Deer Run postpones camp openings due to COVID-19-positive staff

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Deer Run camp boat

Deer Run Camps & Retreats is postponing its opening this summer at least two weeks due to 35 staff members testing positive for COVID-19 during a training period. 

After Thompson's Station-based Deer Run Camps & Retreats summer staff members arrived onsite for training earlier this month, several staff members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the postponement of Deer Run's opening for at least two weeks.

Deer Run's summer staff — college students and young adults — arrived at camp on May 17 to begin training for their responsibilities to come alongside year-round leadership to provide an excellent, memorable, and safe summer camp experience for kids, youth, and families this summer.

Deer Run provides day camps for 5-year-olds to eighth-graders, overnight camps for grades three to 12, and family camps for all ages.

“We were following CDC guidelines, including daily temperature checks and daily health screenings,” said April Kuykendall, the COO of Deer Run. “Additionally, we have rigorous cleaning and professional disinfectant protocols which are carefully followed with daily checklists and accountability.”

Kuykendall said that, unfortunately, several days after the summer staff arrived, two of the staff found out their parents had tested positive for COVID-19. The staff were asymptomatic but were immediately quarantined and required to have testing. Shortly afterward, another staff member had mild symptoms and was tested and quarantined. No campers were on site, Kuykendall said. 

Once results came back these three staff tested positive, all camp staff were tested and are now quarantined for 14 days at the recommendation of the Tennessee Board of Health. 

Results indicated 32 of the summer staff members and three year-round staff members tested positive. Many of those who tested positive are asymptomatic. The others have mild symptoms. 

Deer Run has canceled the first two weeks of day and overnight camps and the first session of family camp to allow the staff to have a full 14 days (longer in some cases) to recover and be ready to provide an excellent camp experience when the leadership team determines viability.

Deer Run’s leadership is working on plans for additional safety measures to do everything possible to ensure this kind of outbreak does not happen again.

“The safety of our campers, their families, and our staff is our priority,” Kuykendall said. “The kids and families will have fun when we are able to reopen camp, and we will do everything possible to keep them safe.”

Camp leadership said they are considering all possibilities for continued operations this summer.

“None of us anticipated this type of situation,” Kuykendall said. “Our goal is to learn from it and determine how we can operate safely when the time comes to reopen.”

Families have been given options to transfer to another date this summer or next summer, to receive a refund, or to donate their registration funds as a tax-deductible gift to help sustain Deer Run, a nonprofit organization, through this time.

For more information about Deer Run Camps & Retreats, go to DeerRun.camps.

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