As we continue to remain unknown about the status of summer camp activities that will be permitted this year, many of your plans have been put on hold. While our registration system remains open, I cannot tell you for sure what Camp Hi-Ho will be like this season, but I would like to share all the updates I am able to provide at this point. Recently, I have been communicating via email to our families with campers who are already registered for the 2020 season. I would like to share some of these updates through this letter, so that past and future campers can also learn more about what is happening at Camp Hi-Ho at this time. I will share information about our finances and expenses, the impact of Covid-19 on our business, current updates to our facility, and our latest plans for this summer — including health and safety measures, and our registration and refund policies.
My intention is to be as transparent as possible in our communication regarding our financial expenses and our plans for this summer. I know that we are all in very different personal and financial situations during this time, and I want to be as sensitive as possible to everyone’s needs, while promoting the health and safety of our community, and to keep Camp Hi-Ho in business for years to come.
At this time, I am still waiting to see what will be allowed for us at Camp Hi-Ho 2020. I cannot give you the answer that I myself wish I knew about what camp will look like this year. While I am hoping to begin our season on time, I am also considering the best options for our customers and our business if that is not permitted or deemed best in the fight against the spread of the Corona virus. This means that I am earnestly planning for how to best respond financially and logistically, as I play out the various different scenarios we may face in the months ahead.
As a fellow parent, I want you to know that I understand the fear and concern some of you may have regarding your child’s summer plans that involve being around large groups of kids. And like all of you, I too, have loved ones who are among those considered part of the “at-risk” population, and I want to do all that I can to keep my parents, grandparents, and those who are most vulnerable safe by helping prevent the spread of Covid-19. Furthermore, as a small business owner, I also understand the financial uncertainty many of you are facing during this time. I am considering all of these factors as we move forward with the preparation for the summer of 2020.
As I write to you today, I am sitting beneath our arts & crafts pavilion, overlooking an empty lake, and a brand new bathroom building we broke ground on in September of last year. I hear the roosters crowing from our new hen house, that is filled with fresh eggs for campers to collect. I see sheep and goats who are soon to be new mothers any day now. I also see our dedicated grounds staff working outdoors and from a safe distance — cutting grass, sodding fields, feeding the rest of our farm animal friends while nurturing the sprouting vegetables, herbs, and wildflowers that will go into our butterfly garden next week. There are hundreds of frog eggs, filled with tadpoles, hiding inside the creek that runs through our tree forts. I smell the fresh blossoms and feel the crisp air of spring, as the beauty of this new season fills Camp Hi-Ho at every turn. This is usually the most exciting time because I know this place will soon be filled with your children, enjoying it once again. Today, I am heartbroken that the first school field trip of the season, scheduled for tomorrow, is postponed and our camp will be empty except for our year-round staff who are working as it is safely permitted, on continued improvements by repairing structures, cleaning and sanitizing spaces, and maintaining the grounds, in order to offer the best possible camp for your children to play and adventure and explore.
Finances, Expenses, and Updates
Camp Hi-Ho is a large operation with significant expenses. We are a small, for-profit business, meaning we depend on your registration for 100% of our revenue. We are not supported by a large organization to supplement our annual earnings. I say this to explain our financial situation and to be as transparent as possible. We use each camper’s deposit and registration money to improve and expand camp, to make it more fun, updated, and as safe as possible for your children.
The recently completed bathroom building was something my wife, Carson, and I have been saving for since we bought Camp Hi-Ho from my parents in 2014. We began dreaming of replacing our old trailer of bathroom stalls with an actual exterior structure that would be so much better for the thousands of little feet that walked through and used this facility all summer long. The new bathhouse has fourteen stalls, divided up between boys and girls, with outdoor showers and water fountains. In addition to this major renovation, we have begun to repair stalls in our old barn to offer updated spaces for our staff to work and our campers to enjoy. Last year we added a new nurse’s station and a much-needed commercial kitchen space inside some of these renovated barn stalls, and it tremendously improved the service we were able to provide to our campers. This year, we have again repaired another stall to serve as a welcoming check-in office, which will make early pick-ups safer, and any on-site interaction with parents and guardians more organized.
I am explaining all of this to you because I want you to understand that though the service of our camp sessions begins in June at the start of each new summer season, our expenses occur year-round. The money you spend November through May during registration is then spent on facility fees, equipment, staffing, and a multitude of other capital improvements to continue making Camp Hi-Ho the best it can be for the children who experience summer camp here year after year. It is my heart to never grow complacent in the service we offer, but to be a business that is always learning, evolving, and growing, so that your children may do the same when they come to experience this place.
Current plans for this Summer
As of today, April 22nd, the Governor has not made a specific decision on summer programs and/or social distancing protocol for the summer. As we wait, we are applying for the government funding we are qualified to receive. We have applied for the small business loan through the CARES act, and we will use this grant, along with registration deposits to keep Camp Hi-Ho alive. We are continuing to communicate regularly with the Shelby County Health Department and with our camp nurse to implement the safest measures possible for your children. We are also considering the Governor’s suggestion to formulate a written plan to submit to his office, detailing how we intend to follow CDC guidelines and make necessary changes in our methods of operations this summer — including sanitization, temperature checks for campers, enforced hand washing, etc. Until the Governor makes an announcement that would prevent us from doing so, we will continue every day to prepare to open camp on June 1st, and keep all nine sessions open this summer. We will update you via email and/or our website as soon as we have new information to share.
Registrations and Refund Options
The registration system is still opened at this time, and we are flexible with the week you choose/wiling to make adjustments as necessary when further information becomes available. I realize that we may not be permitted to begin our summer on time, and in that case, we will transfer campers to different sessions if we are allowed to operate at a later time, according to the week of your choice. Once you are registered, if you decide to cancel your child’s week of camp, or if we are not allowed to have camp this summer, you may choose from the following refund options:
- If you need your money back for your 2020 reservation, we will refund you everything you’ve paid, less the $50 non-refundable deposit fee per camper (not per session).
- If you would like to defer your 2020 tuition to next summer 2021, we will transfer you for no charge, and you will not incur any potential camp tuition increases or the registration fee for 2021. The money that you’ve paid so far will be transferred to 2021, and your remaining balance (if you have one) will be moved to May 1, 2021.
- If your child is already registered in our system for this summer, and you would like to move him/her to a later session this summer, when camp is most likely to take place, we can transfer you to any session for no charge. (Please note that session 7, July 20-24 is nearly full).
If you are in a particularly difficult financial situation at this time and/or you do not feel like these options are possible for your family, please contact us and we will work with you individually to meet your needs.
We are doing all that we can to honor your commitment to sending your children to our camp and to prevent the spread of Covid-19, while maintaining our business and continuing to pay our employees. We ask that you please be patient with us as we move forward in the days ahead when we will undoubtedly face more new circumstances. It is my heart to do what is right — to make the choices that will honor our customers, keep our community safe, and make it possible for us to continue to provide an outstanding summer camp service for your children.
I love your children. It is one of my greatest joys and privileges to have the opportunity to share Camp Hi-Ho with the kids and families in our community. We have seen so many lives changed at this place, and so many young people build confidence, character, and courage as they learn and experience new things, face fears, and build relationships. Camp Hi-Ho is a place that fosters joy, fun, and exploration. Our relationships with you, our Camp Hi-Ho families, are the most important, and we are here to work together with you throughout the duration of this process. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns. I can’t thank you enough for your patience, understanding, and support during this time.
Owner & Director
Blaine Lawrence (Owner & Director)
Allie Alford (Events Coordinator)
Lori Duncan (Office Administrator)
The Camp Hi-Ho Internship program was designed to enhance the camper experience through specialized programs and activities, led by motivated individuals. Using their communication, creative, and organizational skills, these individuals will have the unique opportunity to impact and engage with our campers each week. We hope that through this program, both the interns and the campers will leave their mark on Hi-Ho by learning from one another and by feeling more connected with the community and world around them.
Counselors [Ages 17+]
Being a counselor at Camp Hi-Ho is the best summer job you could ask for. While this is a dream job for many, please understand the amount of energy and responsibility that is needed to interact with kids for 35 hours every week. Being a counselor is fun, but in order to provide a safe and fun environment for our campers, our counselors must be responsible.
Please only apply for a counselor position if you are 17 years or older (by the time camp starts). You have the choice of being a counselor in the following areas: Lifeguard (current certification needed by the start of camp), sports, arts & crafts, pet barn, horses, fishing, fort, and archery. You can also apply if you need more leadership experience and would like to become a Head Counselor.
Our counselors not only work together during the day at camp, but we do many fun activities outside of camp like weekly staff dinners, angle ball and kick ball games at Seneca Park and camping trips. Being a part of the Camp Hi-Ho team is also a great way to meet lifelong friends.
Counselors in Training (CIT) [Ages: 15-16]
CITs are an invaluable part of the Camp Hi-Ho staff. They help run different activities at camp, while also gaining experience working with children. CITs are paid $250/week. This is a great program to allow this age group an opportunity to learn more about Camp and to get some on-site training to apply to be a counselor at Hi-Ho in the future.
Volunteers [Age: 14]
Volunteers are also an important part of the staff. They also help work different activities and tasks throughout the camp day. Volunteers are not paid, but they gain experience in working with our campers and learning about Hi-Ho from the ground up. This is also a great opportunity for those “campers” who are too old to go to camp, but are not yet old enough to become a counselor.