Chickami 2020 | West Suburban YMCA Newton, MA | West Suburban YMCA

Ensuring a safe and healthy summer

Camp Chickami 2020

West Suburban YMCA Camping Services 
Guide for a Safe Summer in 2020

The West Suburban YMCA is excited to offer kids a fun, safe, and engaging day camp experience! We believe that kids need camp more than ever before this summer. After months of extra screen time, limited social opportunities, and more than enough family bonding, your child is ready to play.  It’s time for kids to disconnect from virtual learning and connect with each other!

While camp will look and feel a bit different, we are committed to ensuring that our staff will create the same memorable experience for campers this summer. We are following all CDC, state, and local guidelines for operating a safe and healthy summer camp. Below are some of the changes and plans we have made in order to maximize the safety of everyone involved with camp.

Click a topic below to jump to that section:

Preparing for Camp: Things to Know Before Attending  |  Camp Structure & Daily Schedule  |  Special Events & Programs  |  Health & Safety Standards  |  Pricing & Financial Aid  | Cancellations  |  Your Role

Preparing for Camp

No Bus Transportation: Unfortunately, we will not have bus service for Camp Chickami this summer. This was not an easy decision, but we believe it was necessary for keeping our campers and staff safe and healthy. Campers will need to be dropped off and picked up at camp by an authorized adult.

Extending Regular Camp Operating Hours and Eliminating AM/PM Extended Care: Given that the Massachusetts Recreational Camp Guidelines state that campers may not mix between cohorts, we will be cancelling morning and afternoon extended care. We are, however, extending our regular day operating hours. Camp will open at 8:00 AM and close at 4:30 PM.

Staggered Drop Off Times: This summer, drop off at camp will be staggered in order to reduce traffic and the number of people on camp at any given time. You will need to select your drop off time each week, and you will be required to drop your camper(s) off at that time each day that week. The drop off window will be from 8:00AM to 9:00AM.

Staggered Pick-up Times: As with drop off times, pick up times will also be staggered this summer. The pick-up window will be from 3:30PM to 4:30PM. You will need to select a pick-up time that you are able to commit to each week that you camper is at camp. At pick up, you will need to sign your camper(s) out by showing a photo ID or using your secure PIN Number.

Pre-camp Screening: To help ensure the safety of our campers and staff, please take your camper’s temperature daily before sending them to camp. If their temperature is 100°F or greater, please keep them home from camp until their temperature is under 100°F for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication. Additionally, please monitor your camper for any symptoms of COVID-19, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. If your camper is exhibiting any of these symptoms, please refrain from sending them to camp until the symptoms have subsided for 24 hours.

Daily Screenings: Every day you will be asked to complete and sign a questionnaire regarding your camper’s health and possible exposure to COVID-19. We ask that you please bring your own writing utensil (ideally a pen) in order to do so.

Carpooling: Although not encouraged, we will accept campers who arrive to camp via a carpool. Please note, a health screen of each camper will occur at drop off. The adult with whom the camper arrived must be able to drive the camper home should the camper(s) show signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at drop off.

Campers Exhibiting Symptoms at Camp: If a camper (or staff member) begins to exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, we will call a parent/guardian/emergency contact to come pick them up. They will need to be picked up as soon as possible and will be kept in our isolation space until they are. Again, we request your commitment and diligence in making our camp the safest environment possible for our campers and staff and their families.

Visitors: Non-essential visitors (including parents/guardians/other authorized pick-up persons) will not be permitted on campgrounds, except in the parking lot, during camp hours. If you need to pick up your camper early from camp, please send an email to or to alert us of: 1. The camper(s) being picked up 2. Which authorized pick up adult will be picking them up and 3. Approximately what time they will be picked up. When you (or the authorized pick up person, if not you) arrive at camp, please call the main camp office at 508-358-7000 to alert the camp leadership of your arrival. Your camper will then be transported up to the parking lot where you will need to present identification and sign them out.

Camp Structure & Daily Schedule

Camper Groups: All groups will be mixed gender. This includes campers and staff. Campers will be grouped with campers in their same age/grade cohort, and all group sizes will be 10 campers with 2 staff.

Assembly: Traditionally, we have all-camp assemblies every morning and afternoon at Chickami. This summer, assemblies will occur within groups, running like a mini morning assembly for campers and their staff every day. We will do everything we can to ensure that these group assemblies look as similar as possible to the all-camp assemblies of which so many campers and staff have grown so fond.

Activities: Programming will look different than it has in the past. Many of our favorite camp games will not be played this summer. These includes some team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.), Gaga ball, card games, Knok Hockey, and 4-/9-square. We will, however, play kick ball, have relay races, and other physical activities that allow for social distancing. Our challenge course will not be available this summer. Other activities will use modifications to ensure camper and staff safety. For example, our Arts and Crafts programming will include, whenever possible, individual materials (markers, crayons, pencils, etc.) for each camper. Finally, campers will stay with their group cohort for the entirety of the camp day and will not mix with any other groups during the day, meaning there will be no afternoon elective periods this summer.

Swimming: We will not be offering swim lessons this summer at Chickami. Instead, all swimming will be done as free swim. We will still use the Test, Mark, Protect system to ensure the safety of all of our campers and staff in the water. Because we will have fewer campers in the pool at one time, camper groups will now have swim 2-3 times per week, rather than every day. Campers will be swim tested on the first day that their group is scheduled for swim, and they will be marked with a colored necklace/bracelet depending on their swim level. Please note: campers who are designated as “non-swimmers” based on their swimming assessment will need to wear a life jacket in order to swim.

Water Fountains: This summer, water fountains will be used only to fill water bottles. Please ensure that your camper comes to camp with their water bottle everyday so that they can stay hydrated.

Inclement Weather Days: Our goal is to spend as much time outdoors as possible this summer. Obviously, this will not be possible on days with inclement weather. We are still working to determine the best and safest procedures for these days as we await further guidance from our local Board of Health. What we know at this time is that we will ask that any families who are able to do so to keep their camper(s) home on inclement weather days. We are exploring different options for programming on these days and will provide more information once additional guidance has been provided to us.

Special Events & Programs

Family Nights: Unfortunately, all Family Nights will be cancelled for the summer of 2020. We do not believe it is in the best interest of our campers and staff and their families to have large gatherings of that size on camp. We will hope to return to having Family Nights in Summer 2021.

Overnights/Sleep Unders: All overnights and sleep unders will be cancelled for the summer of 2020. We do not feel that we could operate and program the events in a way that would keep everyone appropriately distanced. We hope to run overnights and sleep unders again in 2021.

LIT Program: The LIT program at will not be running this summer. 15-year-old campers who were scheduled to attend camp as LITs will be able to attend as campers, joining with 14-year-olds to form the oldest camper group at Chickami.

Health & Safety is Our Priority

Social Distancing: As much as is possible at camp, we will be asking our campers and staff to remain 6 feet apart from others. If necessary, staff will move closer than the 6-foot distance in order to address camper needs.

Face Coverings: Staff will be required to wear face coverings any time they are indoors and any time maintaining 6 feet of distance between them and another person is not possible. We may ask the same of campers. We believe that this is the best way to keep our campers and staff and their families safe. Campers and staff will not be required to wear face coverings during outdoor activities, unless 6 feet of distance between them and others cannot be maintained. We will be providing “Buff” face coverings to all campers and staff, though if you’d prefer to send face coverings from home, you are welcome to do so.

Increased Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures: We will be vastly increasing our cleaning and sanitizing procedures at camp this summer. All activity areas and equipment will be cleaned between uses with the help of our group counselors and cleaning staff. Whenever possible, we will have individual equipment for campers that is only theirs to reduce the possibility of spreading germs.

Increased Handwashing and Sanitizing Stations: We have added 15 new hand sanitizing stations around camp. We will also be renting additional handwashing stations. This is to promote a culture of healthy hand hygiene at camp this summer. Campers and staff will be required to wash or sanitize their hands between activities, and there will be mandatory hand washing breaks before and after lunch. Staff will educate campers and reiterate to them frequently the importance of hand hygiene and will model this for campers.

An Important Note Regarding Pricing

We have raised the price of tuition for camp by 20% for the summer of 2020. This increase will help defray the cost of implementing the new safety procedures required under the Massachusetts’ guidelines. These added costs to safely operate include Personal Protective Equipment (face coverings, gloves, goggles/face shields) for staff and campers, individual supplies for campers (art supplies, etc.), additional sanitizing and cleaning supplies (wipes, sanitizing spray, electrostatic sanitizer sprayers), additional facilities (bathrooms, hand washing stations, and tents), and additional staff (for cleaning and to meet the smaller state imposed ratios).

Financial Aid is Available
Part of our mission as a YMCA camp is to provide youth development opportunities for all. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new challenges and difficulties for families, and reliable and safe summer care and programming is more important than ever before. Financial aid is available for those in need, and we will work with you to determine the best option for you and your family. Please find the financial aid application here. Once you complete the application please email it to

Updated Chickami 2020 Session Rates
WSYMCA Family Member $423.60
WSYMCA Youth Member $468.00
Non-Member $484.80

Rates listed are for one-week camp sessions, Monday-Friday.


Camper slots will be competitive this summer. If you know that you will not be sending your camper(s) to camp this summer, whether you are registered or wait listed, and you have not already notified us, please do so as soon as possible. If you would like to cancel, please contact stating your intention and letting us know your campers’ names, and we will take care of the cancellation and refund for you.

Your Role

Please help keep our camp safe by sharing the changes in camp with your campers prior to their arrival and explaining the reasons for the changes. Please preview and discuss with them the importance of activity modifications, handwashing and sanitizing, and face coverings. We believe that a consistent message between home and camp will help to make your camper’s experience this summer the best it can be.

Donate Today to Save Summer

Now, more than ever, we rely on your charitable gift of any size to make camp safe and accessible to all kids and families, regardless of their ability to pay.