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Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp closes abruptly due to COVID

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp just north of Muskegon has canceled overnight camp through July 5. It was set to start Wednesday morning.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp just north of Muskegon, Michigan has canceled their first overnight camp session. It was set to start Wednesday, June 22 at 9 a.m. But Interim President Heidi Stansell sent an email notifying parents Tuesday, June 21 at 1:30 p.m. that the camp needed to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the camp staff.

In the email, Stansell said they were unable to safely welcome campers.

It stated, "As it is our singular objective to provide the very best experiences to our campers and those within our camp community, this temporary closure has become necessary."

The email said they will be reaching out to families to discuss refunds or getting kids registered for the remaining sessions.

No announcement was posted to social media or on the camp’s website.

Many parents took to social media expressing frustration with the poor communication. While understanding of the situation, parents wished that the camp used more platforms to get the message out. Those with a long commute, especially international campers, had already set out for West Michigan. They said a text, phone call, website alert, and social media announcement would have helped them get the message sooner. Some parents were disappointed that the camp didn’t have a plan B in the event of a COVID outbreak.

Chad Fisk, a parent of an impacted camper, said, "I get it. I try to put myself in their shoes. If I’m an employer [and] I all the sudden have eight people that show up, and they’re all sick? What do you do? But in this day and age you should have some kind of contingency plan."

Cheryl Hamilton said her child prepared music ahead of time for an advanced ensemble, which he probably won't get to participate in even if he attends another session this year. She still had nothing but praise for the camp.

"We stand behind Blue Lake 100%," Hamilton said. "We think that they're a good company and they really work to serve as many kids as they can."

Hamilton and Fisk both were disappointed, but look forward to when their kids can attend camp next.

Blue Lake has several health measures in place in response to the pandemic. Campers are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 24-hours of arrival. They must pass a health screening upon check-in and they ask campers to disclose if they are vaccinated.

The camp seems to understand the impact the pandemic has had on these kids. From their website, they state, "Over the last two years, our students have faced countless postponements, cancellations, and ever-changing adjustments at school. Many have found that their arts opportunities have reduced greatly or even been eliminated."

Early Wednesday evening the camp sent an email to campers registered for future camps this summer, saying it is their "goal to do everything possible to preserve the rest of our season and upcoming sessions."

Katheryne Friske is the weekend morning host and producer for All Things Considered.
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