When a group of junior high students from a church in Texas began their climb up the mountains to YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO they were expecting the highlight of their year: Junior High Summer Camp. What they didn’t expect was to be hit by a viral outbreak that, while mild in terms of symptoms, served to turn their fun trip upside down.
Pre-Outbreak: the Bus Ride Up to Camp
Before the outbreak began, the trip was fantastic. Students were excited, despite the 18-hour bus ride it would take to get them to Estes Park. Leaders were happy, too, as this was already proving to be a wonderful group of kids.
Pre-Outbreak: Camp Begins
The junior high students and their leaders arrived at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, and all find their places where they will ride out this outbreak together. The worship band prepares for the first night, which turns out to be an exciting time for these junior high students.
The Outbreak Begins: Camp Patient Zero
The leaders are happy, as this group of junior high students appears to be the wonderful group that they had hoped for. Students are having a great time at camp. As is always the case, there are a number of junior high students who have, against admonitions from their leaders, neglected to drink enough water. Mild cases of altitude sickness hit, but all are readily cured by a healthy dose of water and rest.
One girl, however, strikes up a fever and begins to feel ill. Fever is a somewhat expected side effect of altitude sickness, but the leaders are keeping a close eye on her anyway.
The Outbreak Begins: Patient Zero Improves, Other Patients Identified at Camp
Just as the first case of the virus begins to get well, a few others begin to exhibit similar symptoms. Common symptoms include: fever, sore throat, tiredness, congestion, and nausea in a few cases.
The infection has not yet reached outbreak status, yet leaders are concerned. An on-site pediatrician is consulted. The doctor suggests little more than allowing the fevers to run their course, supplying lots of water, and using tons of hand sanitizer to keep the sickness from spreading.
The Outbreak at Camp
Overnight, many new cases of the virus appear. Out of concern for safety, a few of the junior high students with the highest fevers are taken to the hospital in town. Doctors there give the same response as the pediatrician who had been consulted earlier concerning the outbreak: water, rest, cleanliness.
Junior high students are not the cleanest of creatures, however, and adult leaders begin to find out that many of these students have chosen to drink from each others’ water bottles. Leaders strap in for the long haul as bedtime arrives. Sick students are moved into separate rooms together to keep other students from getting sick and so that leaders can administer medications without waking the students who are well.
As the outbreak spreads, YMCA of the Rockies and the church group adult leaders make special arrangements for the group in terms of food and care. Large pots of chicken noodle soup serve to comfort sick kids.
Some of the earliest outbreak cases begin to feel better, but those are far outweighed by the number of rising cases. Meanwhile healthy campers continue to enjoy a fun and safe trip, and continue to learn from teaching times.
The Outbreak Grows at Camp
As Junior High Camp nears its end, leaders begin to consider what to do to get sick kids home. When asked whether it is ok to transport outbreak-stricken kids via bus, multiple doctors say yes.
The Outbreak’s End: the Bus Ride Home From Camp
Unfortunately, an enclosed 18-hour bus ride can only serve as a Petri dish for micro-organisms, and leaders watch helplessly as the virus spreads from student to student on the bus ride home. Leaders do what they can to ease their trip, but they know per doctors’ instructions that the best course of action will be to get these outbreak-stricken students home to their families.
The Outbreak’s End: Final Result
When the junior high students step off the bus back in Texas, 33 of them are symptomatic. Everything that could be done to limit infection has been done, yet still this outbreak has run its course. This has been the most interesting junior high summer camp…ever.