The Lark Traditional Arts Board has been struggling to decide whether to hold camp in 2022. We’ve asked ourselves, “Can we hold a COVID-safe event? Will camp still be enjoyable with various changes and restrictions?” We’d like to briefly explain show we made this very difficult decision.
There is little guidance for large-group, weeklong events like Lark Camp, but after many hours of research and discussion, we’ve concluded that it’s not possible to have a truly COVID-safe event. We considered taking these precautions:
- Requiring proof of vaccinations and boosters with registration
- Requiring folks to wear masks at all times when indoors
- Limiting the number of people at evening dances
- Moving indoor workshops and eating spaces outdoors
- Purchasing tests to have available for anyone who exhibits COVID symptoms
- Sending people home if they test positive
The first of these requires verification before arrival at camp, since we have no Wi-Fi at the Woodlands. Item #2 – requiring masks – is doable, if unpleasant. At the moment, Mendocino County requires masking indoors, and if the Woodlands has to comply with that requirement, so do we.
Things become unpleasant and difficult with #3, because, generally speaking, the more people there are at evening dances, the more fun they are. To address the fourth item, we considered moving evening events outdoors, but it would require renting/building additional outdoor dance floors. It’s possible to move workshops, but space for our outdoor workshops is strained as it is. For #5, we don’t know how many tests we should purchase for a 600-person camp, and we’re having trouble finding an affordable source for a large number of tests.
And finally, the sixth thing poses serious difficulty – it wouldn’t take much to shut down Lark Camp 2022 completely. What happens when someone tests positive? Do we try to trace and test everyone they stood near in the dinner line and everyone they attended workshops with? Who do we send home? What if kitchen staff or instructors become ill and have to leave? After renting the Woodlands and the buses, and paying the caterer and instructors, we’d then have to refund every camper’s tuition.
Nothing ensures a COVID-safe event, and the precautions we’d have to take would make Lark Camp less enjoyable even if Covid didn’t raise its ugly head. Come July, it might be safe to hold Lark Camp, but waiting longer is financially irresponsible. In order to secure contracts with the Woodlands, the bus company, the caterers, our liability insurers, and so on, we need to make a decision based on what we know now. The precautions outlined above would adversely change the Lark Camp experience for everyone and be a tremendous additional burden for the crew of people who already work very hard to provide camp, and since we can’t guarantee your experience will be COVID-safe, we’ve decided not to hold camp in 2022.
We miss you all and hold hope that the Lark Camp we know and love will be possible in 2023. We look forward to seeing you at Lark Camp Online for five days during the same week we would have been in the Woodlands – Wednesday through Sunday, August 3 – 7, 2022.
With heavy hearts,
The Lark Traditional Arts Board: Will Wheeler, Celia Ramsay, Meghan Miller, Danese Cooper, Danny Carnahan, and Susan Walsh