Like so many, we have been closely monitoring the spread and impact of COVID-19 over the last month, hoping that this health crisis would show signs of clearing. Projections on “the curves” and timing have held our close attention with two of our premier leadership programs happening in June — Ruck Leadership Institute and Tragos Quest to Greece.
Unfortunately, with the continued spread of the virus and growing uncertainty around the world, the National Board of Directors and staff determined that it is best to cancel the 2020 Ruck Leadership Institute and Tragos Quest to Greece.
The safety of our students and program faculty/mentors is our top priority. As we weighed our options, we considered guidance from the CDC and World Health Organization. The staff worked closely with our partners that help us host these programs to be able to wait as long as possible to make a determination, enabling us to get a broad picture of COVID-19’s impact, while still mitigating financial concerns should cancellation be necessary.
In the past weeks, cases of the virus have escalated in both the U.S. and abroad, and increased numbers of young people are reporting severe symptoms. Travel restrictions have been strengthened in the U.S., and the CDC recently issued a Level 3 warning for Greece, barring non-essential travel to the country. Many states have extended “stay-at-home” guidance for weeks at a time — including in Virginia through June. People are wary of booking future travel plans, and parents and students have begun to express concerns about navigating crowded airports and flying internationally when those orders lift. We also had concerns about how best to ensure proper care could be given if a scholar or mentor became sick, as well as how quarantining would take place during the programs, if needed.
While Ruck and Tragos Quest are cancelled, we know they are so critical to our members, our chapters and their communities. We are actively looking at how we can bring aspects of each program to undergraduates virtually, as well as bring some of their leadership lessons to all SigEps via online tools this summer.