Summer day camps will be open

Summer Day Camp
Photo credit YMCA Buffalo Niagara

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The very core values and goals of summer camps have been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic this year.  But where there is a will, there is a way and organizers of camps have found ways to bring kids together, while following necessary health guidelines and still achieving their desired end result.

Summer day camps start to open on Monday, but camp organizers say with COVID19 on their minds, they'll focus on social distancing.

At YMCA Buffalo Niagara, Penny Snell says this whole summer is all about minimzing contact with people. "Instead of campers being able to visit different specialists and interact with a variety of staff, they'll just interact with the staff member with their group," explains Snell. "They'll be able to access some shared spaces, but really minimizing contact with people and contact in different spaces."

Snell adds staffers will wear masks, for children wearing masks is optional. "We've developed games and activities that allow for social distancing," notes Snell. She says each camper will get his own packet of supplies for activities and each staffer has physical education equipment and sanitizing buckets.

She says parents will be asked to pick up and drop off their children curbside.

Orchard Park will also do that at its day camps. Ed Leak, director of recreation and parks says two of the town's 18 camps will be open because any camps that would open must have Erie County Health Department certified, and the day camp and adventure camp are the only two. "We're down to 50 percent capacity from what we're accustomed to. We have increased the number of employees for additional coverage," says Leak, who notes counselors will wear masks and practice as much social distancing as possible.

Leak says the goal is to keep the kids outside as much as possible. But will they practice social distancing? "Kids will be kids, they've been cooped up for a few months, they're anxious to see their friends. Our counselors have been well trained and prepared, and know most of the kids, and we think that relationship will help in the transition from homebound to being outside for day camp," says Leak.

Leak notes there will be less structure this time. "We want the kids to be as close and have contact like they did in the past, so we'll take advantage of the greenspace as we can," notes Leak.