December 5, 2021

Summer camps: 2 expect to open, 1 closes

Two summer camps in Cortland County are allowing people to register, even as they await word from the state on whether they’ll be allowed to open. A third, however, has been canceled.

“Whether or not we run depends on the state and local decisions, but as of this moment, we are still planning on having camp,” said Margo Upson, the Cortland County YMCA membership and marketing director. “Right now, we’re still taking registrations while we await guidance from the Department of Health. We know that camp is going to look a little different this year, but we’re determined to make sure it’s still a great experience for our staff, campers, and families.”

The YWCA is also opening up registration to families today, but the camp won’t start until July 1, said Kelly Tobin, the executive director. The camps would run for nine weeks for approximately 80 to 100 children.

“This gives us ample time to closely follow the CDC and OCFS (Office of Children and Family Services) guidelines to ensure we are keeping children and staff safe,” Tobin said.

Upson said they are looking to follow guidelines provided by the American Camp Association.

“Some of the things we’re going to implement this year, based on what the ACA is starting to provide, are smaller group sizes, more outdoor activities, and more frequent sanitizing of surfaces between groups and, of course, lots of hand washing,” she said.

She said they typically have about 30 kids each week.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County runs the 4-H Camp Owahta, which usually begins the first week of July and can run as long as six weeks and has anywhere from 75 to 300 kids.

Executive Director David Rutherford emailed families Friday that 4-H Camp Owahta was canceled this year because of the virus.

“It has been a difficult decision to make,” he wrote. “At this time, we believe children could benefit greatly by spending time together outside in nature; however, we could not create a program that guaranteed the safety of children and counselors during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

However, he said the extension is working on ways to bring families together, but group size would be limited and CDC guidelines on social distancing and cleaning would be implemented.

“We will keep you informed if this becomes a possibility, no later than June 15, 2020,” he said.

Lime Hollow also runs a summer camp. Executive Director Glenn Reisweber could not be reached for comment.

There are seven camps given permits by the Cortland County Health Department to run, which run as little as one week, but up to 10 weeks, with anywhere from 25 to 1,000 kids participating in them, according to the Health Department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for camps, including canceling field trips, making sure groups of children don’t mingle with other groups, restricting nonessential visitors and activities and keeping materials separate to avoid children sharing them, such as art supplies.

Other social distancing measures would also apply, including a requirement that staff wear masks at all times and hands are washed routinely.