COVID-19 Information

How will you decide to run programs this summer?

  • We are following guidelines from the Washington State Health Department and Washington State Safe Start Plan (find links at the bottom of this webpage)  We are also tracking community spread in Whatcom and Skagit counties and vaccination rates to determine risk factors in our communities.
  • Many other outdoor programs have been operating safely in the past year which helps us feel confident we will be able to provide backcountry programming this summer.

Should I sign up now or wait and see how things are looking? 

  • You should sign up now!  Completing an application is not a binding process, but helps us know if people are interested. We will be in touch frequently as the program dates get closer, and if things change on your end you just let us know.

What will happen if the trips are canceled due to COVID-19? 

  • If a trip is canceled due to COVID-19, you will receive a full refund and will be notified of any opportunity to sign up for a later trip.

How will the program change due to COVID-19?

  • We are anticipating changes that will increase hygiene practices with shared items and when cooking, in how we transport students, sleeping arrangements, wearing masks and physical distancing.  The actual structure of our programs won’t change much, as they are already outside the entire time.  We are working together with other outdoor organizations to share information and create best practices.

What do participants need to do before the trip? 

  • We ask that students follow the guidelines set by Washington State Health Department to limit their potential exposure to COVID-19 before their trip.
  • We will be conducting health checks when students arrive and each day of the trip (including a symptoms report and temperature check)
  • We are not asking students to get tested before coming on course, however, we will be asking students to disclose any contact history that would put them in a high risk category for contracting or transmitting COVID-19.

What steps are you taking to minimize the risk of someone contracting COVID-19 during their time with YLA? 

  • All the time with YLA is already outside, which already reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 between participants.  To further reduce the risk, participants will maintain physical distancing or wear masks when physical distancing is not possible.  
  • Implementing increased hygiene practices around cooking and shared objects, and giving each student an individual tent so students are not sharing sleeping space. 
  • Reducing contact with anyone outside of their trip cohort
  • Conducting health checks each day

Does that mean participants will be required to wear face masks? 

  • You will need to wear a face mask in specific situations, but not your entire time with YLA.  Whenever you need to be within 6 feet of other group members, participants will be required to wear a mask, for example during transportation, for brief moments looking at a map with the group, or passing equipment.  The majority of the time, 6 feet of distance can be kept between group members and masks do not need to be worn.  However, participants are welcome to wear a mask whenever it makes them feel comfortable.  

What are staff doing before and during the trip? 

  • Our staff will receive a negative test result within 24 hours of the start of their trips.  While not at work, they are asked to carefully follow the guidelines set by the Washington State Health Department.  During the trip, they will be following  the same practices as students around physical distancing, mask wearing, and increase hygiene. 

If the participant has received a COVID-19 vaccine, do they still need to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols? 

  • Yes, all participants, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to follow our COVID-19 safety protocols.  This ensures equity between those that have and have not received the vaccine. 

Will you provide face masks or do I need to bring my own? 

  • We will provide 1 face covering for each student.  Students are also welcome to bring their own, as long as they follow the guidelines sent out in the pre-trip materials.

What will transportation be like?

What will sleeping be like? 

  • Each student will be given a 1-person tent during their trip to ensure their ability to distance from other participants while they are sleeping.  

What happens if someone in the group exhibits symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • Despite pre-trip testing and careful safety measures, it is impossible to guarantee that participants will not contract COVID-19 during their YLA trip. 
  • If a student exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during the trip, we will evacuate them and require a parent / guardian to pick them up from our office at the Environmental Learning Center.  
  • The rest of the group members may remain on the trip.  If any students or staff have been exposed to the student exhibiting symptoms (defined as spending 15 minutes or more within six feet of the symptomatic person, without both wearing masks), they will be carefully monitored and might also be evacuated.

What happens if someone in the group tests positive for COVID-19?  

  • Our staff will follow up with any participants that leave the trip due to COVID-19 symptoms.  If the test results are positive, other participants and families/guardians will be informed. 

Who is making your health and safety plans? 

  • Our COVID-19 risk management plans are being made by YLA staff in conjunction with other NCI staff. We are carefully following Washington State Reopening Guidance and Department of Health Recommendations, see the resources below.


Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 Overnight Group Summer Camps and Similar Activities COVID-19 Guidance”.

Child Care, Youth Development and Day Camps During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Safe Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance for Public Spaces

Outdoor Recreation Guidance

Covid-19 Reopening Guide for Business and Workers