Like so many of our national institutions that have become pastime in America, summer camps across the area are facing the looming uncertainty about whether they’ll be open come June. Even if they escape the fate of so many businesses that have been temporarily shuddered because of COVID-19 mandates, organizers and camp leaders must still learn how to adapt themselves to a new reality. As a result, many camps find themselves making contingency plans and considering alternative ways for children of all ages to enjoy the summer camp experience. With some considering week consolidation and delayed starts, many have begun to imagine what a virtual camp experience might look like. Still there remains a glimmer of hope that area camps might be able to return to traditional camp activities. According to a report in The Berkshire Edge, “On May 1 the American Camp Association…release(d) an extensive table of contents for the upcoming guidelines, which some local camp directors are taking as a positive sign that, fingers crossed, they will be permitted to operate in some capacity, probably starting in July.”

On Saturday, May 9th Columbia County, NY officials learned that the Executive Order it sought last month from the New York State Department of Health requesting that summer camps remain closed during the COVID-19 crisis had been denied. Working in consultation with the Columbia County Health Department and the County Attorney’s office, Chairman Matt Murell said that despite the State’s decision, County Department of Health and County leaders stand behind their strong recommendation that summer camps not operate until further notice. Chairman Murell said, “The thinking at this time is that summer camps with children and counselors cannot properly maintain the social distancing necessary to keep everyone safe. With that in mind, we sincerely hope that summer camps remain closed until such time as health officials deem it safe.”

In the town of Hillsdale, NY, leaders remain optimistic that summer day programs will remain a vital resource for local parents given that kids will not be going back to school this spring. In the release of its monthly newsletter, Town leaders say that once State requirements have been established, they hope that Hillsdale will be able to work with the County Department of Health to design a safe – and fun – summer program directed by Taconic Hills educator Joe Raco. The popular educator-led program focused on nature and the great outdoors, takes annual advantage of its unique location in the beautiful Roeliff Jansen Park with trails, fields, wetlands, two large open barns, and a working community garden.

For more information on Hillsdale’s summer youth program click here