Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Well, it's early January, 2021, and a new year is upon us. Usually by this time, we have had our schedule for our workshops and programs up on the website for a couple of months, and we are on our way to planning and filling these events.
This year, it's a little different, kind of like the last ten months.
In upstate New York, we are currently in an exponentially growing COVID situation, that, while numbers are not astronomical by major city comparisons, is very concerning. We have few hospitals and health care facilities that can handle a large load of infected people needing care, and we are hunkered down, waiting for these numbers to drop. With the number of people in our area who refuse to wear masks, or think it's a hoax and who still are eating out inside restaurants, going to bars and engaging in risky behavior, we think it might take a while before the infection rate drops to where it was last summer....
(Note: We are also aware of the danger posed by the COVID variant that has been spreading quickly across Europe and now in Colorado and California. We sincerely hope that this won't create further problems, but again, experience seems to indicate that it is very likely going to be a growing 'big deal'.)
We aren't mixing with ANYONE outside of our tiny bubble, and we probably won't for at least a few months.
During this time, we are working on our online programs, as well as our firewood pile and some interior construction at Eagle House. We are fortunate to be able to hike around our own place, and to do gardening, trail work and get outside safely, for sure.
At the same time as all of this is happening, we are aware that the number of the newly approved vaccines for COVID have not been getting distributed in a way that makes us optimistic that our staff and children and adults will have access to them in time for our program season, which would normally start in late April. The likelihood of having everyone vaccinated this year seems like it could be a long shot. Hopefully, this will change, and if it does begin to seem more likely, we will be ready to schedule and plan our events accordingly.
New York State is currently closed to outside state travelers, unless they arrive ten days early and quarantine immediately after entering the state. It's not being enforced across the board, like many of the different Department of Health guidelines, but it seems like a smart way to limit the exposure on both sides of the equation.
We also haven't received any guidelines for our traditional residential summer camp programs, as far as specific details that we need to follow in order to get a permit to operate, but we do expect to get those at some point in the future if there is significant improvement in positive cases. We are in a wait and see mode here as well.
When our new programs are eventually offered, we know that there will be some changes to our health protocols that will be in place to keep everyone safe. They will be limited in size, and our personal spacing will be more limited as well, for programs where participants have not been previously quarantined, etc. We will have more hand washing stations, and our Eagle House bathrooms will be open and ready for use. We will also have temperature checks for all students and staff each day, to insure that anyone who might be ill can be isolated to keep everyone safe.
We will be running a Timber Frame Apprenticeship program in May, and at this time, we have a plan to run a few Timber Frame related workshops in the summer that are more 'weekend' programs. We hope to have a full line up of courses in the late summer and throughout the fall. Wilderness Skills, Nature Retreats, Forest Mom Programs, Family programs and more are all on deck!
Stay tuned, and stay safe, everyone! We will get through this one day at a time, just like we do when we are in the woods, living in the moment.
All the best to you and your family.
-Ricardo, Trista and Javier