ChangemakerU COVID-19 Policy

Over the last year, Up with People has continuously updated its safety practices in alignment with guidance from local, national, and international health authorities.  As we take collective steps toward recovering from the pandemic, we approach summer 2021 with confidence that we can successfully balance providing a great program experience while maintaining heightened health and safety measures.

Our program planning is impacted by a variety of external resources, including:

  1. The Virginia Governor’s office, which has begun updating guidelines to allow summer programs to run if Virginia is in the appropriate phase.
  2. The Center for Disease Control, whose guidelines we have been following and will continue to adhere to this summer.
  3. The World Health Organization, which provides guidelines and updates as they pertain to the international community.
  4. The American Camp Association, which has created a field guide for best practices within the summer camp industry.

The policies detailed on this page are continuously updated and express what we can share with confidence at this time. With the Governor’s support, the ACA resources available to us, and continued adherence to CDC and WHO guidelines, we feel confident in our ability to offer a safe and exciting program for the 2021 summer season. Please continue to refer back to this page as we expand our policies for summer 2021.

*This information is current as of April 6, 2021.


To be able to run a safe and successful ChangemakerU program this summer, we ask that all participants be fully vaccinated 2 weeks prior to Arrival Day (July 11). While all people aged 18 and older in the U.S. are eligible for vaccination, we know that this may not be the case in other countries. Exceptions can be made given extenuating circumstances and we will work with individuals one-on-one to ensure that we are offering a safe and inclusive program for all.


We plan to have rapid testing on arrival day for all of our participants and staff. We will continue to offer tests on-site as needed throughout the duration of the program. If proof of a negative test is needed at the end of the program in order for a participant to travel home, we can provide logistical support.


Hand washing and sanitizing will be a focal point on campus this summer. The pandemic has magnified the urgency of maintaining clean hands. With that urgency in mind, we have installed additional sinks and hand sanitizing stations to stop the spread of germs throughout our facilities. The handwashing and sanitizing stations were implemented in response to COVID -19 in the spring of 2020 as daily operations continued on campus.

While an inherent benefit of attending ChangemakerU is spending time in the great outdoors, we also use indoor spaces, like dining halls, classrooms, and dormitories. This summer our housekeeping team will be increasing their cleaning rounds and paying special attention to high-touch areas while using CDC-approved products.

COVID-19 Policy FAQ

Can I be sure I will be safe this summer?

While safety is impossible to guarantee with 100% certainty, we all have a role to play in ensuring our collective health and well-being. With the help of the CDC and VA local and state government, we have created a COVID Action plan to help promote your safety this summer. Take the pre-program quarantine protocols seriously. If everyone quarantines and arrives on campus with negative test results, we should have minimal issues this summer!

What do you mean by “Safer at Home” quarantine?

We are asking that participants and staff (and their families, if possible) undergo a 10-day “safer at home quarantine” prior to Arrival Day. This does not mean you cannot go to school, work, run essential errands, etc. Necessary outings where proper precautions are taken (mask-wearing, social distancing, proper handwashing) are acceptable.

We are asking that you not attend large gatherings, parties, reunions, etc., where precautions are not being taken. This is key to the safety of our program and not bringing COVID-19 into ChangemakerU this summer.

Will there be testing and/or screening?

Yes, participants must come with their proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test in hand from no earlier than five days prior to Arrival Day. We will also ask that participants quarantine at home to the best of their abilities during the 10 days prior to Arrival Day. All participants will be required to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival. Temperature checks and a basic screening will take place before breakfast each day. All direct supervisory program staff will be vaccinated and will undergo testing and screening prior to and upon arrival on campus.

Will there be cohorts?

Successful in-person 2020 programs operated by creating smaller “Pods”—anywhere from 20 to 50 people—who stayed together and did not mix with other Pods. The intention is to limit the spread of the virus by limiting interactions between groups of participants. Due to current Virginia COVID guidelines, participants will do activities in cohorts no greater than 25 people. Small group programming is not a new concept for Up with People. Our curriculum has often been structured with cohorts, crews, and “Home Teams”.

How will the program “bubble” provide an added layer of health and hygiene?

Our program “bubble” is defined by the campus environment in which we live during our 3-week session and the individuals residing in that bubble. We are privileged to have our bubble nestled in the Shenandoah Valley. For added safety, we will strive to prevent COVID from ever entering: Pick-up and drop-off at the start and end of the program will happen at a designated location; convenient, yet safe. Non-program participants will not exit their vehicles. We have designated a few vaccinated program staff members to go into town for emergency situations. Non-residential campus staff will always be in masks, and gloves when applicable. While we have increased our routine housekeeping plan, our housekeeping, maintenance, and office staff will implement all responsibilities while participants are not present.

What effect does the bubble have on programming?

On-site activities: Activities that happen within our bubble exclusively on campus between our staff and our participants will not be affected. These activities will happen with added precaution. Depending on numbers, some activities might happen in large areas or outdoors.

Off-site activities within our bubble: While the environment and location of some activities may not be on campus, we can still ensure our bubble is not compromised while enjoying many open-air adventure activities such as canoeing, zip-lining, and rock climbing because these activities are restricted to our staff and campers. Wwe will still enjoy valuable volunteer projects that maintain the integrity of our bubble, partnering with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Harrisonburg Arboretum.

Off-site activities outside of our bubble: Any off-site activities that would potentially compromise our bubble will be restructured or canceled.

What is the Health Form and where do I get it?

Two weeks before your session you will receive an email containing the Health Form. It is a very basic sheet that asks you to confirm statements about your health and track your temperature for the 10 days before the session. You must bring this form with you to Arrival Day. We ask that you be completely honest with your answers. It is imperative that we have correct information to ensure we are following the highest level of safety.

What can I/should I be doing now to prepare for the summer?

In the Action Plan, you will find the date that you should begin your Safer at Home Quarantine. Make sure you do not plan gatherings, reunions, parties, etc. during that time.

Ensure you have current, up-to-date insurance information uploaded with your enrollment forms.

Make sure to continually check your email so that you do not miss any updates.

What extra supplies or items do I need to pack this summer?

Minimum of 7 cloth mask
Personal hand sanitizer
Additional cleaning/sanitizing wipes you want to bring

What is expected for Arrival and Departure Days?

Car rides will be directed to our designated drop-off location for participant medical checks. Once complete participants will return to say goodbye. Only participants are allowed out of the vehicle. All persons will be required to wear a mask for the entire process, even in the vehicle.

On Departure Day, participants will be directed to our designated pick-up location where they will wait for their ride. We request that parents, participants, families, and friends maintain social distancing and not gather in groups to say our goodbyes.

What will dining look like?

Meals will be served primarily in our Dining Hall. To exercise the maximum level of caution, we will also enjoy meals outdoors, picnic-style. We will refrain from buffet-style service.

How will we maintain cleanliness?

Participants and staff will be responsible for maintaining clean rooms/dorms/cabins. We will make hand sanitizing stations available at all entrances and exits of campus locations. We will heighten our normal cleansing protocols throughout dorms and restrooms. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned multiple times per day by housekeeping and activity staff.

Will staff wear masks? What about other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

All facility staff will be required to be in masks when indoors. this includes kitchen staff, maintenance staff, and housekeeping staff.

Program staff will not be required to wear masks when outdoors with social distancing or when working within their cohort.

Will participants be required to wear face masks during ChangemakerU?

This mask-wearing guideline is only required for the first 2 weeks as per the suggested quarantine time frame:
Participants will be required to wear masks unless they are outside with social distancing, in their dorm, eating, swimming, or while doing activities with their cohort.
Participants will be required to wear masks while traveling by bus or van in an enclosed space.

Will we be social distancing the entire session?

No. Thanks to the inherent distance of the campus, we will technically be quarantining together for three weeks. After our second week, we will be able to enjoy each others’ company more freely.

What if someone has a fever?

If a high temperature is recorded during our daily checks, we will take the participant to the campus clinic and begin observation. More details can be found in the Action Plan.

What if someone is asymptomatic?

If everyone follows our pre-program 10-day quarantine, there should be minimal risk of a COVID-19 case arriving at ChangemakerU. We will be conducting daily temperature checks to look for otherwise undetectable symptoms of the virus and all participants and staff will be tested upon their arrival to campus.

Who will take me to a testing center if testing is required?

We are planning to have rapid antigen tests onsite to give to participants should they require a test. Positive test results or continued compounding symptoms will require isolated quarantine or leaving the program.

Who should not come to ChangemakerU?

People who have underlying health conditions and do not have support or approval from their own doctor or medical team should consider whether or not ChangemakerU is appropriate for them this summer.

People who are not able to quarantine properly for 10 days prior to the start of the program should consider whether or not ChangemakerU is appropriate for them this summer.