Camp Billings To Close For the 2020 Season
On Saturday, April 4 the Board of Directors of Camp Billings on Lake Fairlee made the difficult unanimous decision to not open its gates for the 2020 season. Our 114 year old, coed, non-profit camp will close for only the second time in its long history. While camp remained open during both World Wars, it did close for the summer of 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic that gripped the State at that time.
The Board has come to this conclusion after receiving input from both the medical and public health communities, the American Camp Association, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. After comprehensive and heart-wrenching deliberation, the decision and the timing of this announcement became quite clear: the virus is not something that can be managed at Billings, and we owe it to all of our customers (our children, their families, our staff, suppliers and vendors) to provide them with the time to make other arrangements. Typically, we begin to order equipment and supplies for the summer in April; maintenance on our property begins this month; staff is completed and contracts are signed for the season; and families complete tuition payments prior to the end of the month. None of that is possible in this season of the coronavirus. Even if the virus were to disappear tomorrow, without a vaccine or protocol to mitigate the symptoms, the risk of opening a communal living facility is far too great. While the nation and our planet are already cancelling major events during the month of July, it is time for Camp Billings to follow down this difficult path as well. Our registrar will follow up with every family that has registered for this season, in the coming days.
This was a very painful, but necessary decision at this time. The health and safety of our campers, staff, alumni and visitors each summer is paramount. The trust they have instilled in us to provide a safe and healthy place each season for the children to play, learn and grow in a communal environment cannot be compromised. Since we are unable to guarantee that we can provide that experience this summer, we feel it leaves us no choice but to cancel the season, and look forward to 2021 and the renewal of our promise to our Billings family.
We know this will be devastating to the more than 600 different kids who come to camp each summer. We are so much more than a summer camp; we are a family, as over 90% of our children return year after year, and the vast majority of our staff are former campers. To all of them, to you, and to us, Camp Billings is home. But just like home, we must provide a place that is safe and secure. As we grieve the loss of this Camp Billings Season, we are already counting the days to when we can reunite for the summer of 2021.
Michael Lemme President
Board of Directors
Sean and Anne Collins