I’ve been involved with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association(IEA) since 2013, starting as a team coach. Over the years, I’ve fulfilled a variety of roles at the organization’s horse shows from manager to secretary to announcer to steward. During our 2021 postseason, I was called on to fulfill a new role, COVID Compliance Supervisor AKA Covid Cop.
As part of the IEA’s plan to safely return to showing, extensive guidelines regarding COVID protocols were created. As the 20-21 season went on, it became apparent that managing the implementation and enforcement of these rules fell outside of what the show manager & steward could manage, given their other duties, and the role of COVID compliance supervisor was created.
According to the press release from the IEA COVID task-force the COVID compliance supervisor should feel comfortable moving around the horse show reminding/enforcing attendees (coaches, riders, parents) to properly wear their mask, social distance, and leave immediately following their rider’s last class. Having spent my 2020 summer at Camp Runoia, I had already created great habits regarding masking, hand washing, and social distancing. I took those habits forward into my job at a local high school as we resumed hybrid in person learning beginning in October. Stepping into the role of COVID compliance supervisor was in my wheelhouse.
Having safely traveled a lot during the pandemic, I have learned that masks, physical distancing, and following CDC guidelines work! However, getting others to buy in can be challenging. Most recently at a zone finals show, I had many people come up and thank me for taking on the role. They understood that there’s still resistance to following the rules. One thing I learned early on in the pandemic was to not argue with people who weren’t following the rules, but to remind them that they signed up to participate and by doing so agreed to follow the rules. Keeping personal beliefs and politics out of the conversation, and focusing on the agreed upon rules of participation. In fact, if we all follow the rules, we can focus on having fun and enjoying the sport.
The COVID task-force worked hard to create guidelines so we could return to the sport, and consequently, we all have to follow those guidelines, or the opportunities can be taken away. I look at heading into summer the same way. I’m doing all I can to contribute to keeping our camp community safe. I got vaccinated as soon as I was able and I still wear my mask anytime I’m indoors outside of my own home or when in crowded outdoor situations. At camp, we have ACA and CDC guidelines that we have to follow. Rules the range from how far apart heads must be while sleeping to safety equipment in activities to how our meals are prepared. I look forward to being back at Runoia in a few short weeks, surrounded by campers and staff who all believe in keeping each other safe and having fun!
By Jen Dresdow –Camp Runoia Assistant Director and Equestrian Director (preferably not a Covid Cop!)