What we can expect summer camps to look like this year

Summer camps are still working with Public Health of Madison and Dane County to figure out a plan, but some already have an idea of where they are headed

MADISON, Wis. — The pandemic has many of us uncertain about what this summer will bring. Will we have a normal summer? Will we still be social distancing?

These are questions that summer camp organizers are still trying to plan around as they prepare for their 2020 camp sessions.

Here’s how some summer camps are planning for the unknown:

YMCA of Dane County:

— Plans to open summer camp as scheduled: “We don’t have anything scheduled to start before Safer at Home ends with one camp beginning June 8 and our other eight camps kicking off June 15.”

— Registration opened March 1 and has been robust: “Our camps are always at or near capacity, but we think families are especially hopeful at the prospect of having fun outside of their homes, being social and learning some interesting things this summer. Perhaps even more so than usual as indicated by registration numbers.”

— Planning for various contingencies: “We’re even very early in the process of exploring what a virtual camp might look like, should Safer at Home be extended beyond its current sunset date. We’re trying to anticipate a wide variety of scenarios and plan for each accordingly. We have a veteran camp staff, and we know they’ll quickly adapt to whatever version of summer camp is needed.”

— Planning to be socially distant: “”We’ll strictly follow the instruction of public health. Because we’re currently operating emergency child care services for first responders and health care workers, we’re up to speed on these measures. We maintain social distancing, we limit the number of kids and staff in rooms and in our buildings, we take temperatures of children at check-in and throughout the day and watch closely for other symptoms, we clean and disinfect rooms and equipment throughout the day, especially when kids and staff move from one area of the building to another, other staff literally swoop in and disinfect the entire room. Because of this experience adhering to these strict and critically important protocols, we’re uniquely positioned to transition these same practices to our camp programs, as guided by public health.”

YMCA spokesperson Scott Shoemaker said that as the situation changes daily, “there’s still lots to be decided by the government and public health that will dictate how we proceed.”

Madison School and Community Recreation:

A spokesperson for MSCR said, “We haven’t made any final decisions about our plans for summer camp programs. We are looking at and preparing for several different options and will be following guidance from the Public Health Madison & Dane County, DPI and the Department of Children and Families when we do make our decision. In the meantime, we are adding new virtual programming options to our website (mscr.org) and social media for people of all ages each day to keep community members engaged, safe and active for the duration of the Safer at Home order.”

University Recreation and Wellbeing:

A spokesperson at UW-Madison said, “In general, UW-Madison has cancelled and refunded all of its summer camps and programs as of a few weeks ago. We don’t have a financial breakdown of the lost revenue, but it’s significant and figures in the overall $100 million impact to campus Chancellor Blank has been sharing publicly. We’ll reassess for the future with health and safety as the top consideration. While we are running with a reduced program portfolio as a campus, we are also working to support the city, MMSD, MOST, BGCDC and other community partners that are hosting virtual activities for youth during this time.”

Wisconsin Youth Company:

Executive Director Rebecca Carlin said, “We are considering multiple scenarios of what might be possible for summer camp this year. Our plans for camp will be based on current public health and CDC guidelines as well as licensing rules from the state. The health and safety of campers and staff is our top priority. We certainly miss seeing our families each day and are looking forward to running programs again when it is safe to do so.”

There are many other summer camp programs that are still working out plans on how to proceed through and after the pandemic. Make sure you check your camp’s website for updates.