SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With sleep-away camps canceled and many day camps opening late, a new cottage industry is all the rage.

They’re popping up across Long Island and beyond.

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Backyard camps are curing cabin fever for legions of kids. On Tuesday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff spoke to some quick-thinking high school seniors, out of work as sleep-away counselors, who saw a need to fill as parents head to work.

“Our camp is canceled. We need a job and some people posted on Facebook they need baby sitting, so we had the idea and kind of ran with it,” pop-up camp counselor Lazar Knoll said.

“We have sports, arts and crafts, we can do science experiments,” counselor Joey Starr added.


The children are safe at home, and the initiative is earning high marks from eight families who rotate backyards, each equipped with a watchful parent.

“We have to make sure there is enough parental supervision at all times. There’s two counselors here today. My wife and myself is here, so it’s pretty much two to one at all times,” parent Larry Goldberg said.

It’s a newly minted cottage industry, with offerings across social media.

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Teacher Ms. Alexa offers arts and crafts and enrichment.

“It’s back to the basics with good old fashioned fun, playing tag, doing arts and crafts projects, some sports,” she said.

But turning your backyard into a pop-up camp comes with words of caution from a veteran.

“There is a lot that goes into it that has got safety implications and camps work all year long and train staff all year long to ensure that we can prevent things from going wrong,” said Jay Jacobs, owner of Timber Lake Camps.

What can go wrong? f you have a swimming pool, a lot, cautions Jacobs, in addition to allergies and bee stings. He advises parents check references, and ask who’s supervising the counselors.

“I personally would want to make sure that it has the permit from the health department and that it is licensed,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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Curran is reminding parents camps are licensed with health and safety standards. A pop-up camp may not need a license to care of kids less than three hours a day, but attorney Ken Mollins had the following reminder for homeowners:

“Kids who play together get hurt, broken bones, drowning accidents, things of that nature, and the homeowner, if something happens in your home, people will first look to the homeowner to see the coverage,” Mollins said.

But given COVID-19 risks, some see backyards as the safest option.

“Sitting around the house and having the kids inside playing on their iPads for the summer without their friends is just not an option. There is a way to do this and a way to do it healthfully,” Brian Forman said.

Many parents are grateful for young entrepreneurs salvaging the summer.