Frequently Asked Questions

AYF's Response to the Coronavirus

This page offers answers to your questions related to COVID-19 updates. Please review this message from the AYF’s statement on summer 2021 programs. We hope the information below will answer many of your questions. Please reach out to a Director or Registrar with additional questions.

This first section is a very quick review of the most important information. If you scroll down or click each section title, you will be taken to more comprehensive lists of questions and answers.


Adventuring Daringly into the Unknown (Click for More)

  • Join us for monthly Night’s Doings and Evening Reflections on Zoom as we work to stay connected and build community in the months ahead.
  • Please help us by spreading the word of these virtual options and the changes in program offerings to all in your network.

Enrollment and Program Questions (Click for More)

  • Right now, we are taking time to better understand how other camps operated this summer (with and without COVID-19 cases); how schools, colleges, and universities navigate this situation; and if an effective vaccine will be widely available by the 2021 camp season. While we gather this information, we are delaying the start of our typical enrollment period and will share our plan for the upcoming summer season in early 2021.

Four Trails Questions (Click for More)

  • We plan to honor your progression through the Four Trails program. We’ll be taking the coming months to define what this might look like and plan to reach out to individual program areas when we know more.

Financial and Refund Questions (Click for More)

  • Refunds for all summer 2020 programs have been issued.

Seasonal Employment Questions (Click for More)

  •  In a typical October, we open our staff application process. Unfortunately, we cannot open staff applications on this same timeline this year. Fear not, though – we will open registration and staff applications in the months ahead!


Adventuring Daringly into the Unknown


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How will the AYF community continue to support its community during this pandemic?
  • Join us each month on Zoom for“Evening Reflections and Night’s Doings.
  • We have offered several free online programs for campers and alumni and will continue to do so. Stay informed on all the latest with the AYF by following us on social media and signing up for the monthly Founder Sparks email newsletter.
  • We also assume that our campers themselves will help to inform how we best do this by sharing what they’re most interested in. We look forward to hearing their voice and welcoming their creativity!
  • Please click the “Submit a Suggestion” link at the end of this page to submit your ideas.

My child is feeling down. What can I do?
  • Please encourage them to attend our staff facilitated conversation groups during our monthly online Night’s Doings and Evening Reflections.
  • We encourage you and them to invite their camp friends to attend as well. This way, the conversations they’re having with their peers will be facilitated and we can work to help steer them in a healthy direction.
  • Using these forums, we will also share resources and sources of inspiration and support to help us all learn how to navigate these unprecedented times.
Is the AYF okay? Is there a way I can help?
  • These are difficult times. This pandemic-induced program interruption has meant the elimination of nearly all program revenue for this year and, as a result, the loss of need for 12 beloved staff members’ positions. In addition to these layoffs, our Senior Leadership Team has also taken a reduction in pay.
  • We are so grateful for the generosity of so many in our Founder Family. We also ask for your continued financial gifts to support our ongoing work, maintaining sites and systems to ensure our swift return to mission-supporting programs.
Will you need volunteers when this is over? How can I help?
  • Thank you so much for thinking of the AYF in these difficult times! There are several ways you can help. We will continue to offer fun, engaging, and creative virtual programs and welcome your feedback and input.
  • When it is safe to do so, we will look to schedule work weekends and other community and volunteer events.
  • We anticipate many volunteer opportunities that will be available when we open programs again at Miniwanca and Merrowvista. Please stay tuned for more information about Volunteer Weekends and opportunities to volunteer for programs such as summer camps and the National Leadership Conference.
  • The AYF gladly welcomes a donation in support of our virtual programming efforts to continue supporting our mission of inspiring youth of all ages.
Can I come visit camp?

Recognizing the importance of giving people access to natural outdoor spaces, AYF has revisited our site usage policy. We have shifted our policy to make it possible for small groups of individuals to safely access the Miniwanca and Merrowvista grounds.

Important points:

  • You do not need a reservation or permission to visit sites.
  • Please adhere to the important notes on signage.
  • Buildings are locked and there is no electricity or bathrooms available.
  • Waterfronts are closed. Our boats and tubes are not available.
  • If you see AYF staff at work, give a friendly wave from a distance, but remember to observe precautions and stay 6 feet away for safety.
  • Please use common sense and leave no trace after your visit.
  • Enrollment and Program Questions


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    What program will my camper be in next year?
    • As we shape programming for next year our goal will be to meet as many needs as possible. We are going to be more flexible than ever in the hopes of honoring each camper’s progression through the camp program. We’ll be taking the coming months to define what this might look like and will be in touch as soon as we know more about next year’s programs.
    What happens to NLC participants years? How will this impact graduation and what “year” participants will experience in 2021?
    • We hope that this will have very little impact! We plan to do exactly what was planned for 2020 in 2021 instead.
    • NLC participants will stay with the same class and year that they were enrolled in for 2020. For example, if for this summer (2020) you were going to be a second year, you will still be a second year for the 2021 program. The plan is for each class together and for everyone to receive the full NLC experience.
    When will the dates for next summer be set?
    • Right now, we are taking time to better understand how other camps operated this summer (with and without COVID-19 cases); how schools, colleges, and universities navigate this situation; and if an effective vaccine will be widely available by the 2021 camp season. While we gather this information, we are delaying the start of our typical enrollment period and will share our plan for the upcoming summer season in early 2021.

    Four Trails Questions


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    Will I be able to enroll in the same Four Trails program next year and will it be with my same trip group?
    • We plan to honor your own progression and your trip group’s progression through the Four Trails program. We’ll be taking the coming months to define what this might look like and plan to reach out to individual program areas (Explorer, Adventurer, Voyageur, Odyssey, and Vista) when we know more about next year’s programs.
    How will I know I am with the same group of friends next summer?
    • We encourage you to stay connected with your trip group through the Miniwanca or Merrowvista online slack communities found via the Best Self Every Day section of the website. If you need help contacting specific individuals within your trip group, please reach out to us directly and we can help facilitate that connection.

    Financial and Refund Questions


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    Can I get a refund? When will it be processed?
    • All refunds for summer 2020 programs have been issued. If you have questions, please contact a Director or Registrar.
    I'd like to defer my revenue to a future program, but what if there isn't an option my child wants to enroll in next year? Or what if I or my child change our mind later?
    • We appreciate the current challenges of planning for the future. At any point prior to February 1, 2021, AYF will fully refund you any funds that you are rolling forward. After February 1, 2021 AYF’s standard refund policy will apply.

    Seasonal Employment Questions


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    When will you begin hiring for next summer?
    •  In a typical October, we open our staff application process. Unfortunately, we cannot open staff applications on this same timeline this year. Fear not, though – we will open registration and staff applications in the months ahead!
    How can I get involved or volunteer right now?
    • We appreciate that so many of you have offered to support.
    • We will look to find ways to tap your capacities and share your gifts!

    In the AYF, we sometimes quote Albert Camus, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” This pandemic is easily as hard as the darkest, bleakest days of winter. It is our deep hope that this situation will allow each of us to find that invincible summer within. Camus goes on to say, “And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Our community, our values, and our practice of previous summers at Miniwanca and Merrowvista will all help you be your best now more than ever. A best self is built through the practice of living a balanced life; finding the mental, physical, social, and spiritual pieces of yourself that need attention and nurturing them. A best self, in turn, feeds and nurtures the surrounding community; seeking ways to support others and find support when needed. If anything, this experience proves that even distant from one another we are still connected. We hope that you will seek to be true to your own self this summer, to stay connected to your home, camp, and wider world communities, and that we can all, collectively, dare to make a positive difference.