INTO THE WOODS ALASKA COVID-19 RESPONSE

This guide details changes to our regular policies in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

COVID-19 is an evolving public health emergency in our community. The policies and procedures in this guide may change as new information becomes available. Any major changes will be posted to our website and communicated to you when you deliver your children to their program.


Please be aware that we may have to shut down operations at any time and potentially without notice if Into The Woods LLC, the State of Alaska, Municipality of Anchorage, or other authorities deem it unsafe to continue.

CHECK IN & CHECK OUT  

SCREENING

Each morning we will be asking you a series of questions about your child(ren) and their temperature will be taken:

  • Any fevers within the last 72 hours (three full days)?
  • Has any medication been used to reduce a fever in the last 72 hours?
  • Do you have any cough or trouble with breathing currently?
  • Do you have a runny nose currently?
  • Do you have a sore throat currently?
  • Do you have any muscle aches currently?
  • Have you had a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing in the last 7 days?
  • Have you or anyone in your household travelled in the last 14 days?
  • Have you or anyone in your household had direct contact with anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days outside of a controlled work environment? If you answer yes to any of the questions above or your child(ren) has a temperature greater than 100.4°F, they will not be accepted into the program.

We will ask you to keep your child at home until the above health requirements are met. In the event your child is ill, please remain in contact with Into The Woods about your child’s symptoms. It is imperative for our staff, youth, and families that you keep sick children at home. Even a child with a common cold will not be permitted into program at this time.

All Into The Woods staff will undergo a health screening each day.

Please talk to your child ahead of time about these important safety measures. Much of this is outside of our regular practice but necessary to keep everyone safe.

Youth will be placed in groups and remain with that group for the entire week. Remind your child to sneeze or cough into elbows and then wash their hands.  We will be teaching air high-fives and air hugs and asking all youth to keep their distance and to keep all bodies to themselves.  We will be practicing social distancing and standing 6-feet apart while walking through the woods.

We will be asking youth not to share food. Any youth who cannot consistently keep their bodies to themselves will be removed from the group and you will be asked to pick them up. We realize this is a stressful time for youth, but this is extremely important for us to do our best to keep all youth and staff safe during this time. Talk to your child about what to do if they are not feeling well while at Into The Woods.

MASKS

Into The Woods Alaska continues to monitor federal, state and local health official guidance on the use of masks in our program space. Currently the recommendation is ONLY for a mask to be used when a someone has developed symptoms of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. We have isolation procedures around this and would issue masks to the ill child and supervising staff only during this time. As recommendations evolve, Into The Woods will continue to assess the procedures and safety measures surrounding the use of masks. If a parent chooses to send their child to program with a mask that child can continue to wear it as long as they are doing so in a way that is safe for themselves and others. If youth is continuously touching their face, taking the mask off, or leaving it laying around, Into The Woods staff will ask them to put the mask with their personal items.

In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case

  1. Into The Woods  will immediately notify local health officials. Health officials will help Into The Woods determine a course of action for our program(s).
  2. Into The Woods will close the given program for a minimum of 2-5 days. This initial short-term closure allows time for local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation affecting Into The Woods program(s). Local health officials will help determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended closure duration is needed.
  3. Into The Woods will communicate with staff and parents. Into The Woods will coordinate with local health officials to communicate closure decisions and the possible COVID-19 exposure.
  4. Communication will include messages to counter potential stigma and discrimination.  No youth or staff names will be shared. It is critical to maintain confidentially of youth or staff as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  5. Into The Wood’s Leadership Team will assess all health and safety procedures, operations, and the need for increased monitoring or training.

We at Into The Woods realize this situation remains very dynamic. We will continue to provide updates as we learn more. We are confident in our preparation and contingency planning for situations such as this. We remain committed to providing the superior service and support that our customers have come to expect of our company throughout this situation.


HOW TO BOOK A SUMMER CAMP

Reserve your spot by following the links below. First create a family registration packet, then reserve your spot!

THE WHOLE SUMMER PACKAGE

The Whole Summer Package is a deal we can all offer ourselves; whether or not Into the Woods Alaska is offering our programs, we can all choose to abide until times get better – roll with the punches and use this time to experience true nature immersion in Alaska’s great wild beauty with our little ones. The Whole Summer Package is a way of living, a philosophy to embrace. Get the whole summer package for your family – build a fortress of peace and tranquility that will withstand the turmoil of these uncertain times.

Over the past three months, we have watched tragedies unfold across the world and experienced a tightening-in of our own lives, which sometimes feels like our houses become their own islands amidst a vast, troubled sea. Throughout it all, we have been reassured in the knowledge that we can get through these tough times, both personally and as a business, by doing what’s right, standing together with our customers, friends, and family, and by being responsible to ourselves and our community.

Sometimes, the right choice is the hardest thing to do. A little bit before Spring Break, what now seems like ages ago, Dan and I were watching the corona virus spread across the world and reading the news that this likely would be a deadly pandemic. We braced ourselves for the personal and professional impact on our lives and that of the community. We braced our employees Bri and Luke, whom we had proudly hired just a month previous to help with our fledgling business finally taking flight, that there likely would be no work soon. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had-letting down people that depend on me for income, people I enjoyed working with and trusted to share the experience of helping grow our dream into a successful business… and feeling utterly helpless to control any of it. At that time, with all the uncertainty and unknowns, trying to make a plan, or a single decision, almost felt like divining meaning from tea leaves. In one thing we were certain, and completely steadfast: social responsibility and the health of our community is our number one priority. This is the exact reason why we started Into the Woods Alaska – get kids outdoors and teach them why nature is paramount in their lives and that of a healthy community.

Operating without due regard to this crisis would be antithetical to who we are.

Into the Woods was born out of a dream to get kids outside to fall in love with Alaska’s great wild beauty, and to learn how to recreate safely and respectfully within it.
One moment in time I will never forget (where this photo was taken of me and our two boys): we were camping near the ocean. It was high tide. Suddenly, the ocean began roiling and giant, sleek white arcs formed out of the surface of the water. Cook Inlet Belugas, curious about us and more likely following fish, were within twenty feet of us. For the better part of thirty minutes, we watched awestruck as these majestic creatures danced and swooped around us, giving us the rare gift of their presence. Then, as if they had never been there at all, they were gone.

Once we made the choice to shutter our business until further notice, we knew it was the right thing to do. The biggest culprit preying on everyone right now is uncertainty; making a firm decision gave us time to figure out our next steps at more thoughtful pace. How can anyone make plans if they don’t know what is going to happen in a few months? This is the million-dollar question. We knew we had to change things up and adapt if we were to survive this.

We went back to the drawing board and, for the third time in a year (I chalk it up to growing pains and learning the ropes of running a small business), we moved our website to what is hopefully its forever home. We knew that we would have to now reach our customers digitally, and we needed a platform that was fast, responsive, and had the ability to disseminate digital content easily. WordPress did it for us, and we got a tutoring software that will allow us to create classes for download so that parents, working from home and homeschooling, can download materials and/or content to teach their children the cool things we do in our summer camps. We do not believe in hoarding information, and this platform almost seemed too good to be true-we can now plug in all of the activities and science topics content into the digital classroom for our families to enjoy outside of our outdoor studies programs. One of the goals of getting kids outdoors is after they’ve spend time in one our programs, they will then get their families out to explore then same, or new places, thus spreading the use and appreciation of our natural spaces. Disseminating our content online felt like a continuation of that philosophy – maybe we can’t run our programs right now, but we can share with families all the things we do so that families can do it together outdoors. The best way to social distance.

The beautiful Crow Creek to Crow Pass Trail. It makes an excellent day hike to Raven Glacier.

After spending weeks dialing in our strategy, digital platform, and creating a myriad of tentative plans based on an A, B, or C scenario, the next step was figuring out the “if…” and “how” to run our summer programs. The most obvious course of action was dialing down the majority of our offerings; recent guidelines from the state of Alaska state that summer camps should include groups of 10 or less and be 100% outdoors. This is a boon for us as our groups are always 10 or less…and our entire program is run outdoors. The next obvious step was to cut all of our program groups except one per location. Only one group of ten at Kincaid and only one group of ten at Glen Alps.

Summer camp programs will be offered starting June 1, 2020.

  • We will run 11 weeks of summer program session from June 1 to August 14. Sessions are Monday – Friday, 8am to 6pm. (Drop off will be from 8-9, pick up from 4:30-6).
  • We will run our programs at two locations, and groups at each location are limited to 10 or less (including the guide).

Kincaid Park for ages 5-12 – The Summer Explorers Club

  • drop-off: 8-9 at the Raspberry Parking Area
  • pick-up: 4:30-6 near the main chalet

Glen Alps for ages 10-16 – The Anchorage Youth Hiking Club

  • drop-off: 8-9 at the Glen Alps parking area
  • pick-up: 5:30-6 at the Glen Alps parking area

We can offer a multitude of groups and age-based programming once we have a healthy community and the pandemic is in our rear view…but for now, the only responsible thing to do is to limit our offerings to one. Just like the mountains we adore will always be there for us to enjoy, as they have been for eons before us, we hope our program will be around for decades to come. The only thing that threatens that future right now is if we were to put business over community.

The next course of action was to figure out how to make it easy for parents. Like us, parents now have to home school while working at home, a very challenging feat to be sure. We are all feeling the stress from a crashing economy, job loss, a health crisis, being cut off from our loved ones, the uncertainty of the future…and kids pick up on it, though they may have difficulty expressing it.

To help, at least in a small way to alleviate stress, we’ve focused in on reducing paperwork, the filling out of forms, and streamlining our registration process. We’ve made some changes to our registration process – from now on, parents will fill out their family intake form one time, and one time only. These forms will need to be updated over the years as there are changes in demographic information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or children’s ages, but the entire form is a one-time process. The liability and policy waiver also is now an annual event – fill it out and sign it once for the year – it is good for all programs and all children attending any ITWAK program.

Finally, the big kahuna – the registration process. Now, parents can select one, or all of the programs AND the quantity (the number of children attending) in just the one checkout experience. Due to the uncertainty of the next few months and the very real possibility we will have to cancel our programming, we also didn’t want to accept payment until we knew for sure our programs are a “go”. This is the part I am most happy with – as a parent who has enrolled her children in other summer camps – we are not accepting payment until we are sure camps are running. Parents select their dates, sign up and register, reserving their spot without financial commitment. We will then run payment within a week before selected camp sessions begin.

Additionally, guidelines published to us by the State of Alaska recommend that we have a “static” group of kids. We understand parents may only want one or two weeks over the summer, but for parents that need childcare all summer, we have created a series of packages that will help parents with siblings save money and stay with us for as long as they need.

This is the whole summer package – obviously, we would love to spend it with children playing in the woods and learning new outdoor safety skills. However, if this is not to be, our family will fully embrace the whole summer package; peacefully living in the moment and embracing every single molecule of summer and family time until we can responsibly re-open our business. We owe it to ourselves and to our Into the Woods community to what’s right. We are prepared for whatever A, B, or C plan comes our way, whether we are operating under new COVID-19 safety guidelines or closed for everyone’s safety.

Whatever comes our way, we are buying in to the whole summer package; whatever comes our way, we will abide.

We wish you the very best of healthy and safety during these troubled times. With warm regards and the hopes to meet you in the woods,

Kristina & Dan

reserve a summer program

Getting through tough times together. (#togetherapart)

Social distancing on long winter hikes.

Winter camping in the back country.
Hiking up Harp Mountain last October, after the first snowfall.
Winter hiking offers up spectacular views to a new way of seeing familiar landscapes.

The best way to practice social distancing (in our opinion)? By experiencing the Alaskan springtime in all her austere, snowy beauty.


a message from into the woods alaska – what to expect over the next few months

Like everyone else right now, we have had to make some tough decisions. For the time being, we are suspending all of our programs until we have a better idea of what to expect. You may still join the wait list for summer camps with no financial obligation until we know the final plan.

We have dialed in our summer camps to just two offerings: one program at Kincaid for ages 5-12, and our hiking club for ages 10-16. The Kincaid program will have pick up and drop off at Kincaid, while the Hiking club will have pick up and drop off at our HQ – our Little Blue Cottage, from where we will head out on adventure to explore the amazing trails all over the Chugach State Park. Additionally, in anticipation of future closures extending into June, our camps will run from June 22 to August 14, rather than for the entire summer.




These are tough times. Are they unprecedented?

I have heard a lot of people mention lately, in emails, on the news, or in-person (and to be honest I have said it much myself) that these are unprecedented times.

Upon reflection, this is simply untrue. While these times in which we find ourselves are very dark and troubling, they are not unprecedented; I believe this to be an important distinction as we can feel reassured in the knowledge that humanity has had equally troubling times and has overcome.

It is important to reiterate this because it lends a bright spot-something to be hopeful for, to strive for, to get through-during these tough times.

I do not mean to downplay my own sadness and frustration, that of anyone else, or the seriousness of the Coronovirus pandemic and its impact on our local, national, and global economy. Nor do I belittle the lives that are lost or forever changed by this crisis.

It is for the above reasons that I urge everyone to remember: we are a naturally resilient species and we can get through this, but only if we work together. This means that we all agree upon a social contract: we agree to social distancing, we agree to doing what needs done in order to save lives, and we agree to sacrifice in order to save the greater good.

For Into the Woods Alaska, this means we shut down our camps and in-person activities, it means that we put the health of our community over the financial gain of our businesses and our family.

Now, more than ever, we need to remember that we are indeed one world, one people, and one love. Protect those you love and those in your community who have loved ones by doing your part to get through this-together.

With warm regards,

Kristina

April 2, 2020