How we’re adapting our program due to COVID-19 this summer

June 16th, 2020

Dear Parents and BR Girls, 

Last Friday we received the residential summer camp guidance from the state of Michigan. We had anticipated many of the recommendations and have spent many hours reading through the different recommendations and thinking through how we can adapt our program. Please take a few minutes to read through the changes to our program with your camper to ensure you want to proceed with your reservation. This summer will be different and we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the changes.

At this time we are moving forward with the start date of July 5th with changes to our program outlined in this email. Our plan assumes that Michigan will be in Phase 5 of the MI safe start plan by July 5th. If at any point in the summer we feel that we are unable to run a safe program we will cancel the remainder of the season. If the restrictions get looser or lifted we will adapt our program. This will be a work in progress. We hope that we learn something new and can make the most of the opportunity to develop new activities. 

We will be practicing the following policies with our staff. First, we will train and practice during counselor orientation week. Then, we will have a full camp run through during Junior Staff orientation to make sure we can put them into practice consistently and maintain programming that looks and feels like what you have come to expect from BR.


  • We have limited capacity at camp to allow for more space in the cabins. We are planning for 8 campers in a cabin compared to the usual 10 -12.  
  • We will not be picking up campers from the airport. This is due to the pre-screening and need to have campers picked up within 24 hours if they have a fever.
  • Out of state campers will need to arrive in the local area (100 miles) 72 hours before arrival at camp. 
  • At this time we will only be accepting campers from the USA or Canada.

Camper Drop Off:  

  • On incoming days we will be limiting contact between parents, staff, and other campers. We have been asked to “stagger arrival and drop off times and plan to limit direct contact with parents to the extent possible.” Check-in times will be assigned in advance by cabin. We will email you a sign to put in your windshield with your campers name, cabin, and assigned check-in time. We will do arrival health screenings and check-in from the car via drive-thru style. Parents will be able to exit the car to unload luggage and hug your camper goodbye but will not be allowed in the bunkhouses or to walk around camp. Please do not arrive more than a few minutes early. We will have a small holding area for cars that arrive before their scheduled check-in time. Bunks will be pre-assigned or campers will choose a popsicle stick with a bunk number. There will not be any need for campers to arrive early. If you need a bottom bunk for a specific reason please call or email. 

Camper Pick-up: 

  • Horseshows: We will not be having horse shows this summer because we have been asked to limit visitors on camp. We are working on a plan to video and share some riding clips with families. 
  • Pick-up days: We are going to change the end date of our sessions to Fridays. 
  • Campers will be picked up in a way that allows families to minimize contact with our staff and other campers. Camper pick-up will be on Fridays after lunch starting at 1 pm and will be scheduled in shifts. We are making this change for several reasons. It will allow us to do a deep clean between groups and will also minimize our staff’s time away from camp during a session.  Staff usually get 24 hours off per week during a session but will now take their time off between sessions to minimize their time away from camp during a session. Staff will still have some nights off during a session but we are offering more options on camp so they are encouraged to stay on property. If they do leave camp they will practice social distancing and wear a mask when they are indoors or in close proximity to others. 
  • Stayovers: Campers will not be able to stay over in between sessions due to our staff taking their time off between sessions and the cabins getting a deep clean. If your camper is staying for more than one session she must be picked up between sessions. 

Dining Hall Procedures: 

  • The Dining Hall will be serving meals in two shifts, similar to how we have eaten breakfast in the past. 
  • We will be using decals on the benches to help campers spread out at the tables during meals. 
  • We may also offer dining tables outside or deliver meals to alternate locations. 
  • We will only be using one entrance (poolside) to the dining hall, other doors will be exit only. 
  • All persons entering will be required to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer. We are working to install additional handwashing stations at this entrance. 
  • Further measures will be in place to limit the touching of trays, water pitchers, condiments etc. Cleaning and sanitizing procedures will also be increased.  

Operating in Small Groups: 

  • Our bunkhouses, which we call cities, are divided in half with 2 cabins and 1 bathroom per half. Each half of the city will operate as a pod or family here at camp. We will call those family groups “Herds”! 
  • If at some point in the summer, when we feel it is safe, we may be able to make those family groups/herds larger.
  • Campers will eat, ride, and do activities within their herd. Family groups/herds will social distance with other family groups/herds at camp. 

Cabin Requests: 

  • Campers will be grouped by age, grade, and cabin request. This will remain the same as it has been in the past. We will be honoring mutual requests only. 
  • You can log in to the registration portal and review your cabin requests by logging in to the registration portal. Click on “View Details” under View My Registration for 2020. Then under forms, you can select “Download Printable Registration Confirmation.” 


  • Afternoon Activities will be scheduled for family groups/herds. This will be different than our usual free time. We plan to use zones with 2 – 3 activity options per zone. There will not be traditional afternoon free time since groups cannot mix. We hope to offer as much freedom in these zones as possible. 
  • Night Activities will be within the family groups/herds. If we can combine groups it will only be with activities where social distancing can be maintained. 


  • Three different areas will be set up. One will be for medication distribution, one will be for campers who are not feeling well but do not have a fever, and one will be a quarantine area for campers who have a fever and are waiting to be picked up. 
  • Our camp doctor has asked that we send home any camper who has a temperature at or above 100.4 regardless of the length of time they have had a fever and even if it is their only symptom. Campers will have to get tested for COVID-19 to return to camp. If the test is negative, they may return to camp with a doctor’s note, and when they have been fever-free with no medication for 72 hours. 
  • It has been suggested by AAP that “families should discuss with their pediatrician whether a camp is appropriate for their children and make sure children are up to date on vaccines before they attend.”  Campers who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should consult with their physician before attending camp this summer. 

Camper and Staff Health Screenings:

  • Prescreening:
    • COVID19 symptom monitoring and temperature log for 7 days.  We ask that campers limit their exposure to others by self quarantining or be very cautious while social distancing for 72 hours before arrival. 
  • Arrival Screening:
    • Campers will have their temperature checked upon arrival. Any camper with a temperature over 100.4 will not be allowed to check into camp.
    • We will ask both the parents and the camper about COVID symptoms.
    • We will also do the regular medication and visual wellness check of each camper
  • On-Going Screenings
    • We will perform temperature checks each morning and at bedtime each evening 

Masks and Face Coverings:

  • We are asking that campers bring a face covering in the event they are needed if there were to be an outbreak at camp.  However, we do not intend to require campers to wear a face-covering here at camp. Any camper or staff person who would like to wear a face-covering may do so. If your camper wants to wear a face-covering or mask please ensure that she knows how to properly remove the mask and how to store it. 

Riding Group Placement:

  • Campers will be placed in riding groups within their family group/herd. Therefore, we may have to combine a few levels within one group. We will be working with smaller groups so we are better able to individualize instruction. We will also be able to mix groups once they are on horseback since they can easily social distance while riding. 

2020 COVID Refunds  & Cancellation Policy:

  • Tuition is due three weeks before your session start date
  • All deposits and tuition are fully refundable until three weeks before your session’s start date. 
  • 50% deposits and tuition are fully refundable and 100% can be rolled over to 2021 until two weeks before your session’s start date. 
  • Within 1 week of your session start date tuition and deposits are non-refundable. 
  • Cancellation due to injury/illness (with a physician’s note) or exposure to COVID-19 or if you have COVID-19 symptoms before camp can be rolled over to another session for the current season or the next year.

Due 3 Weeks Before Session Start: 

  1. Final Tuition payments are due three weeks before the session’s start date. We will start processing any scheduled payments that were pending this Thursday, June 18th, 2020. These payments will show on the attached invoice as status “pending”. 
  2. A current Camper Physicals, found here Camper Forms must be on file and completed within a year of the camper attending camp; (Telemedicine appointments are an easy, acceptable option).
  3. The Camper Health History Form is available online in the registration portal. You will need medical history and vaccination records to complete this form. It is mandatory. 

Link to the Registration Portal to make payments, complete forms, and upload your physical.

If you need to cancel, we understand and appreciate your patience during this time. Please use this  Session Cancellation Form

Attached is your invoice for the 2020 season and a copy of your original form submissions. Please review these documents carefully to ensure we have your camper registered for the correct session. You can also review your cabin mate requests and rider placement form. We have made MANY session changes over the last few days so please let us know if you see any errors and we will happily investigate. 

Please stay tuned to email updates from BR regarding your reservation. In the past we have sent you a packet of camper forms and a parent handbook but because the situation is continually shifting we will only be sending documents and updates digitally this year. 

Good Riding Always, 

Katy Scott & Torie Stepaniak

Black River Farm and Ranch