COVID-19 causes early end to South Dakota Civil Air Patrol youth encampment

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) youth program encampment at Camp Rapid came to an early end this year according to a release by the organization, shuttering one day early after five participants tested positive for COVID-19.

The release says that the five members, all under the age of 20, had all been sleeping in the same dorm “bay” during the 8 days prior to the encampments cancellation.

KELOLAND News spoke with Col. Nick Gengler, commander of CAP’s South Dakota Wing about the program’s early closure. Gengler confirmed the five infected members had all been sleeping in the same room, along with seven other people. He says testing by external medical professionals was prompted by the development of symptoms including fever and cough.

Gengler says those who attended the encampment were required to declare one of the following:

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • That they had tested negative for COVID-19 three days before arrival
  • That they had self-quarantined for 14 days before arrival
  • That they had a physician’s note indicating full recovery from a prior COVID-19 infection

Gengler says that CAP could not give an accurate estimate of how many of the 155 youth and staff had been vaccinated. He says that all 155 attendees were not tested after the positive cases were confirmed, nor were all 12 of the members sleeping in the dormitory. Gengler says that testing was carried out based on a mix of criteria including the presence of symptoms and vaccination status.

While the camp was closed early, CAP says they consider the exercise a success due to the effective deployment of their COVID-19 contingency plan. Gengler says this plan consisted of isolating those who had tested positive, notifying their parents, and stepping up cleaning measures throughout the encampment.

While not all members were tested, Gengler says that CAP is following up with all attendees via phone and email to monitor for symptoms. This includes both youth and staff. KELOLAND News is reaching out to the CAP National Headquarters for more clarification on the organization’s testing policies.

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