As discussed in our blog, everything at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp has been cancelled (read more here) - including all of our own programming, as well as our rental programs and training sessions. We continue to cancel all activities on a three week time horizon. As of today, everything is cancelled until late April.
Our next decision is with regard to the Crowsnest Outdoor Leadership Training School, which we intend to start on 26 April 2020.
We are seeking your input and direction with regard to how best to proceed - or indeed if we can proceed at all - with the COLTS Program for 2020.
COLTS is a 16-week long residential leadership training course, with two months of practical training followed by two months of leadership practicum.
We have accepted five (5) students for this year's cohort. This group, along with their two (2) permanent instructors will live and work on-site together for the entirety of the program from late April until early September.
The group will inevitably have some contact with a limited crew of essential support workers (for instance, potentially: a cook; a driver for pick-ups and drop-offs to back country outtrips; and myself as an additional/temporary instructor, though I plan to take parental leave in approximately mid-May). These support workers (again, ~3 individuals) will follow guidelines for physical distancing when interacting with the COLTS team.
Per Alberta's current restrictions on gatherings and businesses, we will ensure that at no time will the group size be larger than fifteen (15). In practice, we intend to keep the group limited to ten (10) individuals at any one time, and ideally, in total.
Here are the facts that we see as being relevant to this discussion:
- With seven (7) participants, and limited contact with only a handful (~3) of non-participants, COLTS is a small group;
- None of the participants are in a high-risk demographic or group, and none have chronic medical conditions. All five COLTS participants are from Alberta, as is one of the instructors. The other instructor is coming from Saskatchewan.
- Because this is a residential program, the group are communally residing on-site for the entire 16-week duration of the program - not coming and going. Once they arrive on site, they will not leave.
- Although this is a residential program, we will take additional precautions to minimize risk within the group. For instance:
- We will minimise the use of shared/communal items, e.g. outdoor gear, serving utensils (see food prep below).
- When physical contact between participants is necessary, e.g. during first aid training, we will use barrier devices.
- We will provide separate living quarters for participants the duration of the training program, with separate bathroom facilities where possible
- We will enable and support physical distancing of 2 m between participants whenever possible.
- We will be prepared to further isolate an individual on-site if that person shows any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- We will clean and sanitise shared spaces twice daily, and more often when needed.
- Whenever it is necessary to travel off-site for training purposes (e.g. hiking or camping), we will maintain these standards whenever possible, and we will avoid contact with other backcountry users.
- We will observe physical distancing measures if anyone external to the program needs to be on-site (e.g. other camp staff, delivery personnel, maintenance workers).
- We intend to follow strict protocols for food preparation and eating.
- Food delivery will be managed by the cook through Sysco;
- We anticipate managing food preparation for the on-site portion of the program as either:
- program participants cooking for themselves; or,
- one cook serving meals on individual plates (as opposed to buffet style).
- The program curriculum is conducive to keeping the group participants effectively isolated. The course material is very practical, and most instruction takes place outside, and often in the backcountry. It is our intention that the program participants will remain effectively isolated for the entirety of their time on site.
- When on-site, the program will have exclusive use the Camp Lodge as their primary instruction area. There will be no other programs or rentals on site for the duration of the COLTS program, and (non-essential) visitors will be asked to stay off camp property.
- Because the Lodge is a large, open building that can comfortably host 300+ individuals, we will have plenty of space to practice physical distancing within the group.
- We will provide participants with instruction and regular reminders about the importance of physical distancing - particularly when contact between participants is likely (for instance, when completing first aid simulations). We will remind the support workers (myself; the cook; and pick-up/drop-off driver) of the importance of physical distancing when they are serving their function.
- All seven (7) participants - including instructors - will remain on-site, or camping in the backcountry, for the entire duration of the program. They will not go to town or socialize with others outside the group.
As discussed, our intention is to proceed with caution. Our priority is to demonstrate love for our neighbours by minimizing their risk. Given that the group size is smaller than 15, we do plan to proceed with the COLTS program, but we want your office to be aware, and to have the opportunity to correct our approach if necessary as we make this decision.