Summer Day Camps Prepare to Reopen in Central New York Central New York Summer Day Camps Prepare to Reopen

Brady Williams: While summer is officially in full swing, it may not feel like it for some kids in central New York. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most of the country, play certainly hasn’t been essential. It’s left many summer day camps and their customers unsure of how to proceed.
Autumn Darling: Everyone’s not sure if they wanted to come, because they’re not sure whats going to open back up.
BW: Luckily for Autumn Darling of Exceptional Family Resources, Governor Cuomo announced on Tuesday that day camps can soon reopen. But the announcement means that programs here in western New York all the way to Syracuse and beyond have had to scramble to prepare to open.
AD: So right now we’re trying to get more registration forms in and let parents know that we’re still going to run and what precautions we’re going to take so that they feel more comfortable leaving their kids with us for the day.
BW: Darling runs Project Explore, a day program for teens and young adults with disabilities to experience everything summer in central New York has to offer. The sudden reopening has forced them to quickly come up with ways to provide a valuable experience without putting their participants at risk. Project explore and other camps will have to prepare disinfectant wipes for their equipment, take temperatures at the door, and reconsider some of their bigger trips. Despite the changes, Darling still thinks summer campers can make the most of day programs.
AD: I think that they’re still going to have a good time, because they look forward to it every summer, and they’re excited to see their familiar faces.
BW: Day camps are cleared to reopen on June 29th. Brady Williams NCC News.

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.

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Playgrounds and campsites are closed for the time being, but soon, day camps will be up and running.
© 2020 Brady Williams

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.

Project Explore
Project Explore participants and supervisors will be back together soon enough.
© 2019 Exceptional Family Resources

“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.

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