Lighter restrictions, but new concern for COVID-19 in youth: what’s in store for summer camp?

Coronavirus

REGIONAL, Pa. (WTAJ) — New state guidance will allow summer camps to resume at a 75% of their maximum capacity levels; however, CDC leaders recently cited the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases to youth gathering for extracurricular activities.

“We are learning that many outbreaks in young people are related to youth sports and extracurricular activities,” said CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “According to CDC guidance, these activities should be limited.”

With lighter restrictions, but growing concern, how will local summer camps fare?

“I think summer camp is really important,” said Beth Lee, recreation supervisor for Centre County Parks & Recreation. “Kids have spent a lot of indoors, working really hard, being in school, and this is a great way for them to get outside.” 

Centre County Parks & Recreation is offering 15 different categories of day camps, happening at a variety of times and available for ages three through 18.

“The socialization that a lot of kids have missed this year, for various reasons, we’re hoping that we can bring some of that back and hopefully create a little bit of normalcy for them,” said Lee.

The programs include outdoor exploration, musical theatre, and computer science opportunities. They hosted outdoor camps last year and will follow a similar model.

“Because we had such a good response from the community last year… we heard from parents that they’re really looking for things for their kids to be able to do outside,” said Lee.

Camp HCC in Huntingdon County was also able to host summer camp last year, and will return in 2021. The day camp runs for two weeks and is open to children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“We feel here in Huntingdon that it provides a lot of opportunities for kids in our community to not only get out and be a part of structured activities, but it’s a chance for them to be around kids,” said Jeremy Uhrich, co-director of Camp HCC.

Uhrich says the decision to host camp was well-planned and will not only provide fun opportunities for kids, but also provide child care for parents.

“We had a lot of talks with, you know, the directors of our community center and the board, and they approved, they wanted us to have it, they thought it was very valuable for the kids,” said Uhrich.

However, not all of our local facilities are able to host camp, even with loosened restrictions.

Grier Summer in Huntingdon County decided back in January to not host camp for the second year in a row, due to the amount of international students and staff they attract.

“The planning associated with having to pull off a camp like ours started last summer,” said leaders at Grier Summer. “This year was just not something we felt like we could really promise to our campers and our families.”

All of the available summer camps say they will be abiding by CDC guidelines and will adjust programs if government regulations change.

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