Protocols no Problem for Main Idea

Six weeks before Main Idea 2021, there was still uncertainty about how the program would take shape. Would staff and campers have to wear facial covering throughout the day? Would certain activities be unable to run due to Covid protocols? Would volunteer staff, always an integral part of the Main Idea, be allowed on campus? The guidance from the CDC, American Camp Association and Maine CDC was still evolving as opening day approached. In spite of it all, and after almost two years away, campers, staff, and even volunteers gathered for an amazing week. While there were some operational modifications due to Coronavirus protocols, Main Idea was a smashing success, and surprisingly familiar in both feel and programing. 

Of course, there were some changes to ensure the safety of all present. These began with the arrival of campers on opening day. Families first stopped at the Nelson Fields to show documentation of a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination, which was followed by an antigen test and lice check. Once in the lower parking lot, parents stayed in their cars while boys were escorted with their belongings to their cabins. While more complex than the typical drop-off, the process went smoothly. 

In accordance with Maine CDC guidelines, boys were grouped in two-cabin “cohort” groups. These cohorts became the fundamental unit of the week for all activities, including dining.  Activities were assigned by cabin for smaller activities like Arts & Crafts, and by the two-cabin cohort for larger activities, such as soccer or baseball. 

In place of General Swims, each cabin was assigned swimming for one period every day. Dining was also a bit different. Boys wore masks and lined up by cohort, then entered Mason Hall. Each of the four cohorts had its own section, and masks were worn anytime one might intermingle with another cohort, like refilling a water pitcher or getting food.

One of the hallmarks of Agawam’s daily program is the afternoon optional period, where a boy can go to any open activity. Covid protocols restricted cohorts from mixing, so Optionals were replaced with additional assigned periods. Later in the week, boys in the upper and upper middle cohorts were given the option to select between two activities for a period. This encouraged the boys to work together and make a joint decision on who would attend which activity.  

Traditionally, some highlights of Main Idea week are the evening events that incorporate the entire camper population. Campfire, organized by cohorts in the Council Ring stands, was its usual blend of singing, stories, and challenges. A high point of the week occurred with a masks-on, all-camp game of the beloved Buzz Ball, basically a massive game of tennis ball tag. A perennial camper favorite, this year’s version of the game was just as robust, fast-paced, and exhausting as ever, and no one thought twice about wearing a mask. It was just… Buzz Ball! Buzzzzzzzz… 

Covid protocols proved to be no inconvenience to the 50th Main Idea. The week came to an end and everyone was happy, exhausted, and thrilled to be back at camp on the shores of Crescent Lake. Camp is back!