2021 COVID-19 Update

Hello from Colorado! As we move into the holiday break this week, we wanted to reach out and let you know how our planning and preparation for Summer 2021 is coming along and to send hugs and good wishes to you and to your whole family.

  • We are working closely with a lobbyist, the governor’s office and state public health officials to establish more functional guidance for residential camp operations in 2021 through the Colorado Camps Network (CCN).
  • We are developing partnerships with testing companies so we can establish a community “bubble” for each camp session.
  • We are hiring staff members who are committed to creating a positive youth development experience for each of our campers.
  • We are looking at our facilities, capacities and programs and finding ways to modify while still achieving our mission and goals.
  • We are scheduling calls in early December with our Junior Counselors and Outbackers to share some of our programming thoughts and to solicit some of their ideas for programming additions and modifications.
  • We will modify our standard road show and, instead, host a number of Zoom Q&A sessions with the directors throughout the month of January.

Some of our general thoughts at this moment include:

  • In this time of isolation and uncertainty camp is more important now for our youth and staff than ever before.
  • We know there are risks in running a camp program during these times. We also have great evidence from several camp case studies via the CDC, as well as from numerous other ACA camps that successfully ran summer programs in 2020. We also know there will continue to be more information from schools and other related programs prior to 2021.
  • We are confident that we can utilize the most recent and updated research to create a safe camp experience with a multilayered prevention and mitigation strategy while also operating within the guidelines and constraints of Colorado and Teller County.
  • As a primarily outdoor based program, we are well-positioned to operate our programs with appropriate COVID modifications and protocols.
  • We are aware of the benefits of creating a “bubble” for our campers and staff and intend to operate camp as an “island” with strict parameters defining our day-to-day activities and interactions. For example, while we will still leave property for trips in the National Forest, we will not stop in local towns or interact with non camp, non cohort members.
  • Vaccines may be available, but we are not assuming our primarily healthy, pediatric and young adult population will have broad access to a vaccine prior to June 2021.

Here is an overview of some potential COVID-19 considerations for summer 2021 (all of these considerations are subject to change, modification or removal based on current and relevant research, CDC, state, and local guidelines).

Staff Pre Camp and Arrival

  • Quarantine/limited contact for 14 days and get tested prior to arrival; plus extended staff training
  • Rapid testing on arrival and additional, ongoing testing to establish the “bubble”
  • Utilization of cohort model
  • Daily health screenings
  • Mask wearing and social distancing outside of cohort
  • 14 day staff training to ensure safety

Camper Pre Camp and Arrival

  • Quarantine/limited contact for 14 days and get tested prior to arrival
  • Rapid testing on arrival and additional, ongoing testing to establish the “bubble”
  • Utilization of cohort model and reduced group sizes
  • Mask wearing and social distancing outside of cohort
  • Daily health screenings


  • Reduction of large group interactions
  • Modified schedules that still allow for some choice but reduce cross cohort interactions
  • Extensive cleaning of equipment before and after activities
  • Consistent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer
  • All programs in an open air outdoor environment


  • Reduced group size in lodge during meals and utilization of outdoor dining
  • Rotation of cohorts regarding wash house usage
  • Dedicated cleaning teams
  • Dedicated quarantine locations for symptomatic staff and campers


  • Increased mental health support at each camp
  • Additional staff trainings specific to anxiety around COVID-19

Post Camp

  • We will encourage camp families to quarantine once campers return and prevent interaction with anyone who has preexisting conditions

Here are some of the resources that we are using to create the safest camp experience possible: CDC, ACA and ACN as well as our state and local guidelines.

We are launching two new programs in January which will help us continue to implement new and emerging strategies. One is the new Sanborn Gap Semester and the other is our partnership with A Place Beyond. We feel having smaller groups is an excellent way to work through unforeseen challenges, be able to determine the efficacy of our Communicable Disease Plan and Emergency Action Plan, and to fine-tune our protocols and practices.

We are committed to running a residential summer camp program in 2021 and we look forward to sharing more about what we foresee that program to look like in January, once we have all celebrated the holiday season and are into the new year (hooray!).

We wish you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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Ariella Rogge
About Ariella Rogge

Ariella started her career at Sanborn when she was twelve. After five years of camper and five years of Sanborn staff experience, she continued her work with kids in the high school classroom. Ariella and her family returned to Sanborn in 2001 to take on the Program Director role which she held til 2012. She and Elizabeth Marable became co-directors of High Trails in 2013 and then Ariella became the High Trails Director in 2020. In the fall of 2022 she became the Director of Sanborn Western Camps, overseeing the director teams of both Big Spring and High Trails. She lists mountain golf, Gymkhana, climbing mountains and making Pad Thai in the backcountry as some of her favorite activities at camp. Ariella received a B.A. in English from Colorado College and is a certified secondary English educator,an ACCT Level 2 Ropes Course Technician, an ARC lifeguard and NREMT and WEMT. She lives in Florissant in the summer and in Green Mountain Falls during the school year so she can stay involved with the busy lives of her husband, Matt, and two teenage sons, Lairden and Karsten.