The Town’s Recreation Department will host its traditional day camp this summer, although much about the program will be vastly different.
That’s a necessary response to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 2, the Selectboard approved a plan and protocols for offering the camp, based upon guidelines issued by the State of Maine, the CDC and organizations such as the YMCA. Those procedures and protocols seek to minimize the risk to all involved – campers, their families and camp staff.
While some risk exists with every public activity at the moment, the Board is convinced the summer camp program represents an essential service. Working parents need a safe place for their young children to be during the summertime and something engaging for them to do. That may be truer than ever after students have been away from classmates for more than two months now. So here’s our plan:
With gatherings restricted to no more than 50 people, we are limiting participation to 41 children. We will have six counselors (two for each of three groups of kids); Recreation Director Lily Schubert and Camp Coordinator Annie Dobos, who will serve as backup counselors; and our other regular Recreation employee, who will serve as our sanitation officer.
- We will require families to register and reserve in advance which weeks they wish to use the camp. Priority will be given to Belgrade residents and taxpayers, and to elementary school children. This will ensure we can control our numbers – serving as many young children as possible without exceeding 50 total. To register and reserve, email [email protected] or call 207-495-3481.
Should we have fewer than 41 children during a given week, we will accept drop-ins on those days.
Camp will be from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays from June 29 through Aug. 21. The cost is $85 per week for Town residents, $135 for non-residents.
Families will be provided protocols for the camp and from the state in advance. We will host two Zoom sessions for families to learn about the protocols and to ask questions.
All staff will wear cloth face coverings. Children who can wear face coverings properly will wear them. Counselors will make note of campers’ mask colors each day to ensure they are wearing a clean mask the following day. Families have told us they prefer their children wear reusable masks. We have sources willing to sell masks to families for $5 apiece.
All activities will occur outside. Unless it is raining, children will not be allowed into the building.
Children will have a designated space for their bags and will be spaced at least six feet apart when eating lunches and snacks.
On rainy days, children will be spaced throughout the facility. The gym will be divided with a curtain, with a group on each side. A third group can be on the porches and/or in the social room.
- Camp will feature neither field trips nor guest speakers. No one from the public may visit during camp hours. The pool will be closed, though there will be swimming in the lake. There will be no adult programing during camp hours.
- Children will be in the same group of 13 or 14 with the same counselors every day. There will be no mixing of groups.
- Children may not bring toys, games or electronics to camp. Sharing of craft supplies will be limited. Frequently used surfaces and equipment will be disinfected after each use.
- Drop-off and pick-up times will be staggered. Parents must stay in their vehicles. Campers and staff will be screened as they arrive every morning. Staff and children will be directed to stay home if they are sick or do not feel well.
- We will teach and reinforce frequent hand-washing hands and properly covering mouths when coughing and sneezing. Signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 will be posted.
- Health Officer Christine Merckens, a Registered Nurse, will be our designated COVID-19 point of contact. Rescue Chief Travis Burton, who will likely respond to any concerns, will also be a valued resource.
- We will not host sailing camp this year.
The response to the pandemic remains fluid. The State issues new guidelines regularly. Should its guidelines for day camps and recreational programs change, we will adapt accordingly.
In the meantime, we remain open to all suggestions. And we eagerly anticipate having children playing at the Center for All Seasons, enjoying the outdoors and one another’s company, and learning to acclimate to this new normal.