Animas Programs and COVID-19

At Animas Valley Institute, we sense the need for an ongoing safe, proactive, suitably-scaled, and responsive plan to the changing circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus and emerging variants. Our compassion continues to go out to the communities and individuals throughout the world affected by this lingering pandemic.

At Animas, we journey to discover our unique calling toward cultural transformation. And while we like to offer dangerous invitations to one’s current understanding of themselves, we also like to keep individuals physically safe and healthy.

Most local, state, and federal mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic have expired or terminated. However, the consequences of being infected with the later variants of COVID-19 are still significant for certain individuals.

Prior to your arrival and during our time together at an Animas program, we urge you to follow social diligence in avoiding exposure to COVID-19, and to please act responsibly for yourself and others. The health of everyone in attendance is a top priority, and we are committed to providing a safe and cooperative container, knowing that any illness in a group setting is extremely disruptive to the overall experience. We honor and encourage those who have specific “at-risk” health conditions, or are returning home to others who are “at-risk,” to wear a mask and take other protective measures during a program.

Animas requires that all guides and participants maintain a culture of honor and respect for differing opinions, beliefs, and approaches surrounding the pandemic. We urge you to attend to your individual needs in order to feel safe throughout a program, without fear of reproach from others.

Animas has no organizational stance on vaccines. We have guides and participants who are vaccinated and who are unvaccinated. Participants should be aware of this before signing up for programs. In addition, more stringent COVID-19 safety protocols may be implemented at the discretion of our guides.

You will note that many of our programs are offered in remote, wilderness or rural areas to support our work. These areas also tend to be low in medical resources. Subsequently, emergency care in these areas may be expensive if you are not in the insurance network. If you have health insurance or are acquiring travel health insurance, be sure your policy includes coverage for COVID-19 related expenses.

If you have any major health risks, we ask you to consider taking an online program at this time.

With the appearance of new variants and periodic surges of the virus into our communities, our COVID-19 Risk Management Team continues to design best practices for keeping our guides, participants, trainees, and communities safe. We are monitoring the evolving situation and making routine updated recommendations to the guides and organization. We are also designing or adapting protocols that are suitable for the various types of “in the field” programs that we guide, whether they are held in the backcountry, camping, or at a retreat center. Our group continues to monitor the situation for future programs, striving to notify participants of cancellation no later than 30 days prior to the start of a program. Participants should be aware, however, that programs may be cancelled at any time given any federal, state, or local restriction placed by these authorities, or other evolving circumstances.

Full up-to-date vaccination is required for non-U.S. citizens traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country – please review the requirements here

Additional resources:

World Health Organization Coronavirus information

How to contact us:

Please address inquiries to [email protected] or call 970-259-0585.

With appreciation and well wishes for our collective health,

The Animas COVID-19 Risk Management Team:

Jeanine Surber – Animas Operations Coordinator

John Lynch, MA – Wilderness Guide, Wilderness EMT, Professor of Outdoor Education

Laura Gunion – Wilderness Guide and Nature-Based Educator, Wilderness First Responder

Bruce Howatt – Wilderness and Mountain Guide, Wilderness First Responder

Brian Stafford, MD, MPH – Wilderness Guide, Acute Wilderness Life Support Trainer, Animas Medical Director

UPDATED April 3, 2023