Host their 18th annual camp with safety measures
Photo by: 
Brandon Warr

During troubling times, finding the light at the end of the tunnel seems almost impossible. Sometimes it seems when one tries to get up, disappointment is just around the corner — especially during a global pandemic.

For months COVID-19 and the actions taken to control it have made the return of sports a very difficult process. The process has been so difficult, that countless summer athletic seasons and team summer camps have been cancelled.

While many seasons have been forced to be put on hold this summer, there are some camps still going strong and persevering. Such is the case for Team Prep USA.

“There were moments that we could have thrown in the towel and have gotten a bigger bail out from the government. However, we felt if we can teach our students to always roll the dice at life and to look fear in the face, and understand that on the other side of adversity, is pure bliss and a sense of accomplishment from achieving a goal,” said Trent Sanderson, owner of Team Prep USA. “Teaching our students how to create those blissful moments when adversity keeps hanging around — perseverance.”

Perseverance is a good word to use when describing what it took to put on the annual Team Prep USA camp, and is this year's theme of the camp.

“We were completely sold out in early March, late February, and then found out we had to move camp,” said Sanderson. “We wanted to start on June 24 and thought we were going to be able to shift it, but because of the governor's mandate we couldn't, so we had to completely wipe out camp and start logistically registering kids all over again.”

Once Sanderson and members of Team Prep USA finished registering all the kids once again, and a new camp date was established for Wednesday, July 1 — adversity hit them once again. United Airlines decided to cancel their flights on July 1, meaning the runners from 31 different states couldn’t get here.

“So we had to shift the camp start date again,” said Sanderson.

 

The hits keep coming

And other challenges cropped up. Before flight cancelations, a staff member had to face adversity of their own on the way to camp — her car was stolen as she was leaving her hotel. She was delayed five days because insurance offices have modified their office hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the hits just kept coming. Staff changes occurred four different times up until a week of camp, because of their personal uncertainties and new work commitments due to COVID-19.

With campers and staff finally arriving in Gunnison, Team Prep USA was able to gain some semblance of a normal routine. Yet with no surprise, adversity hit once again.

“The arm bands we established for the color coed groups, weren’t able to be delivered to Crested Butte, since DHL delivery service doesn’t deliver to Crested Butte,” said Sanderson. “So we had to hire a driver to drive arm bands for opening day for our social distancing protocols to take place. Our staff started making arm bands so we can make due.”

Additionally, that isn’t the only delivery issue Team Prep USA had, as over half of the gear that was ordered in the beginning of camp still has not arrived.

To meet state protocols and have a safe event, Sanderson and Team Prep USA staff decided to turn the one camp into five separate groups that went in different directions each day, and then separated amongst those into 10 different sections.

“We hired special cleaning crew to have urinals and the bathrooms cleaned to certain specifications,” said Sanderson. “Each morning we have medical forms being filled out by each student, which are looked over by Lisa Merck, who we hired.”

Merck is a local medical professional.

With Team Prep USA getting after it early in the morning for camp, staff has been waking up at 6:30 a.m. to warm their temperature gauges in vehicles so they would work properly.

During the course of camp two Team Prep USA vans have stopped running, forcing Team Prep USA staff members to try and fix the problem.

While that was a small problem to overcome, it only added to the long list of things Team Prep USA staff members have to face during the four weeks of camp so far.

 

A good hot meal

“Up until the day of camp we were trying to get approval for students to be able to have something else instead of sack lunches the entire four weeks,” said Sanderson. “The Western dining hall has made an incredible situation into a great one with meals. With adversity brings unique experiences and better changes for the future. I do feel students are having the camp of their lives.”

“If it wasn’t for the Western Colorado University administration, residential Life (Paul Giberson), City Market, the County Health Dept, and especially my incredible staff, we wouldn’t have pulled off the miracle that these students so much deserved.” said Sanderson. “Back in mid June, having fathers in tears and parents mentioning how this camp has given their kids hope to get them through this almost impossible task of keeping insight on such a promising future. We learned to create a village and be able to cohabitate together, and students learned to adjust with their new family and thrive under adverse situations.”

 

(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or brandon@ gunnisontimes.com.)