By Liam Cooper
The North Shore Youth Council, located in Rocky Point, recently finished their Summer Buddies five-week-long summer camp, which started July 13 and ended Aug. 14.
And as students reenter schools for the first time since March, it could be small but pertinent example of how to host young people in a single place while halting the spread of COVID-19.
At the camp, kids participated in gym activities, movies, outdoor activities, games, arts and crafts, and playground activities. Despite having activities that required close contact, the camp was able to keep its doors open, even during the pandemic. The camp ran for three hours Monday through Friday for children ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade.
During these difficult times, NSYC officials said they successfully executed the camp program, hosting over 100 kids with a total of zero COVID cases.
“It was a tremendous success,” said Stephanie Ruales, the Director of Communications and Public Relations of the NSYC. “At first we had some parents that were hesitant and only signed their kids up for one week at a time. But then they signed up for more weeks, saying that their kids really enjoyed the camp.”
The camp made sure everything was according to New York State guidelines. Although the kids didn’t wear masks, they remained socially distant. All camp counselors and staff wore masks.
All the participating children had to complete a daily COVID-19 health screening before entering along with daily temperature checks. To reduce contact between the kids, the campers would travel to different activities in smaller groups. Time indoors was also limited.
Camp counselors were also in charge of cleaning everything the kids touched.
“There were lots of hand sanitizers going around,” Ruales said. “It was important to us that everyone felt safe and important. We wanted parents to know exactly what was going on in the camp and that they could trust us with their kids for 3 hours.”
NSYC officials also wanted to thank camp directors Nick Mitchko and Alexa Setaro for organizing everything and displaying that recreational activities, with regulations, can still potentially be enjoyed even during the pandemic.