Remember when tickets for that concert that you were so excited to attend went on sale? Remember dialing that phone number over and over again in the desperate hope that you would connect? Or clicking on that link repeatedly praying that you would get through? That is nothing compared to what my life was like from about 6:45 PM to 7:30 PM last night as I clicked and clicked and clicked the Shield Testing website in search of our testing results. At 6:45, I had received all of our tests except for nine of them…all negative. But there were those nine outstanding tests…what could that possibly be about?!? I remembered that the protocol for the testing lab was that any positive tests had to be run twice to ensure their validity. Uh oh… And so began my refresh, refresh, refresh vigil. (I had to replace the battery in my mouse as I wore the thing out!) Needless to say, I was not great company in those 45 minutes…and people stayed away (more than usual!) And then…at 7:27, the final nine tests appeared…NEGATIVE!!! (Turns out that they were just on a separate run at the lab…NOT being retested…ah the Kaplan imagination run amok!)
YES, THAT IS RIGHT!!! WE ARE IN PHASE TWO NOW!!!!
I spent the rest of the night wandering camp with the coolest cat in the bag that I can remember! I decided that rather than let the news trickle out in an uncontrolled manner, I would wait until the morning to share it with the broader camp community. I did this principally because I want to make sure that everyone understands that, while this is a big hurdle cleared, we still all have to be steadfast in making sure that we follow our PHASE TWO protocols to ensure camp stays safe. But, I cannot deny that I relished the prospect of grabbing that microphone in the morning and sharing the news with the whole community…to soak in their reaction.
And that reaction didn’t disappoint! Jubilation, relief, and excitement. The community celebrated the huge achievement accomplished. It was amazing.
(I apologize if the next couple of paragraphs look pretty familiar to those who have been reading these updates all summer…the feelings of gratitude and the credit that needs to be doled out are very similar today to when we passed through PHASE ONE a month ago.)
Before I go any further, I just want to throw tremendous praise on the entire camp family. Our staff has performed beautifully, patiently, and with great skill. After having gone through the PHASE ONE process during the first session (amazingly successful as well) they took what they had learned and made our PHASE ONE process this session even better. They have worked hard to make sure that everyone felt comfortable at camp and enjoyed the extended cabin time together…getting to know one another, getting to appreciate one another, learning to get along with each other’s quirks and eccentricities, and having great fun in the process. I could not have asked for more from them. They were amazing.
Our administrative team once again executed the Phase One protocols brilliantly and made sure that everything ran smoothly. They ensured that the programming was outstanding and that all of the meticulous detail work that needed to be accomplished was done perfectly from organizing, to COVID testing, to all of the things they would have to do during a normal summer. They were a well-oiled machine and things ran truly seamlessly.
You parents too have been extraordinary, before camp and during PHASE ONE. If you all had not committed to following all of our pre-camp protocols and doing your part, this could never have happened…something would have gone wrong. During PHASE ONE we have only received supportive and positive calls and notes from all of you. Instead of the angst that I am sure many of you have felt, you have showered us with gratitude and understanding. We truly appreciate it. Thank you.
But, most of all, I want to acknowledge the campers. While I have absolutely no doubt that these guys have been desperate to get to the normal Nebagamon flow of things in which they choose their own activities and have the freedom to roam camp with whomever they want, they completely bought in to the program as it had to be and made the most of the unique time that Phase One required of us. Sure there were challenging moments for all of them as this was a crash course in intense group living and togetherness. (Not to mention the fact that our Lumberjack campers do not normally choose multiple periods of Nature Lore in just a few days!) But, nevertheless, there was no complaining from them about the protocols, and they cheerfully engaged in all that we had planned for them. They were absolutely wonderful.
And now here we are…PHASE TWO!!!!
This means that starting this afternoon, the boys will attend projects of their own choosing! Needless to say, they are unbelievably excited for this.
If I am being totally candid here. I have been really nervous since the second session began. This felt like our most vulnerable point this summer. One need only pull up any news feed to recognize that things are trending in a tricky direction in the country with regards to COVID. Currently the most vulnerable people seem to be the young and unvaccinated…who account for over 40% of our population here this session. Despite my confidence in all of our mitigation plans, I knew that there were things beyond our control and that there was a chance that someone would bring in the virus and we would have to manage it here. We have a solid plan to do so, but nobody wanted to enact those protocols. And while we are still a long way from the finish line and will remain diligent about protecting our community, last night’s test results were an indescribable relief. (And I am sure that those around me are excited that the perma-wince on my face over the past week has mostly abated…)
It is a beautiful day here…the sun is shining brightly…and our COVID tests are all negative. (That sentence was perhaps not my most elegantly crafted bit of prose, but it might be my favorite line that I have ever written!)
Phase Two…here we come!
All is well in the North Woods…