This is Jeremy Starz, Owner & Director of Operations at Camp Nicolet and Northpoint Adventures.
We continue to think of our camp families across America and around the world, and we continue to send best wishes and support to everyone during these uncertain times surrounding the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve recently volunteered to be a grocery delivery driver, through our local Fire Department, to elderly citizens who live nearby camp, for whom it would not be in their best interest (because of pre-existing health conditions) to leave their homes on errand runs. Conceptually, we’re doing our best to pull together as a community and to help one another here in the North Woods.
If someone you know is physically affected by the virus, we send positive energy for speedy recovery and necessary medical resources. It’s realistic to say I’ve encountered some “nervous” people in the North Woods over the course of this past week. The emotional impact of COVID-19 is being felt by local residents. At Camp Nicolet, we’re acknowledging peoples’ fears – and our own – and we want to “do our best” to continue to do what we do best; bring people together and be supportive of one another. During this time of uncertainty, our camp motto continues to ring true. It’s still about “Learning to Live Together” and right now it’s about that learning process in the face of non-routine and uncertainty.
The purpose of these blogs is to bring you operational information from camp, but before we get to that today, I’d like to share a story with you. This story has its roots in a variety of Northpoint Adventures wilderness trip experiences. Whatever your pleasure, place yourself in the midst of the Porcupine Mountains, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on the Rock Harbor Trail on Isle Royale, or climbing the Keyhole Route enroute to the Boulderfield Campground at Rocky Mountain National Park. For those of you who know me well, you might be rolling your eyes and groaning, “Another trip story?!?” Yes, another trip story – but this one is metaphorical and I think applies to what we’re experiencing RIGHT NOW.
On any of these trips, and I’ve lived through this to tell the tale, thunderstorms are a threat. They’re a fact of venturing into the mountains, paddling across the lakes of the Boundary Waters on the Voyageurs Canoe trip (ex. Canadian), or hiking the Porkies. Summer thunderstorms in the Rockies and Midwest can start as simply as a low rumble in the distance. Then the sky becomes dark. The noise becomes louder, and eventually, lightning strikes! The storm inevitably comes. As a trip group, we take precautions appropriate to our location; at the Boulderfield, it’s to the tents and on the mats. On the Rock Harbor Trail, we find a low spot and take shelter. Raincoats go on, we hunker down. And through this process, we continue to check in with each other. Each member of the trip group – leader or camper – checks in with everybody else. This isn’t a mandate or a written camp rule (although Wilderness First Aid protocol does address it as a best-practice during a “lightning drill”) but instead, it’s human nature. During the storm, we’re there for each other. We’re present in that moment, checking in with our friends; our “trip family.”
The storm, although sometimes sustained, eventually subsides. We pick up our packs, re-launch our boats, wipe off the water or hail, and we hike or paddle on. As humans with a drive to go forth and discover more, this is part of our fundamental fabric; we’re there for each other, and we KEEP GOING.
I share this story with you today, because in my 18 years’ experience of leading trips, it’s the only thing that’s absolutely certain; storms come and storms go. We take care of each other through the process. Rays of sunlight always break through the clouds on the other side. And, through each storm endured, our senses and perspectives are tested and we emerge more confident, stronger individuals. During a time of uncertainty, this is certain to me. I hope this story brings you confidence and perspective as we continue to “Learn to Live Together” during anxious times across the globe.
Oh, I still have to write about some “operational things” … I suppose I’d better do that.
I’ve read countless informational e-mails from local and national businesses this week about their COVID-19 operational protocol, their plans, and their measures to keep people safe. I attended a webinar about “good ways to communicate during COVID-19.” I’ve continued to read the Travel Advisories on the State Department website (travel.state.gov) and have researched the latest on the Wisconsin Health Services website (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov) and I’ve monitored the Center for Disease Control (www.coronavirus.gov) website.
You’ve trusted our family to take care of your daughter for 75 years, and we appreciate your continued faith in our organization. While the State Department has raised the Travel Advisory to Level 4, and the State of Wisconsin has closed schools, public and private, through May 10th (extending the original mark for re-opening from April 6th), we are not seeing information or recommendations at this time that extend into the summer operating season. Therefore, we keep our operational plan in place; we will continue forward into the summer as planned with all camp programs, with enhanced sanitation measures camp-wide.
Of course, the health and safety of our camp community is paramount, and we continue to monitor the sources noted above, and others (the local award-winning newspaper, the Vilas Country Public Health department, etc.) in operational decision-making. Please do see the blog post from last week, https://campnicolet.com/covid-19-update-3-13-2020/ for a discussion of our Cancellation/Refund Policy, in case you have questions.
For summer 2020, we’re planning enhanced sanitation measures camp-wide:
- Supervised cabin-group hand washing before all meals
- Hand sanitizing stations set up around camp, and notably outside the Dining Hall instead of inside (those pesky door handles)
- Hand sanitizing product placed in each cabin for communal use – with a continued emphasis on hand washing
- Later in the spring, we’ll be asking parents for additional assistance in pre-screening campers for illness (and lice) before coming to camp. I will explain this in more detail in a future post.
- Disinfecting wipes available in activity areas to sanitize sports equipment and “shared gear” – think tennis rackets, kayak paddles, riding & bike helmets, archery bows, etc.
- Enhanced cleaning procedures for Northpoint Adventures backpacks, tents, and community gear
- A renewed commitment to cleanliness in our community bathrooms, community spaces, and Kitchen/Dining Hall
These are in addition to our already high community health standards, risk-management, and ongoing awareness at camp.
Our full-time team is here for you. Should you have questions, like more information, or want to talk – please reach out. The best number to reach us is the business line; 715.545.2522 – or, please send an e-mail to request a conversation:
- Jeremy Starz, Owner/Director of Operations – jstarz(at)campnicolet.com
- Mary Anna Thornton, Camp Director – maryanna(at)campnicolet.com
- Georgi Starz, Owner/Executive Director – campnicolet(at)gmail.com
Sending our best to you and your family during these uncertain times, and may we all continue to be present for one another. Thank you for your continued support of Camp Nicolet and Northpoint Adventures.
Sincerely – Jeremy Starz