Camp Akita COVID-19 Updates
(Updated:  May 8, 2020)

It is with heavy hearts that we announce we cannot safely hold on-site Camp Akita 2020 sessions as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of our campers, staff, and families will always be our top priority. Camp Akita brings campers into close proximity to live, eat, and play together. We pass food family-style, sleep in bunk beds, play tag games, and sit shoulder-to-shoulder. These are the experiences that make Camp Akita special and sacred to many. Unfortunately, these activities are unsafe at this time.

This does NOT mean that Camp Akita is cancelled. Camp Akita 2020 will be historic; different than any summer before! Our counselors and staff will host summer-long virtual and (hopefully) in-person programming that campers and LIFE Guards can opt into. We are lovingly and excitedly calling this at-home experience Sweet Home Camp Akita. Please read on for more details.

ABOUT OUR DECISION

Why this decision?
Over the past two months, Camp Akita staff paid close attention to local and national protocols regarding health and safety. Gov. DeWine’s “Stay Safe Ohio” order prohibits “all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household” (section 4). The current order states that “residential and day camps shall be prohibited” (section 13, paragraph g). If we were to continue to function as a residential or day camp, we would put our campers and families at risk, and possibly lose our ability to open in the future.

Since children aren’t a “high risk” group, why not remain open?
Statistics show that young people are at lower risk of having serious complications associated with COVID-19, and fatalities among young people are lower than older age groups. For this we are grateful; however, these numbers do not mean that young people are immune to or unaffected by COVID-19. Young people can contract, become seriously ill, and die of COVID-19, and they can also spread the virus to vulnerable family members. Find resources on physical and mental health during the pandemic through Nationwide Children’s Hospital (scroll down to “Resources for Families”).

What are other camps doing?
We have leaned on our network of national camp leaders through the American Camp Association. Many other camps of our size and nature are making similar decisions to call off all on-site camp sessions. We are not alone in making this decision, but we are fortunate to have the capability to continue our programming in new and innovative ways. Learn about Sweet Home Camp Akita.

Why not delay sessions?
The current “Stay Safe Ohio” order extends through May 29, 2020. On-site Summer Staff Training was scheduled to begin before that date (May 22), and Summer Camp Session 1 was scheduled to arrive the day after (May 30). We do not foresee a scenario in which camps would go from prohibited to operating at full capacity in the days following the current “Stay Safe Ohio” order. In other words, we anticipate a slow and intentional shift from stay-at-home orders to safe gatherings.

We don’t know what the future holds, or when large groups will safely be able to gather. That uncertainty prevents us from moving forward with our on-site sessions as planned. Additionally, were we to offer sessions at reduced capacity later in the summer, we would be forced to choose which campers can attend Camp Akita, and which cannot. We cannot imagine a fair or faithful way to make such a choice that aligns with our core values of compassion, acceptance, community, and authenticity. 

Does this decision include all Camp Akita programs?
Yes. All previously scheduled on-site Summer Camp Sessions 1-12, LIFE Guard A-F, Backcountry B1-B7, 1,2,3…Akita!, and Family Camp are called off. We are excited to provide elements of all these experiences in our Sweet Home Camp Akita alternative programming.

Once we return to Camp Akita, how will health and safety protocols change?
For many years, Camp Akita has followed American Camp Association-Accredited policies and procedures designed to protect the health and safety of our campers and staff. We will update our policies to reflect new precautions and recommendations specific to summer camps from the American Camp Association and the Ohio Department of Health regarding the pandemic.


CAMP FEES & DONATIONS

How and when will families receive refunds?
Each family will receive a personalized email on Monday, May 11 that will begin your refund process. The email will ask you to verify your credit card information and review your balance paid. You will have the option to receive a full refund. You will also have the option to donate all or part of your balance paid to support Camp Akita staff, facilities, and campers. For security purposes, our system does not allow us to issue refunds to all registered families at once. Your refund will be processed by Sunday, May 31.

How will Camp Akita weather this storm financially?
We are lucky to have some financial reserves, but those reserves are not endless. It is always a good time to donate to Camp Akita. Please consider donating all or part of your refund to Camp Akita, or making a special gift in honor of your favorite camper or counselor. Gifts will help thank our counselors (see below), maintain and improve our facilities, and care for our year-round staff. Additionally, resources may be needed for our campers and their families. We will likely need funds to assist those who have been financially affected by this pandemic. To make a donation to Camp Akita, please visit our Giving Page.


ABOUT SUMMER STAFF

What will happen to the counselors and staff?
All 43 college-age counselors and seasonal leadership staff will receive a stipend for their willingness to work on-site at Camp Akita 2020. To give toward that stipend or donate in your favorite counselor’s name, please visit our Giving Page.

We hope to employ as many of these committed counselors and staff as possible to work for our Sweet Home Camp Akita alternative summer programming; however, the number of staff required will depend on the number of campers who register.

Can I reach out to counselors with employment opportunities?
In the event we are unable to employ all 43 Summer Staff members, we would like to help them find other employment opportunities. Our counselors and staff have completed a thorough application process, including interviews and letters of recommendation. If you have work opportunities to share with them, please let us know. We would happily pass your name along to those interested in providing childcare or other work for your family or business.


SWEET HOME CAMP AKITA

While we are heartbroken Camp Akita will not look like the past 70 summers, we are excited to offer virtual programming, led by our counselors and staff, that will help keep the Akita Spirit alive all summer long. We will begin all programming online while hoping to be able to offer in-person experiences as the summer goes on, as health and safety protocols allow.

The most important part of Camp Akita is the genuine relationships fostered between campers and self, others, God, and nature. We are excited to create an at-home experience that will grow those relationships. Through digital platforms and video conferencing, campers will…

  • Gather with others in their age group. We will offer programming for families with young children through graduated high school seniors.
  • Receive Cabin and Impact Group assignments. Campers will get to know fellow campers and counselors in small-group discussions and activities.
  • Participate in Free Time options led by counselors, including the Craft Cabin, Nature Cabin, Adventure, and more.
  • Complete meaningful and fun challenges, like photo and costume contests.
  • Sing together, share jokes, and hear inspiring messages at Tiki Time.
  • Serve others through our LIFE Guard program, which will help behind the scenes and in the community.
  • Watch videos produced just for Akita campers, follow the summer-long storyline of “Ohio Jones: Raiders of the Lost Summer,” and solve silly mysteries as a full group!
  • Receive a t-shirt, yard sign, and other fun Akita gear to commemorate this historic summer!

For the very first time, campers can participate in a summer-long Camp Akita experience. Find out more, express interest, and share your ideas on our Sweet Home Camp Akita page.


CONTACT US

You will receive a personalized email regarding your payment and refund information on Monday, May 11. If you have questions in the meantime, please contact our Columbus offices.

Camp Akita has served as a beacon of hope for many in the midst of this difficult time. Change and loss can cause anxiety and grief. If you are looking for emotional or spiritual support, please contact Rev. Sarah Kientz, Minister to Camp Akita.


THANK YOU

After 70 summers of Camp Akita, we never imagined the need to call off all on-site sessions. This is a difficult time for all who call Camp Akita home.

More than anything, we want to thank you for trusting us to care for you, the Akita Campers, with compassion and acceptance. You make Akita special and sacred. We will miss you this summer and can’t wait to see you soon!

One day, we will turn down the gravel road again and Camp Akita will be there, waiting to welcome us home. Until then, we look forward to the new adventure that awaits: one in which we might, at last, find that the Akita Spirit really is everywhere. Let’s find it together. If there is a community that can meet the challenges before us with compassion, laughter, authenticity, and hope, it is the Akita Family. Thank you for being an important member of it.

With faith, hope, and the Akita Spirit,
The Camp Akita Team

Rev. Sarah Kientz, Minister to Camp Akita
Bobbi Mueller, Director of Camp Akita Operations
Amy Gray, Camp Akita Administrative Coordinator
Jimmy Long, Camp Akita Program Director
Danita Young, Camp Akita Site and Facilities Director
Susan Langner, Minister to Youth, First Community
Paul Anderson, Executive Director of Operations and Director of First Community Foundation