Chancellor’s Message 06-03-20

The University of Maine System and its institutions remain operational, with appropriate safety measures implemented such as remote instruction, remote working for most employees and social distancing when applicable.

The University of Maine System will not be conducting day camps or overnight camps during summer 2020 on campus or at other non-university locations under the University’s auspices. (Certain limited exceptions may be granted by campus leadership and campus emergency operations teams for programs in August that serve incoming University first-year students but which may in some instances be referred to as “camps”.)

The University of Maine System will begin July 1 allowing additional activities previously curtailed by the pandemic, including:

  • Limited group gatherings up to 10 people. Such gathering must be consistent with the guidance of civil authorities requiring social distancing and face coverings. This topic will be closely monitored in anticipation of implementing further increases in allowable University group size limits within the month of July.
  • Community spaces and facilities such as libraries, museums, gyms, computer labs, and study hall spaces may begin opening July 1 consistent with the group gathering guidance above, upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and in compliance with any other requirements which may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Economic and Community Development.
  • Retails stores may begin operating July 1 upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and with any other requirements that may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Economic and Community Development. Note: Retail stores at this time do not include University food service operations apart from those essential dining operations which have continued at reduced operations and which may need to do so.
  • Childcare centers: Any childcare facilities operated by the University, under its auspices or in University facilities and not currently operating may begin opening July 1 upon approval by campus leadership and the campus emergency operations team, and in compliance with any other requirements that may be in place by civil authorities in Maine, in particular the Department of Health and Human Services.

The response to COVID-19 continues to be a rapidly evolving situation even at this stage of the pandemic and this guidance is subject to change. Interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to check maine.edu/health-advisory routinely for updates. Employees and students in particular are encouraged to check the relevant sections of the web site for information particular to their needs as the University continues to consider its Safe Return planning. More information is planned and expected to become available over the course of June.

From our Statewide Director and Dean of Extension:

For forty years, young people from Maine and beyond have come to University of Maine 4-H Camps to live and learn together. It’s no exaggeration to say those experiences have changed thousands of lives for the better. From Bryant Pond in the mountains of western Maine to Tanglewood along the banks of the Ducktrap River to Blueberry Cove on the tidal flats of Tenants Harbor to Greenland Point in the lake country of Washington County, Maine 4-H Camps are special places close to the hearts of all of us. Because of this, it is difficult to have to announce the cancellation of the 2020 summer camp season. 

Just two months ago we were gearing up for another incredible season. However, we are clearly in unprecedented times that require careful and responsible decision-making. Our statewide 4-H Camp team and UMaine Extension administration have been monitoring the pandemic and the resulting policy guidelines from the state and federal CDCs, the University of Maine, the University of Maine System, and the state of Maine. As guidelines for the reopening of youth camps become clearer, we may be able to provide limited-enrollment opportunities in late summer, and we intend to offer school-year programs in accordance with health and safety protocols.

We are waiving our refund policy and offering full refunds for summer 2020. If you choose, we can hold your deposit for 2021. As a nonprofit camp network, the cancellation of the season will have a serious financial impact on our operation. Those who are able may donate their 2020 camp fees, which we will accept with heartfelt thanks. Individual camp directors and leadership team members will be in touch with some special opportunities to remain connected to camp and are available to answer your registration and refund questions.

We understand this news will be difficult to hear, especially for our campers who were looking forward to their first summer at 4-H Camp or to returning to a place they have come to think of as a summer home. We believe deeply in our mission of providing affordable outdoor learning experiences, in community with others, which is why this decision was extremely difficult. Thank you for your understanding. We’re already looking forward to seeing the smiling faces of our campers in summer 2021.

With the sincere hope that you and yours are well and safe, 

Ryder Scott, State 4-H Center Director 

Hannah Carter, Dean of Cooperative Extension

Dear families,

We have been thinking of you on a daily basis and truly hope you are doing as well as you can right now. We told you we would make a decision about our summer programming by May 18th and we have had endless discussions on what the best plan should look like.

As stated in the letter from our Statewide Director, our original summer schedule has been canceled. Based on forthcoming guidelines, we are hoping to offer limited-enrollment day programs beginning after July 6.

We hope to have more information around June 1 and we will send out another announcement at that time. Again, we realize these changes will be a hardship for some families. We will email currently registered families to provide additional details about their options.

These decisions are not made lightly and we can assure you that we are all feeling just as sad and disappointed as many of you probably are. Summer camp is supposed to be magical, restorative, and unifying – a time to build connections with each other and the natural world, a chance to create, explore, and challenge ourselves in new ways. We are heartbroken that we will not be able to share these experiences in person this summer.

The grief your camper may feel is real and valid. Please encourage them to take the time to sit with how they feel AND to remember all that we live by during our time together at Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove: sharing meals, practicing kindness, exploring and learning, eating well, being active, and caring for others and the earth. Who we are and how we live together at camp doesn’t have to just exist at camp. 

As we announce our plans to the public, we are also thinking of ways we can stay connected to everyone that means so much to us: our campers and their families, our staff, and our community. Look for more information about that in future communications.

In the meantime, get outside if you can, notice the changes taking place in the world around you, and know that you are in our hearts.

Sincerely,

Jessica Decke, Tanglewood Director and Ryan LeShane, Blueberry Cove Director