CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Many parents depend on summer camps to help with child care between school years. But this summer, they will have fewer options because of COVID restrictions.
The camps that are staying open are researching adjustments to meet CDC guidelines.
“The kids are all doing games that are social distanced. This summer’s gonna look really different,” said Jill Lewellyn who oversees the YMCA Summerville Oakbrook facility.
They have an hourly alarm reminding everyone to clean, disinfect and wash hands.
"Parents come, they drop off, we ask health questions and take temperatures before the kids even come inside," she explained. "Even lunchtime looks different where there's three kids to a table and they're separated rather than having six kids to a table."
Usually there would be 120 kids at Oakbrook for summer camp each week; that number will be cut in half this year to make sure ratios with adults are manageable and safe.
Lewellyn says it's essential for them to stay open for parents scrambling for child care.
“That’s what the parents were saying -not only do they not know what to do with their children, but how can they get help for the child do homework. So we told them, ‘Don’t worry about it, we will take care of it for you.’”
City of Charleston recreation leaders are also moving forward with summer camp. They are starting about a week later than usual: June 15.
"Overwhelmingly our parents said, 'We want camp, we need camp, we gotta get back to work,'" said the City's Recreation Director Laurie Yarbrough.
“We’re going to put kids in groups of 6-8, keep them in small numbers with one staff person. That way if we were to have anything happen, a family member were to test positive, contact tracing is really easy within a smaller group,” she said. “No field trips. Not gonna put them on a bus. It’s going to be a little different. It’s kind of sad in one way. But... I’m excited we have a way to safely do this.”
Half-day camps are also an option for local kids.
For example, Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park on James Island is running two summer camps. One is for ages 4 to 8 and the other is for ages 8 to 14.
Owner Hugh Corcoran says they reopened after two months of closure during the pandemic and are following a strict cleaning regiment as summer camps begin.
“All employees will be wearing masks, we have washing procedures for helmets, harnesses, everything, any surface we wash down,” he said.
"We have 72 different obstacles and are outside so there's plenty of room for social distancing," Corcoran added.
All of these camp leaders say the goal is to help kids learn and exercise.
“They’re gonna come out of this camp with a ton of self-confidence," Corcoran said.
"We're just gonna make sure it's the best summer ever for them!" said Lewellyn.
YMCA Summerville still had limited spots open for summer camps.
City of Charleston started camp sign-ups in February and are making sure campers on that list are able to attend; they are mostly full. There were half-day camps that still have open slots.
Wild Blue has sign-up information here for summer camps.