Covid Times...

Originally published at:

So…… I’ve been away. Not by design, but just like with everyone else in the world this thing has taken its toll on how business is done.

Way back in April I was getting my blog posts back up and running and was planning on putting things out on a more regular basis, but the world had different plans. Covid takes us by storm. In March my game group was shut down and my job flipped. Since March things have been wild and games have not been a thing I have been able to focus on for months. Fast forward 6 months and we have finally cleared enough time without an active case by any youth or staff where the facility is comfortable enough to allow units to mix under strict circumstances and guidelines.

Last night was my first Table Top Group since April 1st. A lot has changed since our last group. Not only do we have a lot of new faces but the way we do business is a little different. All youth have to wear face masks, we have to keep our distance, we are washing and sanitizing as often as possible. These are tricky things to do when playing games. Tabletop games are a shared experience and there is a fair amount of interaction. The expectations are clear and my hope is that we can keep reality as close to the expectations as possible.

Although these are scary and uncertain times this is huge for a lot of our youth here. They have not been able to mingle with different units for months. They have been stuck with their unit and the same staff and youth for the last 6 months. Up until a week or two ago, they have been isolated to their respective units. Having this group and being able to mix units in this way for the first time is huge. It’s massive for our guys who generally care about one another, who miss these connections with like-minded people. It’s important and it shows how crucial it is to be with your people.

As I am sitting there “running my group” and just letting these guys enjoy each other’s company and have fun it donned on me that this is more than just about games. It’s about connections and relationships. They were more excited to talk to each other and spend time together. They could have cared less about what I put in front of them. For the 3 hours, I had these guys they were just kids enjoying being with other kids who like the same stuff they do.

As much of a challenge, it was to remind them to wear their masks and keep their distance it was awesome to see these “thugs” and “felons” be kids and enjoy the moments. We don’t get enough time to see genuine moments like this in corrections very often. When you do oftentimes you don’t realize what you looking at until the moment has passed. Times like these you get to see people’s true colors, and last night I saw some of the brightest, most vibrant, and genuine colors I have ever seen in my career from some guys that many would call a stain or black mark on our society.

I’ve echoed this quote before and I’ll echo it again. Games are the great unifier – Phil Spencer. Remind yourself to sit in the moment, take in what is right in front of you, think outside of the box, and let the light shine on.

Were games not allowed during recent months? Was there a change that made it possible to run games again? Have there been any COVID outbreaks at the facility? I have so many questions! I’m glad to see a new post up!

We could play games but I was not allowed to mix units. So in my group, I have guys from several different units (places where youth live). When we started having youth and staff turn up with confirmed cases and our governor set restrictions on our state we had to fall in line. We are also under an obligation to make sure we keep all youth safe. Because of that, we were given the order to avoid mixing groups from other units. We could only meet with youth from one unit at a tieme.

I did play games with some guys from specific units but it was only a few guys from the same unit. That was also pretty sporadic because my co-workers and I were asked to fill in the gaps when staff would not show up to work or when a unit needed assistance with any number of things. We are also used when we had confirmed cases. Some of our team needed to go run the quarantined units during those times. We were and still are, to some degree, all over the place. My team is currently responsible for doing all virtual visits to make up for the lack of physical visits at the moment, and we have been since March. All this on top of our normal assignments. It ends up being a lot and making time for my group was forced to take a back burner, which it would have had to do even if I could have mixed units.

As of lately, we have been able to mix groups on a low level. No more than 10 people in one space at any given time and we still need to wear masks and have a 6-foot distance between us. This is making for some creative gameplay situations.

I don’t exactly know how many cases we have had but it’s been a few from both staff and youth. Luckily we have been without a confirmed case for some time now, so that is a good feeling, which is what is allowing us to move forward with mixing groups again on a low level.