In-person clubs adapt to the pandemic


Provided by Cirrus Club Advisor Maureen Casey

The members of Cirrus Outdoor Adventure Club pose for a photo during their camping trip on Nov. 20, 2020.

Kristen Su, News Editor

While students have to take part in virtual learning and athletes have to cope with the loss of valuable team bonding, one often overlooked challenge brought on by COVID-19 is the impact on student-run organizations. Whereas most clubs have adjusted to the newfound reality of virtual meetings, events, and competitions, several have found ways to overcome the circumstances and hold in-person meetings.

One such club is the Cirrus Outdoor Adventure Club. Although the coronavirus has called for mask protocols and restricted the ability of club members to come in contact with one another, Cirrus has continued with their outdoor hiking ventures as usual.

According to Cirrus Club Advisor Stephanie Devlin, the club’s trips have included a camping trip to Pepperell and a night hike at the Groton Town Forest. The group also raised $120 for the Westford Food Pantry by snowshoeing in a charity walk to the Stone Arch Bridge. In the near future, they have plans to visit both the Tom Paul Trail and East Boston Camps.

Aside from going on hikes and visiting new trails, they have also scheduled team bonding activities together. Three meetings held online included a virtual game of Fishbowl, and one in-person meeting involved geocaching outdoors.

Devlin explained that the biggest challenge Cirrus has faced is transportation. Because of COVID-19, students have not been able to carpool with one another and thus have not been able to visit some of their usual locations farther from home.

Not only has the team had to modify some of their camping trips, but they’ve also missed out on some valuable bonding experiences held during these car rides.

“Last year, on several occasions I had five kids sitting in the back of my van and was driving up to Mount Monadnock or Mount Watatic. And those trips, were also part of the bonding. […] Driving and listening to all the conversations, I got to know the kids who I don’t know in my classroom […] on an hour drive there and an hour drive back,” Devlin said.

However, there is a silver lining in all of this. As the name of the club suggests, they have been able to take on new adventures by exploring unfamiliar land.

“For some of the kids, if we do the Tom Paul Trail in Westford, or if we go to Great Brook in Carlisle, they’re places that are right here that […] the majority of people don’t go to. […] Kids are getting to know the conservation land that we have near[by] and accessible to us that otherwise they may not have explored,” Devlin said.

Another club that has been able to adjust is the music performance troupe Troubadours. Comprised namely of strings players performing a range of classical and pop music, the group had to adapt their policies in order to continue rehearsing together.

Complying with social distancing protocols, the group has moved their rehearsals from room 100 to the PAC. Name tags spread six feet apart line the stage, each with a stand and a chair. All equipment is wiped once everyone has left, and there is no sharing of any materials.

This year, the Troubaboard, the students in charge of Troubadours, has also organized smaller chamber groups for students to take part in.

“[Chamber groups] started as a fallback. If we had to shut down the club and if we all had to go home, then it’s a lot easier for people to coordinate in small groups. […] But also I think it’s a good chance [opportunity] for people because that’s not an opportunity that Troubs normally gets because we’re normally all in one big group,” Troubadours President Dan Hu said.

During every Friday afternoon rehearsal, the Troubadours will spend some time rehearsing together and for the rest of their rehearsal, they spread across the school in smaller chamber groups.

Typically, Troubadours will give in-person performances at venues such as senior centers. However, because of the pandemic, they have set aside recording days for the group to gather and record videos simulating virtual performances.

“Distribution-wise, those [recordings] are eventually going to go on a YouTube channel, and we’ll email them to people—the venues we normally play for,” Hu said.

According to Troubadours Advisor Kenneth Culver, socialization has been much harder. Rehearsals used to start with a snack at the beginning and a bonding activity. This year, there are no snacks and the only bonding activity they organized was a game of charades back in the fall.

However, chamber groups have also served as a method for people to continue interacting with their friends while still playing music together.

“We’ve been able to place people with their friends mostly, so that’s brought back the social aspect of Troubadours because obviously if we’re on stage and we’re distancing, it’s hard in instrument sections to be able to see your friends,” Troubadours Vice President Aruli Pillai said.

Whether in an indoor or outdoor setting, in-person clubs at WA continue to hold meetings as usual. Although social distancing poses challenges, they have done their best to make the experience as normal as possible.

“I think we’re one of the luckier clubs in that we’re able to meet every week in person, so there’s not much more we can hope for in the next few months because I doubt distancing protocols and things are gonna go away. I think what we have right now is pretty good, actually,” Pillai said.