Are BSA and local councils being good citizens, helpful to others, courteous to vulnerable members of society, and kind to others by proceeding forward with summer camps? The Circle Ten Trevor Reeves-Jones Scout Camp, and I imagine others, have said they intended to proceed forward with camp this summer, but they don’t offer any mitigation plans for dealing with COVID-19.
Perhaps I am the only one whole feels odd while filling out medical forms A, B, C with questions about more fortunately uncommon diseases in the US, and yet there is no check box for the COVID-19 immunization (which I know doesn’t exist) or an antibody test, or taking a COVID-19 test just before arriving at camp, but this COVID-19 is much more likely to be brought into a camp and spread than any other item on the form.
Searching the internet, I’ve seen other non-Scout camps at least try to mitigate the risk by taking steps like taking everyone’s temperature when arriving on-site, making staff show up two weeks early, closing cafeterias to switch to campsite meals, prohibiting visitors and parent days, cancelling all camp-wide gatherings like campfires and flag ceremonies, or changing programs to create mini non-interacting groups. I haven’t seen evidence of Scout Camps taking precautionary steps, at least not from TRJ.
Even with precautionary steps, the risk remains high. Studies have shown that 50-60% of those with COVID-19 are a “Typhoid Mary”, spreading the virus without showing symptoms including a temperature. Many have proposed that companies with large staffs will have to have access to rapid testing of COVID-19 before allowing employees to work closely. Isn’t a camp with 400+ people similar in situation?
While timelines are still in flux, the President’s 3 phase program may mean that some areas are still in phase 2, limiting gatherings to 50 people. I think almost every Scout camp is larger than that. While other camps may be in areas in phase 3, the Scouts are not all from the local area. Most Scouts go to a camp in another county. Some have said that summer school cannot be held, so why is camp any better? Others are preparing for cancellation of school in the fall, or reducing classroom populations by half by alternating school days.
As a Scout leader, I am concerned that BSA and the councils are not showing leadership. Leaders are also parents. Perhaps BSA is creating a game of chicken to keep the camp deposits. Are you concerned about your child’s health, or more likely, coming home and spreading COVID-19 to other family members even if the child has no symptoms?