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We are now enrolling for 2022! Click here for dates and rates.
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Stories

How the Pandemic Made Us a Better Camp

Mike Green

Owner / Director

Briarwood Day Camp had a great summer in 2021! Our campers enjoyed an action-packed, fun-filled eight week schedule full of friends, smiles, laughter, playing, running around, splashing in the pool and so much more. Plus we had NO cases of COVID.

These results took hard work. We needed to incorporate new, often restrictive regulations from federal, state and local health authorities as well as guidance from the American Camp Association and the well-taken concerns of our camp families and staff. And then, in light of all of these things, we needed to deliver another amazing Briarwood summer. Mission accomplished!

Our dedication to giving kids the summers of their lives – and the smiling, happy commitment to a happy, safe, fun summer from our wonderful campers, their amazing, understanding parents and our fantastic staff – taught us valuable lessons and made Briarwood better in ways that will last years into the future.

Here’s how we did it.

We Recommitted to Our Core Principles

We repeat our core messages again and again every summer: “It’s All About the Kids.” “Briarwood Is 30 Acres of Fun in the Sun.” “Send ‘Em Home Happy, Healthy, Dirty and Tired.” So when we were confronted with questions and challenges – like how will we have camp with masks? Or how are we going to do the big Color War songs and dances if we’re not mixing age groups? Or what about the CIT trip to a Broadway show in New York City? – we viewed these issues through the prism of our core principles. What were the most important things about camp? How would we achieve those things?

Using those three sample questions as examples of the issues we faced – here’s what we did. We wanted kids to enjoy as much outdoor, mask-free fun as we could give them. So we made sure that “pods” didn’t mix so our campers could stay unmasked. We moved activities that had been inside into outside space. Our Color War Songfest was moved to upper field so kids could spread out and sing and dance safely without missing the “core” of the event. And the CITs didn’t go to NYC – while a Broadway show is a fun trip, it was more important and essential to our program that the kids be safe, smiling, outdoors, unmasked and active. You know what? Everyone understood and everyone was happy.

We Tried New Things

Briarwood has been a successful day camp for more than 35 years, boasting an exciting, varied program that changes with every age group and every division. It would have been easy to be inflexible and say “This is how we’re doing it because this is how we’ve always done it and kids love it.”

In 2021, though, there were some things that we knew we couldn’t do because we were committed to pandemic-related safety and not mixing age groups.

We decided to create some new special events. After much brainstorming and focused planning, the All Camp Mini Golf Tournament was a hit! Expanded Wednesday Themeday was a ton of fun. And the Briarwood Fishing Derby was so successful that t-shirts were made.

The pandemic “forced” us to be even more creative and to try more new things. We’ll be doing all three of these activities – as well as some of our other innovations – well into the future!

We Emphasized the Positive

We always try to remind our campers and staff how lucky we all are to be at camp – outside, active and with friends. Beginning at 2021 staff orientation, we took care to acknowledge health-related adjustments AND to emphasize how great it was that we got to do 95% of what we’ve always done at camp. After all, we were AT CAMP. TOGETHER. We urged everyone not to worry about the 5% of “traditional” Briarwood that would be a little different in 2021.

Together, armed with a positive view of how great it was to be at camp with fun things to do every single day, everyone had a fantastic, memorable summer. Our staff members were amazing leaders and unrelenting in their positivity. The kids happily followed the example of their positive counselors.

We Did It Together and Saw the Benefits of Resilience, Teamwork and Dedication

Hey, it was not always easy to follow Briarwood’s health and safety protocols. However, our campers, their families and our staff all decided that they were willing to be thoughtful and work together so that everyone could have a positive and happy summer. That meant that our kids came to camp each day with multiple masks. That meant that our campers and staff would forego without (much) complaint some of our fun all-camp events like Olympics, the Wiffle Ball Tournament and the Briarwood Overnighter. That meant that groups would wait patiently for another group to exit an area before moving in for their activity. That meant that our campers and staff would wear masks in their cars and vans to and from camp.

The benefits? A fantastic and healthy summer that we’ll never forget! Everyone who attended Briarwood in 2021 can look back with pride about how we all came together to share a warm, positive, active, much needed and unforgettable summer!

At Briarwood Day Camp, we’re always looking for ways to help kids to have active, exciting summers that they’ll remember forever and will help them grow. Interested in learning more? Give us a call at 215 598 7143 or email us at office@briarwooddaycamp.com . We’ll tell you more!