We fought our way out of dormancy, re-established ties with Alumnae, found funding, prepared Camp to operate again, and welcomed girls back to Camp Oh-Neh-Tah during the summer of 2019.
We were flying high because we finally had momentum again, and the future was so clear. WE WERE BACK!!
And then….COVID-19 came on the scene, made itself known in an ugly way, and forced the world to take notice.
Camp 2020 was no longer a done deal. The question became…. should we continue down the path to rollout resident camp with the risks associated with this new pandemic environment?
So the Girls Quest Board of Directors held a meeting to discuss the pros, cons, and risks of a “Go” or “No Go” decision to run Camp. We looked at data and input from the CDC, Department of Health (DOH), NY State, and the American Camp Association (ACA). After a robust discussion, we decided “No Go”. The risks to the health of our campers and staff were simply too high.
The plans for a resident camp were put aside and all efforts were quickly funneled into an alternative virtual camp experience using Zoom. GirlsQUEST@Home was born and executed and it birthed GirlsQUEST@Home Year-Round.
Fast forward to 2021. The pandemic is still with us and the Board found itself in another Board meeting and in the familiar position of making a “Go” or “No Go” decision about resident Camp for the summer. However this time conditions were better, more was known about COVID-19 and NY State had given the “OK” for summer resident camp. Also clear protection and operating guidelines existed from the CDC, DOH, ACA and the Association of Camp Nurses. During the Board meeting, Connie Stine, Board member and Camp Director, presented her argument for Camp in 2021 and she outlined the NPIs—Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions—she would put in place to keep campers and staff safe and healthy. She shared that she determined GQ’s NPIs after thrice reading the 120 page Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidelines, which outlined the “Gold Standards” for operating camps in 2021. Let me repeat that—she read it 3 times! Wow! Now that’s commitment to making sure you’re clear on the standards and that Girl Quest takes every step possible to minimize risk.
Some of the protocols Connie discussed putting in place address face masks, social distancing, reduced number of girls/counselors per cabin, acceptable camp activities, building sanitation, handwashing, health screening, daily temperature checks and Rapid testing. And this is a partial list of NPIs that relate to what would happen at Camp. There are also NPIs that address what staff and campers have to do before arriving at Camp in regards to vaccinations, quarantining, and testing.
After a lengthy discussion full of “what if’s” and questions for Connie, the Board voted and a “Go” decision was reached. The Board recognized that there were still some risks in running Camp, but felt that the NPIs planned would mitigate the majority of those risks. They also realized that girls really needed to get away to Camp after being locked inside for over a year. They needed nature. They needed the freedom to run around. They needed to physically see old friends and meet new friends. And they needed an escape from the computer screen. Executing our mission in 2021 became imperative. With that understanding, Connie was given the OK to move full steam ahead with plans to run Camp at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah.
WE ARE BACK! AGAIN.
We hope this message finds you well during this unprecedented national emergency and we hope you are following the CDC and NY or NJ guidelines to protect yourself and your family.
At this time, the Girls Quest (GQ) Board and Senior Camp Staff want to provide you with a brief update regarding GQ’s Camp for the coming summer.
Since the health and safety of campers and camp staff has always been our highest priority, we are carefully observing health events and conditions as New York State continues to bear the brunt of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We are regulated by the Department of Health (DOH). Though we are continuing to prepare Camp for 50 girls this August, GQ will follow the mandates they establish in regards to conducting Camp this summer. As of the date of this post, they have not made any decision.
Girls Quest also follows the guidelines of the American Camp Association (ACA). They have also not provided any specific instructions for camp for this summer.
Following the guidance from the DOH and ACA, we will proceed with all due caution when making a decision regarding Camp 2020. We will inform you as soon as possible when such a decision is made. Until then, we will continue to monitor the situation and share monthly updates.
Please check our Facebook page and website (girlsquest.org) for these updates.
We would like to thank our first responders and healthcare workers on the frontline who are working courageously. We would also like to acknowledge the other unsung heroes who are keeping our cities and towns running.
The Board of Girls Quest is ecstatic about running a camp session in August 2019 and fully returning to our mission. Finding our way back to our mission was not easy. Over the past seven years, the organization went through peaks and valleys. But through it all, a vision of young girls running through camp again and swimming in Silver Lake remained. Granted at times that vision was cloudy, but it never went away. Thank Goodness!
During the cloudy periods, Eileen Murphy, our Board President, kept the Board motivated and believing that we could run camp again. Eileen has always been the strongest cheerleader. At times her faith carried us through. She never lost sight of the mission and Camp Oh-Neh-Tah’s original shine.
In 2016, the Board made a strategic decision to strengthen our relationship with our Alumnae. I believe it was one of the best decisions we made. Bringing back Alumnae Weekends has been therapeutic. I think the property missed X chromosomes and could tell that Alumnae were visitors from the past. With some elbow grease and tender loving care, Camp Oh-Neh-Tah responded well and began to shake off the years of stillness and layers of dust and came back to life. It became welcoming again.
As we prepare for Camp 2019, memories that had been buried are coming back to the surface. Looking at old pictures and realizing the joy that Camp Oh-Neh-Tah brought to thousands of girls, fills our hearts with pride. Knowing that our efforts are about to impact another generation of young girls is extremely exciting and rewarding.
We’re blessed that we kept the faith, learned a few valuable lessons along the way, received generous donations that financed a part of Camp Oh-Neh-Tah’s facelift, and unearthed enough passion to keep everything moving in the right direction.
I send my “Thank You” to everyone who helped Girls Quest find our way back.