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The End of Summer Camp?
News Bytes 07/8/2020 19 Comments

Ropes courses, waterfall hikes, cabins in the woods—summertime means summer camp for many out-of-school kids. But this year, the vast majority of camps are closed due to the pandemic. For camps that buck the trend and welcome children, things will look very different.

Nationwide, the summer camp picture is coming into sharper focus. Many of the 15,000-plus summer camps are opting to close because of health concerns surrounding the coronavirus—or because of delays in receiving guidelines from officials.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Oregon have banned overnight camps entirely. More than 20 states still haven’t issued guidance, according to the American Camp Association.

It’s not just a loss for kids, who will miss out on making friends, becoming independent, and developing outdoor skills. It’s a devastating financial loss for camps. Some won’t ever recover. Experts estimate that camps will lose $16 billion.

Even camps that do jump through the hoops to open are going to have a tough time. They must confront a hodgepodge of safety rules for testing, quarantining, social distancing, sanitizing, and isolation areas.

In Maine, only 20 of 110 licensed overnight camps are opening. Guidelines require staff and counselors to quarantine or receive a negative test result. Campers also must quarantine or get tested, unless they’re from an exempted state. They must be broken up into smaller groups to make social distancing possible. There are rigid rules for sanitizing and isolation if someone falls ill.

Maine’s Camp Winnebago was founded during the so-called Spanish Flu over a century ago. It has weathered all manner of health scares from polio to the swine flu. It wasn’t about to let the coronavirus stop the fun.

Camp began last week at Winnebago. Campers got tested five days before arriving and must be tested again five days later. The camp installed additional hand-washing stations, and cabin hand sanitizer posts. Face coverings are required in large groups.

Only about 80% of summer slots are filled. Camp Winnebago purposefully kept some slots unfilled to create a separate isolation area if someone does show signs of sickness, Lilienthal says.

The camp property was largely closed off after the arrival of 140 campers. There will be no high-intensity, close-contact activities like basketball or soccer until an initial waiting period has passed.

“We believe that we can run a program safely and with the health of the campers at the top of our minds,” Camp Winnebago owner Andy Lilienthal says. “We’re taking this extremely seriously.”

Camp Winona in Maine is opening on a smaller scale too. “Camp directors are risk managers, every single day of the camp. We’re also innovative and tenacious,” co-owner Laura Ordway says. “I know that there are challenges, but we’ve figured out the safety side of things. Now we have to figure out the logistics so our campers really thrive.”

(Cabins await campers at the Camp Winnebago summer camp in Fayette, Maine. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

I have never been to a camp before but I was going to go to my first one this summer but they’ve changed it to online now. They said it was ‘Camp without the camping’. Haha.

My summer camp was mostly

My summer camp was mostly online, and I was really sad. However, at camp in person they do a "news" thing, and a few of the counselors visited almost every camper and did a special news segment, game and dance! It made my week.

Third comment

The only camp I've ever been to is Falls Creek, which is a ginormous church camp in Oklahoma. It's cancelled this year thpugh. :( Fun fact: it's the biggest youth camp in America.

We go to a family camp called

We go to a family camp called Gull Lake Ministries and it's open but we decided not to go this year but next year we will go. GLM (the camp) is a Christian camp and is 100 years old this year. They have: a zip line, splash pad, lake to go swimming and on the lake a playground called Splash Island and more on the lake, banana boat, pontoon boat, park, screamer swing and WAY more...When you arrive the counselors greet you with signs. You live in cottages or condos and so much more it's super fun.

@ Kiara

Sounds like a lot of fun! I wish I could go!

@ Kiara

I searched it and it looks AWESOME!! All those things! The camp I was going to go to is called Explorers Camp. You can see it is you put ‘Explorers camp ripon ‘ (that’s the place it is) in google. It’s smaller and there’s not a lot but I’m looking forward to it.

This is London

I have never been to a camp either only vbs.in are town there is only one vbs open. Those camps sound fun

I was going to go to Enjoy

I was going to go to Enjoy youth camp (eyc) but it got cancelled

@ Everyone

when i read the title 4 today's news byte, i was like hahahahhahahahahaha!!!!!!! on sunday i'm actually going out to my camp. my mom is teaching and right as i'm writing this, she is stuffing envelopes 4 her class. its called nebraska youth camp. actually, if you guys could pray, they are still looking 4 some of their staff and my uncle is really stressed. ( he is one of the directors ) we are all SUPER SUPER SUPER excited!!!!! :)

10th comment P.S. this is Caro

My family was thinking of sending me and my sister to summer camp for the first time.. Another thing to get cancelled...

I've never been to summer

I've never been to summer camp before, but I've always thought it sounded pretty fun! Maybe I'll try it out once this whole Covid-19 mess is over.

I've never been to a summer

I've never been to a summer camp only VBS. It would be nice to go to summer camp. I've never been camping before either.

@Mirela J

It would be fun if we met each other there:-) (GLM)

Janna (Daniel's sister)

My grandparents do a camp with all of my cousins every summer, but I've never been to a "real" summer camp because my parents don't like the big "Make A Decision To Follow Jesus!!!!!!" thing because that decision should be between (normally) you, God, and your parents not people you just met yesterday.

@ Kiara

I know! That would be awesome! But... There’s just one problem. I live in the UK (England). :-( I wish I could live in America but I don’t think that’s going to happen in the near future. :-(

@Mirela J

I know! But a friend I made was from Canada...

Daniel g

My grandparents do that too we call it cousin camp we do fun things like a camp but it is not a real camp

@Kiara

Ohh I thought you meant meet at the camp!

For my church summer camp all

For my church summer camp all the youth go to Disneyland and the beach. It was canceled this year. :(

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