Because COVID has come back with a vengeance, we have made the hard choice to cancel both our Labor Day mother-daughter retreat and the Alumnae Reunion the following weekend.
After making it through two summer seasons without a single COVID case, we don’t want to press our luck. We would rather play it safe than risk spreading the disease to children and the unvaccinated among our numbers.
We are SO OVER IT, but anyone in our medical communities can tell us that we are not through with it.
One of these days, life will be back to the Old Normal, and we relish that thought!
COVID POLICY for SUMMER 2021
All staff members are urged to be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to arrival at camp. If staff are unable to obtain only one of a two-series vaccine, camp will strive to aid staff in receiving second dose.
This summer, to be on the safe side, we will still be functioning in Pods like last summer. When campers and staff are within their Pod (age division), they will not be required to wear their mask. The only times we anticipate that campers and staff will need to wear a mask are as we enter the dining hall, sing indoors, or otherwise interact closely with those outside of their Pod. So masking should be very minimal!
Regular hand washing and other good hygiene practices will be encouraged for everyone.
We will monitor everyone daily for symptoms. Should anyone exhibit symptoms, they will be isolated until the cause of their symptoms can be determined or whenever appropriate after symptoms disappear, per the judgment of our medical staff.
We expect to have a healthy camp again this year.
3/11/2021 To mask or unmask?
Our Governor has famously allowed us to use our own judgement. Oh the joys of freedom! We are left to discern for ourselves all the protocols to follow.
After much discussion in house, we have decided to keep an eye on Texas COVID rates right after Spring Break. If being unmasked in Texas has negative consequences, we will have our answer. If a healthy trend remains, that too can school us.
Please stand by. 🙂 A decision should be forthcoming in mid-April.
2/25/2021 The spring outlook
What will 2021 look like? One thing is for sure: we are having two four-week sessions, and four two-week sessions! We know a whole lot more about the Coronavirus than we did last spring, and about how it impacts camp. So… will 2021 look more like the Old Normal, or the New Normal? It’s too soon to know exactly, but probably a little of both.
While most adults are expected to be vaccinated by the end of summer, there isn’t yet a child-tested vaccine. Camps are lobbying for counselors to be made eligible to receive the vaccine, which will help us, and now there are many more ways of getting tested. In about a month, our Governor should be updating the disaster declaration that mandates our operations, so it will all be based on that. Fingers crossed for something closer to Old Normal!
Opening and Closing will for sure resemble last summer: campers may opt to arrive on our charter bus (full term and Split A Terms only), or camp families can drive in and drop off. As we did last summer, we will allow families to sign up for a time slot that works for them. Likewise, Closing will see the drive in and pick up format that we used last summer. I personally look forward to the future time when we can enjoy a more leisurely visit!
Open House is on the calendar for Saturday, March 20, BUT in order to facilitate safe visits, we invite people to schedule times with us to tour camp privately. While we try to be as flexible as possible, we are committed to making ourselves available every weekend in March. We are just a phone call away, (830-238-4650), or send us an email.
Spring Triple S Mother-Daughter Retreat is scheduled for the weekend of April 29 – May 2. Although Camp Stewart IS planning to host the Father-son weekend at that time, we are feeling somewhat pessimistic about being able to safely host that. But… the Labor Day Triple S Mother-Daughter Retreat looks to be a definite go, Sept. 3 – 6.
Adult former campers and counselors are probably wondering about the Reunion set for the weekend after Labor Day (Sept. 10-12), and we feel good about getting to go through with that.
That should catch us up! There will be more details forthcoming as time unfolds, but feel free to give us a call with any questions.
9/10/20 2021 forecast (pending pandemic!)
Our hope is to conduct events this coming spring and summer per the “old normal” date structure, with in-person Open House on March 20, 2021, Triple S mother-daughter retreat April 29 – May 2, 2021, and then come summer, two four-week sessions (each with two-week options overlaid). Of course we may have to alter course, but for the moment, these are the plans we are acting on!
Sunday, June 6-Saturday, July 3 – Full four-week Term ($5,225*)
Sunday, June 6-Saturday June 19 – 1A Split two-week Term** ($2,975*)
Sunday, June 20-Saturday, July 3 – 1B Split two-week Term** ($2,975*)
*Discounts may apply for sisters and early payment
**Priority will be given to Full Term campers; if space available Split Term campers may extend their stay
Saturday, July 10 – Friday, Aug. 6 – Full four-week Term ($5,225*)
Saturday, July 10 – Friday, July 23 – 2A Split two-week Term** ($2,975*)
Saturday, July 24 – Friday, Aug. 6 – 2B Split two-week Term** ($2,975*)
*Discounts may apply for sisters and early payment
**Priority will be given to Full Term campers; if space available Split Term campers may extend their stay
8/4/20 Fall events cancelled
We have made the difficult decision to cancel all retreats for this fall, including the Triple S mother-daughter retreat. We sent out a survey and found quite a bit of interest, but determined that in the wake of the pandemic, we just won’t be able to pull off the caliber of retreat that we would want to, and still insure people’s safety. One of these days!…
8/3/20 Farewell to a safe summer!
Summer 2020 has come to a healthy and COVID free close! The girls were carefree, active and outdoors, among friends and away from the blue light of the virtual world. Camp families report their girls came home “extremely happy, relaxed, love-filled and confident,” telling us that camp was what their emotional and mental health needed.
In addition to our creative and diligent year-round staff who refashioned every aspect of how camp would operate, we owe deep thanks to:
- Our counselors and staff who cleaned, masked up, sanitized while keeping a smile on their faces,
- Our camper families who trusted us with their treasured children, and who actually adhered to protocols during pre-camp to insure that we could keep each other safe during the pandemic.
In the timeline of our lives, the Covid Summer of 2020 has definitely earned a pushpin!
To Our Wonderful Camp Families-
Thank you to those who have sent so much positive feedback!
We know you have a thousand questions–just like we do! Be patient!
The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, issued guidelines for camps in his executive orders late Monday. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the information on these links (guidelines for camp families and guidelines for camps). One is a three-page document for families and the other a six-page one for camps. They contain the parameters we are working with. These are minimum guidelines. As an accredited ACA camp, we will do our best to follow their “best practices” for the safety of your campers.
- campers will not be required to have negative tests
- for opening day, drop-offs will be scheduled and families cannot leave their cars
- off-camp trips will strictly limited to doctor, orthodontist, post office, etc.
- visitors will not be allowed
- pickup at closing will be scheduled and families cannot leave their cars
- camp capacity is not affected
- Triple S Mother-Daughter Retreat will be held at the originally scheduled Labor Day dates and those scheduled for the Spring events may join it
Other camps have cancelled their buses, but several camp families asked and if there is demand, we will schedule them. Capacity would be limited to half the normal bus capacity. Send an email before June 1 if you want a bus for either term. The logistics involved may make it impossible for us to offer but we want to explore it if it helps our families.
More information will be coming over the next few days, but the Governor’s guidelines will answer so many questions as we refine our protocol!
Again, thank you for your support and encouragement as we get ready to make this summer a wonderful camp summer while the campers are here!
5/19/2020 WE HAVE DATES!!!
We know that everyone is as anxious as we’ve been about dates! The phones and emails and text messages “blew up” the very second that the words fell from the Governor’s lips!
- First Term will open June 19 and close July 9 (three weeks)
- Second Term will open July 13 and close Aug. 2 (three weeks)
Tuition will be adjusted to $4,305.00.
- Split Terms 1A and 1B will open June 19 and close July 2.
- Split Terms 2A and 2B will open July 13 and close July 26.
Several Split Term campers have indicated they would like to stay the full term; we can make that happen!
Initially we indicated that we would not offer charter bus service this summer. But because of camp family responses, we want to measure the demand. Campers should let us know by June 1 if they would like to ride the bus to camp.
As you can imagine, there will be many more details which we will get to you as soon as possible!
Take care, stay safe, and stand by! We are so excited that camp 2020 is now a reality!! The Ragsdales—
We promise we haven’t forgotten about you!
As much as we would love to be able to announce camp dates, we are still waiting for our Governor to open things up for us!
Nothing will be firm until we get word from him, and we keep waiting! He may speak on Monday, or it may be later in the week.
The minute we are given the green light, we will make the announcement of our dates and rates.
As of this moment, we are hoping to squeeze in two three-week terms. All Split Term campers would come to the first two weeks of the three-week term, unless they elect to stay the whole term.
The many calls and emails of support and encouragement that we have received are such an affirmation! We deeply appreciate your flexibility and patience.
This is a simply “I personally wanted to touch base” with the Heart camp family rather than “news to report”.
Like you, the Ragsdale family continues to wait for new information and guidance. Admittedly, waiting is so hard!
This week we were thrilled to hear Gov. Abbott specifically mention camps and his desire for them to open this summer. Our reports indicate both the governor and members of the strike force strongly believe in the value of camp and want them to function as normally as possible for our children, but his medical advisors want strong assurances of safety.
The safety of campers and staff is the #1 concern of all good camps.
We anticipate some “different” protocol requirements for the summer but still hope to be able to set dates for camp this summer and for Triple S mom-daughter retreat by May 15.
Locally, Kerr County “opens at 50%” category tomorrow as there have been only 5 cases total in the county, all reportedly contracted out of area. Our fingers are crossed that Kerr stays COVID free the next two weeks, as that will impact our summer camp start dates.
In the meantime, as we continue to get ready for camp we invite your camp thoughts about the summer: what is most important from the standpoint of your camper and from your standpoint as a parent; do you have concerns? Share them! Email whichever of us you feel most comfortable talking to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or even me (email@example.com) with your thoughts. We want them!
It stands to reason that the successful operation of summer camps this season will have a direct impact on school calendars for 2020-21, so let’s continue to all practice the safety guidelines as we enjoy a little more freedom and pray that this will soon be just a distant memory!
Heart is so beautiful right now. The playing fields are filled with Jane’s wildflowers; Artur and Jonathan are busy painting, repairing and working on the garden for the summer. Dick thinks filling hummingbird feeders has become a full-time undertaking! Alma and Lorena are helping us fill clothing orders. Everyone is getting ready for camp – whenever it starts! And it can’t be soon enough for us at Heart and Stewart! We miss our campers and knowing exactly when we will bask in their smiles once again!
Please continue to check back here for updates as we have them.
Waiting is so hard!
And waiting on the unknown is even harder!
You have all been wonderfully supportive, and finally we can give offer a little information to our fabulous campers, their families, and staff!
COVID-19 guidelines are changing rapidly but by May 15 we think we will be able to give you a summer schedule!
On the same date, we also intend to announce a new date for the Triple S Mother-Daughter Spring Retreat.
The camp payment due date will be June 1.
We wish we could provide more definitive information but we can assure you that we are in constant contact with all the appropriate officials, as well as other camps in Texas.
This is one of the most gorgeous springs in the Hill Country and we are so anxious to get camp underway!
If anticipation truly makes something more meaningful, the summer of 2020 should be the best yet–and that is saying something!
The Ragsdale Family
A Note from Kathy Ragsdale
“Take a deep breath.”
Those sentiments were in a letter from the national American Camp Association President, Tom Rosenberg, over the weekend, and I wanted to share some of his, and the ACA board’s, thoughts.
“Time is on our side and things will likely look very different in June,” he counseled camp directors, implying, “Don’t rush to judgment when so much is still unknown.”
For those accustomed to planning months ahead, these are challenging times. At The Heart, plans continue as we hope and pray the gates will open as scheduled in 2020, despite the unknowns today.Anticipating a fun-filled, exciting summer for our campers and staff keeps our spirits high.
Several camper dads, all former Stewart campers, have expressed that camp is more important than ever for their daughters (and sons)this summer. They want them to be able to socialize, to play, get away from the screen and be in the healthy outdoors – to enjoy what camp has routinely provided through the years. “Perhaps we all have gained a deeper appreciation for enjoying what God’s given us,” one dad concluded.
The first change: due to the governor’s April 30th date, Triple S will likely have to be postponed or cancelled, but it is still too early to set new dates. There are questions: if schools remain closed, could the mom/daughter retreat take place during the week, or does it need to stay on the weekend? Because of all the recent “togetherness”, would folks be willing to come on Mother’s Day weekend, which is normally taboo? We’d love your feedback! Send Jane an email, Jane@HOHcamp.com.
I’ve experienced 54 springs getting ready for camp, many with looming challenges, but none like this one! Yet I continue to be optimistic that by the end of the month there will be a clearer picture of what lies ahead: what changes, if any, need to be made. As Tom said, take a deep breath! And from me, Think positively! Pray that this crisis for our nation and world ends – soon!
Kathy Ragsdale, Heart O’the Hills CEO
Camp Stewart Matriarch & CEO
Heart O’ the Hills is moving forward to have camp as planned this summer!
If circumstances should change that, it will be communicated immediately to our camp families.
Changes occur rapidly. “The Heart” utilizes the Texas Department of State Health Services, CDC, American Camp Association, Camp Association for Mutual Progress (the Texas camp association), our camping neighbors and other trusted resources to make all decisions.
Calendar changes made:
- Final fee payment deadline moved to May 15, 2020.
- Families wishing to pay camp in installments may send post-dated checks through Sept. 1 with no finance charge.
- Families able to pay full fees before April 30 may deduct $125 from full terms and $70 from split terms.
- Families who have paid since receiving the mid-January early pay discount will receive a Trading Post credit for the difference between any discount credited and $125/$70.
- Under the current travel restriction guidelines in place until April 30, these will either be moved forward or cancelled, depending on what transpires in the next few weeks. As soon as a clearer picture emerges, we will notify those registered.
Again, we will keep families informed if any changes need to be made in The Heart’s summer schedule.
If you are a prayerful person, we ask that you keep our nation, our leaders and especially those on the front lines fighting this medically in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray for all camps across the nation, also! The Heart has not missed a summer in 67 summers, despite challenges, and we hope this summer will be no exception. The health and well being of our campers and staff remain foremost in our decisions, and we know how much kids need camp right now!
FYI: Kerr County has had only one case diagnosed: a hospital employee who was exposed out of our area; he immediately went into self-isolation. This can change rapidly, but we thought it might be of interest. In the 1920’s the Rockefeller Foundation declared Kerrville to be the healthiest spot in the nation, and we hope that continues to prove true!
Please continue to follow the guidelines, stay healthy and safe and keep thinking positively! This too shall pass. The Ragsdales—
The date for Helping Hands is nigh, but it appears that the most help we could ask for right now is for everyone to stay safe at home! We’re heartbroken that we must cancel, everyone near and far has looked forward to Helping Hands. Your desire to lend a hand to The Heart means more to us than we can tell. Our eyes are on the COVID-19 updates as well as our calendars, and hopefully we will have a new date set.
We miss you all, and hope that everyone is staying safe.
While we have been eagerly anticipating Open House this Saturday, we must set aside our love for hosting in favor of the number one rule of camp: Safety first! Open House will NOT be held.
In lieu of that, we will host a streaming Q&A via Facebook Live. The plan is from 10-11, it will focus on concerns for new campers, and from 11-noon, we will invite returning campers to join in for information specific to this summer. Our official Facebook Fan Page is at https://www.facebook.com/HOHcamp/
If you find yourself experiencing some cabin fever, we invite you to set up a private tour with us–and experience your quarantine Heart Style! From the verdant riverfront to the rocky hilltop, we can provide an in-depth tour of The Heart one family at a time. While keeping our social distance and washing our hands, of course.
And as always, please feel free to contact me, or Monique, Deen or Kimber in our office, with any questions or concerns you may have. (830) 238-4650, Jane–
Because of the mounting concerns regarding COVID-19, we want to assure you all that, as always, the safety of our campers and staff is at the forefront of our concerns. Camp is set to run as regularly scheduled, and we are working with our local health authorities and hospital to stay up to date on effective protocols for identification and treatment of COVID-19.
Every year during staff orientation, we cover basic communicable disease prevention, which includes but is not limited to, thorough hand washing, coughing etiquette, and checking in with nursing staff at the first sign of sickness. This year we are building on those procedures, with an emphasis on COVID-19 prevention and management.
Please be aware that if your camper has flu-like symptoms a few days prior to, or on, opening day, we reserve the right to ask that you delay your arrival until symptoms have cleared up. Our arrival day screening procedures will reflect the recent practices suggested by public health authorities.
There is a host of potential factors that are unknowable at this point, but rest assured that we are working our hardest to prevent and manage any possible disruption. We will be sure to keep you up to date if anything changes with our ability to staff. Again, as of now camp is set to run as regularly scheduled.
Cleaning our hands until they’re raw,