AYF Statement on the Coronavirus

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Read An Important Update from AYF President Anna Kay Vorsteg

For the latest answers to your Frequently Asked Questions, please click here (updated Wednesday, April 15, 2020)

Over the past week, we have heard from so many of you, and I am both surprised and buoyed by the repeated theme that so many are sharing. At a time when we, in the American Youth Foundation, are concerned for the well-being of all of you: our students, campers, staff, and alumni, YOU are writing to express concerns for the health of our organization. These expressions of care and concern are perhaps the most flattering form of balance I have witnessed in recent times. Thank you.

I want to reassure all in our larger community that we are doing relatively well, not unscathed, but standing tall. Because of the generosity of so many of you and those who have gone before us, we are fortunate to have endowment funds to keep our work, our mission, up and running.

We regret having to cancel many of our spring programs and our largest scholarship-raising event, the Donald Danforth, Jr. Golf Tournament. What we don’t regret is the opportunity before us to increase our online presence while simultaneously planning for the exciting program seasons ahead.

And while you’re at home, we are reaching out to help you stay connected with us. We heard the call for spaces to build community, reconnect with balance, and put to use the tools learned at Miniwanca and Merrowvista. You are invited to join our virtual hub, AYF Founder Friends, located on the Slack platform, where we’re forming dedicated channels for alumni and friends to post messages and join live conversations. On our website, you can find new blog entries, the first written by AYF parent Gretchen Clayton, sharing her story from home with her campers.

The AYF has weathered many a challenge in her 95 years. I have complete faith that we will weather the extremes of this pandemic. Will it be easy? No. Will we need to flex, let go and support each other in new ways? Yes. Nothing less than our best will be called for.

For now, take comfort as I do, that we are blessed to be a part of a legacy organization. The good and generous actions of those “upriver” keep us afloat today. When the waters calm, may we look to do all we can for those “downriver.” For now, worry not about the AYF, but please do us an important favor, take good smart care of yourself, and those around you.

Ever Grateful,
Anna Kay

Anna Kay Vorsteg
AYF President

Posted on March 14, 2020

Please know our thoughts are with you all as we navigate the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis and all it is stirring up in our home communities. You are very much on our minds and we imagine soon the reverse will be true, you will be thinking about this coming program season.

We want you to know that we, in the AYF, are monitoring events closely and working hard to determine the best path forward for all of our programs. In the face of so much uncertainty, our goal is to address as we can, concerns you may carry about program offerings and operations at Miniwanca and Merrowvista this spring and summer.

We remain steady in our commitment to offer only safe, mission supporting programs. And while we do not yet know all of the ways the current health crisis will require us to adapt our practices and planning, we pledge to keep you informed of any changes.

As of this week, we have made the following policy shifts in an effort to provide immediate support to our families in uncertain times:

  • The final payment date for 2020 tuition has been extended to May 1st
  • If your child is unable to attend for any reason and you share this with us on or before May 1st you will receive a full refund or can opt to roll payments and registrations forward towards a 2021 program offering.

We want to assure you that until May 1st you will receive a full refund of all tuition and fees paid if, for any reason, your child cannot attend a camp or conference program. With travel and so many other restrictive factors in play, please rest assured that AYF will keep no payments for any cancellations related to the impact of COVID-19.

We are reaching out to Community and School Program partners scheduled to be at one of our campuses this spring. If you are wondering about the status of a program scheduled this spring, please reach out to our offices and we look forward to connecting with you.

It is not lost on us that schools are sending students home, most extracurricular activities have been canceled, workplace demands are shifting, and restrictions are being introduced into our daily lives. Everyone is anxious and rightfully so. These are indeed trying times AND these are the very times when the best within each of us is called to rise. Now is when the skills and strengths campers have developed and discovered at AYF programs are vitally important, and now is when we invite all to seek opportunities to take positive action in the interest of others.

With this in mind, it is our hope to roll out a virtual program of sorts; sharing tools, readings, activities that will allow both parents and campers to connect with each other in positive, purposeful ways that enable them to support each other while also exploring ways they can use their capacities to strengthen our struggling communities. We often say in the AYF that “It’s a mark of leadership to adjust” and so adjust we will. We hope each of you will accept our invitation to bring the mission of AYF to life in a new way at a necessary time. This is our dare.

Thank you for being part of our AYF community. We look forward to having you in the AYF family for years to come. And we look forward to rising with you in the challenging months ahead.

Aspire Nimbly!

Anna Kay

Anna Kay Vorsteg
AYF President

Posted on March 5, 2020

As news of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes available, the American Youth Foundation (AYF) is proactively planning for any impact to our programs. We are concerned with the health and well-being of all of the participants and staff in our communities and are monitoring the developing situation closely.

At this time, there are no travel advisories regarding COVID-19 in Michigan or New Hampshire that would impact our programs. As such, we plan to conduct all programs unless travel is restricted or we are otherwise advised by local, state, or federal authorities. We will continue to evaluate new information as it becomes available, and we are prepared to adjust if necessary. We will keep our participants, families, and staff informed if any changes need to happen in terms of our program offerings.

We encourage you to find more information through these trusted sources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The World Health Organization
U.S. State Department Travel Information

As a preventative measure against disease transmission, all of our programs stress the importance of hygiene and safety. We will add extra attention to the implementation of these recommendations from the CDC :

• Frequent handwashing with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizer
• Using the crook of your arm to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

We will continue to enforce our community health protocols for the safety of all. If a participant or staff arrives at our sites exhibiting signs and symptoms of flu-like illness (fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath), they will not be admitted to the program. Anyone with reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 will need to be cleared by a medical provider before entering the sites. We will follow local medical advice for participants and staff that the person may have had contact with.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding AYF’s preparation and response to this public health event. We will continue to communicate with updates as they are available.

Updated March 5, 2020 3pm CST