NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More and more summer camps are making difficult decisions about whether or not to open for the summer season.
Until there is firm guidance from the states amid the coronavirus outbreak, it is up to the camps to decide, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
“Sometimes in life, you have to make decisions that are painful,” said Ross Coleman of Coleman County Day Camp owners in a Facebook post. “It just all came down to that love and the trust you have all put in us to keep you safe.”
That painful decision was to not open this summer, and several other camps are following suit.
The safety of camp-goers is complicated by the emergence of COVID-related illness in children.
“As a parent, until I know how widespread this is, I would not send my children to day camp,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week. “If I won’t send my children to day camp, I wouldn’t ask anybody else to send their children to day camp.”
State guidance on camp opening is expected by the end of May, but in the meantime opening day is still on at Crestwood Camp.
“We are proceeding as if we are going to open on time,” said owner and director Mark Transport.
The owner, who also leads the Long Island Camps and Private Schools Association, says individual owners are making their own call, many based on size.
On his Melville campus, Transport said activities can be limited to small groups outdoors only and closed on rainy days.
“I cannot tell you how many adults have called myself and other camp directors pleading for us to open,” said Transport. “Because they are having a tough time being teacher, sports director, entertainer and everything else and they are really at their wits’ end.”
The risk versus benefit analysis is up to each parent facing almost no child care options.
“We were definitely on the fence if we going to send them even if they did open,” said mother Leigh Discala. “I’m glad the camp made the decision easier for us.”
“It was really disappointing because we really love going to camp,” said 9-year-old Dylan Discala.
Some camps, like those of Sunrise Association, will run virtual operations.
“We are maintaining our camp culture through virtual songs and cheers, and welcome every single morning,” said Michele Vernon, senior vice-president of the day camps.
Meantime, sleep-away camps upstate have a whole different set of challenges. While many have announced their decision to close, others if allowed are essentially closed campus. Everyone will be tested twice before their arrival.
For those throwing in the towel, “with all the emotion in the world we start the countdown to summer 2021,” said Coleman.