In 2012 I left Idaho to accept a position as Program Staff at CYO Camp Rancho Framasa. It seemed to be a perfect fit as I received my degree in Outdoor Education from Idaho State University just a year earlier. During my time in the outdoor and camp industry I have held many positions including Program Staff, Counselor Manager, Program Coordinator and now I am currently the School Year Program Director.
Working in the camping industry I have had the opportunity to learn new skills, to work and live in a beautiful area, and to get to know some really great people. I have fallen in love with so many areas of the job, but one of the most enjoyable pieces is the schedule. I have found that I love a busy and hectic schedule. I truly enjoy the long days, short nights, and busy weeks. It helps keep me motivated and excited.
In December of 2019, there were a few news stories about an outbreak of a new virus overseas. Most of the articles I quickly moved past or tuned out. In March of 2020, as we all know, the virus SARS CoV 2 was here in the country in full force. Almost overnight it seemed restaurants closed, store shelves were emptying, millions were losing their jobs, and many of us were under stay at home orders. The world had completely changed in a matter of months.
At camp, our entire spring season was upended with the news that schools were moving to a distance learning model for the rest of the year, which meant all groups had to cancel. Many of the things that I loved, including the energy of the schedule, were put on hold. The other camp leaders and I hit the brakes and shifted into working from home mode. Our primary task became figuring out how to move forward using zoom, text, and email.
What was that? A light at the end of the tunnel?
In early June, it seemed we would be able to open camp in July with a few sessions of summer camp. We took a deep breath and plunged in. We developed COVID related guidelines, reimagined how camp would look, and created new infrastructure to adhere to health guidelines all while staying optimistic. However, just as quickly as we saw the light, it was switched off again. Out of an abundance of caution, the very tough decision to close for the summer was made.
Personally, I felt defeated. We worked so hard to get everything ready for camp to operate, and then it was over. The worst part was that it was not going to happen for all the kids who were looking forward to coming to camp this summer. The camp experience is one of the most incredible, positive, and uplifting experiences for so many young people. It is not uncommon to hear that a young person finds the confidence to be themselves, finds a new friend, or simply releases some energy from being home all day every day during the summer. This summer was those things were lost for our campers.
Where is the light?
This entire experience will go down in world history books. Our children will learn about in school for decades to come. It has been hard, but there is light. Personally, I have gained a new appreciation for those around me. My wife and I got an opportunity to spend a lot of time together with our young daughter. Our campers were likely able to spend time with their families and maybe find strength and new confidence in themselves as a result. Perhaps they were able to spend intentional time outdoors in their backyards, or around their neighborhood or in a park. Also, with the slower days just maybe they improved their relationship with Christ and were able to reinvigorate their prayer lives.
Yes, there is light. It is hard to see some days because we have our eyes closed to what can be as we cling to what was. Maybe all we can do is open our eyes or change our focus to see the light.
Where this will all end?
No one knows. We do know what is right in front of us: our families and friends, the love of Christ, slower days, time outside, and the many other blessings of just being alive.
Changing our view and noticing the light can uplift us during these tough times. I wish you well.
School Year Program Director
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