When I was a kid one of the best parts of summer was going to the YMCA Camp Algonquin in Hasting Michigan. My grandfather, Bob King, actually ran the camp, and those summers by the lake, swimming, canoeing, archery, crafts, and campfire stories are some of the best memories of my childhood. Now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic those summer camp traditions are being threatened.

A lot of experts are saying that summer camps can't open without very strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Including, masks, no shared sports equipment, staggered dining, limited campfire groups, and maybe even no swimming.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guide for camp directors to follow to determine if they can reopen their summer camps. According to the CDC, camps that can't meet these guidelines shouldn't open.

  • Will reopening camp mesh with orders from your state and local governments?
  • Are you prepared to protect campers and employees with a higher risk of getting severely sick?
  • Can you screen kids and employees when they get to camp for coronavirus symptoms?
 The American Camp Association and the YMCA have also put out their own guide to opening camp during the pandemic.
  • Have campers put on masks when groups mix and social distancing isn’t possible.
  • Consider having overnight camps “shelter in place," keeping staff on-site even when they’re not working.
  • Cancel field trips.
  • Check the temperatures of any children or staff returning to camp.

In New York, Governor Cuomo said in a recent press conference that he wouldn't send his kids to camp this summer, partially because of the coronavirus and mostly because of the new pediatric syndrome that has been spreading in children. It has sickened over 150 children in New York and 3 have died according to www.nyup.com.

My daughter has been an assistant camp counselor at YMCA Camp Kataki, outside Omaha, NE,  for two years and this year they have decided to close their overnight camp for the season and are still trying to figure out if they can have some kind of day camp options.

Most summer camps operate on a very tight budget and the lack of campers this summer might close some of these beloved camps forever unless they get some kind of federal or state funding.

To find a local New York YMCA camp check out www.ymca.net.

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