The EEFC Board of Directors is entrusted with making decisions on behalf of the larger EEFC community. Recently, the Board has had to grapple with the difficult decision of canceling our weeklong Balkan Music & Dance Workshops in 2022. Amidst all the feelings that our community is experiencing, we know that many people would also like more information as to our rationale for this decision.
On Saturday, February 12, the Board held a virtual “office hours” in which we explained the process for this decision and provided an opportunity for the community to share their thoughts with us. The recording of this meeting is available here with the passcode KfV6#Cm7. Below you will find a detailed summary of our discussion.
This decision has been a tremendous blow to our community. We acknowledge the sadness and grief we all are experiencing right now. While we endeavor to be optimistic about 2023, we are excited to move forward together with you as we plan alternative in-person gatherings for this summer.
Thank you for your support.
Yours in music & dance,
President, EEFC Board of Directors
In planning for camp in a COVID world, we had to make a concrete strategy for how to carry it out safely and successfully. Our steps included:
The members of the Pinewoods Board were very happy to share their experiences from last summer’s camps with us. In addition to relaying specific strategies that were helpful to them, they also provided us with important points to consider for our own organization as we weighed our decision. The key takeaways from that conversation were as follows:
This provided us with a tangible set of guidelines to work from moving forward.
Our next step was to write COVID protocols that would enable us to run camp as safely as possible. We referred to World Camp’s model as a starting point. Many of the basic protocols we would employ are commonly used for gatherings: vaccination, presenting a negative COVID test, masking, and signing a statement of individual liability with common sense guidelines. In addition, we also wanted to create an FAQ with more specific, detailed guidelines pertaining to particular situations. It was here that we ran into a number of questions that gave us pause, including:
Though we had been actively planning for our 2022 camps since the fall of 2021, we paused to thoroughly re-evaluate the programmatic risks and complexities in light of the current realities of COVID.
We realized that it was very possible that multiple teachers could drop out of teaching at camp at the last minute, either due to testing positive or simply because of feeling uncomfortable with attending because of the risk of COVID. Camp programming has many interdependent pieces; if even one or two of these were to change, it would impact not only the class schedule, but also the viability of the evening programming. Even a small number of teachers dropping out of camp would put us in a position of not being able to fulfill our programmatic promises. Furthermore, even if teachers were to drop out sooner (e.g. a month before the start of camp) it would still be very difficult for the Program Committee to fill their spots, as we have a finite pool of potential teachers to draw from.
Given all of this, from a programmatic perspective, it seemed better to pivot to planning events that had fewer risks involved, where we would have a far higher likelihood of being able to produce events that would bring our community together in a way that was safe and fulfilling.
In order to see how canceling one or both camps might impact us financially, we prepared several potential scenarios.
If we were to begin the season as usual with our Mendocino camp, but then had to pull out during that week as well as subsequently cancel our Iroquois Springs camp, we would still have significant expenses including: refunding tuition for Mendocino camp (with assumption that we would get some donated tuition), depletion of Mendocino scholarship funds, full payment for Mendocino teacher honoraria, full payment to Mendocino support staff, full payment to the Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association, partial payment to Iroquois Springs camp (forfeit of deposit), full travel reimbursement for Mendocino teachers and staff as well as airfare reimbursement purchased by Iroquois Springs teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $139,500.
If our West coast camp were to run as normal, but then we were to have to pull out during our week at Iroquois Springs, our expenses would include: refunding tuition for Iroquois Springs camp (assuming some donated tuition), depletion of Iroquois Springs scholarship funds, payment of all teacher honoraria, payment to all support staff, full payment to both venues, as well as full travel reimbursement for all teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $186,000.
The extreme worst-case scenario, though unlikely, would be if we started to run both camps but then had to pull during both weeks, in which case losses would include: refunding tuition for both camps (assuming some donated tuition), depletion of scholarship funds for both camps, payment of all teacher honoraria, payment to all support staff, full payment to both venues, and full travel reimbursement for all teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $275,700.
Planning and executing our camps is a multi-faceted process. Hiring additional support crew (ex. kitchen staff), coordinating with the venues, and adhering to our agreed-upon payment schedule were all things that needed to happen now or in the near future. Many camp planning processes had been stalled while we were gathering data and coming up with potential plans, and we needed a definitive decision in order to move forward with planning. In addition, waiting longer would potentially cause us to risk damaging our relationship with the venues, suffer greater financial losses, and/or find ourselves in a position where we didn’t have time to pivot to a viable alternative.
In the midst of all our research, we realized that the question we needed to ask ourselves was this: how do we preserve our monetary and people resources AND provide experiences that are fulfilling to our community? We thought about what was most important to our community: being able to gather in person, making meaningful connections with each other, and engaging in the music and dance that we love. To that end, we adopted our camp pivot plan for 2022. This includes:
The Program Committee has already begun to explore potential options. In addition, we would like to hear from you as we move forward in the planning process. What would you like to see included? What is most important to you? How can we create a camp-like experience in a local and regional way?