It’s a strange world out there. Schools across the country have moved to virtual learning, restaurants can only offer take-out, and ski areas, movie theaters, concerts, and sporting events have been cancelled. There will be no March Madness. The streets of big cities are eerily deserted. Our hands have never been cleaner.
We are in new and uncharted territory. As everyone practices social distancing and self-quarantines, it’s easy to binge on Netflix, mindlessly scroll through Instagram and Twitter, and glue your eyes to a video game. All these things are fine in small doses, but in excess have proven to be detrimental to health.
May we at Camp Pinnacle make some suggestions for the next few weeks?
Avoid emotional contagion
A lot of fear is floating around, which is natural when you are told to “shelter in place” for an indefinite time. Science shows that stress is contagious. By remaining positive and focusing on what you can control (social distancing and and your actions, for example), your mental health will be your own and cannot be brought down by others.
(Following social distance protocols, of course.) Hike, walk the dog, run on trails or at the park, skateboard, mountain bike—whatever you can, as much as you can. A 2009 study showed that during the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak, “A combination of fresh air, sunlight, scrupulous standards of hygiene, and reusable face masks appears to have substantially reduced deaths among some patients and infections among medical staff.”
Spending time in nature may be more important than ever. Fresh air may kill the flu virus and other harmful germs, and we all know conversations are better when you are doing something active with friends in the outdoors (and it’s easy to stay six feet away from each other in the woods).
… An actual, this-came-from-trees book. Reading books may be a long-lost art, but it can open all kinds of new worlds. Reading is quite fun, and books make for a great temporary escape.
Eat well, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated
This advice should apply every day, but when illnesses are spreading rapidly, it’s more important than ever to eat a balanced diet (don’t forget fresh fruits and veggies), get enough sleep every night (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 9–12 hours for kids 6–12 years of age, and 8–10 hours for teenagers), and drink plenty of water (9–14 cups a day for kids ages 9–18).
Start a project or learn a new hobby
When you aren’t engaged in distance learning or working remotely, research something you don’t know, build something with your hands, fix something around the house, pull out the dusty board games and puzzle boxes, set up an easel… keep yourself busy and your brain active.
Check out online resources
Hundreds of virtual resources for those quarantined at home have popped up so that kids and adults alike don’t go stir-crazy. You can take online tours of:
Help out the elderly in your neighborhood…
… But remember to avoid direct contact. Offer to do their food shopping, and leave groceries or other helpful supplies on their porch. Mow their lawns, bring in their mail, shovel snow, or do anything else that would otherwise put them at greater risk or exposure. Social distancing and self-quarantine may be hard on healthy families, but it’s much harder on older and immunocompromised folks, especially those who live alone and don’t have support networks.
Be your best self
National or global disasters can bring out the best in people, but apparently pandemics bring out the worst. This is the time to be extra kind and do more than our share when we can (this includes not buying all the toilet paper in Costco). Let’s hope that kindness ends up being more contagious than COVID-19.
And, of course, get ready for camp
We’re hopeful that warm weather and humidity will minimize the potency and transmission of the novel Coronavirus during summer months. As long as we aren’t forced to shut down, we think camp will be one of the safest places that kids can be. With efficient and thorough camper and staff health screening on the front end and an excellent and prepared medical team, we can create and maintain a healthy community—and a community where all contagious emotions are positive!
Camp Pinnacle campers spend most of their time outdoors in fresh air. Our community is filled almost exclusively with campers and counselors in the age group that’s minimally affected by the Coronavirus. Because we have very limited contact with the general population, Camp Pinnacle might be the most fun “quarantine” ever, as we won’t have to worry much about interacting with or possibly infecting people in at-risk demographics.
We think after this anxiety-filled start to 2020, summer camp will truly be an antidote—a place to remember what is right in the world, and a place where we can practice being our best selves. Summer camps are unique in that they provide a fun, freeing, active, tech-free, friend-filled, and mostly outdoors experience filled with new challenges and successes, and that’s something we can all look forward to.
Stay optimistic: This is the year people will need camp more than ever, and we are working hard to be ready for our campers to arrive to their second home once the “all clear” is finally sounded!