Youth camps modify programs to keep summer break fun and healthy

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FISHERS, Ind. — Under Indiana’s Back on Track plan, youth summer day camps are allowed to open on June 1 and this year things will look a bit different.

It wouldn’t be summertime at the Fishers YMCA without day camp, but this year there are new procedures and safety starts at the front door.

“We’ve modified some of our programming and so we are doing summer childcare for the summer, but we are still able to do our traditional camp activities,” said Mark Lantz, senior program director for YMCA.

For summer childcare, the YMCA added curbside drop off and pickup, hand washing breaks and sanitizing.

“We want our staff to be the models and role models,” Lantz added. “So we want them to socially distance when they’re communicating with the kiddos and with the other staff members.”

The YMCA is listening closely to guidance from the state and the American Camp Association.

As we know with kids, social distancing can be tough. One of the main challenges for the YMCA was to decide how to cut back on the number of kids allowed per group. Typically, the Fishers location would have double or triple the number of children that are enrolled so far.

“All of our programs are much smaller than previous years, mainly for safety,” said Lantz.

At Kamp Kaleidoscope, typically 75 kids participate in the programs. This summer, it’s been capped at 50.

“We usually would be in a nice, big room, separated by tables and age groups this year we’ve had to plan and use different parts of the church where smaller groups of kids would go,” said Cassandra Solan, the director of Kamp Kaleidoscope.

The program had to hire more staff so they can split kids into multiple groups. She’s also added protocols at the day care entrance.

“We’re planning two weeks at a time,” said Solan. “We’re researching what is the CDC, what is the state of Indiana their guidelines, what is changing?”

At the Jewish Community Center, camp has been replaced with all-day summer care for ages K-8th grade. Children and staff will complete a health screening each day before being allowed to participate and each group will have its own dedicated space for activities. Groups will also interact virtually via iPads.

“I was really excited that we could get a plan in to get them here and make it work,” said Solan.

Lantz added, “We’ll continue until school starts back up in the fall.”

Overnight youth camps and playgrounds will remain closed under Stage 3 of Indiana’s Back on Track plan.

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