Summer camps prep kids for school classrooms

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 5:37 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 9:39 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Summer camps are winding down, but the lessons learned while school was out could help students when school is in.

For kids who spent the summer in day camps, school and its new guidelines of social distancing and mask-wearing may not look so strange.

“Since she started school and camp, she’s fine. She puts it on and goes about her day and they don’t even remember that she has it on,” said Stacey McClellan, a parent.

For parents like McClellan, there was a shift in her daughter’s understanding of mask-wearing as those days in camp went by. Summer camps were given state guidance on how to operate safely during the pandemic. Many, including the YMCA of Greater Burlington, began planning early.

“We were really embedded from the beginning saying, ‘OK, how are we going to make this work?‘” said Katelyn Irwin, the director of school-age programs for the YMCA.

She says safety came first. As the summer went on, the abnormal felt less daunting.

“This looks different, but we wear them, to,o and we are wearing facial coverings to keep us safe and look, we can still have fun,” Irwin said.

Irwin says lessons on social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing, and cleaning became second nature. There were also regular health screenings where students would have their temperatures taken as well as answer questions about how they felt, all lessons that translate directly into heading back to school.

“They have the masks on hand, they are definitely becoming more normalized to it. Again, all the procedures to keep everyone healthy,” said Melissa Pennington, the associate director of the Sara Holbrook Community Center

She says although there will still be adjustments that have to be made, teachers can look forward to a smoother transition for some students thanks to lessons learned over the summer.

“They’re feeling comfortable, they are back socializing with friends, they’re back on their best behaviors and are really able to go back into a classroom this fall and do the best they can,” said Pennington.

Both the Sara Holbrook Community Center and the YMCA of Greater Burlington will be offering child care opportunities when students aren’t in school right into the fall.

“We’ll be able to offer all-day programming for all elementary-age youth. So when they aren’t in school, they can come be with us and we will be able to support their virtual learning, continue with our enrichment activities and continue to support their growth and development,” said Pennington.

Pre-K and toddler programs will still be running, and the teen center will be open for that age group all day, as well.

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