We’re writing today with heavy hearts and an update that you may have anticipated even as you hoped it wouldn’t come: Lake Bryn Mawr Camp will not open for the summer of 2020.
In all our years at camp, we never imagined we’d have to send a letter like this. We know this news is as heartbreaking for you and your daughters to hear as it is for us to share. At the same time, we are confident that it is the right decision, not only for the welfare of our campers and staff, but for the culture and community that are so deeply woven into the fabric of life at LBMC.
Each of you has paid us the incredible honor of trusting us with your children. It’s a responsibility we take seriously, and it is the driving force in our decision. Since the word “coronavirus” first entered our vocabulary, we’ve emphasized that our plans for the summer would ultimately be based on guidance from the relevant authorities along with our own care for the health and well-being of our camp community. With the continued uncertainty about this virus, we have to think about our campers, staff, leadership and medical team.
Over the next few weeks, different camps will be making different decisions, including opening with the requirement that all campers and staff are tested for the virus. With so many new developments, we became hopeful and wanted to believe that there was a solution; yet through extensive research, it became clear that we couldn’t depend on the reliability of these diagnostic tests. Based on our consultations with medical experts, there is not enough data at this time to confirm that these tests have the accuracy or efficacy to ensure the safety of our camp community.
A camp of our size also requires significant changes to adhere to the recommendations of public health professionals. The loving sisterhood that we foster at camp would be inhibited by face masks, physical distancing, ongoing testing, and strict protocols for mealtimes, activities and sleeping arrangements. We have no doubt that these practices are wise and necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also know they would be challenging for us to implement and adhere to. We simply can’t imagine a summer in which we can’t hug a camper as she gets off the bus, or when she’s feeling homesick or sad. We can’t picture a campus where girls aren’t allowed to walk arm-in-arm or hold hands. We can’t envision giving Bunk One their Angels in a private ceremony because all of camp can’t be seated in the Apple O at the same time. These are things that define Bryn Mawr and make it such a special place.
If there was any doubt in our hearts, it was wiped out when we screened the above video commemorating our centennial, which we had hoped to share during our 100th summer celebration. As we watched these touching scenes of love, community and sisterhood, all we saw were the things we wouldn’t be able to have if we held camp this summer. Social distancing is good for stopping the spread of disease — and the antithesis of our close and caring culture.
Our camp culture is guided by our four Angel Code values: Loyalty, Beauty, Merit, and Comradeship. We have watched from a distance this spring as our campers have lived out those values by staying home, dedicating themselves to their schoolwork and reaching out to one another to offer support. Our promise to them now is that they can count on us to live the Angel Code value of Loyalty. We will always do our best for our campers and their families. We will always be here for you. There will always be a Bryn Mawr and we will see you in 2021.
No letter could adequately convey the emotional weight of this news, and we wish, more than anything, that we could sit with each family. We hope that you will join us on Zoom on Sunday at 8:00 pm, so we can be together. A link will be sent to you prior to the call. This virtual event will be for parents only; we will be arranging a similar meeting for campers in a few days. Because of the number of participants, we won’t be able to take questions, but we know that you will have them. Within the next few days, we will follow up with another email that will answer questions about details and logistics.
It’s hard to put into words the grief we’re feeling right now and will continue to feel all summer. We know your daughters will be experiencing similar feelings, and we’re working on ways to stay connected throughout the summer and the coming year. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your support during this unprecedented time in our camp’s history.
Jane, Dan and Eliza