Dear Vega 2020,
There are no words to express the newfound depth of love, pride and gratitude we have for the immense strength, trust and patience you have shown over the past two months.
We come to you today with heart wrenching news that only a few weeks ago was unimaginable. We have made the excruciating decision that Camp Vega cannot operate safely in 2020 and will be postponed to 2021.
From the moment we realized that COVID-19 would upend all our lives, we have been determined to figure out how to provide a safe and worthwhile Vega experience for every camper, staff member and their families amidst this new global pandemic. Especially since all of us need camp now more than ever.
To that end, we have spent the past two months consulting and collaborating with camp colleagues and organizations, doctors and epidemiologists, PPE and testing suppliers, state and federal agencies, our senior staff and many of you.
As we developed new protocols and applied the changing guidelines to Vega, it became clear that we could not realistically do what we have always done – protect the health and wellbeing of our extended Vega family.
Our minds and hearts tell us that there is not enough data yet available about this novel coronavirus to confidently claim that any member of our camp population, including campers or younger staff, is not at risk.
We believe that the “test all to mitigate” strategy will not result in a safe enough camp environment at Vega this summer due to the accuracy and timeliness of available tests, particularly for asymptomatic infection, which is common in children. We are confident that testing accuracy and rapidity will improve over time and that we can use this strategy effectively next summer if necessary.
Best practices dictate that we operate in smaller isolated groups within camp, ranging from ten person “families” within fifty person “cohorts.” Any contact outside the cohort would require social distancing and/or PPE. We agree that this is an important piece of preventing and mitigating an outbreak at camp. However, we do not feel that we can realistically isolate campers and staff within their own cohort for the entire summer or operate successfully outside the cohort using social distancing/PPE and complete disinfection of environments between groups. Further undermining the success of this strategy is the very real threat of the virus silently spreading within the cohort despite testing because of the possibility of asymptomatic positive cases with false negative test results.
The mental and emotional stresses for all of us would be unprecedented, especially if your daughter or a member of her cohort presented with any COVID-like symptoms such as headache, sore throat, cough, muscle pain or fever, all of which are symptoms we see at camp every summer. Since testing is still inaccurate and results not immediately available, we would have to treat every COVID-like symptom as a possible infection by isolating that camper/staff and quarantining the entire cohort.
Sadly, most beloved Vega traditions would also not be possible, including Sunset Circle, trips, Visiting Day, activity requests, camp sisters and Olympics.
We understand how surreal and emotional this situation is for everyone. We feel it too and are here to support you every step of the way. Right now, we need to take the time to acknowledge our sadness and grieve together for a summer at Vega that never happened – a summer we needed more than ever before. We want to be with you in person to comfort you, cry with you and laugh with you, but as our present reality dictates, we must do so from a distance.
Please reach out if you or your campers would like to talk to us, or connect with any of our experienced, veteran staff members. We are always here for you.
We are resolved to safely welcome every 2020 camper and staff member, including Tamary, back in 2021. For even though the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away our time together on the shores of Echo Lake this summer, we will stay connected and support each other in the coming months until we can be together at Vega in 2021 – united and stronger than ever before.
And as a reminder of the happier days that await us in 2021, here is one of our weekly recap videos from last summer.
Sending comfort and strength to everyone.
Kyle and Emily Courtiss, Owners/Director
Linda Courtiss, Owner/Director Emeritus