How Are We Adapting to COVID 19?
Adventures in Cardboard is aware that our world's pandemic is only just beginning. We are also aware that parts of our country are tragically facing transmission levels that are off-the-charts, and although currently in Minnesota the rate of transmission has temporarily leveled off we know how quickly things can change. We initially decided in all prudence to cancel our camps with neither public health agencies nor city, state nor federal offices offering much guidance.
But the world has learned much about the transmission of COVID 19 in the last few months and we can work to minimize the risk of transmission in smaller groups, by operating entirely outdoors and with physical distancing in face masks. Sterilizing equipment and hand washing can also help, but it is believed that this virus is transmitted mostly from doses of aerosolized particles over a period of time. We’re learning from epidemiology that the virus disperses quickly outdoors and that transmission is much more likely to happen indoors where it can linger and build up in quantity. Outdoors transmission is more of a threat when viral doses pass from person to person in close proximity over long periods of time or when massive doses are transferred all at once – with something like a sneeze or cough in the face.
Of course there is a risk of transmission between people in any social gathering, but from everything we’ve read, being outdoors in mask while maintaining the advised physical distance is one of the least risky out-of-the-home activities for catching COVID 19. And the trade off in health may be worth the risk.
Operating under our new guidelines and in smaller social gatherings is something we must do until a vaccine is created or until effective treatments for the disease are developed. As we proceed with caution this year, and maybe for the next few years, here’s how Adventures in Cardboard proposes to minimize our staff's and camper's exposure to COVID 19:
LESSENING TRANSMISSION RISKS:
Staying Outdoors: Indoor spaces are avoided at all times.
Using Face Masks: The mask is primarily for preventing the release of or catching droplets produced when breathing and talking. Aerosolized particles seem to pose little risk outside. To that end all staff and campers are required to wear face masks, but staff and campers may remove their masks temporarily when 15' or more distant from others, for when we’re gasping for breath, for when we’re eating or drinking or for whenever our wellbeing is just over-encumbered by a mask.
Prolonging Physical Distance: All campers and staff must maintain at least a 6' radius of distance from each other in the open-air shelters, fields and trails. A brief proximity closer than 6’ is acceptable for assisting each other in the armory, games or castle only if both participants remain masked, if both parties are conscious of directing their faces away from each other and if this proximity is limited to no longer than a minute or two. In most cases when assisting others, counselors and campers will be asked to direct the assisted to a safe distance from the assister, e.g. "Will you please move over a couple of feet and I can cut that out for you!"
Hand Washing: Counselors practice hand-washing drills with the campers before each activity.
Sterilization of All Tools and Equipment: Counselors sterilize all equipment and tools before campers arrive and after activities are finished.
No Busses: We will avoid mass transit until accommodations can be found to make this safer.
Fever Checks to Enter Camp: All staff and campers must consent to a non-invasive temperature check when they arrive and must agree to leave camp if they have a fever. Refunds* will be offered if parties must stay away from camp.
Counselors Must Test Negative to Work: All counselors must consent to regular COVID 19 tests if possible and may not work at camp if they test positive.
Exposed Campers and Staff Stay Home: All staff and campers must agree to stay away from camp if they or someone they are in close daily contact with tests positive for COVID 19. Refunds* will be offered if parties must stay away from camp.
Risk from Travel: If you have travelled or plan to travel to an area with a known high infection rate for COVID 19, please register for a week of camp that starts before you leave or starts at least 14 days after your return.
Refund* When we refund tuition for summer camps our third party registration provider does not agree to refund their .0395% transaction fee for online payments. This has been a source of confusion for some with Active’s receipt misleading people to believe that Adventures in Cardboard has charged them a cancellation fee for cancelling camp. This would be egregious in any situation, a pandemic notwithstanding!
What Are Our New Camps Like?
Our new camps are the same as our summer camps of past years except they are smaller. The largest impediment for our operating safely was our huge size. Even with all precautions, meetings of 120 people could still pose an unacceptable risk to public safety.
But as we learn more about how the disease is passed on, and as the restrictions on social gatherings have eased, campers can meet in the park in two separate pavilions of 21 campers and 4 staff for Armory and Games. Though our castles will be limited this year (huge castles are returning next year) we’ll still create time and space for setting up a few towers or sprawling box towns and the beloved free-role play that happens around them – except now everyone will look like a bandit and have 6’ invisible force-field powers.
We will certainly miss the large numbers of kids for the epic castle battles and the sheer happy chaos and wonder it provides, but we’ve gotten positive feedback from families about the lower numbers of our alternative June camps too. One day we’ll get back to raucous film-scale battles and miles of free role play, but these next few years we’ll be looking to discover the benefits of operating in smaller numbers. Someday soon we may be offering both types of camps.