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Kids Day Camps Running at Lower Capacity

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A day camp underway at Hespeler Park in Niverville. Niverville Recreation

The Town of Niverville’s kids summer camps are up and running, but at a lower capacity than usual due to special pandemic protocols that have been put in place. These protocols are meant to provide a safe and fun experience for children and staff this summer.

“For June, we opened up the camps with a lower registration number just to see how things would run with the COVID-19 regulations,” says Holly Malleck, the recreation programmer in charge of day camps. “We’re still running for the fourth week in June and we still have room in that week and registration is still open for July and August.”

The early June camps ran at full capacity, but mid-June saw a dip in attendance, which Malleck attributes to the schools conducting appointments with children during their last weeks of operation.

Among the safety protocols, staff is using email to communicate with parents prior to the start of each camp. Parents will also receive a provincial risk assessment questionnaire.

Camp locations include the arena or Hespeler Park, and every child has to be screened before they can enter the building or come on-site. At drop-off, the child’s temperature will also be taken using no-contact scanning thermometers. No children with symptoms will be allowed to attend.

“It’s hard,” says Malleck. “Our ages for camps are [mostly] 6 to 12, so it’s a bit easier to kind of make them understand. At the same time, they’re kids.”

For the Kinder camps, intended for kids between the ages of three and six, ensuring social distancing is even more challenging.

But Malleck says there are a lot of games that can be played with social distancing. Every child will be able to have their own table and supplies, and sharing will be discouraged. It feels counterintuitive, since sharing is usually an important social skill to promote.

“We have a ton of hand sanitizer everywhere and hand-washing signs,” she adds. “Our staff has been given different cleaning procedures as well, so there’s a lot more disinfecting, cleaning, separated art supplies… more bowls and little things to put paint in.”

With all the new concerns, it would be easy to feel anxious about running the day camps, but Malleck says the counsellors are up for the challenge. They are planning more outdoor activities than ever before and are able to see the benefit in learning to plan events in a new way.

“It’s actually a good experience for our day camp counsellors, because you’re planning a day camp a different way this summer,” says Malleck. “Our staff are great. They are outgoing and positive even while having to be social distanced, and they model that to the kids.”

The themes this summer were chosen with the ability to adapt to social distancing in mind. While contact may be diminished, Malleck wants to reassure parents that there will be no compromise when it comes to fun.

“The themes are all so fun and well received so far,” she says. “We have been getting emails with parents saying their kids can’t wait to come to the next one. I personally am looking forward to the water theme. And the slime one is always a hit. Would you believe there are eight different ways to make slime?”

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