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American Academy of Pediatrics releases guidelines for safe Summer camps

A Charlotte YMCA camp director breaks down what parents and campers can expect this camp season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The American Academy of Pediatrics just released new guidance for kid’s camps this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Within their guidance, it states that "camps can also offer an opportunity to overcome a lack of connection with the natural environment, which has been associated with decreased rates of depression, attention disorders, and obesity."

It's clear that this past year has been challenging for our children. The lack of socialization has taken a toll, and this summer can become an opportunity for them to begin the bounce back before school starts again in the fall. 

WCNC Charlotte spoke with Michael Landry who is the Executive Director at YMCA Camp Harrison, located between Lenoir and North Wilkesboro at Herring Ridge. Landry said between the YMCA and American Camp Association, they have built the playbook recommended for all camps to follow in order to carry out a safe season of camps this year. 

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Both Camp Harrison and Camp Thunderbird at Lake Wylie occurred last summer, which has since provided them with more experience to learn and adjust to the climate of the pandemic, even though last summer was a success for both camps. 

"We served roughly 3,000 kids between the two camps and had no known cases of Covid-19," Landry said.

Now for the last year, the focus has been working with families to provide a great program for any child, whether that's a day camp for several weeks long. 

"We are here to find the best fit and make sure kids get a little bit of normalcy this summer before we get into fall and school again," Landry said.

Some of the safety protocols parents and campers will notice begins even with the drop-off. There's no walking your child to their cabin, but it's all an effort to limit transmission. Your camper will be assigned a "pod" and cabin to which they will remain for the duration of their camp. 

"When the kids come and get into their cabin, they stay with that group of kids and staff through the whole experience," Landry said. 

The YMCA camp staff will be conducting daily temperature checks, they have increased sanitation of high use areas in place, increased hand-washing stations, and plenty of room to spread out/social distance. 

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While the campers will not be required to wear a face mask at camp, they will remain solely with their pod to once again limit transmission. 

“And then both of our camps have medical staff on-site 24/7," Landry added.

 Those medical staffers will be looking for symptoms in campers, screening, rapid testing if necessary and also prepared to meet any mental or emotional needs campers may have following the toll this past year has taken on them. 

"Looking at the data we now have from the CDC on the infection rate for kids and the severity, it really pales in comparison in just the social isolation they are having," he said. 

Landry said they have directly witnessed the desperation these kids have for that camp connection again and ability to get away from the computer screen.  

Aside from making sure all campers have the time of their life, make new friends and refresh their spirits, they will do everything to carry out a safe experience. 

"It’s a blessing for us to be able to serve the community in this way," Landry says. It's highly recommended you sign your camper up ASAP and get on a waitlist if prompted. 

For more information about the Greater Charlotte YMCA camps, click here

If you'd like to review the "playbook", Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance, click here.

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