A well-known local Scout leader has come down with COVID-19, but is using his nature skills to keep his family safe from infection.
Jon Smith, 51, is a Scout leader with the 1st Barrie Foresters. He says he got his positive test result for COVID-19 on Sept. 24.
“I have allergies, and I came down with what I thought was a really bad cold. I thought I’d get the test just in case,” Smith told BarrieToday. “In the meantime, I found out a co-worker had tested positive as well.”
The Barrie resident works as a project manager at a printing plant.
Smith’s wife, Erin, as well as his 18-year-old son, Jacob, and 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, were all also tested. All came back with negative results.
The challenge was, the family doesn’t have a spare bedroom in their home for Smith to isolate.
“When they went to get tested, one of the kids suggested that Dad should sleep in his hammock,” said Smith, who has been a Scout leader for 13 years.
So, he decided to put some of his outdoor skills to good use and moved into the backyard.
“I thought it made total sense,” he said with a laugh.
Smith said that, due to COVID restrictions, his local Scouting group hasn’t been able to meet in person and has been doing virtual meetings with weekly challenges.
“One of them was setting up a campsite in your own backyard and sleep outside for one night. I would never tell my Scouts to do something I wouldn’t do,” Smith said. “So I already had the hammock from that.”
Smith has slept in his hammock covered with a tarp for the past eight nights.
For the first five days, Smith said he would sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day in the hammock.
“At the beginning, it was a lot of headaches, tiredness and dizziness. I was too tired to talk or sit,” said Smith. “I lost my (sense of) taste for a while, but it’s mostly come back. I didn’t enjoy watching television because I couldn’t really sit in a chair for very long.
“That’s where the hammock helps out, because I can lie there for hours and not be in any sort of pain,” he added.
When it gets too cold or rains, Smith said the house has a sun room, so he can seek shelter there.
“My (health unit) caseworker was a little concerned that I might be getting too cold. I speak with her every day. I told her, I sleep outside in the wintertime,” he said with a laugh.
Erin prepares food for Smith and brings it to the screen door of the sun room three times a day for him to retrieve.
“My wife will sit on a chair and talk to me through the screen door so we can still be isolated,” he said. “The first couple of days were the hardest, because I was more worried my kids had got it. It’s isolating because I’m looking at them through a window or screen door. It’s sad.”
Smith has a few words of advice for people now that a second wave of COVID is firmly underway.
“I thought I was pretty diligent with hand-washing and masking. I still caught it, so just be careful,” he said. “I see a lot of people relaxing with the masks and I think that’s a big mistake. You really don’t want to get COVID.
"Mine was pretty mild and I’m feeling better now, but it was pretty horrible.”