Pali will not be opening for summer 2020.
Dear Pali families,
In June of 1990, at the age of twenty-one, as I excitedly waited for the arrival of my first group of 21 Pali Day Campers to exit their vans, I never imagined I would be in the camping industry 30+ years later, let alone have grown Pali into the year round multi-dimensional business which include a summer resident camp, an outdoor school and a Conference Center.
Since 1990, the Pali brand has had on average double-digit growth each and every year with the exception of the great recession of 2009, where we shrank 8.9%.
My Father’s sage advice to me was always be ready for the unexpected. Heeding that advice, I annually purchased expensive liability and business interruption insurance and hired a significant number of the best in industry staff to ensure that our staff to camper ratio is better than anyone else in the industry.
That has led Pali to successfully operating 30+ years without a customer liability insurance claim, giving us excellent social media ratings and having served over 1 million satisfied participants.
Going into 2020, we felt we were prepared for all potential disruptions.
We were prepared, when Pali went from pretty much sold out through June, with 600+ students attending our Outdoor Education Program each week and our weekend conference programs filled, to closed in 72 hours.
We were prepared, when we found out that our expensive Business Interruption policy would not cover this loss, because of an exclusion.
We were prepared, when we were told by our government, that a two-weeks shut down was being extended to a 2-month shut down and would be back up and running by May 15th. It was a huge financial shock, but we were prepared.
When we received the final word yesterday, June 16th, that the government would not allow Pali Adventures to open, even though campgrounds, beaches, day camps, hotels, restaurants, public pools, movie theaters could – we were not prepared in the slightest.
Since mid-March, Hamm’s, Snacks, Tuppence, Amy and the entire overnight camp team have been competently and tirelessly preparing for a completely different 2020 summer, full of personal protective equipment, social distancing, pod cabins and countless other adjustments suggested by the American Camping Association and the CDC.
On May 22nd, almost a month ago, I spoke with California’s Head of Health and Human Services, Mark Ghaly, who reassured us that Pali had nothing to worry about with regards to operating for summer 2020, and camp regulations would be coming out from his office the following week.
Based on that conversation, we instructed our summer camp staff to arrive the following week to begin training. In a mad dash, we purchased personal protective equipment, set up all of our redesigned approved activities, purchased food, and ensued on training our staff on how to run camp in a Covid world.
Over the next few weeks we received two additional assurances, that we would be good to go from our County Supervisors office.
On Tuesday, June 9th, 5 days before camp was scheduled to open, we received a letter from the health department that we were not permitted to open.
Since the moment we received that letter, we have been trying anything and everything under the sun to get the health department to approve our opening. We hired a political consultant, spoke at length with all of our local elected government offices and tried to get Pali reclassified as a Campground, a hotel and a dozen other machinations. We performed a letter writing campaign to our elected officials – all to no avail.
The letter writing campaign, while not allowing us success, was successful in giving us clarity. We finally heard back from the State that they would not be releasing any resident camp guidance to counties any time soon and the county was clear that they would not allow us to open until they received that approval from the State, game over.
I know this letter was long winded and probably TMI for many of you. I just wanted to be as clear as possible, that we tried our hardest to provide a summer camp program for your children and I tried as hard as possible to provide continued employment for as many of our full-time, year-round, employees as possible.
In addition to the normal 100+ summer camp staff that Pali employs, we have 70+ year-round behind the scenes full time employees, who prepare food, clean the cabins, pay the bills, create our marketing materials and maintain and constantly upgrade our facility. Each of these people support their families and I feel a moral responsibility to financially support them.
Our plan and wish, is for Pali to return stronger and more resilient when we are finally allowed by the government to reopen.
I look forward to the day when our mountain once again rings with the sound of children playing, learning, laughing and simply being kids at camp.
Disappointed but forever optimistic,