DETROIT – It’s a question looming over many metro Detroit families: Will their children have in-person summer camp this year?
Currently, the American Camp Association says camps are “awaiting further guidance from the CDC, as well as state and county public health authorities.”
UPDATE -- May 1, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 42,356; Death toll now at 3,866
The association says it is working with camps to develop contingency plans that include online and virtual programming. It hopes to have more information to share in early May on the status of camp operations.
“At this time, we do not wish to speculate on the ever-evolving nature of COVID-19’s impact on the summer camp 2020 season,” the association said in an email to Local 4.
In Canton township, in-person camps for children are cancelled through at least July 4.
“The Governor's orders to shut down and the social distancing, we know right now, there's no way we could have a group of children in some rooms at our community center and still keep people socially distanced,” said
Greg Hohenberger, the director of Canton Leisure Services. “We are hopeful and planning like we will have in-person camp, but we understand that things change and everything that we do is changing on a day to day basis.”
Hohenberger said a lot of families rely on the Canton camps for child care in the summer. If they can offer in-person camps they will be considering a lot of changes including the possibility of no field trips to avoid busing and prescreening children including taking temperatures, limiting the number of children to accommodate social distancing, looking at cleaning procedures, sharing supplies and how to clean those items between usages.
“Those are all the types of things that we’re considering. We don’t have all the answers just yet, but we’re trying to at least come up with the questions to see what we can do to make it safe if we are able to accommodate summer camp,” Hohenberger said.
Canton’s camps were sold out.
“(The) biggest thing I can say is that we're doing everything we can to plan ahead for having a safe camping experience. And if we open, you can be confident that we're going to be able to do it in a safe way,” Hohenberger said.
Hohenberger said they will be issuing full refunds for camps if they cannot offer them.
The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills has recently decided to only offer virtual camps this summer.
“It became a lot easier because the logistics of trying to operate a physically-distanced camp of 400 students is just not doable,” Paula Romano/Dir. of Auxiliary Programs/The Roeper School
The school is working on developing it’s virtual programming, many offered by it’s teachers.
“We will be offering two through six week programs in math, language arts, theater, forensic science, and art and cooking that we have so far,” Romano said.
The Roeper School will also offer some free camp fun to do this summer including scavenger hunts.
Romano said safety was the biggest concern about running in-person summer camp. She said the school hopes even if people don’t choose to do the virtual camps this summer, they will return to The Roeper School for the summer programs next year.
One of the benefits of the online summer camps will be the option of offering them to children outside metro Detroit.
“I think the great thing that we're going to be able to do is expand beyond the Detroit borders. So the one thing about doing online programming is anyone in Michigan could sign up, anyone in the US could sign up, anyone really in the world. So one of our plans is to actually reach out to some of our former students who have moved outside of the area and say, ‘Hey, we're offering these programs and you could participate in them now,’” Romano said.
Romano said they will issue full refunds to families who had signed up for in-person camps.
For parents who have questions or concerns about summer camp, the American Camp Association recommends parents connect with their camp directors directly.
ACA certainly encourages parents to connect with their camp directors and ask questions about the summer 2020.