SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)- On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that summer day camps would soon be allowed to reopen. Gatherings and programs of that kind had previously been banned to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Now, as New York progresses through various phases of reopening, camps are acting quickly to prepare their activities in a way that still provides the services they promise, while maintaining a safe environment.
Autumn Darling, the community inclusion supervisor for exceptional family resources for Project Explore, heard the news and quickly began planning to get Project Explore up and running again. Project Explore is a day program for teens and young adults with disabilities that allows them to get out and experience summer in central New York.
The state of things caused a downturn in registration for the program. Darling estimates that only half of their typical customers had signed up again.
“Everyone’s not sure if they wanted to come,” Darling said. “Because they’re not sure whats going to open back up.”
Now, she’s doing everything she can to establish safe practices to ease the minds of her participants and their parents. Day campers will have their temperature checked with non-contact thermometers, and they’ll be interviewed about how they’re feeling to ensure they don’t have any symptoms associated with coronavirus. Darling and company are also investing in disinfectants to clean down equipment after use.
Perhaps the biggest change will be in the program’s structure. With restrictions being lifted on June 29, they’ll already be two weeks late for their typical June 15 start, and participants may need to split into smaller groups to prevent any risk of transmission.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Darling remains confident that the kids who have grown to love Project Explore will still have the kind of experience they’ve come to expect.
“I think that they’re still going to have a good time, because they look forward to it every summer,” Darling said. “They’re excited to see their familiar faces.”
Though the announcement that day camps could reopen came up rather unexpectedly, the people at Project Explore say they’re more than willing to work on short notice to piece together a safe plan to have some summer fun.