Dear HIOBS Community:
We want to share with you that the HIOBS Board of Trustees has decided that the macro-level health and safety conditions required to resume publicly-enrolled wilderness programs (i.e. open enrollment courses), which we paused due to COVID-19 over the summer, are still not present our communities sufficiently to allow us to resume programming for the fall. We will, therefore, plan to resume programming in December of this year - and will continue to actively assess the risk as it pertains to our winter wilderness programs.
In the current environment, publicly enrolled courses carry a great risk of virus transmission due to their broad geographic student catchment area and the need for students to travel (in some cases) long distances to arrive at course start. The threat that the virus poses continues to rise significantly in the United States, and the unknown nature of virus transmission mechanisms makes determining an acceptable level of risk extremely difficult. Magnifying these risk factors is an inconsistent testing environment, both regionally and nationally. Current turn-around times between test administration and obtaining results vary widely (2-10 days), and therefore is not yet at the point where it can be reliably counted on as a COVID-19 mitigation tool in our operational setting. These significant factors weigh into this necessary, though difficult, decision.
A great deal of hard work by our program, admin, and leadership teams has been put in over the last few months to put into place procedures and protocols for future programming in-the-field, and these efforts are not lost as they will help to inform how we move forward. We are confident that HIOBS can implement protocols and procedures that reduce the school’s vulnerability to COVID-19 on all of our courses.
Staying Safe. Staying Relevant.
Interest remains high for HIOBS programs amongst our school partners, corporate teams, and other community-serving organizations seeking ways to support the social, emotional, and developmental needs of their constituents. We are exploring ways to continue to deliver and adapt our programming opportunities for fall and winter, in cooperation with our partners, with a keen eye on reducing and managing risks to health & safety.
Getting Better. Emerging Stronger
Though much has changed since May, when we made our decision to cancel summer programming, too little has changed regarding the spread of the virus and the advancement of testing in this country. We cannot ignore the science or the facts that affect our ability to serve our students safely. We must stay patient, optimistic, and continue to prepare ourselves to get back out in the field in the right way, at the right time, and with the right practices in place.
This summer and fall, we are gearing up to serve all of our student populations again at some point in the future—in a big way. We will be taking this time to continue to hone our COVID operating protocols and procedures. We will be conducting in-person staff training opportunities for field and support staff. These trainings will include mini expeditions, socially distanced activity brainstorming, and emergency response/evacuation drills in an effort to explore the possibilities for how to work with students in the post-COVID world. We are eager to get back into the field and serve – and doing so with well-thought-out procedures for risk management in this new scenario is critical.
We are needed and we will continue to serve. And we know that you will be there with us, helping to get those who need it most back out on a HIOBS course.
Thanks for all you are doing to keep HIOBS in your heart and on your mind.
Serving with you,
Eric and Victoria
President and Executive Director
Chair, HIOBS Board of Trustees
THERE IS MORE IN US THAN WE KNOW. IF WE CAN BE MADE TO SEE IT, PERHAPS FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES WE WILL BE UNWILLING TO SETTLE FOR LESS.
For reliable information on the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to the resources below:
If you have questions about specific international locations, please also see: