CLAY COUNTY – The YMCA camps soon will be open this summer, just like they were last year.COVID-19 changed the way things were done a year ago and it’s still affecting things this year. …
CLAY COUNTY – The YMCA camps soon will be open this summer, just like they were last year.
COVID-19 changed the way things were done a year ago and it’s still affecting things this year. Social distancing is a term regularly used by all, masks now are the norm, and people are probably washing their hands more than ever. The YMCA recognized the need for its camps and the fun and social services they provide to campers each summer and that’s why they stayed open last year. They’ll be open again this year, too.
“Last year was a great success for us,” YMCA afterschool executive Chuck Steinfurth said. “We were able to serve over 600 children at our four locations in Clay County, and we followed the CDC’s guidelines as closely as possible to make sure everyone had a safe and positive experience.”
A safe and positive experience is exactly what they had if no COVID-19 cases is any indication. Steinfurth said the YMCA’s strict commitment to the CDC’s guidelines and the organization’s own levels of sanitization is what allowed the camps to safely operate.
“A lot of things were put into place to make that possible,” he said. “Everyone wore masks, we were sanitizing everything, there was social distancing, and we made sure to never mix groups, or cohorts, as the CDC calls it.”
He said the overall reaction from parents was extremely positive. The camps opened up after schools in the county were shut down. That left children and parents looking for something to do, something to keep social interaction up during an otherwise trying time for children and the friendships they usually cultivate at school.
“A lot of our parents were excited for the opportunity for their kids to play again,” Steinfurth said. “Sure, things were different, but at the end of the day, it was still a fun time for everyone involved and there weren’t any outbreak incidents. It was an incident-free summer.”
Going into this summer, Steinfurth said there won’t be many changes to the camp operations as the new CDC guidelines don’t affect them. He said the camps will still be requiring masks for campers and staff and that social distancing will be mandated. There won’t be cohort mixing, just like last year, and brief health survey checks will still occur each day before camp starts to ensure nobody is showing symptoms of the virus.
“We knew going in last year that if we were going to do it, we were going to it safely and successfully and that’s what we did,” he said. “A lot of planning and meetings happened to make our summer successful and determine the different areas of camp and different camps staying open.”
One thing that wasn’t open last year was the YMCA Argyle Elementary camp, and that’s because schools were closed. Schools now are open which means Argyle will be operational. Other day camps include the Orange Park Barco-Newton Family YMCA, Green Cove Springs’ Camp Chowenwaw and Middleburg’s Centerpoint Baptist Church. An overnight camp will be at Camp Immokalee in Keystone Heights.
Each of the daytime camps will run Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and cost anywhere from $100 to $150 a week. The county camps are open to children between 5 and 12, and they will be available from June 7 to Aug. 6, although Argyle will run from June 7 to July 23.
Swimming will be included in this summer’s programs.
“We decided not to use pools last year because the CDC hadn’t released guidance on that,” Steinfurth said.