NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As parts of the Tri-State Area start to ease restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, residents are hopeful summer camps will reopen as well.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Thursday, some programs aren’t taking any chances.

While many camps hold out, hoping children will be back on the camp ground, others have already made the difficult decision to transition to a virtual program.

“For a lot of our young people, they live in an urban environment and they don’t have easy access to the outdoors, and to parks, and to green spaces, so we really felt we had to offer a virtual alternative,” said Christine Ko, the executive director of Fiver Children’s Foundation.

Ko said the nonprofit group switched its two-week residential camp, “Camp Fiver” to “Camp Wi-Fiver,” a completely online experience for economically disadvantaged children in New York City and Central New York.

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Each day, the camp will include four hours of live interactive activities lead by counselors staying at Camp Fiver in Poolville, N.Y.

“You can build a boat at the lake, even take a hike with a staff member on the Camp Fiver trails,” the camp says in a video on YouTube.

“We’re doing everything we can to bring our property and the elements of camp to our kids,” Ko said.


Adventure Links Summer Camp founder Anna Birch exchanged the outdoor activities her camps are known for with a virtual alternative called “CampCloud.” And she’s offering specials for companies that want to help employees with children.

“You could purchase, discounted purchase a block of camp seats and support your employees. Say hey, we’re doing this for you. We want to be the hero in your life. We know you’re working hard and you’re trying to navigate your home life,” Birch said.

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Derek Harp’s 11-year-old son tried CampCloud’s first run over spring break. Kids spent about 30% online and 70% off screen with guided activities, like building shelters.

“It was a fantastic experience for all of us. We did some of the activities with him. The structure was perfect. It was flexible,” Harp said.

For more information about CampCloud, click here.

There are virtual camps for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and also, music and dance. Summer programs at the Third Street Music School Settlement, which has been around since 1894, will be online, too, keeping children engaged in small groups with live remote instruction.

“So much about it is engaging with the students and the students engaging with others. And the teachers engaging with the students and you just can’t get that from pre-recorded material,” Third Street’s Brandon Tesh said.

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Parents hesitant to invest in virtual simulations of camp culture say they are worried about application deadlines and refund policies. American Camp Association president Sam Borke sad there’s no uniform rule during COVID-19  uncertainties.

“Many camps are still waiting, waiting for direction from the state and from the county, so I would say call the director openly, quickly, and say to them what are my options? And then do what you’re most comfortable with,” Borek said.

And with camp season right around the corner, decision time is now.


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