Summer camps, local families in limbo while waiting for state guidance

BOSTON — Summer camps are a huge part of the childcare plans for many Massachusetts families in the next few months. But camps in the Commonwealth are still waiting for guidance on when they can open - if at all.

After 13 years leading Medfield Parks and Recreation summer camp program, director Kevin Ryder says he’s rewriting the playbook, while waiting.

“We have scenarios in place from how a full day could look, to staggered days or staggered starts, 1/2 days for everything, where groups could go and how groups could work. One thing we're pretty certain about is that kids will be limited to the number of kids that you could have in a group,” Ryder told Boston 25 News.

Medfield Parks and Rec has hundreds of camp registrations already. A poll to families this week, showed 85% would still send their kids if camp is open.

“I'm confident in the ability of our staff to put together a summer program that will make families proud, make kids happy,” Ryder said.

But without official guidelines, planning hasn't been easy for camps across the state.

“We were looking at shortened season. We were looking at having the staff come in two weeks before and quarantine them,” said Camp Bauercrest director Ken Cotton. But for his board, he says there were too many questions.

“We have infectious disease doctors, we had nurses that we were talking to and it just didn't seem like we have the answers that we were really looking for in order to go forward with camp,” Cotton said.

The overnight camp in Amesbury and many others, made the tough decision this week to close for the summer of 2020, saying the camp they know and love, simply couldn't happen.

“Social distancing, and camp, they don't go together,” Cotton said. He said the board wanted to give families a chance to come up with other plans this summer. He says the response so far has been supportive.

In Medfield, Ryder is conferencing with other town day camps who are still holding out hope.

“We would not provide anything if we didn't feel we could provide a safe environment for the kids and safe environment for our staff. If we can accomplish those two goals and make summer memories for these kids that last a lifetime… We're ready and happy to provide that opportunity,” Ryder said.

The CDC has released some guidelines for schools, daycare and camps.

You can find them here.

You can also watch Boston 25’s interview with the head of the YMCA of Greater Boston here.

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