School Program Communication

Greetings from Guided Discoveries!  We thank you and your students for your understanding and flexibility during this uncertain time regarding your AstroCamp and Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) reservations. Many of you have sent warm emails of support and encouragement that are much appreciated by our team as we navigate uncharted waters.  It is important to remember that our environment is ever changing.  The information provided in this letter is the most current but can change based on government guidelines, CDC protocols or other factors.

We strive to give our schools the most transparent and frequent communication we can provide regarding camp for the fall season. This continues to be a moving target, as news and local orders continue to change frequently and often contradict each other. Guided Discoveries is continuing to move forward with preparations for operating our outdoor education programs as permitted by local and state health officials. We know that many of you are looking to make decisions regarding your fall plans. To help inform your decision, we wanted to explain some of the specific challenges we are facing:

  • Will CIMI or AstroCamp operate programs in the Fall of 2020?
    • We are hopeful that we can serve schools during the fall. During these trying times, we are not sure whether students will return to their school campus in the fall or if the districts will allow overnight field trips. Also, the state and local governments and health departments must allow camps to reopen. Of course, we must be able to provide a safe environment for students, teachers and staff by following the CDC guidelines at that time.
  • What if my school is unable to attend field trips this fall?
    • Option #1: Retain Current Reservations and Await Updates
      As mentioned above, we are hopeful to run programs this fall and are working to provide full details on timing, duration, safety and programming protocols.
    • Option #2: Postpone Your Fall Trip to Later in the School Year
      You can work with our Reservations team to find a suitable date in 2021 and roll your deposit over to these dates. You would still retain your typical fall 2021 automatic rebook dates. If you desire to move dates, please let us know as soon as possible so we can better prepare.
    • Option #3: Roll Deposit to a Future Trip
      If planning a trip during the 2020-2021 school year is not an option, you can rollover your deposit to the following school year (2021-2022). If you desire to rollover your deposit, please let us know as soon as possible so we can better prepare.
    • Option #4: Donate to Guided Discoveries
      Guided Discoveries is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has served nearly 1,500,000 during the past 42 years. As part of the federal government stimulus packages, this year, all charitable donations, regardless of the amount, are 100% tax deductible. Please consider donating your deposit. It will help Guided Discoveries continue to provide programs for schools and nurture a spirit of discovery in the next generation.
    • Option #5: Request a Refund
      We understand that you may not know your future school plans, and we are willing to refund your deposit. Groups who receive refunds will not have a reserved space next year, but we will do all that we can to find alternate dates that work with your schedule. We appreciate your patience as we work on a timeline to refund your deposit.
  • What changes will be made to camp facilities to address the spread of covid-19?
    • We follow all CDC and state guidelines regarding camp operations
    • Hand Wash Stations – Additional Hand Wash Stations will be in place near the dining hall and program areas
    • Food Service will be cafeteria style – The buffet lines will be modified. To eliminate utensil contamination, meals will be served by our staff. Staggered service and social distancing will be practiced at all meals
    • Cleanliness and Sanitizing Efforts – The entire camp facility is cleaned and sanitized between each group. In compliance with the CDC guidelines, an upgraded cleaning and sanitizing program will be in place throughout each day
    • There will be modifications to the specific labs and program areas to help mitigate contamination within the guidelines of local health officials
    • Housing will be set up so that social distancing can be practiced
  • Riding on the Catalina Classic Boats (if going to CIMI)
    • CIMI is working closely with Catalina Classics to make the boats as safe as possible with a thorough cleaning and sanitizing. Masking and Social distancing between groups will be practiced. All of the appropriate health department guidelines will be followed
    • Depending on the number of schools and students attending the program, multiple boats may operate to allow for social distancing
  • Virtual Programing
    • During April and May, we provided some limited school classes with on-line lab programs based on the CIMI or Astrocamp curriculum. They are very popular. If you are unable to attend your program this fall, you might be interested in doing some virtual programs with our excellent instructors. We are exploring this idea. If you are interested, please send an email to Heather Kupferman. If there is sufficient interest, we plan to develop a more involved tuition-based program

Here’s to clear skies, calm waters and being together soon!

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