COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Camps across Ohio have been open for a few weeks now but with strict guidelines. Some camps decided to not open at all this summer because of Coronavirus concerns. Others have opened but with limited capacity, including Camp Wyandot.
“I was sad,” noted camp counselor, Mackensi Crenshaw. “There are a lot of kids who come year after year and we’ve been operating for over 90 years consistently and to not have it run for a summer would be detrimental to not only the organization but to the kids and the families who come here every year.”
“I think especially with everything going on in the outside world kids really need a place to come and just be outside and play,” explained Crenshaw.
Once camps were given the green light to open, Camp Wyandot knew they had to open and start training their staff to follow the new COVID-19 safety guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health. Luckily, according to the Executive Director Connie Coutellier, they didn’t have that many new hires so training wasn’t that difficult.
“Parents and kids these days need this experience more than ever. They have been disrupted by their school schedule and doing a lot online and to be outdoors is the blessing for them,” explained Coutellier.
Coutellier explained that although it’s been difficult they’re figuring it out and making it work. They worked through the first week and made some adjustments as they went.
“It has been difficult for everyone. We have so many traditions that we’ve had to examine very carefully to see if we can maintain the distance and still do the activities we want to do.”
Some of the things they’ve changed is how they do their meals. They now have two different times they serve meals and split up all the kids to make sure they have distance. They also stay with their bunks at meals instead of sitting with other campers. Staff wears masks and gloves as they serve food and the nurse takes their temperature every morning.
“We’re really lucky we have a lot of open air and it’s different than a lot of other camps that may have confined spaces so they’re outside about 80% of their day,” noted Crenshaw. We’ve all been stuck inside for 3 or 4 months and that takes a toll.”
Crewnshaws life has been impacted by her experience at sleep over camp and knew that not having it for one summer would impact the kids.
“I’ve been around for awhile and I think for me camp provided a lot of skills and confidence needed to do other things. I think it helped me choose my career choice and I just graduated from college with a degree in education so I think that was a big influence being around kids.”
They only accepted half of the campers they usually have each summer. Each campers has a week session at camp and a few come daily for day camp. They also explained that there is a long wait-list for campers. Bunks only hold five campers and a counselor now compared to 8 in the past. They are also not allowed to do any field trips with the campers this summer.
“I think it will be good as we go through the summer and the staff gets used to running as were operating now,” said Crenshaw.