Vermont summer camps still waiting for revised pandemic guidance

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 4:49 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Can Vermont summer camps open this summer? While most sectors have received new COVID-19 guidance, many camp operations are still waiting to hear from the state.

There may be several inches of snow on the ground in some spots, but summer is coming fast. And camp officials and parents we spoke with are looking for answers on what the summer will look like.

“Most of us are limiting our population size at this point because we don’t know what is going on,” said Jed Bryom, the director of Camp Sangamon, a sleepover camp for boys in Pittsford.

The state has been telling him to follow the COVID guidance from August of 2020, but a lot has changed since then, and new less-restrictive guidance is expected soon. That makes it difficult for camps to determine what programs will look like and what to tell families. “Obviously, most of our campers won’t be vaccinated, but the idea of a two-week quarantine at home before coming here is not in keeping with what travelers to Vermont have to do at this point,” Bryom said. He says he has also had issues hiring staff because he can’t tell them if they will be allowed to leave the property for nine weeks.

Richard Moran currently lives in New Hampshire but has been a counselor at Camp Sangamon every summer since he was 18. He’s questioning if he wants to go back this summer. “I definitely have a need for camp and so that tells me that a lot of other people need it too, and I would like to be able to help make that happen,” said Moran, who typically takes campers on hikes and canoe trips all around Vermont that require them to mix with people outside of camp. Without knowing what the guidance will be, he doesn’t know if it will be possible. “Going around and being in Vermont, not just at camp, is a really kind of fundamental part of that experience for me too.”

Day camps are a bit different than sleep-away operations. Rutland Rec was able to host camp last year by creating smaller groups and using four locations. Kim Peters, with the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department, says they’ll be doing the same again this year. “When the actual plans are announced and we see any guidance that may be different from last year, we’ll go ahead and make the changes, but we aren’t overly concerned. We feel confident in what we did last year,” she said.

Some sessions are already completely full at both the rec camps and Camp Sangamon, but Byrom is running into issues with his first session this summer. “It’s close, it’s coming up, and right now I don’t know what to tell people,” he said.

State officials say they may have more to say on the issue at Friday’s pandemic briefing.

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