This summer, an old school that once bustled with children and later housed Epic will transform into a day camp for children of healthcare workers. Camp Tokay will open its doors this month to help fill the need for childcare created by the closures and lower capacities of many kids’ summer programs due to COVID-19.
Epic is donating the use of the building for the camp, which will be run and staffed by Madison, Wisconsin healthcare organizations UnityPoint Health and UW Health.
“During this pandemic, our healthcare workers’ families have experienced a lot of disruption, including limited summer care options for their school-age kids,” said Rachel Weber, UnityPoint Health childcare manager and camp program director. “We’re helping fill that gap for our staff while immersing kids in a fun environment. Campers will participate in activities related to each week’s theme, such as planting seeds during a ‘Muddy Green Thumbs’ gardening week. There will also be arts and crafts projects, yoga, board games, and outdoor activities on the six acres of Camp Tokay.”
Originally built in 1959, the building on Tokay Boulevard served as the Odana School until suffering significant fire damage in 1976. After being restored, it was occupied by Wisconsin Dairy Herd Improvement Cooperative until Epic purchased the property in 1993. The following year, Epic transformed the building into a creative, high-tech space and moved in all 73 staff members. The company quickly outgrew its home, expanding to over 2,000 staff before relocating to a new campus in 2006. Today, Epic employs over 10,000 people.
Epic still owns the Tokay building and is donating the space, along with utilities, cleaning services, lawn maintenance, and food, for the camp. The company’s culinary staff will prepare lunch and snacks for the kids each day. The camp will have enhanced safety measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including keeping kids with the same small group all summer and screening for symptoms, in accordance with guidance from local public health officials.
“We love that the building is returning to its roots as a creative learning space for kids and helping healthcare workers and their families in our community,” said Sverre Roang, Epic chief administrative officer. “Together with UnityPoint Health and UW Health, we’re providing a camp where kids can just be kids.”