We have officially sprung forward! While it’s still chilly in VT, summer is getting closer!

As I reflect on the summer ahead at F&W, I cannot help but reflect on how vital the F&W community has been over the last year as a source of support for each other, our camps, and our team.

Because of your support and generosity, we were able to take care of our staff, ensure the camps, our land, and our farm was maintained, share our farm produce with others, and prepare for a new and different 2021. In all, our community rallied to raise $750,000, including over $300,000 for our Recovery Fund. As a result of our community’s support last year, we have a robust Campership Fund this year, and we will begin making awards later this month!

As I mentioned in my last email, our priority for this summer is to keep our campers and staff healthy and safe and ensure that our campers have a fantastic, some would say epic, experience! We are navigating the changing landscape of Vermont state, CDC, and American Camp Association guidance. We are so grateful that so many families are eager to have their children with us this summer, and we ask for everyone’s understanding and patience as we determine our camps’ COVID-related policies and practices.

As we navigate this challenging landscape and new and emerging guidance, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Family Camp for the summer of 2021. The nature of our facilities and our Family Camp program doesn’t square with what the state expects of lodging operators, which is how the state classifies Family Camp. Family Camp will return for the summer of 2022, and we are hoping we can host family-friendly events in the fall.

While the summer of 2021 will be different, I also imagine it will be an important one for our campers and staff–a chance for many to return and reconnect and for others to experience what we do for the first time. I can imagine our campers–years from now–reminiscing about their summer. I doubt they will focus on wearing masks and handwashing as much as they will remember all the magic moments they had and shared.

As we look ahead to a successful, safe, and fun summer, we can see the summit, but we are still climbing. I am incredibly confident in our team and our ability to persevere, and we continue to need your support!

To keep camp healthy and safe for our campers and staff, our COVID-related expenses will be in the range of $260,000, with testing costs accounting for the lion’s share. These extra expenses and the need to operate our camps at a lower capacity to ensure social distancing and compliance with the current state guidelines for overnight camps translate to a gap of nearly $1 million for 2021 that we are working very hard to address.

We continue to receive gifts to the Recovery Fund, which will help close this gap. Our upcoming Annual Fund Appeal will ask every member of the F&W community to consider donating to the Recovery Fund. If you already know that you would like to donate to the Recovery Fund, you don’t have to wait for the Spring Appeal; donate now through this link!

In addition to Recovery Fund donations, we are pursuing grants and federal and state economic recovery opportunities. We are grateful to those of you who have shared ideas about additional funding sources, and if you have any recommendations for foundations or other sources of funding to help F&W close our COVID gap for 2021, please let me know!

Thank you again for your patience, your support, and your partnership as we work together to keep the Farm & Wilderness experience available to our young people.

With deep appreciation!

Frances McLaughlin, Executive Director

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