Adventure Treks’ COVID-19 Resources
March 8, 2021, update: We are moving full-steam ahead toward summer 2021! Having successfully operated COVID-free during summer 2020, we’re confident we’ll be ready for the challenges 2021 will be sure to bring.
Adventure Treks is currently working with our medical director and consultant to finalize our policies, protocols, and resources regarding COVID-19 for summer 2021. The nature of our program—small groups of 30 or fewer people and outdoor itineraries that already have limit exposure to the general public—inherently allows us to remain in our own “bubble,” as we don’t visit overcrowded places where tourists like to gather (San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser, etc.).
Will students need to arrive to Adventure Treks with a negative COVID test?
Yes, we plan to require all Adventure Treks student to arrive to their trips with a negative PCR (molecular) test, whether flying or driving (and whether vaccinated or not). We will not be able to accept an antigen or antibody test, and rapid tests must be PCR.
Will your instructors be vaccinated?
Earlier this year, the CDC expanded “phase 1b” for vaccine recommendations to allow people who work in youth-serving summer organizations (like our instructors) to be included in the K–12 educational sector. This means that many, if not all, of our instructors could be vaccinated by summer.
While we cannot mandate our instructors to get vaccinated due to federal law prohibiting requiring a vaccine under the emergency use authorization, all of our staff have either been vaccinated, have an appointment, or are eagerly awaiting their turn.
Will you test students at Adventure Treks?
Because students may face possible exposure while flying to Adventure Treks, we’re working on ways to test everyone during their first week with us. This will depend on the widespread availability of rapid PCR testing and current medical guidance.
Will students have to wear a mask the whole time?
Our plan is that students will not have to wear masks for the majority of their trips. There may be times when students wear masks, including during van rides, if indoors for any reason, or if we come into contact with the general public (like hiking on the trail).
Will students and their families have to quarantine prior to each trip?
During the January 26 town hall meeting with the American Camp Association (see below), they shared data that pre-camp quarantines and decreased capacity did not reduce COVID-19 case risks. Thus, we do not plan to require a seven- to 14-day pre-trip quarantine for our students. We will, however, strongly urge families to continue practicing good judgment and caution when outside the household to reduce possible exposure prior to AT.
International families can check in with the US Department of State regarding travel restrictions and recommendations.
What else did the ACA share?
In late January, the American Camp Association (ACA) held a virtual town hall to provide updates on a study regarding the summer camps and programs who operated in summer 2020. (A total of 486 camps, who served 89,635 total campers, participated in this study.) They shared great news and helpful information, including that out of the 486 day and overnight camps and 89,635 children, there were only 30 confirmed COVID cases among children.
What else should we know?
We are working with our medical director to determine which non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs; e.g., masks and social distancing) are most applicable, relevant, and helpful for Adventure Treks’ operations. We continue to consult with the American Camp Association (ACA), who, along with the YMCA, have been working with Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E) since March 2020, when EH&E convened an expert panel of specialists in pediatric medicine, camp medicine and nursing, epidemiology, infectious disease management, biological safety, industrial hygiene, organizational design, and other fields to help create a practical field guide of best practices for summer camps and programs. This is what we used to operate safely in 2020, and we continue to consult and adapt best practices for summer 2021.
We hope to have our COVID plans, policies, and protocols finalized by April, though we expect to make adjustments and updates leading into summer. We promise to continue to operate with the ingenuity, discipline, trust, and work ethic that we delivered in 2020, and we will always communicate our plans and protocols with parents.
Did Adventure Treks operate in 2020?
Yes! However, Adventure Treks did not operate our normal trips in the American West in summer 2020. Simply put, the logistical and potential quarantine challenges were too great should something have gone wrong.
But we couldn’t imagine a summer without AT. Using the guidelines from the American Camp Association and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (and in partnership with the Henderson County Health Department and support of our local government), we operated on a smaller scale from our 12-acre basecamp in western North Carolina. Our protocols included:
- Leasing private land and setting up campsites so we could isolate our trip groups in their own bubble, with minimal contact with the outside world.
- Focusing on effective pre-trip screening and testing, daily symptom screening, exclusive use of outdoor venues, constant hand-washing, and vigilant hygiene.
- Wearing masks when in vans and indoor spaces.
- And physically distancing when appropriate.
We’re thrilled to report that no only did we run a COVID-free summer, but students also had an incredibly fun time having outdoor adventures with peers in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Trip and travel insurance
As you consider travel insurance, make sure you read through the fine print carefully. Insurance typically will not cover cancellation due to “fear of travel”; essentially, they won’t reimburse you if you’re worried about how COVID-19 may impact your student’s travel plans.
Some companies do not have exclusions regarding epidemics or pandemics, meaning you may make claims including emergency medical or trip interruption if your child contracts COVID-19 or goes under quarantine while traveling.
Read through your insurance (or credit card) company’s FAQs regarding COVID-19, or call them directly to get all of your questions answered.
*If due to COVID-19 and/or other reasons outside our control Adventure Treks is unable to operate programs in 2021, enrolled families will be offered the option of transferring tuition forward to 2022 with no fee or requesting a full refund.