summer camp

Several Summer Camps Announce Cancellations

The Town of Brooklyn's summer day camp and Hartford County 4-H Camp are among several camps to announce closures.

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Summer day camps are permitted to open across the state on June 29 under specific guidelines. However, not all camps are deciding to move forward with the summer season.

The Parks and Recreation Commission for the Town of Brooklyn announced Tuesday that their annual summer day camp is canceled for the 2020 season.

"We have had a successful camp with about 150 kids for many, many years," said Richard Ives, first selectman for the Town of Brooklyn. "It has become part of our town fabric. To take a vote to cancel that camp for this year was very hard for them."

Director of Parks and Recreation for the town, Bucky Lohbusch, said his team has been discussing camp for the last month with safety as their top priority.

"It is going to be very difficult for the parents and we realize that, but I think when it comes down to safety you have to look at that number one," said Lohbusch. "We just felt that it was too early with the situation that we are currently in to do camp."

Lohbusch said that the way their camp is structured makes it very difficult to keep kids separated the way the state guidelines are calling for.

This memo from the Office of Early Childhood outlines the specific guidelines summer camps have to follow in order to open on June 29. The requirements include limiting group sizes to 10 children, with the camp needing permission to serve more than 30.

"We have to take temperatures, we had to have a nurse, we had to have a quarantine station," said Ives. "While I understand all those rules, I am not sure how you really run a summer camp with those rules."

Hartford County 4-H Camp also canceled its 2020 summer season along with the University of Hartford's Summer Place camp.

However the YMCA of Greater Hartford will host all of their 12-day camps and are currently working on plans to keep everyone safe and to stay in accordance with all state guidelines.

"Right now what we are shifting towards is creating policies and procedures that make sure all campers are safe when they come here," said Jeff Spadaccini, director of day camping for the YMCA of Greater Hartford.

Spadaccini said that the YMCA of Greater Hartford has applied for waivers to allow for more than 30 children at all of their day camps. He said that their summer camps serve as child care for a lot of families during the summer and they are hoping to help everyone who needs their service, but they are expecting to have to limit each camp's capacity.

"We are expecting on having a max capacity at our camps based off of what our waivers are approved for and what we are able to do," said Spadaccini.

YMCA of Greater Hartford hosts several of their day camps out of town facilities. Spadaccini said that they are working alongside those towns to make plans. He said that no towns have had to cancel at this point.

Spadaccini said in the coming weeks his team will work to meet all of the state's requirements. Some of their plans already include checking each child's temperature before they get out of their vehicle for camp that day.

Some parents across the state are raising concerns over the lack of summer camp options.

"If you are rolling out for people to go back to work, well, then their children need a place to go, too," said Jacqueline Martel, whose 6-year-old daughter was looking forward to her first summer day camp experience.

Martel said that the limited summer camp spots are putting parents who are looking for child care in a tough situation.

"Do I accept my job and I either potentially have no place for my child to go or I am sending my child to a place that could potentially be harmful," said Martel. "My daughter is high risk."

The Office of Early Childhood will be releasing additional requirements for summer camps. Their current requirements do not apply to overnight camps.

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