I was pretty excited to hear it was okay to go trail running by myself and without a mask. I want to be outdoors and not seeing the world through my fogged up glasses.
With a lot of in the national news about COVID-19 restrictions easing up, it is not surprising some Farm and Wilderness families are contacting us asking if they still need to bring masks to camp. We all want things to go back to how they were and it’s tempting to think that we are there. Before we give the “all clear” signal, we truly need to be fully in the clear. At Farm and Wilderness, we have committed ourselves to the protection of your children, to the staff who work here, and following the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and American Camp Association. We have many people in one place, with communal dining halls and living arrangements, and fall into the category of “Childcare and Out of School Program” as well as “Youth and Summer Camp Program” so we are regulated and follow different standards that requires us to continue to implement basic safety measures like ventilation (thankfully easy) as well as distancing and mask wearing.
One way to think about this is shifting it to food preparation and dining. Fixing a meal for your family in your own kitchen and cleaning up afterwards, you may wash up by hand, and not check the hot water temperature is up to 180 degrees, nor require the head cook to have a Serve Safe certificate. However, when you go out to a restaurant, you expect them to be following those and more established standards. I’ve crossed a street to try what looks like a nice local spot – and when I see the “B” rating from their last kitchen inspection… I keep on walking.
We are committed to earning an “A” rating.
And yes, reopening is happening for many industries like restaurants, and I know that my analogy will only go so far in overcoming the deep desire for as natural experience as possible for your children this summer. I get it. My three children have gone through Farm and Wilderness both as campers and later as staff. I love Farm and Wilderness because it’s always felt like a place that allows for getting muddy and skinned knees as part of childhood. It’s hard for me to accept, but I do know that following health protocols is not the same as playing a running game at night, or blistered feet from a hard hike. My son recently contracted COVID a few weeks after getting his vaccine shot. He is fine, thankfully, but it was a personal reminder of the need for staying the course with established safety procedures.
And we are not an outlier. We strive in tandem with our fellow Vermont camps. Each camp makes decisions based on their available resources, the infrastructure at their facilities and the nature of the type of programming they offer. So not every camp will have the same exact operating plan, but no one is going to open camp without some elevated level of COVID mitigation.
Thank you for understanding and working with us. I have no doubt in my mind that when this summer is finished, there will be an abundance of great camp memories to treasure, the same reluctance to leave the haven of these Vermont woods and the same rich experience of nature and living in community that has been a constant thread throughout our existence.