Christian Summer Camp Was Maybe Not The Best Idea This Year?
This May, the CDC issued guidance for summer camps which included encouraging all attendees (over 12) to get vaccinated, and requiring those who refuse to quarantine for two weeks beforehand and to provide a negative COVID test 1-3 days before admission.
But a lot of camps, Christian summer camps in particular, did not follow that guidance. And it has not ended well.
The latest? Dozens of COVID-19 cases across 17 states have been tracked back to a rural Christian summer camp in Transylvania County, North Carolina, called "The Wilds." Kids, staff, and counselors came for a "funtastic" adventure combined with daily worship and serving the Lord and came back serving up a contagious virus instead. COVID, not vampirism — though we'd probably have a better chance of convincing the unvaccinated that vampires exist and are preying on children at summer camps than we would convincing them to believe that COVID is real and they need to get the vaccine. Especially if they are working at a crowded summer camp.
Via The Daily Beast:
"There's certainly a possibility that more cases could be identified," Transylvania Public Health spokesperson Tara Rybka said, adding that any lingering cases were likely due to reporting delays as cases creep in from other states.
Photos posted to The Wilds' Facebook page feature kids crowded around largely mask-free outdoor activities during faith-based sessions between June 28 and July 17.
Health officials declined to comment about whether or not the cluster painted the picture of a camp that had not vigilantly followed safety requirements amid the pandemic. Camp brochures and registration forms on The Wilds' website don't mention COVID-19 protocols and a list of "what to bring" to camp doesn't mention face masks.
An immunization waiver on the camp's website says that campers are generally required to be immunized against a host of illnesses according to state health department standards, but also provides an option for parents choosing not to immunize their children to "sign a statement releasing the camp from any liability due to exposure to any communicable disease."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the camp will not be closing. The statement on their website reads:
The Wilds will continue to take significant precautions to protect our staff and campers from COVID-19 this summer. While we have had some campers and staff either test positive or exhibit symptoms at different points this summer, we plan to continue to safely serve your camper through the remainder of the summer as the Lord allows.
Continue to take significant precautions? Really? That does not bode well, given the exactly zero significant precautions they took in the first place.
As mentioned, this is hardly the first major COVID outbreak traced back to a summer camp this year. 156 people tested positive after an outbreak hit a church summer camp in Texas. 116 cases can be traced back to youth camps and conferences at the Crossing Church in Illinois. Many other cases can be linked to various outbreaks at various church camps across Kansas.
Nearly all of the outbreaks have occurred at Christian summer camps. Other camps have been in session and not had the same issues. They take precautions and have largely been safe. Unfortunately, some people have apparently decided that it is part of their religion not to follow COVID guidelines.
According to approximately 37 articles asking the same thing, people are wondering what this means for schools. Does it mean that sending kids back to school will lead to another surge in cases? Is it not safe to send kids back this year either?
Well. Given that the camps that followed the guidelines and protocols did not have major outbreaks, the main thing this tells us is that it's not so much that schools are dangerous, or that camps are dangerous, but that not following the guidelines and protocols is dangerous. So yeah — there will be outbreaks coming from schools in areas where people aren't getting vaccinated and aren't following guidelines (coincidentally, they are usually the same people) and there won't be major outbreaks in areas where people are doing those things.
At least as long as our vaccines protect us from however much the virus is mutating due to these assholes spreading it amongst each other, anyway.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse