Happy campers: Other night camps to reopen this summer
PORTLAND, Maine – There will be more happy campers this summer as more camps choose to reopen despite the pandemic, giving millions more children the opportunity to gather around a campfire.
Parents are currently scrambling to get their kids to register before spaces are filled in many states like Maine, where at least 100 overnight camps will be open. But some states have not yet published their operational guidelines.
In New York City, Andrew and Alyssa Klein kept their son and daughter out of camp last year. But this summer, they let them go to a camp in Maine.
“We have to find a way to live our lives safely,” said Andrew Klein. “We cannot live in a cocoon. We did it for a year. I am ready to emerge and I am ready to bring out my family, as surely as possible. “
Several states like New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey that banned overnight camps last summer have changed their minds. Across the country, at least 45 states allow overnight camps to open, up from 39 states last summer, according to the American Camp Association.
“The camps are really preparing to function as fully as possible. They know that campers and staff need this experience, ”said Tom Rosenberg, ACA.
Most of the overnight camps that remained open last summer have mainly operated successfully, creating their own ‘bubbles’ and emphasizing safety by grouping children into cohorts, imposing masks and social distancing on them. inside, and requiring a lot of hand washing. Many children demanded quarantine or testing before they arrived.
But there have been a few notable outbreaks. More than 250 people have been infected in a camp in Georgia and more than 80 people have been infected in a camp in Missouri, for example.
Parents who have seen their children isolated from their friends and spend too much time indoors are eager to give their children a sense of normalcy.
“Considering all the kids have been through, this is an incredible opportunity for them that gives them a glimpse into normal life in a world that is far from normal,” said Elisabeth Mischel, of Short Hills, New Jersey, who sends him two 11-year-old boys. and 13, to camp in Maine.
The situation has improved a lot from last summer, which was a devastating financial loss for the camping industry with over 80% of vacation camps closed for the season. Night camps are estimated to lose $ 16 billion in revenue with more than $ 4.4 billion in lost wages and more than 900,000 jobs lost, Rosenberg said.
Most of the approximately 9,000 overnight camps weathered the storm with federal assistance, including Paycheck Protection Program loans. But there are about 60 fewer camps than before the pandemic, the ACA said.
Despite all the worries of the past year, many parents have been pioneers in choosing to continue the tradition of the camp.
In Texas, Megan Considine and her husband loaded their son and daughter into an RV for the long trip to Maine. Her kids weren’t in good shape after spending too much time indoors and in front of screens.
“We thought having our kids at summer camp in Maine was a lot safer than being at home. It was safer physically and mentally. They needed to get out and exercise, ”she said.
Jen Block, from Weston, Mass., Said it was obvious in hindsight, but there had been a lot of concern last summer.
This summer, COVID-19 tests are more readily available, a bonus for camp directors, even as concerns grow about emerging strains of the virus. Vaccines, for now, are limited to adults, not children.
At Camp Winnebago in Maine, owner Andy Lilienthal said camp directors knew how to keep the children safe – there was no infection in his camp last summer – and that they would make the adjustments necessary to continue.
Her biggest concern at this point is that there is so much demand amid concerns about the emotional toll the pandemic is taking on children. “It makes me sad to fire people,” he said.