It was a sad day when the Oklahoma FFA Association made the decision to cancel Oklahoma FFA Alumni Leadership Camp earlier in the year due to COVID-19. However, a new format and set of safety measures have allowed the organization to reverse its original decision and hold abridged versions of the state camp, as well as virtual sessions for members who are not able to attend.

Trevor Lucas, Oklahoma FFA executive secretary, said other factors, including camp availability and restrictive state guidelines, played a key factor in Oklahoma FFA’s original decision to cancel the camp, but new opportunities have opened the door for Oklahoma FFA to provide at least some semblance of summer normalcy for its members. At the same time, Lucas said the association is balancing safety and well-being of the in-person campers.

“We think it is important for everyone to understand our efforts to manage students’ health and safety so that everyone can make an informed choice as to what’s best for the students,” Lucas said. “So we are focused on taking all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at our on-site camp.”

Staff will monitor and address symptomatic students by introducing a pre-camp health questionnaire, daily temperature checks, protocols to isolate, confirm, respond and remove any campers or staff who show possible signs of coronavirus. Students will be strongly encouraged to practice good hygiene, wash hands frequently, not touch their face and cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of their elbow or upper arm.

Additionally, Camp Tulakogee, located in Wagoner, Oklahoma, will have hand sanitizers at every building entrance. All students will be required to use hand sanitizer before meals and staff will intensely clean facilities in between sessions. Seating will be spaced at least 6 feet apart in pavilion, cafeteria and vesper sites. Meals will no longer be provided buffet style, but instead will be pre-made and put on a table for the campers to pick up or provided as a sack meal.

“We have abbreviated the schedule, strengthened our standard cleaning procedures, added increased frequency measures for things such as wiping down common touch points, dining hall areas, and activity equipment,” Lucas explained.

Cabin assignments will be assigned to allow for social spacing and cabins will be housed at 50% capacity. Furthermore, windows will be opened for at least 30 minutes daily on all buildings to ensure daily ventilation. All bunks will be alternated head-to-toe to ensure distance between student’s faces. Only those staying at camp will be allowed out of their vehicles on campgrounds.

High intensity physical activities—such as the ropes course and water olympics—will be eliminated since they do not allow opportunities to maintain social distance. Camp staff will clearly mark physical distancing spaces and guidelines with floor markings, seat markings, or signs to make it easy for students to understand what is expected. Face coverings will be worn by staff and students when physical distancing is difficult.

Lucas said although it would be ideal for all of Oklahoma’s FFA members to gather in-person for camp as usual, they still expect the virtual camp to be fun and engaging. The virtual camp will include video access to camp keynote speakers, interactive small group sessions, vespers, flag parts, state president’s challenge and a downloadable version of camp program. There will be two virtual sessions held July 30 to 31 and Aug. 1 to 2 and it will be limited to 1,000 participants per session at $20 per member. Official registration for all camps will begin June 29 at 10 a.m. Virtual camp registration first-come, first-serve basis.

The cost to attend in-person camp will be $150 per member. There will be two sessions held July 26 to 27 and July 28 to 29. Students from chapters that are located in an area that is not in at least phase 3 of reopening will not be permitted to attend in-person camp and are encouraged to participate virtually.

Chapters will be guaranteed at least two tickets for in-person camp, and chapters that have more than 90 on their roster will be guaranteed three tickets. All unclaimed tickets will go on sale July 1. Each session is limited to the first 225 FFA members with paid registration.

Even though Oklahoma FFA has made this announcement, Lucas said there still is a chance the on-site option could be canceled if positive cases increase substantially. No refunds will be issued by the state office, unless camp is canceled.

“This situation continues to change daily, and as such, we will adapt and adjust our protocols and procedures as we follow the guidance provided by the CDC and local health departments, in our efforts to help keep our students, staff, and others safe,” Lucas added.

For more information, visit www.okffa.org/campinformation.

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 620-227-1871 or lnewlin@hpj.com.

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