NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Monday was the first day of camp for many children across the Tri-State Area.

For some, it was their introduction to a new sense of normalcy.

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As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported, one camp is keeping kids safe while letting them have fun.

The squeals of joy and laughter were endless at Asphalt Green‘s day camp. They were sweet sounds for camps director Katie Duffy, who had been preparing for this all year.

“There was so much energy and excitement and that’s what we love,” Duffy said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The camp will serve 400 students entering kindergarten through the eighth grade, hundreds more than last year.

Ever-changing COVID restrictions made planning difficult. Despite many now being lifted, safety protocols remain in place, starting with temperature checks.

“A lot of our campers don’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated just yet, so all of our campers and staff wear their masks while indoors. It can be relaxed outside when they’re with their group,” Duffy said.

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Parents were encouraged to vaccinate their children if they were eligible, however it was not required. But vaccines were mandatory for the entire staff, Cline-Thomas reported.

That way the camp could resume activities like swimming lessons. This after the pool was closed last year.

Campers wear masks on the deck, but not in the water, while instructors wear face shields.

“The laughter, the excitement, enthusiasm, overcoming obstacles and anxiety, this is it right here. This is what we look forward to. This is why we’re here,” aquatics director Andrew Bryan said.

COVID VACCINE

After such a difficult year, the transition is the most welcome.

“Everybody is coming from a different reality this year. Some campers who were in full remote school, others who were in a hybrid situation, others who have been in school since September,” Duffy said.

Nothing replaces the lessons learned and bonds made in person, as kids start getting their childhood back.

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The summer camp filled up very quickly and had a waiting list since April.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas