Two young teen campers at OTC

When Covid came to town last year I was as scared as just about anyone. My wife, who is a Nurse Practitioner, was going to work at a hospital in NYC every day, treating many patients with COVID 19, and I was staying home afraid.

A bubble?

I knew early on in this pandemic that I would not be opening camp last summer. Many camp people I knew were saying they thought sleepaway camps could be one of the safest places for kids because we are a closed community, and we’re in a good position to create a COVID-free “bubble.” They described camp as a castle with a moat and a drawbridge that could be lowered only when it felt safe to let people in. I had my doubts. I knew how quickly viruses can run through a summer camp and was not going to take that risk. It turned out to be a moot point because Massachusetts never allowed camps to open.

Shout-outs to pioneers

I’m glad some camps did open and were able to operate safely. They were pioneers, and I salute them for their courage and fortitude. Special shout-outs to Dayna Hardin, from Lake of the Woods Camp, and Jud Millar, at Stone Mountain Adventures, for their willingness to teach me things they learned last summer.

The beginnings of a COVID plan

This summer we will be relying on a series of three COVID tests, both molecular PCR and rapid antigen tests to create a COVID-free bubble and do what we need to do to maintain its integrity while we are at camp.

The psychological toll on teens

There have been many stories on the nightly news regarding how hard this pandemic has been on teenagers. I’m sure it has been. Teenagers are social creatures and spending so much time at home alone cannot be a good thing. We know it has never been easy being a teenager. So many changes and so many pressures.

Based on what I have been seeing on the news, many teenagers are struggling to do their work online. I’m sure focusing during online classes can be tough. Some students are seeing their grades drop with remote schooling, adding more stress to their lives. Many teenagers are more anxious and depressed than ever, and for the most part, I don’t think most schools are very good at helping teens with these feelings.

An antidote

For twenty years our camp has been a great antidote to the social isolation and loneliness we all experience sometimes. Because of what we went through this year, I wonder if it will take us a few days to remember how to relax and have fun together. It may, but I don’t think it will take too long and I think for all of us camp is going to feel like a much-needed breath of fresh air.