BELLOWS FALLS — Meeting Waters YMCA, now in its 125th year of service to youth and families, will be running its popular day camp program as it has each summer since 1965.
The “best summer ever” will certainly be different than the previous 55 summers in terms of increased safety and health protocols and practices. However, the focus on “building skills, friendships and memories” is still at the core of all that will happen.
“I have spent most of nearly every day over the past two months on virtual meetings and webinars with a variety of experts all over the country to learn everything I could about best practices for running a safe camp program during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Meeting Waters YMCA executive director Susan Fortier said in a news release.
“From taking every camper's temperature before they get on the bus in the morning and having lower enrollment and smaller group sizes, to regular deep cleaning of the camp facility several times per day as well as adaptation of all activities and activity spaces to allow for physical distancing, among many other protocols and practices, we are confident we will keep our campers and staff safe,” Fortier added
Camp plans have been developed with guidance from the CDC, the Health Departments of both Vermont and New Hampshire (the camp services youth from both sides of the Connecticut River), the Divisions of Youth, Children and Families in both states, YMCA of the USA, the American Camping Association, and MWYMCA's risk management consulting firm, the Redwoods Group, among other regional and national leaders.
Because of lower overall enrollment to meet state health guidelines, all sessions of Y Day Camp 2020 are currently full with small waiting lists. Updated information is available at www.meetingwatersymca.org.
Fortier and her camp co-directors plan to host a Virtual Parent Orientation for all camp parents to go through these and all other additional policies, protocols, and practices. They'll also entertain questions from parents and campers.
“Without much forewarning, since mid-March children have not been able to see their friends each day at school,” Fortier said.
This emphasizes the need for summer programs like Meeting Waters YMCA's camps.
“They were no longer interacting in person with caring, supportive adults other than their parents. Their methods for learning became far less hands-on and group projects, where 21st century skills are developed, came to a halt. Our camps will provide some much needed social interaction (while distanced, of course!), hand-on learning, group projects and, of course, lots of fun.”
Y Day Camp, for 6-13 year-olds, offers eight one-week sessions between June 29 and Aug. 21 at the regional Y's 52-acre Lewis Day Camp facility, located on Route 5 in Springfield. Bus service is provided to and from camp each day from Brattleboro, Putney, Westminster, Bellows Falls, Chester, Springfield, Walpole, North Walpole, and Charlestown.
The regional Y's camp participates in the federal Summer Food Program. All campers-regardless of town of residence or family income-qualify for a free healthy lunch each day.
And, to ensure that all youth have the chance to experience camp, Meeting Waters YMCA offers financial assistance to those who need it. If you're interested in helping send kids to camp this summer, you can donate to the Y at www.meetingwatersymca.org/support.
A Virtual Camp Open House will be posted to the Y's website and Facebook page this week. For more information, contact their office at 802-463-4769 or [email protected].