Dear Beloved Camp Winnarainbow Community,
For 45 years we have come together as community, singing together, creating together, learning from each other – all while having BIG FUN. On March 19th, 2020, when the Bay Area Shelter In Place Order was issued, we sprung into action. We have been determined to provide Winnarainbow for our youth and community in any way possible. Our staff has worked tirelessly – with guidance from a top Epidemiologist and other medical professionals, with Field Manuals from the American Camp Association, with the know how from years of experience.
On May 27th we met with our Board and in reviewing the Mendocino County Shelter in Place Orders that are currently in place we determined that we will not be able to open this summer. They state clearly that they do not want people traveling between Counties at this time. Of course, this could change in a week! But we are out of time.
It takes 6 months to prepare for each summer. We were well on our way when this pandemic hit in March. We had to put the process on hold as we tried to figure out how we could safely come together. Information changed almost daily. Our top, #1 priority was to open a healthy environment for your kids. We know that beyond physical safety (which is paramount) there is also the mental, social, emotional and relational health of our youth and communities to be thinking about. All of this is what Winnarainbow does! Making the decision to close for this summer has been very hard to come to. There are so many factors that have weighed into this decision – the top two being your camper’s safety and if the State and County regulations would even allow us to open. We were working diligently to develop safety protocols to address how Camp could deal with COVID-19 but in the end the State and County have not said we are able to open.
With the decision to not hold Resident Camp we asked, now what can we do to put our good where it does the most? Here are the 4 things we’re working on right now:
- Working with all of you to determine what you want to do with your tuition monies (please fill out the Winnarainbow Cancellation Form to help us process this)
- Researching the possibility of running a 3 to 6 week Bay Area Day Camp (stay tuned for news of that!)
- Planning Virtual events for this summer for all of us to keep in touch and to keep creating together.
- Looking at how we can bridge the gap from 2020 to 2021 as an independent non-profit.
This is not an easy message to write. I personally have been working at Winnarainbow for 33 years. My kids have been raised here. I know the importance of being out in the woods, in the creek, around a table with old and new friends, working out differences and learning new skills. Especially right now. This decision was not made lightly at all. From all of us to you and your family, we are so sad.
We will not be collecting tuition on June 1st so please don’t worry about that. Please fill out the Winnarainbow Cancellation Form to help us process what you would like to do with the tuition that you have paid. If this was going to be your camper’s first time at Camp, we are so sorry! For all of you who are returning families, we are so sorry!
And this is by no means the end! We might be together at Day Camp. We can see each other Virtually this summer. And we’ll be together in 2021!
In closing I will say that as our community, if you have a lead on a facility in the Bay Area where we can host Day Camp, please contact me right away! We will continue to be transparent about the state of Camp and might reach out to see if you are in a position to help us bridge this gap. We also want to know if there’s anything we can do to support you and your youth this summer. Our Founder Jahanara has taught us that when we come together as community, we all get out way more than we each individually put in. That has truly been our experience these last 45 years with all of the kids and staff and families who make up Winnarainbow.
Yatiel Owens, MSW, mother, daughter, partner, community member, a person who Stands in Response Ability