Camp Pemi, Covid-19, and 2021

Here's to a happy, healthy camp season

Note that the information below is changing as new information emerges.
When updates are made, the date of the change will be indicated on the dropdown bar.

More than ever before, we are inspired by Pemi’s visionary founders who, in 1908, led their staff and 15 campers to create an outdoor adventure experience unique to their time. In 2021, staff and campers will unite to create a camp season that will be unique to our time. Sharing Pemi’s 114th season together is sure to build a bond that we’ll talk about for years to come. We are so excited for this summer! 

The Pemi Family includes all family members. Each one of you plays an essential role in helping us to create a safe summer community for our campers and staff. A successful 2021 season starts at home. We depend on you to adhere to these guidelines to protect Pemi, our surrounding NH neighbors, and ultimately your own home communities. If any of the expected requirements pose a problem, please contact us as soon as possible.

How is Pemi making its COVID-19 planning decisions for summer 2021?

For over a year now, while we’ve kept informed on the pandemic through national and local resources, we’ve also been working closely with a consortium of local camps, the American Camp Association, our extensive staff educators network, and our team of healthcare professionals to establish guidelines and best practices to open camp safely and to limit the spread of COVID-19 should it emerge. Finally, our plans for 2021 are subject to the standards and guidelines issued by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. We will update this page as new information emerges.

Should my son get vaccinated for COVID-19? (May 21)

To create the safest possible environment this summer for the entire camp community, Pemi strongly encourages the vaccination for all staff, parents, campers, and family members who are eligible. This recommendation is firmly supported by Upper Valley Pediatrics, our camp medical practice.

Parents will be asked to upload a copy of their son’s Covid vaccination card to their CampMinder account. We will provide guidance on this.

If your son is 12 years old or older, please schedule his vaccination as soon as possible. We understand availability and access will vary depending on your location. Let us know if you need assistance. Pemi is happy to help you in the process.

Remember that there is a three-week pause between doses, so we encourage you to schedule your vaccination for full effectiveness as soon as possible.

For full immunity, boys should receive both doses 14 days before their session begins.

  • Optimal dates for First & Full Session Campers: A first dose by May 22 and second dose by June 12.
  • Optimal dates for Second Session Campers: A first dose by June 15 and a second dose by July 6.

To allow for proper screening, we ask that boys not receive a vaccination within 48 hours of their Pemi arrival.

At the moment, we hope to be able to assist international full session campers in receiving a second dose while they are at Camp Pemi. Please be in touch with a director about this.

What are the requirements for campers and their families before camp? Do I/we need to quarantine? (May 21)

The success of this summer begins with you, at home. More than ever, the compliance of parents, campers, and staff in the weeks leading up to camp is absolutely critical. We need everyone to arrive healthy!

  • Campers and members of their households (including those who are vaccinated) should engage only in low-risk behaviors for 10-14 days before travel to camp. A rule of thumb is that low-risk behaviors are those that can be done outdoors and/or with masking and physical distancing.
  • Attending school, where masking and distancing are diligently employed, has not been shown to increase risk of COVID-19 and may be considered a low-risk behavior during this time.
  • Unvaccinated campers should be unmasked only with immediate household family members during this time, specifically not eating in restaurants or other eating venues with individuals outside their family unit. Large gatherings or groups outside the family household are not recommended. This includes weddings, graduations, sports events / clinics / tournaments, religious gatherings, parties, and playdates. Families are encouraged to discuss their pre-camp plans with us should there be any question.

Do campers need to have a COVID-19 test before coming to camp? (May 21)

Unvaccinated campers are required to receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of entering camp, and will need to provide a COVID-19 attestation regarding symptoms, travel, and exposure. Parents will be asked to upload documentation of the date and results of this test to their son’s CampMinder account prior to arrival. We’ll provide more information and guidance on this. 

Campers who have had just one of two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, or who had their second shot within 14 days of arrival, are not yet considered fully vaccinated and are required to receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of entering camp.

Campers who are fully vaccinated (having had the second shot 14 days or more before arrival) will not have to be tested prior to arrival.

Will campers be tested for COVID-19 while at camp? (May 21)

Unvaccinated campers and those not considered fully vaccinated* will be tested on Opening Day and Day 5 using Lucira molecular tests that produce results within 30 minutes.

*Fully vaccinated is defined as having received both Pfizer shots with the second shot 14 days or more before. Fully vaccinated campers will not be routinely tested.

Full Session and First Session campers:

  • Opening Day: Lucira rapid molecular test for all unvaccinated campers and campers who are not fully vaccinated
  • 5 days into first session: same as above

Full Session and Second Session campers:

  • Arrival Day: Lucira Molecular test (all unvaccinated campers and campers who are not fully vaccinated, as defined by having received both Pfizer shots with the second shot 14 days or more before arrival)
  • 5 days into second session: same as above

Further testing will take place should anyone display COVID-19 symptoms.

Parents who wish for their boys to be tested prior to their departure from Pemi can opt-in for an additional test.

How will transportation to/from camp look different this year? (May 21)

Unlike typical summers, there will be no Pemi-chaperoned travel to camp in 2021, which means no NY/CT bus and no pick-ups by Pemi staff at airports. 

We ask that boys be brought to camp by car, driven ideally by one parent who will be asked to stay in the car. We anticipate staggering arrival times, as discussed below.

For campers who live farther away, we ask for safety precautions during travel, including mask-wearing, social distancing, and strict adherence to other safety measures, such as hand-washing, and limited exposure to others beyond your own family during travel.

Note: We will be testing all unvaccinated campers upon arrival as part of the check-in process. The expected turn-around time for receiving results is within 30 minutes. We ask that a parent, guardian, or designated adult remain at camp until given the “all clear.” 

We plan to offer vans TO airports at the end of First Session and on Closing Day in August.

When should I pick-up my son after First Session? Can I arrive whenever I want? (July 12)


Parents should arrive between 10 – 12 in the morning on Monday. There are no assigned times within this time range.


  • Pemi staff will be on site to direct you to your son(s) cabin. You can drive right to the cabin to greet your son and to get his luggage.
  • We ask that anyone who exits the car wear a mask. Our staff will be masked as well.
  • After packing the car and saying goodbye to your son’s counselor, you are free to depart Pemi.

Additional Notes

  • Kenny and Danny will be outside the office to say goodbye.
  • Our Health Center staff will be outside the office with remaining medications for those boys who took them at Pemi. If this applies to your son, please remember to pick these up.

What is the plan for Second Session Arrival? Can I arrive whenever I want? (July 1)

Staggered arrivals on Opening Day will allow us to better manage our arrival protocols. Please do your very best to adhere to your scheduled arrival time. (Ages refer to a boy’s age as of July 1, 2021)

10:00 am – 10:45 am: 14 & 15 year-olds
10:45 am – 11:30 pm: 13 & 12 year-olds
11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Siblings
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: 11-year-olds
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: 10-year-olds
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: 8/9-year-olds

When you cross the bridge upon arrival, you’ll drive first to the main check-in tent for a warm welcome. You’ll then receive directions on where to park, where Pemi staff will greet you and your camper while others will unload your camper’s luggage to take right to his cabin. After you say your goodbyes, Pemi staff will personally guide your camper to his next check-in procedure.

For all parents: you will be asked to stay in your car the entire time, and unfortunately will not be able to go into cabins or tour the camp grounds. We’ll make up for it in 2022. Promise!

For parents of vaccinated campers: We expect your time on camp grounds to be about 20 minutes.
For parents of unvaccinated campers: We expect your time on camp grounds to be about 45 minutes. We will be testing all unvaccinated campers upon arrival with an expected turn-around time for receiving results within 30 minutes. We ask that you remain at camp and in your car until given the “all clear.” Should the Lucira test result be positive, we unfortunately will not be able to allow the camper to remain at camp but will provide clear and supportive guidance for “next steps.”

What happens if my son tests positive for Covid-19 on Opening Day? (June 10)

The Lucira molecular test will be used on arrival day to test all campers who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The test provides results within 30 minutes. When the result is positive, it means one of two things: 

  • Your son has Covid and is asymptomatic — indicating that he did not have enough viral load for the PCR test that he took within the previous 3 days to detect.
  • The Lucira test has provided a “false positive” result. There is a 6% chance of this happening (2% chance of a false negative).

In either case, your son will not be able to stay at camp until we follow the next step:

We will administer a PCR nasal swab test on your son that will be processed by Quest labs. It will take approximately 24 hours to get the results. Depending on where you live, you might want to stay in a local hotel where you should isolate until the results are back. 

  • If the PCR test is negative, this will confirm that the Lucira positive result was a “false positive.” He will be welcomed back to camp as soon as we have that information.
  • If the PCR test is positive, your son indeed has Covid and will need to be isolated for ~10 days and provide a negative PCR test result before coming to camp.

We will be in communication with you should your son be unable to stay at camp as a result of a positive arrival day test result, not only to determine how best to protect your son and the camp community, but also to provide support for an unexpected and unsettling occurrence.

What will camp be like this year?

Much of what camp is all about will be the same this summer:

  • Laughter, fun, and Pemi spirit
  • Counselors reading to the cabin at night
  • Friendships, old and new
  • Polar bear dips
  • Sports, nature, arts, and trips
  • Campfires
  • The lake
  • Dining at Flat Rock, Pine Forest, and up Pemi Hill
  • Enjoying the outdoors, at camp and in unpopulated local settings
  • Lifelong memories

The things that will be different at camp this year won’t come as a surprise:

  • New COVID-19 safety guidelines, like wearing masks sometimes and staying in “cabin cohorts” during the first week of camp 
  • The ways we do some activities
  • Variations on our traditional schedule
  • Fewer tables in the mess hall and tents throughout camp for alternative, open air dining

What are NPIs and why do they matter?

NPIs are Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions. In other words, these are ways in which we can control how to look after ourselves and one another. Three standard ones we are using are:

  • Staying outside
  • Staying appropriately distanced
  • Staying masked

Two out of three NPIs will be used throughout the summer when campers are not with their cabin cohorts.

When and where will campers need to wear masks?

Because standards and guidelines continue to develop, this answer may change! 

Campers will not be required to wear masks when they are in their cabin cohorts.

Campers will wear masks when they are in groups larger than their cabin cohorts and while moving around Pemi’s grounds. This includes entering the mess hall, though campers and staff will be able to remove masks once they get to their table. 

If campers are doing activities outside and are appropriately distanced, then they do not need to wear masks because 2 out of 3 NPI guidelines are being met. If they are participating in an indoor activity with campers and staff who are not in their cabin cohort, they would need to wear a mask and maintain the minimum distance from others. A few specific activities may require campers to wear a mask to meet the 2 out of 3 NPI guideline – or we may modify those activities in ways that a mask is not required.

We are asking each camper to bring at least 10 face masks and a mask laundering bag to allow used masks to be washed each week, as well as a box of disposable masks. We will have extras available for those who need them.

Can I arrive late to camp or have time away mid-season to attend a family event?

We can only allow a camper to arrive late if he or a member of his household tested positive for COVID-19 and is following proper protocol, as we have asked. Otherwise, we cannot accommodate late arrivals or mid-season time away for family events, sports tournaments, etc.

What does “an imperfect bubble” mean?

We will be creating and maintaining an “imperfect bubble.” This means that, while there will be some coming and going from camp grounds, it will be carefully monitored to minimize risk and protect our campers and counselors. We will not allow parents or other visitors at camp. Essential vendors—those who deliver food, laundry, or supplies, or handle maintenance or other needs—will wear masks, stay socially distanced, and follow specific procedures to avoid contact with campers and staff.

What do “cabin cohort” and “division?” and “all-camp” mean?

Cabin cohorts consist of a cabin or 2 adjacent cabins—not to exceed 12 people.
Divisions are made up of 30-50 campers based on age and are known as Junior, Lower, Upper, and Seniors divisions.
All-camp is…everyone!

Will campers stay in their cabin cohorts for activities the whole summer?

We hope that if everyone arrives healthy and if everyone follows camp guidelines, we’ll be able to grow from cabin cohorts to divisions to all-camp in three stages for each of the two sessions.

In the first stage (first week of First Session and the first week of Second Session), campers and counselors will stay in their cabin cohorts, made up of 2 adjacent cabins or 1 cabin (no cohort to exceed 12 people). Everyone will stay with their cabin cohort for meals, assigned shower times, and activities. Campers will not have to wear masks when with their cabin cohort.

We shift into the second stage when the results from the Day 5 test indicate we can safely enlarge our groups. At this point, campers will participate in activities with others outside their cabin cohort at the Division Level (30 – 50 boys).

We can shift into the third stage – where we grow from divisions to all-camp – based on results from the Day 10-12 test.  Activities will be open to all, making sure that 2 out of 3 NPIs are in place: being outside / staying socially-distant / wearing a mask.  Boys will continue to eat with their cabin cohort.

What is the visitor policy for summer 2021, including parents’ visiting days? Can I visit if I am vaccinated?

We must unfortunately have a no-visitor policy to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our camp community, which means no visiting days for parents this summer. Our primary focus will be on the health, safety, and well-being of the camp community and the smooth operation of camp, so this policy includes those who have had the vaccination. 

We will create a sign-up system for parents of Full Session boys to schedule time to connect with their sons at mid-season. We’ll keep you posted!

Will the daily schedule be modified at all?

We are refining the daily schedule, but we know that, unlike Pemi’s traditional approach in which each individual creates his personal schedule, we’ll be organizing activities by cabin cohorts for at least the first week. Campers will have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities. 

We hope to return to Pemi’s custom of allowing individual activity choice after the first week of each session. Again, you doing your best to minimize exposure pre-camp will play a major role in helping the entire camp community experience a close-to-normal summer!

Will campers go on off-campus trips or visit other camps?

According to CDC guidelines, campers and staff can go to low-risk, uncrowded places. We are very fortunate to be situated where we are, and also to have vast knowledge of our surrounding mountains, lakes, hiking trails, and places of natural beauty.

At this time, we are not planning on visiting other camps or having other camps visit Pemi. We are in close conversation with our neighboring camps, and if there are ways that some sports can be played safely, and if NH guidelines allow, we will explore that option.

How will you serve meals?

Pemi is known for serving healthy, varied, and delicious food. That won’t change! What will change will be when and where we eat. We have lots of options to spread out, including having some cabin groups in the mess hall and others dining in tents where we’ll eat family-style, just like always. We’ll certainly enjoy cookouts in multiple locations as well. Cabin groups can paddle across the lake to our two dining spots, and also enjoy a meal or two up Pemi Hill. Twelve new handwashing stations were built outside the mess hall well before COVID hit, and we’ve added more in each division, making it easier for everyone to thoroughly wash hands before each meal.

What safety measures will be in place in bathrooms and shower houses?

Each division will have specific bathroom facilities to use. Each cohort / division will be assigned times to use the shower house to minimize contact with others.

What steps will you be taking to clean and sanitize?

We are expanding our Buildings and Grounds staff and will follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC to ensure that Pemi is cleaned and sanitized multiple times a day. Handwashing is paramount and Pemi has added a number of handwashing stations throughout the campus to allow campers and staff to wash their hands frequently.

How are you preparing staff for the summer?

All staff participate in more than a week of intensive pre-camp training, including safety measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are strongly encouraging staff to get their COVID-19 vaccine before they come to camp. For those who do not have access or the opportunity to get vaccinated at home, we hope to be able to offer an option for staff to get vaccinated upon arrival for staff training.

Is the Health Center staff larger this year to help manage these new protocols?

Yes, the Health Center Staff has additional support in 2021 to provide excellent care for campers and staff. Upper Valley Pediatrics will continue to serve as our camp doctors, and will also facilitate the turn-around of test results for symptomatic community members using Quest Diagnostics, our testing partner.

What happens at camp when a camper has COVID-19 symptoms or someone tests positive for COVID-19?

If a camper has COVID-19 symptoms, he will be settled into the “Sky Box,” Pemi’s isolation zone that is separate from but adjacent to the Health Center, where he will be tested for Covid-19 and cared for by a nurse.

The remainder of his cabin cohort will enter quarantine (based in their own cabin), which will be lifted when the camper displaying symptoms provides a negative test. During quarantine, the cabin cohort is restricted to specific areas around camp to ensure they do not encounter anyone outside of their cabin cohort. This includes activity and meal time. They will have their own carefully planned and varied “cohort camp” experience, with access to a range of activities.

If a positive test is produced by the boy in isolation, the rest of the cabin cohort will remain in quarantine for 10 days continuing their “cohort camp” experience, during which they’ll be tested and monitored. Anybody showing symptoms or providing a positive test will be moved to isolation. 

Parents will be notified when any COVID test is administered and when results are available, as well as if their camper has been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

Does a camper who tests positive for COVID-19 have to go home?

If a camper’s Opening Day Lucira rapid molecular test is positive, we unfortunately will not be able to allow the camper to remain at camp but will provide clear and supportive guidance for “next steps.”

If a camper’s Day 5 test is positive, a parent, guardian, or designated adult is required to pick him up as soon as possible and within no more than 24 hours. Pemi will care for him in isolation in the ‘Skybox’ until then. The boy will need to quarantine at home for 10 days, and, if he’d like, is welcome to return to Pemi after a consultation with a Director.

What if a camper or someone in the camper’s household tests positive for COVID-19 within 10 days of the start of camp?

Your communication with us in this event is critical, as well as if someone in the household tests positive while the camper is at Pemi.

If this occurs before camp, and even if your son “seems absolutely fine,” his required pre-camp COVID-19 test must take place 10 days after the day of the positive test result of the household member.  In this case, we will follow CDC quarantine protocols: the camper would need to stay home for 10 days from the day the positive test result of the household member was received and be quarantined from that member. A director will be in touch to discuss what is required for a safe and smooth delayed entry to camp, which will be determined based on individual circumstances.

In the event that someone in a camper’s household tests positive for Covid-19 during the camp season, we ask for you to inform a Pemi Director as soon as possible. Depending on circumstances, we may need to quarantine or isolate the camper should he be deemed a close contact.

What is the refund policy in the unlikely scenarios of a camper needing to go home or Pemi needing to close during the summer?

See Withdrawal, Cancellation, and Refund Policies

Who is the contact if I have a question or something I’d like to discuss?

Please reach out to us with any concerns, questions, or for clarification on any of the above information. Communication is the key to a successful summer. Please contact either director:

After June 7th, email Kenny or Danny or call the camp office at 603-764-5833