New York Camps Cope With COVID-19 Changes

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – Keeping up the typical camp spirit requires some creative solutions. New York authorized day camps to open for the summer season, but reduced group sizes and social distancing means camp will look a little different.

Melanie Nolan/Camp JCC

Camp JCC in Binghamton reopens on July 6 with new COVID-19 protocols. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

To curb the spread of COVID-19, the state implemented several COVID-19 regulations specific to camps, which were allowed to reopen as early as June 29. Measures include limiting camp groups to 15 kids, requiring counselors to wear masks and ensuring each group at the camp has little to no contact with each other.

That means there won’t be camp-wide assemblies or cheers. Instead, chants at Camp JCC in Binghamton will be played over the building’s intercom.

According to camp director Nora Graven, camp staff must be flexible every summer.

“As a camp, we’re always supposed to think on our feet and be able to go with the flow and make quick changes to things,” Graven said.

To receive authorization to open, Graven said the camp needed to work with the Broome County Health Department to develop COVID-19 protocols. The new procedure includes staggered drop-off times, daily temperature checks and even scheduled bathroom breaks.

“Scheduling bathroom breaks for little kids seems kind of crazy, but it’s just something we have to do to keep them safe,” Graven said.

After a turbulent school year, Graven said summer camp will bring some much-needed normalcy to kids’ lives.

“No matter what we do they’re just going to be happy to be around other kids, and I think it’s just something that they need,” Graven said.

While New York authorized day camps to open, sleepaway camps remain closed.