Updated June 12, 2020
2020 has proven to be a year unlike any other, with new challenges and numerous hurdles to overcome. Despite this, our team has been working tirelessly with hope of finding our path to providing your child with an exceptional summer experience. We created extensive procedures to mitigate the risks, we employed new, creative techniques and we remained optimistic the whole way through. We are now at a point where we are two weeks from the start of our proposed staff training date, and it has become apparent that we are out of time.
Our family is heartbroken to announce that we have chosen to cancel the 2020 season of River Way Ranch Camp with the health and safety of our campers and staff in mind. We know how important camp is to our campers, their families and our staff. They have waited all year, looking forward to being back at camp with their friends and counselors. Multiple generations of campers and alumni attest that the memories and friendships truly last a lifetime. There has been nothing more we wanted than to enter our 54th summer with the same incredible program and high-quality staff.
Some of the core values we teach at camp are problem-solving and resilience in times of challenge. Our team was ready to meet nearly any challenge thrown our way. We have had months of discussions with our local health authorities (including a submission of our proposed operational plans), we thoroughly reviewed preliminary guidelines from ACA and the CDC, hired an amazing seasonal team, worked to enhance our staff training procedures, and were just awaiting final approval from a State and Local level. We were told as of last week, that state guidelines for residential summer camp programs would be released last Friday. As of now, California overnight camps have not been given permission by the State or County to open yet, bringing us to this difficult decision. We do not feel we can ask our camp families or staff team to wait any longer, and there still remains far too many unknowns.
We promised our families that if we ran an overnight camp program, we would remain committed to offering the highest quality experience that has defined River Way for 54 years. With the recently-released California guidelines for day camps, we knew that residential summer camp guidelines, if made available before our planned opening date, would make the operation of camp this summer unrecognizable. Social distancing, wearing masks, and maintaining a six-foot distance are the opposite of what creates the magic of summer camp.
With more than 20 million children not being able to experience summer camp this year, our focus and motivation will be dedicated to making 2021 amazing. As more is learned about COVID-19, and increased treatment and prevention measures become available, we are looking forward to immediately starting on the planning and preparation for 2021. We are grateful for the continued support of so many, who have assured us your children will be back at River Way for the summer of 2021.
With our decision, in cancelling camp, we have temporarily furloughed many of year-round staff. Our remaining team members will be contacting all impacted families who have not yet notified us of their tuition designation request. We will call you, beginning next week and will continue over the next few weeks. For those of you who have already submitted your tuition designation, we have processed many of your requests and will continue to finalize these over the coming weeks. We look forward to connecting with you thank you for your continued display of patience, kindness, and understanding.
What has continued to propel us forward has been our loyal camp families and incredible seasonal team. There are not adequate words to fully express how deeply we appreciate you. Almost overnight, all of our lives changed; we have had to cope with losses, significant changes and so much uncertainty. We have received the most incredible outpouring of love and support from our camp community. To any camper or staff member who needs support from us, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here for you now and will be in the many years to come.
The Oken Family