It is with much sadness that we write to tell you that all in-person programming at Camp Chewonki is canceled for the 2020 summer season. As upsetting as this news will be, it is out of concern for the health and safety of our campers and their families, our staff, and our local community, that we have had to accept that canceling camp is the right thing for us to do.
From the start of the pandemic, the Camp Directors, Chewonki Leadership Team and members of the Board of Trustees, have been working closely together to find a way to open camp safely while adhering to the new COVID-19 standards. We pooled expert science-based resources, especially in public health, and conducted outreach to dozens of organizations – schools, camps, associations, funders, and government agencies – to develop a set of safety criteria. With these criteria and Governor Janet Mills’ recently released statewide plan to gradually restart Maine’s economy this summer, it is clear that we will be unable to provide the safe and enriching summer experiences our campers deserve.
All children enrolled in a camp program for 2020 will have a guaranteed spot for them in 2021. You have the choice to either receive any 2020 tuition and deposits as a refund, turn it into a charitable donation, or roll tuition forward to the summer of 2021.
As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity of our community members to meet our mission and to serve our local community, as we have been doing throughout the pandemic by donating food for local hunger relief and providing continuing employment for staff and contractors. Canceling summer camp will have a dramatic impact on our operating budget, and we hope you will consider converting all or a portion of your tuition into a charitable gift. Our business office will contact you tomorrow about your deposit and tuition refunds.
This decision to close was painful for everyone involved. We planned and prepared all year to welcome, love, and care for your children on campus this summer. Our deepest heartache is knowing how disappointing this news will be for the campers who have come to know Chewonki as the place in which campers and caring adults gather, laugh, and grow together. We wish it were different and appreciate your understanding in this unprecedented time.
Chewonki will be here with you through the pandemic.
After 105 summers together, we will miss the camaraderie, joy, and learning on Chewonki Neck. Because we know that families want to keep their children active and engaged this summer, we are developing a program to bring the magic of Camp Chewonki home to you. Please see the following letter from our camp directors with information about our plan for Camp Chewonki@Home going forward.
We are already looking toward next summer and our expectation that we will be together again. The kind of transformative growth that happens for campers at Chewonki, through experiences that teach resilience, service to others, and stewardship to the world around us, and the ways we lean into creating thriving, sustainable communities, is something needed by young people and our society now, more than ever. We are grateful to be on this journey with you, and appreciate your continued presence in our lives.
Willard & Nancy
An Open Letter from the Camp Directors
This is a hard moment for all of us. We share your disappointment. We share your sense of loss. We will miss and long for so many of the things that make a Chewonki summer.
From the sound of laughter erupting from a cabin or tent, to the smell of low tide at the waterfront and the sight of so many sunrises and sunsets, so much of what makes our summers special is going through them as a community. While we won’t be eating farm fresh meals together or sitting next to each other at a campfire this summer, we have reimagined how we can gather as a Chewonki community.
We are excited to welcome you to Camp Chewonki@Home, a program that will bring our camp community together for 7 weeks this summer.
Starting on June 28, campers can join one or more of our 7 weekly modules that include themed activities and ways to connect multiple times each week to learn and laugh together. You can even share the ways you are bringing the magic of Chewonki home by submitting your projects, journals, and more to the Summer Chronicle, a bi-weekly publication. We are thrilled to be able to offer this remote camp program at no cost and more information will follow in the coming weeks.
It is the beginning of the next chapter. We are going to miss seeing you in person and we are looking forward to keeping the Chewonki spirit alive with you this summer by exploring the world around our homes, writing each other letters, and singing songs together.
Please share what you’re up to with us; your adventures and your endeavors. Feel free to reach out to us with your questions and queries. Stay safe, stay healthy, and also stay wild, and free, and wonderful. Most importantly, as the final line of Willie’s Song reminds us, “May you never forget that you are loved.”
Jen, Emily, and Charlie