Summer 2020 Opportunities at Camp, at Home and in Between
The summer of 2020 is shaping up to be a season like no other thanks to the coronavirus. With the official end to the public school year just a week away, parents are scrambling to find activities that will keep our children engaged and safe for the next few months.
On May 29, Governor Larry Hogan announced that outdoor activities may resume, including youth sports camps and outdoor day camps. With large gatherings on hold for the foreseeable future, overnight residential camps are not permitted to open and camps that were primarily held indoors or in county facilities are also off the calendar. So what will our kids be doing this summer?
Bay Weekly wants to help parents navigate the challenge. This week we are launching a new online resource for you, rounding up the camps and classes for kids that are, indeed, operating this summer. As various camps and organizations develop their summer offerings, we’ll be consistently updating information on what’s open, what’s not, where camps are located and how to register. Find it at: www.bayweekly.com/camps.
In speaking to camp organizers, kid-centric businesses and parents, we have heard that camp this year will certainly look different. Some day camps will continue much as they have before but with new precautions. Camps and classes that take place on the water seem to be faring the best when it comes to summer activities.
Consider Annapolis School of Seamanship’s Jr. Captains Course: the boats naturally limit the class size to four students at a time, so a large group isn’t a problem. “This summer, the classroom portion will be done online at home,” says Capt. John Martino, founder of ASOS and Bay Weekly’s parent company Chesapeake Bay Media. “We will meet the kids outside under a pop-up tent for temperature screenings before we head out for the on-water portion of the course.”
The course, aimed at kids 11-15, hosts three on-the-water sessions daily, every day of the week, teaching them to safely operate small single-outboard powerboats. By the end of a successful week, they receive their Maryland Safe Boating certification. Classes began this week and will run through August. (www.annapolisschoolofseamanship.com)
Martino says that not much has changed for the way the class is run, other than special attention to wiping down the boats, making sure everyone wears face coverings and asking that students provide their own life jackets.
“We do have available seats still, but they are filling up and registrations are coming in pretty fast,” he said. “And for those who aren’t comfortable with their kids being on a boat with kids they don’t know, there is an option for a group booking, where all four seats will go to a specific circle of people, that’s been popular.”
Many camps are offering completely virtual activities, providing enrichment and engagement from the safety of your own home.
Megan Linn is the founder and lead instructor for Camp MAVE, an online educational summer camp. “We are a Virtual Summer Camp created and led by a group of teachers to support kids and teachers,” says Linn. “We provide a full day of fun games, challenges, and STEM-based projects for middle-school aged kids. Our goal is to keep them educated while enjoying their summers and staying social and safe. We are an online camp so it is not tied to any specific town/city, but we have had almost 40 percent of signups come from Maryland.” Linn adds that 10 percent of the camp’s proceeds will be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts. (www.campmave.com)
Many parents are looking to get their kids away from electronics after spending 95 days online in virtual learning (but who’s counting?). Krista Garrett, owner of Garrett Music Academy in Owings, feels the struggle as both a camp provider and a parent herself.
Garrett Music Academy (www.garrettmusicacademy.com) will host two in-person music camps. “The social interaction and collaboration for a rock band camp and a theater camp are so important,” she says. “We are using social distancing methods. But to have a quality camp of this nature, they must be in person.”
As the parent of 8-year-old twins and a 5-year-old, Garrett finds herself scrambling for options. “This year has proven very challenging. All Vacation Bible Schools are either cancelled or virtual which is difficult to maneuver with young children. Sports camps are opening up and we are praying that there will be a few openings somewhere. The pandemic and stay-at-home order happened when most families were in the process of sitting down and planning summer, with everything shutting down … it has been hard to make concrete plans.”
The Polymath Place in Deale usually hosts 12 weeks of summer camps, from the last day of school to Labor Day. This summer will still be full of weekly themed camps but some new things were thrown into the mix. “For a while there, I thought we would have to move all of summer camp to online,” says owner Kate King. “But now instead of having to shrink camps down, we are able to offer options.”
Polymath is giving families the choice of an entirely virtual online camp, with a full daily schedule of activities and projects, or join them in their new outdoor space at Shady Side Community Center. “Big thanks to Ed Carney and Brian Nurmi with the community center,” King says. “They were so receptive to the idea of us holding outdoor camp there. They told us that they were here for our kids and were willing to do what they could to make it happen.”
Thanks to the new outdoor space, King can host three groups of campers spaced out on the property with two counselors per eight campers. The outdoor camp follows the same schedule as the online option, but kids at home will be given a break to raid recycling bins or gather supplies to work on creative projects on their own before rejoining their session.
“We will be following the recommended guidelines for masks, small groups and sanitizing for as long as we need to,” says King. “Child safety is our number one priority.”
For some parents, finding the perfect fit became too confusing, too time-consuming and too expensive. Those parents report they are giving the kids a summer experience like their own or what one mom called “Camp Latchkey.”
Lisa Wallace of Severna Park is the mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 6. “We were signed up for some camps that got canceled. I’m off this summer and with all the uncertainty I’m just going to wing it. I’m thinking about day trips around the area, socially distanced play dates and backyard camping. It’s a summer of my childhood, no camps just backyard kiddie pools, bike rides and a thousand otter pops.”
“No camps for us,” says Bethany Siglin Ahlers. “We are taking it back to 1985 here. Summer at home, playing in the yard, maybe a few family projects, and, if we are lucky, a visit to family in Florida so my husband and I can have some uninterrupted telework time.”
Erin McVeigh, also of Severna Park, feels similarly. “My kids will be staying home all summer. My dream is so will all of the neighbor kids and they can just run around as we did as children. My fear is some will go to camp and that will increase the exposure potential in our neighborhood.”
A summer on the water is the plan for Lesley Frymier Cook and her family. Cook’s 11-year-old son had all his camps cancelled and her 12-year-old was supposed to spend the summer on a local sailing team. She made an executive decision. “We decided to pull the plug on the sailing team. Instead, we are going to have an old-fashioned summer of fishing, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and hanging out at our lake in western Penn. on our own terms. My husband and I can both telework from there!”
Regardless of where and how our families will be spending the summer, it will be one to remember. And if you need help finding camps near you, visit our online tool: www.bayweekly.com/camps.