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May 14, 2020

Summer Camp: What local camps are doing to keep kids safe

By Laura Byrne

We’ve heard a lot of people asking…is summer camp going happen this summer? Here’s what we know. It depends on which summer camp you ask.

As of now, we know that Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation has decided to cancel its summer camp programs. The City of Tampa’s website shows that a limited number of locations will offer camps with limited enrollment and capacity. Pasco County Parks and Rec has postponed registration and in Pinellas County, official dates for programs with the Parks and Recreation department are TBD.

We’ve also checked in with other popular camps like Patel Conservatory which is making the creative pivot to offer virtual programming. We may see additional camps make this move as time moves on.

Related: Tampa Bay Parenting’s 2020 Summer Camp Guide

While some camps have decided to cancel their summer programs like the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, or have pushed off start dates to later in the summer break, many summer camps are proceeding. BUT, they are doing so with extra caution and reduced group sizes to ensure your kids and their staff stay safe this summer.

As we’ve come to accept with life during a pandemic, things could change, so be sure to stay in touch with the summer camp program of your choice.

More resources:

American Camp Association

Centers for Disease Control

We asked a few of our partners about their plans and the steps they are taking to keep kids safe. Here is what they shared:


Glazer Children’s Museum: 

Summer camp registration is open! Weekly camps are available June 8-July 31.

Updates to camp protocol:

We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and following, and are following guidance from County, City, State and health agencies. While our protocol will continue to evolve as new recommendations are provided, these are the extra precautions we are already planning. These measures are subject to change and you can find up-to-date information at GlazerMuseum.org/camps

 Social Distancing:

  • Our Camp Imagination class sizes will be limited to 10 people in a classroom.
  • Campers will stay with their own class of campers and practice social distancing at all times, whether in the classroom or on the museum floor.
  • At this point, we will not allow outside guests into the camp classrooms.

 Health and Sanitation:

  • Camp Imagination staff members will have their temperatures taken each day and will wear masks.
  • Sick staff members and campers will be asked to stay home. Any staff member or camper that is sick will be sent home. If a camper is unable to return to camp due to illness, you will be refunded the prorated amount.
  • Our classrooms, restrooms, and Museum exhibits will be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day.
  • Each camper will be provided with the supplies they need for the day’s activities and there will be no shared supplies.
  • All materials and the classrooms will be sanitized overnight.
  • All campers will need to hand carry their lunch in a disposable bag. No backpacks, lunch bags, or reusable water bottles will be allowed. Everything must be disposable.
  • In addition to these camp-specific safety measures, the museum will continue to post updates about it’s cleaning and sanitation policies for exhibits and common areas on GlazerMuseum.org/admission-info

Tips for parents:

  • Use disposable paper bags instead of lunch boxes or backpacks
  • Send your child to camp with a change of clothes
  • Teach your child hands-free ways to push open doors, push elevator buttons, and turn on faucets
  • Watch this video from GCM at Home about the chemistry of handwashing! If your kiddo knows why it works, they may be more interested in doing it properly. GlazerMuseum.org/experiment/handwashing
  • Invent a fun contactless “handshake” that your child can do with their friends to avoid hugging

YMCA of Tampa Bay:

Are you still booking summer camps? 

Yes, the Tampa Y offers ten weeks of camp at 16 locations across Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Camp runs from June 1 through Aug. 7 for ages 6 – 15. You can register online at www.tampaymca.org/letscamp. YMCA members on “hold” during our temporary closure, can still receive the member discount for camp by calling 813-867-5440 or emailingMembershipExperience@tampaymca.org. As with all YMCA programs, financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Every kid deserves to go to camp!

What changes have you had to make to your camp programs due to the pandemic?

As long as it aligns with the governor’s reopening plan, the Tampa YMCA is moving forward with plans to safely start Summer Day Camp on June 1st.

The safety of our campers and staff is our top priority and we are committed to making our summer camps just as safe as the emergency Youth Relief Care we have been offering at more than 20 YMCA locations across Tampa Bay. After providing 10 weeks of Youth Relief Care for children of essential workers, Y staff are very experienced in keeping children and staff safe, especially during these uncertain times.

As we prepare for summer camp, we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the American Camp Association to implement procedures that ensure our campers’ continued safety.

Until we receive their official camp recommendations, we plan to implement the following protocols:

  • Before children and staff are checked in, their temperatures are taken. For the safety and well-being of others in camp, those running a temperature of 100.4+ degrees cannot attend.
  • Staggered curb-side check-in.
  • Low ratio camp groups spread throughout the whole facility. Campers remain in their same small groups throughout the week.
  • Individual and spaced out activities to practice safe social distancing. Limited sharing of supplies.
  • Ample access to hand washing and hand sanitizer stations, especially at check-in, before meals and after restroom use.
  • Y staff intentionally teach and encourage good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and follow a strict sick child/staff policy.
  • Significant disinfecting of supplies and activity areas throughout the day.

Do you have tips for parents on what they should tell their kids about staying safe while at camp?

One very important tip is to keep your children home if they or anyone in the same household are sick or showing signs of becoming sick. Communicate openly with us about sicknesses and symptoms within your household. We know kids can carry germs and during these precarious times, we each need to do our part to be socially responsible, keeping our community safe and healthy. Teaching and encouraging good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette at home will also help prepare them for camp.


ZooTampa:

At this time, ZooTampa is no longer accepting reservations as they are at full capacity.

What changes have you had to make to your camp programs due to the pandemic?

  • We are planning all camp activities to follow guidelines set forth by the CDC and American Camp Association for day camps. Here are some of the things we will be putting into place to ensure camper, counselor and animal safety:
  • Move all activities outdoors and/or limit camper numbers in lodge.
  • Modify any “partner” activities to be solo (or spread out) and have counselors encourage/enforce six feet distance.
  • Incorporate frequent hand washing into campers’ daily routine. Discourage sharing of objects (iPads, phones, etc.).
  • No games that require touching of each other or communal objects (such as board games).
  • Disinfect camper areas whenever possible.
  • Spread lunch out in lodge. 4 campers per table maximum to maintain safe distances. Stagger lunch groups.
  • Counselors serving food must wear PPE (face mask and gloves).
  • Campers’ temperatures will be taken using a no-touch thermometer. Children with elevated temperatures will not be allowed to participate in camp for the safety of others.

Do you have tips for parents on what they should tell their kids about staying safe while at camp?

  • Parents can make such a huge difference by teaching their kids about how to stay safe while at camp! Here are a few important things to go over with kids before and after their camp day:
    • Wash your hands! Counselors will stop for frequent bathroom breaks, and if your counselor asks you to go wash your hands, make sure you do! Also ask your counselor to stop to wash your hands or for hand sanitizer if you touch anything that you think someone else may have touched.
    • Don’t share! We know, this sounds like bad manners, but right now it is important that you do not share any food or drinks with your friends, and do not allow them to use your camera, iPhone or iPad, or anything else you bring from home. And don’t use their personal things either.
    • Keep your distance! The first thing you will want to do is give a big hug to your best friend, and as hard as it may be, we can’t do that right now! No touching each other, and stay 6 ft away from your other campers. This is about the length of a cow, or the length of your bed at home.
    • Wear a mask, they are all the rage! Wearing a mask can protect you from any potential germs, and can also protect your friends.
    • Listen to your counselor to stay safe! Your counselor will be reminding you of a lot of these things throughout your camp day, so listen to what they say because their first priority is to keep you and your fellow campers safe.

MOSI:

MOSI Summer Science Camps begin June 1. Learn more and book here.

Summer Camp Procedures

  • Parents will not need to leave their car for drop off. They can pull up through the circle and a MOSI employee will check your child in.
  • Monday paperwork will include a form verifying the child has no temperature or symptoms of illness and has not traveled within the past 14 days.
  • Parents will not be allowed in the camp classrooms.
  • All food must be brought from home, and no sharing will be allowed.
  • Lunch will be outside at picnic tables in the covered area. Only 4 campers per table will be allowed to maintain safe distances.
  • Lunch groups will be staggered.
  • Frequent hand washing will be incorporated into the daily routine of each camper.
  • Sharing of objects will be discouraged.
  • Campers and staff will be advised to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet away from others.
  • Signage will be posted reminding employees, parents and campers of distancing guidelines.
  • Hand Sanitizer dispensers will be placed throughout MOSI Summer Camp classrooms.

Our management team will maintain ongoing communication with employees and ensure proper PPE and sanitation procedures are being followed.


WestCoast Morgans Horse Camp:

More information on www.WestCoastMorgans.com or email: WCMHorseCamp@gmail.com
Social Distancing:
  • Campers will be split into small groups of less then 6, more likely 3-4 per pod group.
  • Our Horse Camp class sizes will be limited to 15 campers at the farm at any time, and split into pod groups.
  • Campers will be in expansive fresh air common areas, and not in horses’ stalls or indoor classroom environment.
  • WCM has a large covered arena, and many covered areas and tents to stay cool and shaded out of the sun, as well as open air areas.
  • Campers will be checked in and escorted outside the barn aisle to the drop belongings in assigned area, and then start the camp day.
  • At pick-up, parents will arrive, staff will radio for each camper and he/she will be escorted to vehicle in carline.
  • Family members are permitted to watch from a distance with an appointment. Family can watch from the car, or bring a lawn chair and watch outside the arenas.
 
Health and Sanitation:
  • All campers will have temperatures checked upon arrival
  • WCM has on-staff Registered Nurse regularly supervising disinfection protocols and providing guidelines for maintenance.
  • Our facility is sprayed and disinfected overhead 8-10x a day, with additional sanitization of commonly handled areas during the day.
  • All materials and common areas (e.g., bathrooms) are sanitized before after each use, and additionally throughout the day. Campers will be escorted to the restroom to ensure sanitization before and after use.
  • All campers will need to bring his/her own lunch, snack, change of clothes for water play, sunscreen.
  • Each camper will have his/her own assigned place to sit 6’ apart from another for any seated activity (crafts or lunch).
  • Campers will be separated for all activities, and snacks/lunch (family groups may sit together).
  • Personal items will be stored away from each other, to avoid contamination.
  • All WCM Staff has masks for being in close proximity to campers, or other guests.
  • Campers are encouraged to bring his/her own mask.
  • Campers will be provided with the supplies needed for the day’s craft activities, any shared supplies will be disinfected before and after use.
  • Staff and campers that are not feeling well, will be excused from coming to WCM, and will be rescheduled accordingly.
  • Disinfection protocols include commercial hand sanitizer and alcohol-based sprays to hospital-grade disinfectants.
Tips for parents:
  • Send your child with a backpack with all camp necessities and personal hand sanitizer.
  • Send your child in riding attire, and full day campers with a change of clothes for water play. Water play activities adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Teach your child how to wash hands well with soap for 30 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” song).
WEDU EdConnectHillsborough County Stay SafeJunior League Diaper Awareness Week
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