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Outdoor Professionals & COVID-19

PLEASE NOTE THE DATE THIS WAS POSTED as information/situations change swiftly in this pandemic, these are my thoughts as of today. Those may change tomorrow, or even two hours from now.

I anticipate that last week we saw the first of many, MANY sad announcements about the status of summer camps & other seasonal outdoor recreation activities in 2020. The timing of this pandemic is simply awful for our businesses.

Please pray for my work community. We are the outdoor professionals who serve at camps & (people like me) who train those professionals to keep your kids safe. While teachers & students are sad they won't get to enjoy the last chapter of school year traditions ... our opportunity to even begin our 2020 story will be cancelled/postponed/or drastically changed, possibly permanently.***

We understand the gravity of this pandemic situation. Safety is our top priority always. We are not asking to "open the country" prematurely. If staying home is what keeps our community & world safe right now, then that is what we do. That doesn't mean that we won't also greive our own losses of missing the chance to do our jobs this year.

In 2020, we won't have the chance to pursue the jobs that fuel our passion, & ultimately our lives. We won't make camp memories, we won't get to share our knowledge & passion for the magic of summer camp & many other outdoor recreational pursuits with any participants at all in 2020.

Personally, I am a Trainer of Challenge Course Facilitators and Zipline Guides. I'm the one that parents never meet because I'm already moved on to train the staff at another camp by the time the kids roll through the beloved camp gates. Instead, I get the privilage of working with the summer staff. I train them to keep themselves and everyone else safe. But my job isn't just about teaching the technical skills, it is about helping those camp staffers to learn from their own experiences, so that they in turn, may be able to help their campers learn from their summer experiences. In 2020 I won't have the opportunity to see these college age staffers struggle walking across the challenge course for the first time. I won't have the opportunity to talk them through those moments of panic. I won't get the chance to celebrate with them when they are finally able to make their body do the correct movements with the correct timing while belaying. I won't be able to chat with them after their time on the challenge course, guiding them through the experiential learning process so that they too may have "aha!" moments. Then enabling them to facilitate those moments for your kids after I leave. These are moments that cannot be experienced in a Zoom meeting, they can't be learned from just watching a YouTube video.

Teachers, I feel your pain. I hurt for you too, but at least you had the opportunity to do the job you are passionate about for 6 months of the school year, then transition to online classes. You will have the opportunity to share knowledge, shape minds and connect with those cool kids again in 2020, hopefully face-to-face again. My beloved collegues & I won't see our window open again until at least 2021 & even that is wholly dependent upon the advancement of research, testing & treatment of COVID-19.

Put simply, please pray for my work community. We love our jobs for a million reasons...a million reasons that are currently on lock-down.

***I know that several camps (even one I used to work), have been able to pivot already. Our community is filled with creative, "We will find a way!" type people. I know that every idea possible has been thrown on the table for consideration at every camp around America. There will be some in 2020 that will find ways to safely provide at least a portion of the magic of summer camp to some very lucky kids. However, I predict that if their local governments allow them to open at all this summer, many simply won't have the lead time to train staff, or even be able to have enough time to get registrations up enough to host camp before school has to start up again. Ultimately, the question that is the heaviest on my heart is one that I can barely event type, "Should we start a death toll of camps the pandemic killed (aka permanently closed)?" I truly hope that Alexis-of-September 2020, can look at this post & laugh at Mid-April-quarantine-Alexis' predictions.


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