“We are going to do everything in our power to make this camp experience happen and in the safest way possible,” said Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA CEO John Benigni.
He was speaking of the Y’s Mountain Mist Day Camp, but the same could be said for the Southington YMCA's Camp Sloper, or the two day camps run by the Boys & Girls Club of Meriden, or many other camps in the state.
In a year when so much has changed — with schools and so many businesses closed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic — children are about to get a break from being shut in at home when these day camps open. That’s a good thing — provided, of course, that all pertinent safety guidance is followed.
And camp management say they’re well prepared to observe those regulations and guidelines that have been set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, and Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders.
Those guidelines include: enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures; enhanced hand washing; counselors wearing face masks; physically separating the campers into groups of 10 or fewer; not sharing supplies and equipment between groups; and daily health screenings of campers, looking for any symptoms of illness, including temperatures of 100 or higher. If a child does show symptoms, the camp will contact the parents and the necessary authorities.
With these precautions in place, it seems reasonable to let the kids have some fun this summer.
But if schools were deemed unsafe this spring, what makes day camp safer this summer?
Simply put, it would have been next to impossible to achieve the level of social distancing and disinfecting of art supplies, etc., that these camps are aiming for with 25 children crowded into each classroom. Things are different in the great outdoors.
This is not a perfect solution. There are no ironclad guarantees of 100 percent safety. But the guidelines being imposed — daily health screenings, small groups, increased cleaning and hand-washing, and the rest — make good sense.
Parents will look at the pros and cons and make their own decisions.
And, in many cases, children who've been cut off from their friends and schoolmates for months will have the opportunity to attend summer day camp.