Will Camps Be Open for the Summer? Camp Directors and Local Officials Comment

camptaconicNo one knows if school will resume before the summer, but what about summer camp? Now more than ever kids will want to get out of the house, play with friends and enjoy the great outdoors. Will day camps be open and will kids board the buses for sleepaway?

We spoke to some local officials and camp directors to see what they are thinking. Will camp open on time? Will there be changes in procedures or restrictions? Here is what we learned.

County Executive George Latimer said, Westchester County control a series of camps –the ones that take place at the county center that will have to relocated. We have put county summer camps on hold for now. The decision about camp opening is part of the Governor’s Executive Order and he will make the decision.

How about in Scarsdale? Will the rec camp be open? Deputy Village Manager Robert Cole said, “The Westchester County Department of Health is the permitting authority for all camps throughout the County. The County has mailed out the camp permit applications, which are not due back to the County until 60 days prior to camp opening. Brian Gray, our Parks and Rec Superintendent, serves as president for the Westchester Recreation and Park Society (WRAPS). Through WRAPS, he distributed a survey at the beginning of April inquiring whether communities had made any decisions about pool and camp operations. At that time, no Westchester County communities had cancelled either pool or camp seasons, though some had delayed pool openings, as Scarsdale has; none had reported delaying their camp season(s). The WRAPS survey recently went back out again for an update, with responses due back over the next week, or so.”

Cole continued, “With respect to camp staff, most municipalities, including Scarsdale, began sending out employment offers to returning staff in December/January. We recently notified our interested team members that we are still planning on operating our summer programs, including camps; however, we also let them know that our plans are subject to the broader constraints we are operating under, i.e., they could be delayed or canceled, as conditions dictate. While we are continuing with interviews by phone, we are not making employment offers until program status can be confirmed.”

We asked Jim Libman from Camp Hillard if it was likely that Hillard would run and he said, “Camps are very optimistic, but nothing is a certain. The feedback we are getting is that parents and kids are crossing their fingers for camp this summer! The good news is all summer camps have been classified as essential childcare. Presently, The CDC is preparing safety guidelines for camps to operate and will be releasing those to state and local health departments in May. Camps are awaiting more information from State officials which should come in May. The ultimate decision to open camps will be made by the state and local health officials. After that decision is made each camp must feel that it will be safe for all their campers and staff.

What about sleepaway camps? Will kids be boarding the buses in June? Here is the response we received from Amanda Krasnoff – Staffing and Programming Director at Camp Taconic in Hinsdale, MA.

“Right now, we are optimistic that Camp will open this summer. We are working closely with other camps in Western, MA as well as the ACA, who is working closely with the CDC. There will most likely have to be some changes put into place, such as a later start date than anticipated, or the possibility of some out of camp trips being cancelled.

Ultimately, if the government and Department of Health allow us to, it is our decision on whether to open camp or not, and we will only do so if it safe for the entire Camp Taconic community. One of our biggest challenges right now is trying to figure out if our international staff is going to be able to get here. Many of our counselors and support staff come from other countries, and they are unable to get their visas until further notice, so we are hiring additional domestic staff in the event that our international staff is unable to arrive. There are definitely a lot of uncertainties at the moment, but the feedback we’ve received from our camp community is that kids will need camp more than ever this summer. Even if it’s a little different, or shorter in length, we still want to be able to provide our campers with a safe and amazing summer experience.