How Vermont summer camps are dealing with social distancing

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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Kids are out of school and some summer camps open Monday. Our Olivia Lyons explains how the Rutland Recreation Department is able to increase their number of campers this year while maintaining social distancing.

"It's going to be very loaded with kids in this area, which is great to see!" said Nicole Roy, the program director.

The Rutland Rec Department is kicking off their summer camps on Monday.

They've increased their number of locations allowing 200 kids to enroll, about three times the number of campers they typically have.

"We're going to be located at the pool like we always have been. But then we are also offered at Giorgetti Complex, which also has Pine Hill Park and then the Rutland Rec Community Center, formerly known as CSJ," said Kim Peters, the Rutland Rec superintendent.

By splitting the campers up into three different locations, the rec department has been able to take advantage of locations in the community that they haven't used before, such as the trails at Pine Hill Park.

Since campers won't be going on field trips, Peters is trying to bring the entertainment to them.

"We're hoping to bring in archery and martial arts," Peters said. "We've reached out to different instructors, that they've also been affected, so how can we help them as well?"

Typically, campers would be put together by age, but because of state guidelines, families are asked to sign siblings up together.

Each group of campers is limited to 20 kids with five counselors.

Loren Henderson, a camp site director, says the coronavirus didn't make planning difficult. But the department did have to re-evaluate how to break campers up into smaller groups, ensure kids keep their distance, wash their hands more often and keep their masks on.

"It made us take a step back and figure out how we are going to do this so we can follow the guidelines and make sure the kids still have fun," Henderson said.

The increase in campers allowed Peters to rehire about 70 high school and college kids.

"For the most part, all of our staff is back and we went through training all this week and we are so ready to go on Monday," Peters said.

The staff may be just as excited about camp as the campers.

"I'm really super excited about it!" Henderson said.

"Very excited!" Roy said. "After them being quarantined and at home for school. They'll be able to play with their friends again!"

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