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New Haven Summer Camps Off to a Sizzling Start

Camp organizers are balancing fun with safety amidst extreme heat conditions.

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Temperatures were scorching Monday but that didn't slow down hundreds of New Haven kids who were enjoying the first day of summer camp.

Kymani Chapman, 13, was at New Haven’s Schooner Camp. He’s been going there for several years and it’s where he learned to sail. Last year, though, he missed out because of the pandemic. He is happy to be back, embracing what he missed last summer.

“I missed being on a boat by myself, hanging out with friends,” said Chapman.

As camp opened, many campers like Chapman were literally learning the ropes of sailing while counselors at the non-profit camp were also focused on the heat.

“Water. The key word is water here,” said Schooner Camp counselor Theresa Peters.

With temperatures approaching 90 degrees before noon time, counselors were teaching water safety and at the same time, making sure they had enough water.

“It’s going to be a hot one the next few days so we’re just going to make sure everybody’s hydrated and gaining experience in the water in a beautiful way,” said Schooner Camp Director Nicki Saccoccia.

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At Lighthouse Point, one of nine city camps began operation Monday. But before a single activity took place, counselors were briefed.

“We kind of gave everyone a little bit of a heads up this morning,” said Camp Director Maris Misbach. “Just letting them know, always have your water with you and have water breaks a lot.”

New Haven officials were also at Lighthouse Point Park opening up the first day of youth summer camps in the city. Among them was community recreation coordinator Felicia Shashinka. She said all camp counselors are prepared in case of a heat-related emergency.

“They are aware, if a kid starts to feel fatigued they need to sit the kids down, put the kid in the shade. Possibly take a nice cool towel and put it on their necks,” said Shashinka.

Shashinka explained that all certified counselors in New Haven are trained in CPR and first aid. To avoid using that, though, counselors at Lighthouse Point camp said they are using all resources they can to keep the campers cool.

“We have the splash pad right there. We have our water guns. We have water balloons, and we have the ocean right next to us,” said Lighthouse Point Camp Director Tyler Geneci.

For campers in New Haven, it will be an extended summer season.

Officials said they have used $1.5 million from the American Rescue Plan for increased summer enjoyment. From that, $100,000 was used to allow camps to remain open two weeks longer than usual.

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