The future of summer camps amid the pandemic

NORTH WEBSTER, Ind. -- Summer camp season is fast approaching, and after a year with most kids at home, parents might be eager for their littles ones to experience the fresh outdoors. But as the COVID-19 crisis continues into this next summer, what can campers expect?

Located in North Webster, Camp Crosley YMCA, has been welcoming kids since 1915. This past summer, however, Camp Crosley was forced to cut their summer camps in half and operate at 50% capacity. Because of this, Camp Crosley launched a fundraiser called, “Campfire Campaign” to cover the lack of revenue amid the offseason.

The camp is putting on their 9 weeks of overnight camps, operating at 65% capacity which is roughly 200 kids. The normal activities will remain with increased social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitization. All gatherings will be outdoors. Mark Battig, Executive Director of Camp Crosley, explains this year’s summer camp is more important than ever for a child’s development.

“It is part of their development, especially to the social, emotional piece to this. Every time you are outdoors is so important. But I think being able to connect especially after long periods of isolation, and being in quarantine, and being on the screen, we need to have our kids active, we need to get our kids moving and so being at summer camp whether overnight or day is going to be vital for the development of our kids as we move forward to the next year,” says Battig.  

Now, when you are choosing a summer camp for your kids, what is the most important qualification to look for amid the pandemic? The American Camp Association conducted a study of 486 camps that served 90,000 campers reporting that only 30 campers in total had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 2020.

The survey provides hope for camps as the ACA has found different methods of containing COVID-19 cases with effective mitigation strategies. Some of these methods include daily health screening, face coverings, physical distancing, outdoor programming, air and surface cleaning, and contact tracing.

The American Camp Association is the only accrediting organization for all camps nationwide. Camp Crosley YMCA in North Webster is one of their many camps following their studies. Executive Director of Camp Crosley, Mark Battig, says after an entire year of working to find the best routine to keep people safe, their staff is even more comfortable with the guidelines in place.  

“After having a full year, fully immersed in COVID protocols, I think our staff certainly understands the gravity of following these protocols and why it is so important moving forward,” says Battig.  

Now, based on your own personal situation, camping from home might be the best option! Lucky for you, National Camp at Home day is right around the corner!

Step one: Make an at home campsite. Invite friends or family and enjoy a digital campfire over video call. Step two: Share campsite photos and tips with the hashtag #nationalcampathomeday and tag @kammok. Then you can even join the National Camp at Home Day Facebook group and get inspired by fellow campers!

The official day is on March 27th, for further information visit here.

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