The sounds of summer camp returned Monday at the Sound School as the city’s Eco Adventure Camp got underway.
“Kids have been really cooped up and so I’m sure they’re just super excited to see each other and do any range of activities,” said Elizabeth Kaplan, a ranger with the New Haven Parks Department. “So I’m excited to get them on the water, on bikes.”
The fun this summer comes with new guidelines put in place after Parks and Recreation Department Deputy Director Bill Dixon consulted with local state and federal COVID-19 guidelines.
“We will take their temperature, we don’t allow parents into the sites for any reason,” said Dixon, outlining a few rules.
Campsites will have a maximum of 20 children in groups no larger than 10.
“We have a group of about 13 or 14 kids, and we split them in half,” said Martin Torresquintero, outdoor adventure coordinator for the City of New Haven. “Half will be doing one activity; the other half will be doing another activity.”
And the groups stay the same for the two-week session. At the Lighthouse Point Park location, children even ate lunch together in groups, at tables roped off just for campers.
Back at the Eco Adventure Camp at the Sound School, one group was getting ready for a bike ride.
“I’ll take them biking and then we’ll just make sure we sanitize the seats and the handle bars and anything that gets a lot of touch before transferring over to the next group of kids,” said Kaplan.
The same for the camp’s canoeing activity. Each child has a disinfected paddle, and they are paired together at opposite ends. The water is safe following last week’s sewage spill.
“We’re lucky enough to do that in here today because water has been tested and it’s OK so consequently it’s adequate for us to go,” said Torresquintero.
Another change this summer is that children won’t travel to other locations, so the fun has to come to them.
“One of the big differences this year is we’re not able to move children from place to place in the way that we have in the past, so we had to put gear in places so children can still access some of the activities,” said Kaplan.
Dixon says planning for summer camps starts a year in advance. In March they had to rewrite the rules a just few months before summer because of COVID-19.
“We were working on 19 camps with 20 kids each, but the numbers are nowhere near where we thought they would be,” said Dixon. But the turnout wasn’t what they expected, so they downsized to about eight camps with 130 children enrolled so far.
Dixon says safety measures and the success of the camp relies heavily on camp leaders.
“We train them really well and I’m really proud of them.”
And there’s still room for more for children, if parents would like to send their children off for a little summer fun.
“Just making sure the kids have a fun time, have a memorable time but we have to make sure we make it safe for them accordingly,” said Dixon.