Summer camps during a pandemic: Some prepare to open, while others will stay closed
Some summer camps have been give the green light to open -- and while some are putting measures in place to keep campers safe, others have decided to stay closed.
Crestwood Country Day Camp in Melville is getting ready to reopen at the end of June by making some last-minute repairs.
"All of our camps that are going to open are going to do health checks daily, there is going to be a list of questions, there is going to be a temperature check," says Crestwood's Mark Transport.
Crestwood says that along with limiting group sizes, no busing and keeping kids outdoors will keep them safe and healthy.
"All the protocols that they are telling us so far, I could not be 100% more certain and confident in what they do," says Heather Shelley, who has sent her son to Crestwood for many years.
Even though some camps will reopen, the state Health Department has not issued its guidance on how camps should operate in the pandemic, which has frustrated some within the industry.
"We definitely need that guidance as soon as possible in order for camps to understand if they can do it safely," says Susie Lupert of the American Camp Association New York & New Jersey.
Some of the guidance could include requiring campers to wear masks or how to socially distance in a pool. Nonetheless, camp officials say for generations, their main goal has been children's safety.
"We have already seen that kids are going to the beaches with their families, to the parks and other places and they are having their own play dates," says Transport. "But they are not going to go through the same protocols that camps are going to do to keep a safe environment."
But while some camps are preparing to open, some operators and parents are totally against the idea.
Lauren Brandt Schloss, of the USDAN Summer Camp, says deciding not to open the arts-based summer camp was hard, but one-on-one counseling and large group activities just couldn't operate safely.
"We feel there is just too many unknowns about the virus," says Schloss.
Bryce Parham is sad he won't get to attend the camp, but his father says even if they did open, he doesn't think he would've allowed him to.
"I think summer camp and social distancing are oxymoronic," says Jalik Parham. "I just don't see them together in the same place at the same time."
The American Camp Association says its camps are licensed and have medical staff on hand.
"Nothing is going to be 100% guaranteed, but if you are talking about that opposed to sending children to a host of other places that are going to be open, we do believe that it is going to be a really, really safe place this summer," says Lupert.
Schloss says since making the decision to close, she's heard from some parents that it was the right decision.
"But no one seems angry at us, and actually a number of people expressed gratitude that the decision was made for them," says Schloss. "Knowing it was a decision they wanted but they didn't want to make it for their child."