Oh COVID, when will you quit? You’ve reshaped the world in your image in the last two years and between tragic and untimely deaths, financial losses, the devastating impact on healthcare workers, grief and confusion, political battles, and familial, community, and school strains worldwide, can you maybe just call it a day?
Listen COVID, in 100 years of camp you’re the only thing that ever shut Term Camp at Alleghany down, in that infamous first year of your destruction two years ago. So congratulations, your power is acknowledged!
But after two years, haven’t you had enough?
Wow, has it really has been two years?
I was just thinking about that timestamp as I celebrated my birthday the other day and it dawned on me that the last time I really went all out for my birthday was two years ago, right before the world shut down. Last week I was texting with some college friends who were with me at that special birthday (my 40th), and we were all saying we couldn’t believe it had been two years since we got together so innocently, so unconcerned, so unaware of what was looming in the next weeks of 2020…
Fast forward to now and you’d think I would’ve had my own fair share of COVID issues given that the level of accomodation we had to implement for camp during Summer 2021 was nothing short of heroic for the whole staff and all our campers and parents. We vaxxed, tested, traced, cleaned, scrubbed, disinfected, got into pods, distanced, and respected the process and, fortunately for all, came out unscathed, running our camp entirely COVID-free in 2021!
So then how did I end up getting COVID a couple of weeks ago? And my kids? That was an irony, COVID, you tenacious beast! Couldn’t you have just left us alone?
Hit By The Bug
Yes, we’re one of the many families who contracted COVID this winter, I guess due to Omicron’s rabid appetite for spreading.
Thankfully our holidays were both wonderful and COVID-free. We had Christmas celebrations with both sides of the family, a relaxing winter break from school and work, and a fun New Year’s Eve get-together with friends.
It all seemed to be behind us…
…and then on January 3rd I started feeling badly. What was up? Well, lo and behold I tested positive for COVID on the 4th. My husband, Matt, was out of town on a work trip, so isolating from my boys wasn’t possible, and probably too late anyway. Luckily we had snow and a teacher workday, so I didn’t have to worry about sending them to school just yet.
And then they tested positive as well.
Congratulations, COVID, you did it again!
There was nothing to be done so we hunkered down together, the four of us, and made the best of it. We enjoyed lots of snuggles by the fireplace, got in some movies, played games, perfected the art of the Pajama Day, baked cookies and roasted S’mores, and even got some fresh air — the boys still felt well enough to play in the fresh piles of snow that inundated our hometown of Staunton, Virgina.
I know that sounds a little like a vacation, and I certainly don’t mean to be insensitive to those who’ve had a much more rough go at the virus. I definitely felt pretty badly, though I know it could’ve been worse. But sickness is relative to your own experience, too — if you’re sick it doesn’t matter to you if you’re more sick or less sick than others. You’re just sick and it’s hard and it’s a bummer!
I believe, based on our symptoms and mild cases, that we did contract omicron. And in case you’re wondering – not a single person we saw over the break or at our New Year’s gathering (including our overnight house guests) came down with it! So I’m not 100% sure where I got it, but it looks like we identified it quickly enough to isolate together and not pass it along to anyone. So we have a lot to be grateful for.
But I’m still sick of COVID for reasons that extend well beyond just getting sick with it myself. Like the rest of the world, I’m not happy about a third year of COVID chaos and just ready to be past this.
With Matt out of town, I relied on my parents and my community of friends, who helped me from a distance. Meals were dropped off for us, groceries were picked up for us, and a lot of moral and emotional support was given as I navigated caring for my kids solo while feeling sick myself. It wasn’t the easiest, but it could have been worse, and for that I’m grateful.
And I sure hope that’s the last of it for us (and for everyone!)
Turning the Corner
At the same time our sights are now set on summer, and as a camp director my staff and I must necessarily loop in talk about what we’ll need to do in terms of COVID restrictions and safety this summer, if anything. As much as I want to declare an end to COVID and ask it nicely to just go away…well I, unfortunately, am not ruling the world!
At the end of last summer, we all hoped and believed we’d never have to do complex pandemic preparation, prevention, testing and tracking again, but we always remained committed to doing it if necessary.
The virus and its guidance are changing so rapidly that now children as young as five are eligible for the vaccine, making it so that the majority of our camp community may be vaccinated (at this time it won’t be required at Alleghany this summer, but many older campers last summer were vaccinated, over 50%, which certainly is a help).
Oddly, given how hard the virus can be, by this summer it’s probable that a large number of our population will also likely have had COVID, just like my family did, meaning we may be looking at a totally different level of immunity and a lessening of the strength of variants.
At camp we’re planning for the unknown, without overthinking it at this juncture, which means we’re taking a wait-and-see approach. Last summer’s plan was so solid and so effective, that we know we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Much of what worked so well for us, and that we refined into a well-oiled machine, will serve us excellently if we have to do it all over again. We’ll add any new measures if needed.
I’m committed to giving campers another normal, carefree, mask-free, hug-filled, song-filled summer full of personal connections, interpersonal interactions, and just plain fun! So get ready for a particularly amazing summer on the banks of the Greenbrier — our 100th Summer! — and stay tuned for any COVID news as/if it arises.
A final note…yes, my dear hubby did contract COVID when he came back home from his work trip. We’ll never know if he got it from us or the trip, but he had zero symptoms, and now all five of us have gotten through it and we’re ready for a fun family vacation to Florida in February without the worry of COVID messing it up!
I hope all of you reading this stay healthy, stay warm, and start counting down the days until that summer when #GhanyTurns100! And COVID, if you’re listening, let me show you the door!
Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download my FREE e-book, 3 Reasons to Begin Your Child’s Sleepaway Summer Camp Experience Early. It’s a great resource to share with friends, or if you are a first-time camp family and you wonder what sleepaway camp would be like for your child. Come join us!