Summer camps are beginning to open around the Cape Fear Region -- and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there’s a lower risk of catching the virus outdoors and no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through pools. WHQR visited some of our local camps -- and reports how they’re operating during the pandemic.
On Monday, June 29th, the Robert Strange Pool on South Tenth Street opened. The City of Wilmington owns three public pools -- the other two, Legion and Northside, have yet to open, and they’re run by the local Y.
Shannon Berg is the Branch Director for the Nir Family YMCA. She says they’re checking temperatures at the door, masks are recommended on the pool deck, and you need to make a reservation ahead.
“[...] It makes it so safe. And it follows all the social distancing guidelines. So once you make the reservation, I would say, hey, Rachel, you and your family are coming at 11 o'clock, they’re one hour segments, and when you come, just want to let you know, could you arrive a little bit early, to make sure you're swim ready.”
The YMCA also runs the pool at the Brigade Boys & Girls Club -- which is expected to open next week. Brigade did open their doors for summer programs starting last week, but they’ve had to reduce their camp numbers by about 50 percent. Angie Hill is the CEO:
”We wanted to get our kids back in as soon as possible. But we, of course, had to ensure that we were going to be able to do it in a safe environment for both our staff and our kids. [...]So all the goodness that you think about summer camp: friendships, swimming, games, activities, it's all still happening, just with a slight little twist, slight little change.”
At his tennis court on Orange Street, Lenny Simpson, the founder of One Love Tennis, is continuing private and small group tennis lessons, but he’s waiting until July to restart his larger clinics. He says outdoor activities are just what kids need:
"They get them away from the computers, because the only thing that they're exercising is their thumbs, in front of the computers with all the Xboxes, [...], kids don't know how to socialize. They have no social skills anymore.[...] You’re gonna have to deal with people in life, so this is what we really impress upon our One Love kids and our One Love family."
And while it’s still possible to reserve a time at the public pool, Shannon Berg of the YMCA says their summer camps are filling up fast:
"It has been so hard for the families because there's so many people who are in need. And so there's a waitlist, but I mean at least there’s something, people are operating and opening and any parent needs to make sure that they know what the organization is doing for safety [...] But the outdoor activities have been great, like the soccer is really nice…”
All these activity leaders are also planning for the unexpected.
Angie Hill of the Brigade Boys & Girls Club:
“So one of the things that we've made sure that we've communicated to both our staff and our club families is we're taking this day-by-day, [...] we don't know what July is going to hold. We have no idea what August is going to hold. If something should happen, and we found out that someone within our facilities has gotten COVID, that the very first step is that you have to call the health department. They are really the guiding force of what happens next [...].”
And that next step, according to Hill, is for all camp operators to be flexible.