REGION – 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 in terms of increased safety and health protocols and practices, but 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 10 weeks 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,” said Meeting Waters YMCA Executive Director Susan Fortier. “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 says that her 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 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.
“Without much forewarning, since mid-March children have not been able to see their friends each day at school,” Fortier adds to emphasize the need for summer programs like her 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. The camp takes place at the regional Y’s 52-acre Lewis Day Camp facility, located on Route 5 in Springfield, just off I-91. 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 recording of a Virtual Parent Orientation that took place June 8 is available at the Meeting Waters YMCA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. In the Orientation Susan Fortier and camp directors Sean Fortier and Cameron Lloyd walk parents and others through the many modifications and additions to camp policies, procedures, and protocols to keep campers, staff, and their families safe and healthy.