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.