Two weeks ago I was visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma, and while there the pastor of our local congregation and the area was heading off to Camp Pinecrest in Missouri with his wife, his son, and his son’s girlfriend, as staff. Four additional teenagers were to come the next day for the beginning of camp as campers. For this reason services had been moved from their usual afternoon time to the morning, which ended up allowing us to listen to the Zoom services for the congregations of Southern British Columbia that are remotely pastored at present by that minister’s father-in-law. We wished them well and hoped that the people at Camp Pinecrest could have a wonderful time given the struggles that it had been to get camps to operate in the age of covid.
As it turns out, for whatever reason the camp ended up becoming a bit of a spreader event. While I was at services chatting with brethren there, I was talking to one woman whose grandchildren living to the north of Houston in the area not too far from Humble all went to Pinecrest in a van and all ended up with Covid, albeit fairly mild cases of it. This intrigued me, as it was the first I had heard about what had actually happened at that camp. I have had my own personal experiences at events where the bird flu spread and where I ended up carrying it back to Florida with me one time when I had visited Argentina, and that was no picnic, with chills and a raging dehydration even worse than normal (which is bad enough) that lasted for a couple of weeks or so. So this is not something I am entirely unfamiliar with.
As it happens, the spreader event of covid (presumably its new and supposedly fearsome delta variant) hit a bit closer to home than that. The day before church there was a call from a deaconess in our local congregation who asked a close friend of mine to take over the flowers for the day because she was unable to make it to church. Her husband, a deacon, was similarly unable to come to church to give the sermon message (I had the sermonette myself), and it turns out that they had been driving some of the campers between the Portland airport and our Northwest camp on the Oregon coast. It also happens that they had driven some campers who had previously attended Pinecrest and who were later found to have covid like so many of their other fellow campers. Those campers had been quarantined and then sent home (which is our protocol for dealing with plague bearers who come with contagious diseases), but all the same they had been in close contact with the deacon and his wife and so those two people as well were under quarantine to make sure that they in turn did not spread the disease to the rest of us.
This required various logistical changes. Instead of speaking today, for example, he will presumably speak next week, and the person who was supposed to give the sermon in The Dalles ended up giving his sermon in Portland instead, which was a very good message on Psalm 23 and the importance of God as a shepherd. In addition, someone was sent to the Dalles to speak on only a little notice, who arrived after services to briefly chat with us and pick up his two younger children before heading home, somewhat breathless. All of this sort of quick changes as a result of the exposure of people to covid lead me to wonder why it was that we were able to quarantine quickly and hopefully effectively here in the Northwest but why no such thing was done in Missouri? Who was it that brought covid to the camp in the first place and why was no quarantining done there to keep the disease from spreading throughout the campers? Was patient zero asymptomatic or not? These are obvious questions to me but may not seem equally obvious to everyone.