TYLER, Texas — Parents and kids got the good news they were waiting for this week when Governor Greg Abbott said summer camps can take place this year. Now, camp operators are making adjustments so they can welcome kids and keep them safe.
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Discovery Science Place in Tyler is one of many organizations attempting to modify its summer camp plans so it can start camps after the governor’s May 31 opening date. The biggest change, executive director Chris Rasure said, will be that classes will have half as many campers as a typical year. He explained that going from 20 children per class to 10 will have several benefits, including better spacing between campers and allowing teachers to better monitor each camper’s health and hygiene.
“Limiting our number down to 10 will help also with sharing materials,” he said. “We have plenty of materials for 10 kids not to have to share scissors or other tools or anything they can need in camp.”
However, some of the traditions of summer camp will have to go away in order to keep campers safe. “Normally, at the beginning of the day, we have a big kind of icebreaker session," Rasure explained, "where all the kids in all the classes are all together in one, big room. That’s not going to be able to happen this summer.”
Even at half capacity, getting the revenue from campers will help make up for the fact that the museum is still closed and missed its busiest part of the year. Spring Break is usually the busiest week of the year, but the museum saw a fraction of the visitors, and missed out on all the field trips that usually take place toward the end of the school year. “It’s been as horrific as you might imagine,” Rasure said.
Reed Livesay, CEO of Pine Cove, said in an email to CBS19, how excited he is to have campers return. Pine Cove put a detailed safety plan on its website, including plans to screen every camper when they arrive, quarantine counselors for one week ahead of every session, and have more than 300 doctors and nurses on staff. If a camper does test positive while they are there, their parents can either come get them or let them stay in a special quarantine spot at the campsite.
Green Acres Baptist Church said one of their adjustments is that it will not have any out-of-town trips in its summer programs.
At Discovery Science Place, Rasure said he wants the camp experience to feel as normal as possible, so if you cannot ignore coronavirus, Rasure said you might as well embrace it. “We usually have a camp called ‘Kitchen Chemistry,'" he said, "we’re going to talk, probably quite a bit about soap this year.”