in-cabin exposure if the positivity rates for the virus in the state of Florida remain high. Should positivity rates decrease, and therefore reduce risk, we may increase our in-cabin capacities. This could only happen if our minimum camper to counselor ratios could be met. 
  • All of our cabin sleeping areas will have new technology installed prior to the summer that will help to clean the air by a product that uses needlepoint bipolar ionization.  You can watch a short video about this product by clicking this link.  https://vimeo.com/477644097
  • This summer, we will operate camp in Pods, small groups of campers that must stay together during camp life. Our Pods will be the same as our cabin groups, allowing us to use the best practice of “cohorts,” an internal method of limiting potential virus spread.
    • This means that all of this summer’s Pods will be the same gender.
    • All life at camp will be experienced by a camper within their pod. This includes meals, small group Bible study and activities. 
    • In their sleeping spaces, ventilation and spacing will be utilized to minimize exposure of pod mates who will not be required to wear masks while sleeping or sitting in their bunk space.
    • When pod mates are out of their bunk or around camp, they will be required to wear a mask. There are intentional mask-free activities scheduled into their day. However, these activities will meet other exposure limiting requirements. 
    • Pod mates will sit together at meals and can remove their masks when actively eating or drinking. Moving about the dining hall will require re-masking. 
    • Should a camper present with symptoms during camp, that camper, and all campers and staff in the living group, will be isolated and may be sent home. Our refund policy does not allow for a refund in the case of an illness after camp has begun.
    • Use of pod cohorts will allow us to contact camper families should we learn after camp that a camper was asymptomatically positive while at camp.
  • Typical camp activities involving the assembly of multiple pod groups will be altered significantly or eliminated. These changes will include, but not be limited to:
    • Chapel services will have appropriate spacing between pods or will happen in pods.
    • Welcome to Camp assembly, Praise Time and the Closing Celebration, all traditionally held in the Fellowship Hall with every camper and counselor, will not happen in the current format. These cornerstone events will be modified to meet current conditions but will not be eliminated. The package will look different, but the contents will be the same. 
  • Camp will adhere to regular and thorough prevention and sanitization measures as necessary, including regular use of spray disinfection in public areas.
  • As usual, a registered Nurse will be on call at all times during camp and will be onsite 24-7.
  • Adult Volunteers are still asked to co-lead a small group throughout the week. They will have their own dining space and will be asked to wear a mask at all times unless in their own sleeping area or actively eating/drinking. 

 

AFTER CAMP

  • In the event of a COVID-positive camper or summer staff member, we will notify those exposed and actively participate in health department contact tracing.
  • We are asking that all families agree to notify us of any COVID-positive diagnosis of their camper or immediate family member in the 10 days following their camp experience so that we can notify our other camper’s families.

We believe that the combination of all these mitigation efforts, plus others we’ll implement behind the scenes, combined with continued increasing societal awareness and responsibility, and lower positivity rates for the disease in Florida, will allow us to operate camp this summer.

We are sharing a lot of information here. If any of it is unclear, or if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please also check the Summer Safety Standards section of our website for more important information.

Thank you for being a part of the Warren Willis Summer Camp family, especially during this challenging time. With great anticipation, we continue to prepare a place set apart for a deeper connection with our Creator.

Blessings, 
The Warren Willis Staff

February 16th, 2021 Update

Dear Camp and Retreat Families,

Thank you for your patience and understanding in the midst of these unprecedented times. As you may know, the Florida Conference camp and retreat ministries have transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 70+ years. Yet we know, God’s steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to this new world. We are devoted to providing a safe environment that allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers. We continue to consult guidelines from the American Camp Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida State Department of Health. It is clear that their recommendations for social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols will need to be in place for summer programs to run. 

Moving forward, we plan to release a monthly statement (if not more frequently) to keep you up to date with any changes that might occur. 

The Summer Safety Standards page on our website lists precautions taken this summer in order to create a safe environment for all on our property. There are safety precautions that are maintained by the participant (bringing personal masks, washing hands, etc.) and others by the facility (more handwashing stations, marking 6ft distances outside where needed, limiting camper numbers, etc.). 

To address the need of keeping groups in tighter bubbles and adding more space between individuals, the number of available spaces for campers and volunteers will be reduced. Some of our premiere events, like Praise Time, would not be conducive to our new protocols, and will look different this summer. But don’t be sad, reducing the total number of individuals attending will allow us to create meaningful and intimate experiences. While this summer might not be ‘the same’, the beauty of camp is that God is still working in this space and we as staff are excited to have you back on property. 

Looking forward to seeing you this summer if not sooner! 

Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center Staff

May 28th Update

Dear Camp and Retreat Families,

The Florida Conference camp and retreat ministries have transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 70+ years. Today, we write to you in the midst of one of the most challenging times our camping community has faced. Yet we know, God’s steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to this new world.

After much prayer and careful consideration, the Board of Camps and Retreat Ministries have made the challenging decision to suspend our summer programs at all Florida Conference sites—Centenary Camp, Riverside Camp & Retreat Center, and Warren Willis Camp & Conference Center for the 2020 season. This decision includes traditional overnight summer camp, day camps, and Mission Riverside.

This decision is difficult and unprecedented. We truly believe that camp provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the transforming love of God in the context of Christian community. We mourn the loss of that opportunity this summer.

We are devoted to providing a safe environment that allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers. We consulted guidelines from the American Camp Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida State Department of Health. It became clear that their recommendations for social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols would need to be in place for summer programs to run. These measures would force new challenges on campers and staff and would not allow for the nurturing environment on which our programs rely.

Even with these new protocols in place, health and safety are not something we can confidently provide this summer in the pandemic context. While our staff are trained and have the experience to keep our community safe during normal camp activities, we are not all trained medical professionals. Even with our best efforts, the risk to our communities is too high. We decided to suspend summer programs to protect our campers and staff, and every guest, volunteer, parent, sibling, and grandparent connected to our broader community. Our Board decided to follow John Wesley’s edict to “Do No Harm.” Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The four options are:

  1. Apply funds to next year’s deposit: Turn your refund into a deposit for next summer.
  2. Donate your deposit to help support the continued work of camp.
  3. Full refund.
  4. Refund and donate: Do both! Consider taking a partial refund and making a partial donation. Let us know how you would like your payment divided.

We know this is disappointing news, and we share in your disappointment. This summer will look like no summer any of our sites has ever seen. The loss of summer program for this year has already begun to cause our hearts to grieve. But God’s steadfast love and faithfulness extend to our communities just as it has to all generations before us, and just as it will to generations of happy campers for years to come. We draw now on God’s strength as we choose to keep our communities as safe as possible, and we pray for every member of our extensive network of Florida Conference families every day. We are so grateful for the love and support we receive from you and will do all we can to love and support you in whatever ways we can during this time. We can’t wait to see you all again: safe, happy, and healthy.

In Christ,

The Florida United Methodist Conference

Board of Camps & Retreat Ministries and Staff

May 15th Update

Dear Camp Family,

We were hoping to be able to announce our final plans for the remainder of the summer today, but we are awaiting the release of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the American Camp Association guidelines for summer camps.  We are also awaiting guidelines from our local health officials and the state of Florida.  These resources are imperative to our decision-making process and we cannot make well-informed decisions without this information. As we await this information we remain resolute on one clear principle: We will not return to ministry until we are sure that we have policies in place that ensure the safety of our campers, our guests, our staff, and all of their families. 

As we continue to make plans based on the data available to us, this week we sent a survey to the parents of currently registered summer 2020 campers. If you are the parent of a registered summer 2020 camper and have not filled out our emailed survey, please do so as it will help us in our decision making moving forward.

We are optimistic about running the remaining sessions of camp beginning June 22nd following all state and local guidelines. We will notify you next of our plan for the remainder of the summer once we receive more information from the resources listed above. We currently have hundreds of campers registered for a week of summer camp. We are hoping for the remaining weeks of summer to continue in ministry, here is information you need to know:

  • If you are registered for weeks three through seven, there is no need to make any changes at this time.
  • We have changed our refund policy to allow a full refund up to two weeks before your camp session for any reason, and up until the day of your camp session if your camper or someone in their household shows symptoms of contagious sickness.  If you would like to make changes to your campers current registration status, please email Mindy at mindy@wwumccc.org
  • Scholarships are available and the due date for application has been extended to May 18th.
  • We will consider adding additional weeks to our summer program if we see there is an opportunity to serve more campers.

In our next announcement, on May 29 or before, we will share our amended policies, cleaning regimen and approved camping weeks for summer 2020. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding; we continue to pray for opportunities to serve our camp family and prepare a sacred space, in a natural setting, for all to grow in community and connect with Christ. 

May 1st Update

Dear Camp Family,

As we enter our 5th week of total shutdown of our camp and conference center facilities, we just like the rest of you are feeling the powerful frustration that comes with uncertainty. We have been in regular conversations with Florida clergy, youth pastors, United Methodist Camps across the nation, and our own local health workers to discern the best options for moving forward in our works of ministry. As we await information from the state and federal health officials we remain resolute on one clear principle: We will not return to ministry until we are sure that we have policies in place that ensure the safety of our campers, our guests, our staff, and all of their families. These policies will be guided by standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and best practice advice from the American Camp Association. With that in mind, we have decided to extend the closure of our site to guests until May 15th. We will make an announcement that day, or sooner, should more information become available.


As we look at the Step-By-Step plan that has been crafted by the Governor’s office, we believe that it will be unlikely that we will be able to safely re-open our site, gather our staff, and make preparations in time for our original intended summer camp start date of June 8th. Considering this, we have decided to cancel weeks one and two of summer camp sessions, June 8th – 20th.

What does this mean for your family? We currently have hundreds of campers registered for a week of summer camp. We are hoping for the remaining weeks of summer to continue in ministry, here is information you need to know:

  • If you are currently registered for weeks one or two of overnight camp or day camp, our staff will contact you via email with information about moving your camping session.
  • If you are registered for weeks three through seven, there is no need to make any changes at this time.
  • We have changed our refund policy to allow a full refund up to two weeks before your camp session for any reason, and up until the day of your camp session if your camper or someone in their household shows symptoms of contagious sickness.
  • Scholarships are available and the deadline for applications have been extended to May 18th.
  • We will consider adding additional weeks to our summer program if we see there is an opportunity to serve more campers.

The summer camp ministries of the Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center are built on faith in Christ and 70+ years of trust built with Florida United Methodist churches and the families of our campers. Our staff is already working diligently to make changes to our ministry that will bolster our existing health screening, and eliminate large group gatherings of campers and staff. 


We say this to make it clear, summer camp will look different for us this year. With this being said, we will certainly develop and implement some new and unique experiences for our campers that will be life-changing memory makers. 


We will be prepared to outline these changes once we receive clear guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Camp Association. We continue to honor the trust that churches and families place in us as we adapt and move forward together.
Our staff is working and available to answer any registration or program-related questions. You can find a list of staff contact information here.
Thank you for your prayers and continued support of the Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center during this unprecedented time.

April 2nd Update

The Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center will extend suspension of operations through at least May 1st. Our staff is working closely with local and state health officials, as well as annual conference and industry leadership, to determine when we can safely return to full operation. We continue to place our top priority on the health and safety of our campers, guests and staff. At this time, we’re still planning for an amazing summer camping season, beginning June 8th. We are working on a survey for parents, summer staff and church leaders to share their thoughts and plans to help us in deciding any changes to our summer ministry. We will announce on May 1st changes that will be made to scheduled events for the summer. Our cancellation policy has been adjusted to allow for a full refund up to two weeks prior to the start of your week at camp. Scholarships are available and the due date has been extended to May 11th. The staff is working and available to answer any registration or program related questions. Our email addresses can be found at wwumccc.org under the Contact link. Thank you for your prayers and continued support of the Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center during this unprecedented time.

The safety and health of campers, guests and staff is always the highest priority at Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center. We have a long history of planning for and managing communicable diseases. With the potential spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the United States, now is a great time to share our ongoing commitment to providing safe places for our campers and guests.

We recognize there may be anxiety and apprehension around the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and attending summer camp. We understand your concerns. To help ease some of the anxiety, we have modified our refund policy. For summer 2020, we will provide a full refund for the cancellation of any camp registration up to two weeks before the start of the event. Reserve your spot today and sign up for camp worry-free!

As an American Camp Association accredited operation, our standards for safety and best practices around cleaning and sanitizing are already considered the highest in the industry. However, due to a potential COVID-19 outbreak, we will enhance our procedures in the following ways: 

  • Disinfect all contact surfaces. Our staff always cleans, sanitizes and disinfects all spaces in-between events we host.  As a heightened measure, we will begin sanitizing surfaces daily while groups are on site.
  • Regularly remind guests/staff to wash their hands frequently while on site 
  • Place hand sanitizer in additional locations around the camp and conference center, and encourage guests/staff to use often 
  • Urge anyone with symptoms of illness not to attend scheduled events at our site
  • Require staff to stay home if they are unwell 

We will continue to monitor the situation in our state and community as we move closer to summer camp season.  We work closely with local and state public health departments to maintain effective protocols for the identification and appropriate treatment of any illnesses that may occur at the camp and conference center, including COVID-19. We will keep you updated as new information becomes available. 

We already require pre-camp and arrival day screening procedures for each session. We will update these health and wellness screening policies and procedures to reflect the current best practices recommended by public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes questions about international travel in the past two weeks or exposure to any known carriers of the coronavirus. As the situation develops in the US, our staff will consider the impact on any requirements for admittance to camp. If expectations change significantly, we will make sure to communicate these changes to parents, staff, and all program participants well in advance of arrival at camp. 

If you have questions regarding COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information on how you can best protect yourself and your family. 

We are continuing to prepare for an amazing summer camp season!  We have revised our cancellation and refund policy due to COVID-19 concerns, and we will be following any changes to the American Camp Association standards to be sure we are up to date on best practices for the health and safety of our campers. You can register for a week of summer camp with confidence knowing that should this season of social isolation continue into the summer months, you can cancel your registration for a full refund up to 2 weeks prior to the scheduled week.  So, it is time to begin dreaming and planning for your week at camp.  Here is information on all of our summer camp options.

With Christ’s Love,
The Staff of the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center

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