As usual, we begin with a passage from scripture:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7
Special this week, because it seems timely, a quote from Dr. Deena Hinshaw:
The weather is improving and I encourage you to get outside if you can, maintaining physical distance to get some exercise and enjoy spring in Alberta, which we know can be fleeting.
I know it can be confusing to hear me say “stay home” and then hearing me encourage you to leave your house to go outside.
This advice is not as contradictory as it may seem.
Getting exercise and spending time outside is important and you can do it while continuing to take all necessary precautions and following public health orders while you are out of the house.
This is timely guidance, because, on Sunday, the COLTS arrive for the summer!
That’s very good news. There's so much we can do with a core group of newly trained COLTS at camp. I see God opening new doors for ministry through them.
The COLTS being on site was something we all wanted, but it was a very deeply considered decision. After thorough consultation with Alberta Health Services, as well as local doctors, and with careful planning, the program is not required to be suspended, provided that it can operate safely.
- This is a small number of dedicated people (5 COLTS, and 2 Full-time instructors) who are isolated from the outside world. The plan is for the group to remain in isolation together for the entirety of their eight-week training program;
- We’ve made alterations to the way that we normally operate (around food handling, singing, accomodations, and close contact). You can read more here, if you are interested. And, of course, if anyone does develop any cold or flu-like symptoms, they will self-isolate immediately;
- We will use the Government of Alberta online tool to pre-screen all participants;
- We’ve moved First Aid training back until later in the program, so that we can be sure that none of the participants have the illness;
- We are going to follow the mandated 2m physical distancing requirement, both when on-site, and when off-site, on outtrips. This will be a big change, but necessary, even from a planning and training standpoint. We’ve run outtrips for more than 30 years! But we’ve never run outtrips with 2m distancing! It leads to all kinds of... delightful and difficult questions:
- What hiking games can you play when 2m apart on the trail?
- How do you huddle around a campfire in the drizzling mist when 2m apart?
- We’ll need to arrange individual tarps for each participant, as opposed to our standard approach. How will that look?
- When moved to shout ‘Yay God!’ from a peak, what do we do? When the urge to sing ‘My Aunt Hoovah!’ overtakes us, how do we subvert that desire?
Our 2020 goal remains the same: we are planning for a strong camp season this summer. But it isn’t enough to just ‘do camp’. The COLTS Motto is “Look well to each step,” which is taken from the famed Mountaineer, Ed Whymper (as opposed to ‘Whimpering Ed’, who I think is Moaning Myrtle’s husband? I don’t know).
“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.” ~ Ed Whymper
It isn’t all good news this week, however. We have made the difficult decision to postpone the Keenager’s camp, which was scheduled to begin on 15 May (24 days away). In keeping with our three-week time horizon for communicating any changes to upcoming programs, we are planning to send cancellations to registered participants this week. It’s a miserable decision to make, but I am proud we are making it: it demonstrates our commitment to risk management, and being mindful of the needs of others, as described in Romans 14. “None of us lives for ourselves alone,” verse 7 says, and we’re taking that very much to heart.
This is the other half of our summer commitment: camp has to happen in a way that is safe, and life-giving for participants. We couldn’t find a way to run Keenagers safely, given what we know about the disease, and community transmission, and the reality of at-risk populations. We’re investigating a couple of possibilities for Keenagers 2020: the most promising being hosting Keenagers in Fall.