Camp announces it will be closed for Summer 2020

Coronavirus & 4-H Camp Bristol Hills

Update:  May 25, 2021

Prearrival Testing Requirement (5/25/2021)

Dear Camp Families,

On May 19, NYS released INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR CHILD CARE, DAY CAMP, AND OVERNIGHT CAMP PROGRAMS DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY which includes a requirement for prearrival testing of residential overnight) campers within 72 hours of arrival at the camp.

Cornell Cooperative Extension / 4-H Camp Bristol Hills will require prearrival PCR testing of all staff and overnight campers, regardless of vaccination status.

Through the coordination of the NYS 4-H Office, we have contracted with Grapefruit Testing LLC to administer a testing program for our campers.

We want to make this as easy as possible for you. We have provided your mailing and email addresses, as listed in your registration form, to Grapefruit, and they will be reaching out to you soon, regarding your testing requirements.

We know that you will have questions. We have included some basic information (including how all of this testing will come at no cost to you) as well as the contact information for Grapefruit Testing below. 

Click to read the notice from Grapefruit.

Update: January 13, 2021

Dear Camp Families,

With the approach of summer 2021, we wanted to send out a quick note to let our valued camp families know that we are taking steps to ensure a safe, healthy, and FUN 2021 Summer Camp for all of our campers, families, and staff at 4-H Camp Bristol Hills! While the situation continues to evolve, we are making plans based on the general guidance that we have received from the American Camp Association, the New York State 4-H Program, and the experiences of the hundreds of camps that did run in some capacity in 2020.

To ensure we are running the safest program possible, there will be a number of changes at camp this year. Changes to our registration process, camper check-in, daily schedules, class choices, cabin groups, health and sanitation and more. But you know what isn’t going to change? The opportunity for campers and staff to build healthy, thriving communities at camp. The positive, life changing experiences that happen at camp every day, simply because of the culture we have developed over nearly 100 years of summer camping. Campers are still going to have great experiences, make new friends, try new things, and gain the independence that comes from a week away from their families. These experiences are the cornerstone of what 4-H Camp Bristol Hills is all about. And so, while some things may look different this year, we are beyond excited to get back to camp and see so many smiling, happy children playing outdoors again!

We know you have questions, and many of those questions revolve around what we are doing this year to protect your child. The truth is, a lot. Below are some examples of the steps we are taking this year to enhance the health and safety of our campers and staff in 2021.

Paperless Marketing and Registration: We are changing the way we reach out to campers, and how to register for camp. Though we’ve had an online registration system for several years now, we will not be printing brochures and distributing them by mail or through the schools. Saving trees feels good! If you need a printed copy of the registration form, just email us and we’ll be happy to mail one to you!

Drive-through Camper Drop Off: Nobody enjoys standing in long lines to drop off campers on registration day. This year, we are working on a new drop off procedure that will give families a 15-minute check-in window. You’ll be able to drive into camp, be greeted by a staff member who will conduct a basic health screening right at your vehicle, and then help your camper unload their gear. Parents won’t even need to get out of their cars! This process will rely on families arriving promptly for their assigned time. If you are going to be arriving outside of your scheduled time slot, please notify camp so that we can take the necessary steps to get you into camp as safely and efficiently as possible.

Squad Up: This year, campers will be assigned into cohort, or Squad groups, based on cabin, age, and program. Based off current expectations, Squads will include up to 15 campers and up to 5 counselors. These Squad groups will be important, as they will become the “family group” that rotates through the daily schedule together. For most Squads, multiple near-by cabins will be paired up, allowing co-ed Squads while maintaining gender specific cabins. We will no longer have a “Boys Village” and a “Girls Village” but rather a “North” and “South” Village, and there will be boy’s cabins beside girl’s cabins. Campers will still be not be permitted into cabins other than their own. Campers and staff assigned to a particular squad will have very limited interactions with campers and staff from other Squads.

Masks: While we are still awaiting firm guidance from the New York State Department of Health, we anticipate that masks will be a requirement for all campers, staff and guests of camp through the 2021 season. Overnight campers should plan to bring a supply of at least 10-15 face covering, in a large, zipper style plastic bag, with their name on it. Day campers should bring two each day. Campers will be responsible for managing their masks properly throughout the week under the guidance and support of their counselors. Absolutely no sharing of masks will be permitted. Camp will have a limited supply of disposable masks available if needed.

Sanitation: We have acquired bulk hand sanitizer, which will be available throughout camp, including inside the doorways of most buildings. Each Squad will be provided with a Sanitation Kit including liquid sanitizer, paper towels, and sterile wipes, so that campers and staff can sanitize program areas before they leave, preparing them for the next group. Program supplies will be sanitized between uses, and we will be hiring additional maintenance staff to ensure sanitization of communal spaces like the restrooms and the dining hall. We have portable handwashing stations being added in more remote locations where access to running water is limited.

Reduced Capacities: Based on current guidance, we will be reducing the numbers of people in certain spaces together at the same time. Our current plan calls for 50% capacity in the cabins, Dining Hall, Day Camp facilities and any other indoor spaces. This means that our largest cabins, like Lakeside and Seneca, will house just 11 campers and two staff, while our smaller cabins will be home to just three campers and a single staff member. This plan may be subject to change as we await further guidance from the New York State Department of Health. The dining hall, which normally has capacity of 275 persons, will be restricted to no more than 137 people. See Meals, below.

Meals: Given the large number of campers, and the reality that masks cannot be worn during meals, we will be restructuring meal times to allow up to three squads to be eating lunch at the same time, and these lunches will likely be served at Squad-designated picnic tables around camp. In the event of inclement weather, we will look at the possibility of eating inside the cabins. For breakfast and lunch, without the Day and Progression Campers, we will have fewer than 50% of the normal Dining Hall capacity, and may have the opportunity to eat in the Dining Hall, though that will ultimately depend on final guidance from the Department of Health. This brochure will be updated as we learn more.

Daily Schedules: Big changes are coming to our daily schedule! We have developed a schedule that allows Resident, Day, Progression and Specialty Camp Squads to rotate through the shared programming spaces so that no more than one Squad is using a particular location at a time. With a little over 150 campers on site and twelve different squads, there’s a lot of moving parts! Resident Camp Squads will be rotating through nine class programs throughout the week, so rather than selecting four favorite classes this year, campers will enjoy all nine programs, each for two hours, during the week. The extended blocks of time will allow campers to engage more fully in each activity, and staff will be designing lessons to ensure a variety of activities which will keep campers moving and learning! Special programs like Counselor in Training, Leader in Training, Young Women’s Adventure Camp, and Adventure Camp will be run in the Squad format as well!

Some Programs on Pause: Due to space and staffing limitations, we have put some of our popular programs on pause for 2021, including Sprout Camp, Camp Windwalker, and most of our Master Camps (though we are still hoping to offer our Animation Camp!). We are optimistic that we will be able to resume these programs next summer! But with careful planning and an eye on positive experiences for our campers, we are super excited about what Camp will be for this year!

We hope that you will consider joining the fun in 2021! We are aiming to be able to open registration for our programs in February. If you know anyone who is interested in working at camp, staff positions have already been posted on our website! Please know that due to the evolving scenario with the covid-19 pandemic and the development and distribution of the vaccine, any and all programming is subject to change. As we move closer to camp, if things change, we will be updating our brochure on our website, and we will post changes to our Facebook and Instagram pages, so be sure to follow us on those platforms, and/or check your email regularly. We will be in touch! Once we are ready to open registration, we will be sending out emails in a phased approach, with first notice going out to campers who registered last year, and moved their registration fees to 2021, along with campers who were awarded Campership support in 2020. About a week later, we will send a general notice to all, letting people know that registration is open.

Thank you,

4-H Camp Bristol Hills Administrative Team

Neutron (Jim), Eudora (Ellen), Jitter (Jessie), and Java (Tim)

Update:  May 20, 2020

Dear Camp Families,

It is with a heavy heart that 4-H Camp Bristol Hills announces we will not operate our summer camp program for summer 2020.   Trying to decide if camp should open or remain closed is not a decision we have taken lightly and it has been a difficult process. In the end, we took some time to think back on our mission; to provide a safe, fun, and educational experience in the outdoors. Safety is our number one priority. Each and every camper and staff member is precious to us and the risk of jeopardizing your safety is not one we feel is appropriate to take when there is still much to learn about gathering together safely as NY begins to re-open in the coming weeks.

We also considered the traditional camp experience that you have come to expect from us. A camp without hugs, team challenge, swimming, gaga, eating family-style in the dining hall, silly skits, campfire circle, meeting new friends in your classes, or any of the amazing traditions seemed unfathomable to us. We considered several scenarios and kept coming back to the realization that it wouldn’t be camp as we all know and love.

While we are heartbroken, we remain #CampStrong and recognize that we can do hard things; like finding new and exciting ways to share camp with the world because the world needs camp right now. You are experienced in the ways of 4-H Camp Bristol Hills and that campfire light burns in your heart even when you are away from camp. We hope you will stoke the fire and keep it burning bright until it is safe to gather at camp again. More so, we hope that you will share your light of Bristol Hills with the world. Teach someone your favorite camp game or song, give warm fuzzies, set the table at home, find opportunities for new adventures and getting outside, be a team player in your community. You are brave, strong, resilient, and we are proud of each one of you.

That said, Covid-19 may have closed our facility, but it cannot cancel our connection! We are actively putting together some alternative programming opportunities and invite you and your friends to connect with camp in that way this summer.We will get through this together, one day at a time. We would love to see your camp memories, photos, T-shirts new and old, a camp song sung at full volume, and campers getting outside this summer! It will remind us (and all of you) that the camp spirit lives on even when we are not physically at camp.We invite you to share your photos, videos and stories on our Facebook page!

We are offering full refunds to anyone who has already registered. While this will be financially devastating to 4-H Camp Bristol Hills, it is the right thing to do.There are two alternative options if you are able to help support camp during this time. You can defer your payment to next summer or elect to donate any portion of your camp fee to cover our non-variable operating costs, including maintenance, utilities, insurance, and supporting year-round employees who depend on their camp employment. If you choose the option of a donation, we are eternally grateful to you and your generosity. Please complete our reimbursement form to let us know how you would like to handle your camp fee for 2020.

Thank you all for your unwavering support during this difficult time. We are looking forward to hearing camp stories and photos from you, and planning an incredible summer 2021. 

Executive Director, Timothy S. Davis,
Camp Manager, Jim Hooper
Camp Registrar, Ellen Rosenbarker
Camp Director, Jessica Middleton

March 17, 2020

Dear Campers and Families,

Please know that 4-H Camp Bristol Hills is committed to the well-being of each camper, family and staff member. We are in regular communication with our Covid-19 Team at Cornell University, along with the NY Department of Health office and the American Camp Association in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, we are planning to be in full operation for Summer 2020. We are actively examining our arrival screenings, health response procedures, and cleaning procedures, ensuring that we meet or exceed standards required by the Department of Health. While we acknowledge that this is a constantly evolving situation, and everything is subject to change, the guidance that we have received indicates that the virus will be under control before the start of Summer Camp, and the school systems will not be extended into the summer season.

In order to help you register with confidence, we have updated our registration guidelines as follows;

  • If you have already registered and wish to exercise caution, contact our office (585.394.3977 ext 435 or about moving to a program later in the summer. We will waive our transfer fees between now and May 1st for any transfers based on concerns regarding Covid-19.
  • Understanding you may be waiting to make your summer camp reservation we are extending our April 15 Early Bird discount to May 1, 2020.
  • In the event you need to cancel your registration due to a camper or immediate family member testing positive for Covid-19, you will receive a full refund (including deposit), with a doctors notification.
  • In the unlikely event that 4-H Camp Bristol Hills makes the decision to cancel a session of camp, you will receive a full refund (including deposit).

For accurate information on how you can protect your family right now, we suggest resources found at NYS Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We are committed to keeping you updated of any changes in our plans, policies, or procedures. If you have any questions or concerns you are welcome to contact me at (585) 394-3977 ext 407 or by email at Please be aware that as of 3/17/2020, our employees have been given the option to work from home, so I will be checking messages from home regularly, but it may take a little longer than usual for a response. Email may be a faster route for contacting me.

Thank you for your continued support of 4-H Camp Bristol Hills. We look forward to an amazing summer and year. See you soon!

Jim Hooper

Camp Manager

4-H Camp Bristol Hills

Last updated May 25, 2021