Be on the LOOKOUT this week! 2021-2022 Camp Calendar Release

Camp Calendar

After an exciting and successful summer, we are happy to let you know camp registration for 2021-2022 will open this week! Be on the lookout for an email to login and register for your camp sessions.

>>PREVIEW 2021-2022 Camp Calendar

We Need More Staff & AmeriCorps members

We are excited to get our camp weekends up and running BUT…we won’t be able to hold weekend sessions if we don’t have AmeriCorps and Staff members to support our campers!

Please pass the word on to your family members, neighbors, and friends who are looking to gain some great experience, meet new people, and make a difference in the lives of people in our communities! You don’t have to have experience, training is available along with a bi-weekly stipend for AmeriCorps members, AND an education award when you complete your term!

There are many different opportunities available. Check them out here: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/login.do

Please contact Anna Korb, AmeriCorps Program Manager, at akorb@eastersealswisconsin.com with any other questions about AmeriCorps and other opportunities!


 

2021 Summer Camp Details A message from Easterseals Wisconsin Camp Staff

Dear Friends of Easterseals Wisconsin Camps (Camp Wawbeek and Respite Camp),

We are all looking forward to hearing more camp songs this summer, and seeing many of our friends back at camp. The tractors are ready, and the ropes course inspected – things are coming together and now all we need is YOU!

We have been asked what differences can be expected compared to past summers. The following is a list of things you can expect from Easterseals Wisconsin (ESW) Summer Camps:

COVID-19 Related

We will be performing a rapid NASAL (NOT nasal pharyngeal that goes far up your nose) Covid test on EVERY CAMPER upon arrival and departure at camp. We will be performing these rapid tests on staff/AmeriCorps members and volunteers periodically throughout the weeks as well. This is to ensure everyone who participates in our camp programs has not come in contact with COVID-19 before or during their stay with us. Please note, if you have a positive test upon arrival, at any time during your stay at camp, or if you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, stuffy nose, etc.) that are not eliminated within 3 hours of taking an allergy remedy, you will be sent home. We will be checking temperatures of all campers and staff/AmeriCorps members at each meal throughout the week.

Check-In

Check-in time will be at 1:00 pm on Sunday afternoons (same as previous years), but it will look quite different than previous summers. You will be greeted by someone to take your name and then take the Covid rapid test. You WILL NOT be able to go into any of the buildings (this includes sleeping areas to set up your bed while you wait). The test takes about 15 minutes for results, and we request that you stay in your car or wait at one of the picnic tables that has been set up as a waiting area. When the weather allows, we will hold check-in outside. You will be checking in with both an office staff and a nurse to take care of everything at once. Please be sure to have your paperwork, payment, medications, and anything else that needs to be turned in ready at that time. Once you have checked in and are paired with your counselor (or another staff member to take you to your room), caregivers/parents can pass along any information that is needed to be sure we know everything you need to have a great stay. Once this is done and you feel comfortable, it will be time to say goodbye! Staff/AmeriCorps members will go with their campers to the sleeping areas to get settled (after belongings have been sprayed to disinfect), and parents/caregivers will leave.

Programs & Trips

We are doing our best to keep all the things you love about camp in our camp schedules! The pool will be open, ropes course and climbing tower will be ready, and all of the crafts, songs, and dances we all love will be available!

  • There will be some changes to the schedules, however. For example: Respite Camp has typically taken every camper and staff/AmeriCorps member to the pool on Sunday evening and every afternoon throughout the week. To accommodate appropriate numbers for safe distancing, not everyone will be swimming at the same time. There may be a sign-up sheet, or smaller groups scheduled throughout the day.
  • We still plan to offer “trips”, but we won’t be offering all the trips we have in the past. THERE WILL BE NO TOWN TRIPS this summer. We know it is a popular outing, but we do not want to put our campers and staff/AmeriCorps members at risk while spending time with the public in downtown Wisconsin Dells. You can still plan on fishing, pontoon boat rides, high ropes/zipline, climbing tower/zipline, and camping as trip choices. We ARE planning to take a morning boat ride with the Upper Dells Boat Tours, but it will not be on Friday mornings. It will be on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on their schedule each week.

Mealtimes

All meals will be plated and delivered to your table while you are at camp, not served “family style” as they have been in the past. There will be very little left out to “take as you need” to reduce contact of utensils and reduce contamination. For example, there will not be a salad bar, but you can request a salad. Milk will be delivered to your table in individual cartons. Alternatives to the meal being served will be available (cereal for example), will be available in the kitchen, but not set out for meals – you will just need to ask!

Trading Post/Camp Store

We will be offering Trading Post again, it may not be at the same time as it has been in the past, but it will be open for those treats everyone looks forward to! We will have a camp store with t-shirts, pillow cases, etc. available on check-in and check-out days, as well as may be open during the week for campers to purchase souvenirs.

Masks

We are requiring all staff/AmeriCorps members to wear masks while at camp, as well as campers who are able to wear them. Understanding that some campers may find it overstimulating or are not physically able to wear them, the directors have taken great care to register with everyone’s health and safety in mind by limiting the number of campers who will not wear a mask so they can be placed in different cabins or rooms with others who will wear masks. We are hoping that there will be times for “mask breaks” when outside and at safe distances. You will not be expected to wear your mask when you sleep – we are operating at half capacity so that every other bed is used, safely spacing everyone for a good night’s sleep.

Medications/Nurse Station

As of right now, we are planning to pass medications at the windows before mealtimes and bedtime as we have in the past. As the summer approaches and our nurse team arrives at camp, this may change – we are all ready to change as needed to keep everyone safe while being efficient and accurate with your care! It is our goal to contact each camper one to two weeks before your session to discuss any medical issues, medications, and answer any questions you may have.

Visitors on Camp

Visitors will be kept to a very minimum this summer. We don’t know where everyone has been, and want to keep you safe! Even our ESW office staff members are being asked to record their temperatures and prepare for camp just as you do.

Check-Out

You will be able to sign up for your check-out time on Friday while you are checking in on Sunday. Check-out will begin at 10:00 am and run through 1:00 pm. It is our goal to control traffic and the number of people on camp, so please be mindful and arrive at the time you choose. You will sign out with the director and nurse, and your camper will meet you at the check-out station with their things. You will have time to chat with their counselor(s), and ask any questions you may have about their week.

In an effort to keep you updated on all things ESW Summer Camp, we will be holding some Facebook Live events where the directors and nurses will be online to answer any questions you may have! Please join us Tuesday, May 18th from 6:00-7:00 pm and Friday, May 21 from 12:30-1:30 pm to ask any questions that have been on your mind (or just to say hi!).

Please understand that we will be updating our procedures and policies in real time – we follow the CDC and county guidelines closely and will adjust how we operate accordingly. As always, feel free to contact us via phone or email at any time – your health and safety is our #1 priority, but having FUN is close behind at #1.5!

We can’t wait to see you!

Counting the days,
Your Easterseals Wisconsin Camp Team

Alex Peters – Camp Wawbeek Camp Director: apeters@eastersealswisconsin.com 608-254-8319

Jamie Lloyd – Respite Camp Director: jlloyd@eastersealswisconsin.com 608-254-2502

Sarah Hubert, RN – Director of Summer Nursing: shubert@eastersealswisconsin.com 608-254-2502

Carissa Peterson – Vice President, Camp and Respite Services: cpeterson@eastersealswisconsin.com 608-237-1575

We’re Recruiting! Learn how to get involved in AmeriCorps service!

We’re gearing up for summer, which also means it’s time to start recruiting for summer camp AmeriCorps members! Have you ever been interested in AmeriCorps but not quite sure how to take the next step? Find out how Riley, former AmeriCorps member, made her way to Easterseals Wisconsin all the way from Georgia!

Riley served as an AmeriCorps Respite Apprentice during the summer of 2019. Listen as she shares about how she found camp, how the experience shaped her career goals and her perspective of the world.

Thank you, Riley, for sharing your story and inspiring others! If you’d like to learn more about AmeriCorps opportunities at Easterseals Wisconsin, visit: https://camp.eastersealswisconsin.com/americorps/

Summer Camp 2021 Update A message from Carissa!

Hello Friends,

When I hang up a new calendar, I start to get excited for summer camp, and this year is no exception! Our Camp Wawbeek and Respite Camp registration has been open since September, and we have been holding weekend sessions with great success. We have kept our weekend camps small, changing our protocols as we go so that we can be providing the safest and most effective programs possible.

As we look to summer, we plan to hold both Respite Camp and Camp Wawbeek. If you have registered for summer sessions, we appreciate your patience! Alex and Jamie didn’t want to start registering campers until we had a better idea of where things would be with Covid-19 and such. With the vaccine rolling out, we are hopeful and have now started registering campers. In the past, you may have been able to attend two sessions. This summer, the directors are registering campers for ONE session, and will go from there. As we begin to feel comfortable hosting more campers, then we will begin registering more at that time.

What will the sessions be like?

We do have a list of protocols in place that every camper and staff/AmeriCorps member must follow before attending a session, as well as during our sessions. Campers and staff/AmeriCorps members must record their temperature every day for two weeks before their scheduled session, as well as report any symptoms that may be of concern. We appreciate the honesty of our camp families and staff members when they call us to report they haven’t been feeling well and will sit out a session. This is how we will continue to serve as many people as possible!

While at camp, we have been doing temperature checks of every person at camp at mealtimes and continue to monitor potential symptoms. Everyone who attends camp is required to wear a mask – again, we do understand there may be some campers who struggle with this. Please register, but be honest about their struggles. We understand the need for respite and “normalcy”. The more information we have, the better we can serve you.

To be completely honest, like many people, we are unsure what things will look like in six months. It seems that things continue to change daily.

What we do know:

1. Summer camp will be operating at Camp Wawbeek and Respite Camp.

2. Campers will be registered for ONE session. This may change, but plan on one.

3. Protocols will be similar to those we already have in place right now, with adjustments for summer programs (swimming pool, ropes course, field trips, etc.), as well as CDC and DHS recommendations.

4. We are all working together to make camp safe and fun! Will it be like it “always used to be”? No, it won’t be, to be completely honest. Everyone’s health, safety, and well-being are always our first priority, and our programs will be adjusted to continue providing the safest, most effective programs.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact the camp directors (Alex and Jamie), or camp admin staff from the Madison office (James, Ren, and Emily) if you have any questions at all. We can’t wait to see you this summer!

In camp spirit,

Carissa
VP, Camp & Respite Services

Calling All Virtual Volunteers! Are you interested?

Virtual Volunteers Needed!

Easterseals Wisconsin Camps is now offering Virtual Volunteer hours, and we are looking for campers interested in being paired with a volunteer!

  • Volunteer will be matched 1:1 with an Easterseals Wisconsin Camper
  • Connect during weekly scheduled Zoom chats
  • Great for RT majors wanting to practice their skills
  • Build new and meaningful friendships
  • Play games, chat, cook, read, etc.
I know that we are all in need of some connection during these extremely  isolating times, and this is one way to do so while building new and amazing friendships. We hope that by safely offering this experience, you will be able to meet your partner in-person at Camp sometime soon!

If you are an interested camper, know a camper that may be interested, or if you are interested in being a volunteer, please email me at volunteer@eastersealswisconsin.com for more information. I hope to hear from you soon!

In Camp Spirit,

Hayley Curtsinger AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator Easterseals Wisconsin 608.254.2502

GivingTuesday! Why this fundraiser is important.

My inbox and social media feeds have been BUSY – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now GivingTuesday! While I love the idea of GivingTuesday, it has always baffled me as to why it is scheduled AFTER all of the shopping. Wouldn’t it be better if it was first so that someone could donate to their favorite charities first, and then shop with what was left instead of the other way around? No one ever asked me, and you can probably see why!

I can imagine your newsfeed is as busy as mine with all of the requests for donations from your favorite non-profits, so I am just going to toss a few things your way to think about.

Your dollar stays here!

Every dollar generated from fundriasers like this stay in Wisconsin! Our FARM Program and Self-Employment Services program serves farmers and entrepreneurs with disabilities throughout the state. Camp Wawbeek and the Wisconsin Elks/Easterseals Respite Camp are located in Wisconsin Dells and serve children and adults of all abilities who live throughout the state.

Why donations are vital right now.

We had to cancel our summer sessions, as well as several of our weekend sessions due to Covid-19 which means we didn’t have income from these programs. Several of our important fundraisers were cancelled due to the virus, as well. We are slowly offering more programs as we can, safely, and are gearing up in hopes of a big summer session. Now, more than ever, we are relying on donations to help us keep our camps operating. To put it into perspective – there are over 20 buildings between the two camps and 10 vehicles that all need upkeep, even if we don’t use them. We want everything to be ready so that we can open up in “full swing” when it is safe to do so, and that takes people and resources to keep everything going.

How to participate in GivingTuesday!

We have made it easy to participate in Giving Tuesday – there are ways to even get something in return (just like shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!). You can visit our website to make a donation. Our very own Nurse Jen is running a Thirty-One fundraiser where you can get incredible bags embroidered with the Easterseals Wisconsin Logo – what an amazing way to get some great camp swag for yourself or a loved one for the holidays! Finally, we have camp shirts available again through Bonfire – another great way to get some camp swag for a loved one, and for yourself! Follow this link for details!

Please know that every little bit helps. We are fully aware of how the pandemic has affected families, from losing loved ones to losing work to be quarantined, things are tough all over. We hope that you will think of us on GivingTuesday and can contribute, even if it is in a small way. We truly cherish all of you, and wish you great health and happiness in the coming year.

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Thankful Thoughts A message from Carissa

Dear Friends: If you are like me, starting with Thanksgiving and through the end of the year I spend time reflecting on the past year. Did I accomplish my goals? Am I in a better place professionally/personally? While this year may not be the year to reflect critically (it definitely hasn’t gone like anyone planned back in January), it has taught me several things:

1. Be happy where you are.

While we are constantly looking to better ourselves, we often forget to be happy with what we have accomplished and take a moment to stop looking for better. It is easy to lose sight of what you can be happy about, when you are always looking for more or better. While this was a trying year, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself not holding summer camp, I found joy in reflecting on all of the people I have met over the years. I’ve watched campers grow into adults, even seeing them one week a year I am so happy to watch them be happy and thriving. I’ve seen staff and AmeriCorps members grow into people who make a difference in their communities, through their careers, their families, or their volunteering. I am truly fortunate to be a part of so many lives, and appreciate they let me be.

2. Be kind.

When faced with a new global challenge, we all found we don’t know what we are doing. I know how to do camp. I had to learn how to do camp in a pandemic, and I definitely have lots more to learn. As we don’t know each other’s struggles – from family to finances to self-worth – it is best to assume that we are all doing what we can, and that may be at a different level than me. One of the greatest lessons I have learned and share with staff at camp when they may be frustrated with a co-counselor, is that we all are doing our best. While someone may look like they are slacking because you have more experience or skills, they may be doing the best they can…it just may be not your best. And that’s ok, that’s what makes the world the weird and wonderful place it is. We all are here to help each other along.

3. Be generous.

We don’t all have the financial means to make big donations to non-profits or buy our friends and family the things we would like, but we can be generous. Generous with our time and calling Grandma more often to check in. Generous with our talents and sharing crafts we made with loved ones, sewing masks for our communities, or adopting a cat in need of a home at the Humane Society shelter. Even being generous with our donations, while I may not be able to give the $1,000 donation to a non-profit I love on Giving Tuesday, I know that my $20 will be much appreciated.

4. Be you.

Paint. Hike. Run. Sing. Binge watch tv shows. Bake. Read. Write. Cry. None of us know what this life will bring, and we have watched people we know and love become sick and/or pass. Never regret being you and doing what you love.

An amazing team

I may not have accomplished all of the goals I set out for myself this year, but you know what? I am part of a truly amazing team who are dedicated to making camp possible. From Wayne and Terri who make sure things are safe at camp, to Alex and Jamie who make sure campers are registered and plan all of the programs. Nurse Jen, Sarah, and Dr. Cornell have guided us through the medical decisions we have to make. Anna supports our wonderful AmeriCorps members, while Hayley recruits our volunteers. James, Ren, and Emily take care of everything in the office from billing to reminder notices, and Cally writes the grants to keep us going. Stacey makes us look good, and Rachel is always looking for new funding source for us. Stevie is doing what she can to support the team from Australia, and Paul is always there to support our needs. I have cats to love, yarn to create with, and birds to feed…and that makes it a successful year.

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Mask Talk A message from the Camp Director

Hi Friends! Let’s talk about masks.

We have all heard or read that the CDC recommends wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. It has even been proven to work in other countries, as well as communities around the US, where we have seen numbers of new cases go down when everyone works together. Some countries are opened up and back to normal (or as close to normal as they cautiously can be). Meanwhile, here we are in Wisconsin with people testing positive more and more each day. More people are getting sick, and sadly, more people are passing away than most areas of the country. When you look at the map of hot spots, Wisconsin is bright red! What can be done? Wear a mask if you go out in public, and stay home if you can. It’s pretty simple actually.

Think of the Campers with Compromised Immune Systems

You may have heard that we cancelled camp for the summer – it was one of the most difficult and awful decisions we have had to make. All of us that work at camp do so because…well, we LOVE camp. We love when camp is full of happy campers having the time of their lives in the pool and singing songs around the campfire. Taking long rides on the tractor wagons. Many of our campers have compromised immune systems and could get very sick if they came in contact with the virus. We knew we wouldn’t be able to follow the social distancing guidelines and make sure everyone was safe in places like the pool or tractor wagons while at camp. We definitely knew we couldn’t control what anyone did outside of camp, so we decided to cancel to keep everyone healthy.

Moving Forward

Now it is October and the virus is still spreading rampantly in Wisconsin. We are committed to doing what we love and started offering camp on the weekends again. As we rethink everything we do at camp to keep our campers and staff members safe while they’re here, our biggest concern continues to be what happens to our campers and staff while they aren’t at camp. Who are they coming in contact with? Is everyone they are around wearing masks when in public areas? Is everyone we, as staff, come in contact with getting tested and quarantining when needed?

Wear a mask!

This brings me to my plea. Wear a mask! It really isn’t difficult, and they really aren’t that expensive. There are disposable ones you can just wear once and throw away. Now you can even get cool masks from many of your favorite retailers representing sports teams or other things you love. They are the new, cool t-shirt, if you ask me. Some of us have a mask that grandma made out of one of grandpa’s old shirts – cool! Check out the CDC website if you want to review guidelines or have questions. We’ve been hearing about this for a while. By now wearing a mask should be a common thing, but strangely and sadly it isn’t.

Why the plea?

To be honest, I am not afraid of getting COVID-19. I am fairly healthy, and those I live with and around are all healthy. What I am afraid of is bringing this deadly virus to our camp, and passing it along to one of our campers. It would take just one case and we’d have to close again. And it isn’t even about us. The hard truth is that someone could die because someone brought the virus to camp. It is that simple. While you who are reading this may be thinking “I don’t work at camp, it doesn’t affect me and I don’t need to wear a mask,” you know what? You may come in contact with one of us who does work at camp! Or maybe someone who works at a day services program, a group home or nursing home, a hospital, or someone who lives with loved ones with compromised immune systems – the list could go on. Out of respect for all of us who just want to do our jobs and provide the services we love providing – please, wear the mask.

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Camp Is On! A message from the Camp Director

Here we are!

It has been a long time coming, friends, and we are happy to be offering camp once again! As you can imagine, our hearts were broken over not holding camp this summer. When everything shut down in the spring, moving into summer we felt there was too much risk. We were not confident we could keep keep everyone healthy, and too large of groups to manage safely. During that time, we kept up the grounds and fixed up buildings, all with the anticipation of opening camp again in the near future. And now here we are!

Rethinking Camp

As you can imagine, operating camp in times of a pandemic has made us rethink EVERYTHING we do! From how we serve meals to passing out medications, how we check in campers to staffing our programs — we’ve taken a closer look at every detail.

Our medical team, consisting of Nurse Jen, Nurse Sarah, and Dr. Cornell, have helped us all along the way. We couldn’t be holding camp without their input! More than anything in the world, we would hate for someone to become sick at camp because of something we missed. Masks are required at all times by all staff and AmeriCorps members. They will wear face shields when any camper requires help eating or brushing their teeth.

Family members aren’t allowed into the sleeping areas in an effort to keep as few people as possible out of compromising areas. We are plating meals and not offering a buffet. Medications are passed in the dining hall instead of having a line at the nurse station.

Perhaps we are going a bit overboard on the planning; but to keep our campers, families, and staff/AmeriCorps members safe, we don’t feel there is too much that could be done. We are intentionally keeping our sessions small as we navigate changes. As we become more comfortable and confident in our methods we will then work towards hosting more campers.

AmeriCorps Training

We held our AmeriCorps training with 9 new members, and are so excited to have them be a part of our camp adventures moving forward. This was a great chance for us to practice the procedures that we have been putting into place over the past several months. We have a great group of young people (Carissa here, and I’m old) joining us, and can’t wait to be a part of the wonderful things they do at camp!

Veterans Family Camp

Our Veterans Family Camp was held September 26-27 (just one night instead of two). We welcomed 8 veterans and 15 family members to camp, and showed them just what camp fun is all about. There was tie-dying, pumpkin carving, a campfire with songs, and we even honored 3 veterans at our Quilts of Valor presentation held Saturday night. We were happy to have camp open again, and see many happy families as they left on Sunday.

First Respite Camp Weekend

We held our first Respite Camp weekend October 9-11, and it was a great time! We truly appreciate all of our families’ patience at check-in, and following all of the guidelines to record each camper’s temperature and symptoms for two weeks before they arrived. The AmeriCorps members and staff did a great job following the guidelines, wearing their masks and encouraging their campers to wear theirs (understandably, some campers won’t wear them for different reasons). They worked hard to keep areas disinfected, and most of all making those great connections with our campers and helping them have a great time.

Spacing Out Weekend Sessions

Our schedule is intentionally spaced out more than it has been in the past, allowing two weeks between each program, whether at Respite Camp or Camp Wawbeek. This gives us time to hear from families and/or staff members if they have developed any symptoms or have any concerns we need to follow up on. Our next scheduled camp session is our Transitions Camp at Camp Wawbeek, to be held October 23-25. Transitions has become a popular camp session for many young adults who want to learn and/or practice life skills, all while hanging out with other campers their age.

We are fully aware that the time may come that we do not feel it safe to move forward offering our programs.  Until then, we are going to do what we can to make camp happen!

In camp spirit,

Carissa