In yesterday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fellowship Church issued a statement saying Allaso Ranch followed CDC guidelines during camp sessions in July. While it seems clear that the church did follow some guidelines, it seems just as clear that they did not follow critical mitigation guidelines such as social distancing and use of masks.
The CDC updated Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps in June. Reviewing these guidelines, it appears that Allaso Ranch selectively followed them. The CDC set risk parameters as follows:
The more people a camper or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in youth camp settings as follows:
- Lowest Risk: Small groups of campers stay together all day, each day. Campers remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., city, town, county, community).
- More Risk: Campers mix between groups but remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
- Even More Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
- Highest Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Anyone following any of the media on this story will know that campers and volunteers did not wear masks and did not stay 6 feet apart. Based on what I’ve seen and what parents and campers have said, the Allaso Ranch has placed campers at “even more risk.” Campers were mixed together in large groups, they were not spaced apart, activities were indoor and outdoor, but they were all from the same community (as far as I know). Examine the photos below:
There are numerous photos like these. The only masks I have seen were in a skit where the mouths were cut out of the masks. Otherwise campers and volunteers were not wearing masks. They did not social distance.
Some have complained that camp would be impossible with masks and social distancing. However, according to CDC guidelines — which Fellowship Church claimed to follow — masks and distancing are part of what can make camp safe. From the guidelines:
Cloth Face Coverings
Teach and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings. Face coverings may be challenging for campers (especially younger campers) to wear in all-day settings such as camp. Face coverings should be worn by staff and campers (particularly older campers) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Information should be provided to staff and campers on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
Masks are “most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult” says the CDC. That would be much of the time during camp.
In light of the CDC guidelines, I ask Fellowship Church and Allaso Ranch again why they didn’t follow them. They obviously know about them because they invoked them in their statement to the Star-Telegram.
The church is clearly following the media and public reaction. Late on Thursday, Amy Smith posted a promo for Fellowship Church’s Mix Camp on Twitter. Within the hour, the video had been removed from Youtube. Amy was able to post it to Twitter.
new post: Fellowship Church Allaso Ranch camp opener video (this is the Allaso Ranch camp opener video that has just been made private on YouTube)
— Amy miss informed Smith (@watchkeep) July 23, 2020
By the way, don’t miss the inclusion of black lives matter at the beginning as a crazy moment.
UPDATE: One of the mothers who publicly posted on Facebook updated her information late Thursday.
I want to add to this post. I did receive a call from Scott Wilson at Fellowship Church and discussed the situation and the church took action to start calling families. There have been many kids testing positive post camp. Covid-19 is tricky and you can have the virus without any symptoms. Many people get a headache and if not being vigilant- I could have missed the signs because they were not outright significant. Most of the children I know who’ve had Covid-19 have a slight fever and headache. While this may not be everyone’s experience, for us, it has not been the crazy the media has been depicting. Please continue to pray for healing for those effected in our lives. Choose the power of prayer and believe God will continue to guide us all through these uncertain times.
Although no numbers of cases were given, if “many kids” are testing positive, it seems like it would be prudent to postpone camp for the rest of the summer. Obviously, Texas is a hot spot and it seems likely that infected students or volunteers or staff are going to start the spreading all over again after the current two week break.