Summer camps taking extra precautions as they welcome back kids

Alta Mons, YMCA at Virginia’s Blue Ridge share safety measures ahead of summer camps

CDC guidance on summer camps
CDC guidance on summer camps

ROANOKE, Va. – The CDC has issued new guidance when it comes to kids and summer camps.

Camps in the region are preparing to bring campers back safely and incorporating those guidelines, which include keeping kids at least 3 feet apart from each other, having counselors stay at least 6 feet apart from the campers, mask-wearing at all times, except when kids are eating, drinking or swimming and having most of the camp’s activities be done outside, but if they must be done indoors, keep windows and doors open.

Alta Mons in Montgomery County has already modified several aspects of its day and overnight camps.

The camp’s program director, Meredith Simmons, said kids will now eat outside.

The camp has been working to divide its more than 200 campers into small groups, similar to pods for decades so that won’t be anything new for kids to adjust to.

What will change is there won’t be games for the entire camp to compete in and kids staying overnight will have to have a negative COVID-19 test seven days prior to starting or a 14-day symptom log of all members of their household.

Simmons said she and the rest of staff are just grateful to reopen. They were closed from March to June and weren’t able to host campers or retreats, so they’re excited to be welcoming campers this summer.

“It’s really important to us to have kids out here. We feel like their school experience has been so stressful this year. The pandemic has been hard on us all but for kids to just have a chance to connect with each other, with nature and with God in this really beautiful space with our staff,” said Simmons.

There is a lot of extra work and cleaning to keep everyone safe so they are still hiring staff. For a look at other COVID-19 precautions the camp is taking, click here.

Summer camps welcome kids back amid pandemic
Summer camps welcome kids back amid pandemic

For some places, like YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, this is not their first summer camp season in the pandemic.

During the shutdown at the start of the pandemic YMCA had a camp for the children of essential workers. Then, in the summer, there were day camps and in the fall, there were programs to help kids with virtual learning so they have experience with making sure little ones have fun, safely.

Restrictions have loosened up a bit since last summer and fall but the same precautions apply like extensive cleaning, wearing masks and social distancing.

Jonathan Pait, the branch executive at Gainsboro YMCA, said the big difference is now they are able to have more campers.

“I think as we start to get back to things that not only kids love to do but really what they need to be doing to develop as they should. I think this is a great time and season for parents to bring their kids to camp and let them enjoy those things that are so synonymous with camp,” said Pait.

He added the biggest challenge is getting the right staff to support campers. If you’re interested in applying or want to register your child for camp, click here.

For more information about the CDC guidance, click here.

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