The 6 April Press Conference held by Dr. Deena Hinshaw was a strange one, if you are a student of these things. Strange, because the news reported - and the tone - was a blend of optimism and alarm that you do not often hear. On the one hand, we were headed back to Phase One of the recovery plan; tightening restrictions in the midst of rising case counts, test positivity rates, and hospitalizations.
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Simultaneously, Premier Kenney’s commitment that Alberta was poised on the brink of The Best Summer Ever! The Province shared projections and a “road map” that show us back to normal (my words) by the end of June! The key is in the rate of immunizations and infections: both imply protection from infection, and if they total to 64% by the end of June, according to the below, we can potentially look forward to fairs and festivals, with distancing “encouraged” but perhaps not mandatory. That’s really encouraging stuff.
Then Dr. Hinshaw doubled down, and said (in a letter to theatres and performance venues) that they felt we could expect a “more normal level of operations by the summer.”
That’s all good news. Doubly good news, in fact: the government is signalling their belief, and (just as important) their commitment to a safe recovery in Summer 2021.That commitment means something. It will cost the government something if they have to walk away from it. They will do everything they can to make good on these predictions. Jason Kenney really wants you to have the best summer ever. He really, really does.
For months, since maybe December, it has looked to me like a coin flip: 50/50 chance of something like normal at Crow. It feels like a “next goal wins” kind of hockey game. Amazingly, after some wild swings of fortune, it still feels like that now. Could go either way.
“What?” you’re saying. “After all of that, after all of that encouragement, and charts, graphs, and promises from the government, and we are still at 50/50?”
Well, as always - a few qualifications.
First, no one has made any promises, assurances, forecasts or even prognostications about summer camps specifically. The Stampede hasn’t cancelled yet. The Calgary Folk Fest hasn’t cancelled. But camps are different - especially because you have to sleep over at camp, and if you are sleeping over in a bunk bed, you (probably) can’t maintain distance, or you certainly can’t wear a mask.
That leads directly to the second fact that is a concern: some of our peers are cancelling already. Southern Alberta Bible Camp - they of the alleged hostile takeover from last April Fools - have made their call, and have decided to shift the focus to family camps. This makes a lot of sense to me, and they’ve made their decision after prayerful consideration, in view of the best way to enact their mission this year. We are going to face the same decisions.
I have not spoken yet with my counterpart at SABC, Mr. Jon Gartly. But if I had to speculate (and I don’t) it seems likely to me that it wasn’t just uncertainty about health guidelines that led them to this decision. I would imagine that SABC, considering the same obstacles that we are facing, is recognizing (as we are recognizing) that even if we manage to clear the Covid hurdle, we’re likely to fail at the staffing hurdle. It takes so many hands to run an operation like Crow. Hundreds of people, literally hundreds. The uncertainty of Covid ripples through from Health regulations into everything else. The uncertainty and impossibility of committing so many weeks in advance extends from the Alberta Government to individuals. We just aren’t seeing the hands go up; we’re way behind on our staffing commitments. It might be that the pieces fall into place all at once. It might be that on 15 June we get confirmation that camp is a GO! That would be super exciting. But after winning that coin toss, we’d still be nibblin’ our nails. Cooks, speakers, program directors, cabin leaders. Hoo-boy, it’s a lot. It’s an absolute lot.
Of all of the frustrations (and there are a lot) and pain of being condemned to pandemic, perhaps the greatest is the loss of control. I’m waiting, watching closely trying to discern future plans from the position of the Urim and Thummim. Something is going to happen; a decision is going to be made, a model created, data interpreted. Whatever the decision is, it will certainly happen a long way away from Coleman, Alberta. A long way away from the quiet shore of Crowsnest Lake. And whatever it is, that’s going to determine our future.
But of course, that’s wrong.
“Our God is in the heavens;” Psalm 115:3 says. “He does all that he pleases.”
And there is something you can do, too: you can make your commitment, that if the camp is open, you’ll be there. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell ol' Wil that you're up for anything.
We need you.