Summer camps scrambling to try to operate this year

As the weather warms, parents across the region are wondering if summer camps will be open this summer as we continue to try to observe social distancing in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have every intention of having camp,” said Jay Jacobs, Executive Director of the TLC Family of Camps. “I know that some camps are talking about opening a few days or two weeks later, right now I don’t see the need. We’re going to judge what we’re going to do as the numbers begin to come in.”

TLC Camps, which serves some 3,000 children, are getting creative to still operate this summer, as social distancing and summer camp don’t go hand-in-hand. Jacobs says he sees two distinct challenges in sleepaway and day camps.

“In a sleepaway model, it’s a little bit easier because you can test all of the campers before the get on the bus and before they come to camp to make sure that everybody that arrives is negative, and the same for the counselors and the staff, and then you create your own sealed environment,” Jacobs said.

“Right now, it’s actually a race against time,” said Carlos Velazquez of the Boys Club of New York. The Boys club serves boys aged 7-21, many from low-income neighborhoods. Summer camp is as much a respite for the children as it is for their parents.

“Everything is on the table, I think a lot of it is resources. It’s about being able to do that and how can we be supported by our city officials and to make sure that it happens,” Velazquez said.

Most camp operators say that if they cannot open safely, they will do whatever they can online, but a final decision will likely be made mid-May when the tri-state area reopens and we get a better idea of how the virus will respond. 


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