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San Diego summer day camps move forward, some cancel, some go virtual

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 22:30:53-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - San Diego County has given the green light on day camps reopening for the summer and some are moving forward, some are going virtual, and others have made the decision to cancel summer camp plans altogether.

A major camp, the YMCA, has been making plans to reopen during the summer for the past few months, and a spokesperson said when they opened online enrollment, some camps filled up within half an hour. There are still camps available at all ten locations, though.

“It’s showing us that there’s definitely a need and people are really excited for camp, which is great,” said Nat Corrall, YMCA Association Director of Child and Youth Development.

She said they’ll be implementing the County’s rules, including practicing social distancing, taking temperatures upon arrival and keeping kids interacting only with their small group rather than a larger group. She said they already have more than 100 social distancing activities planned.

“At the end of the day, it is still camp, it just looks a little different,” said Corrall.

On the opposite spectrum, Outpost Summer Camps has canceled camp altogether. This camp, on average, sees 1,200 kids, with up to 1,500 in a good year. This year, they opened up registration January 1 and by the time they made the decision to cancel camp in April, already had around 600 kids enrolled.

Outpost Summer Camps Executive Director and Owner Dr. Kelly Jones said they gave full refunds and are feeling the financial hit. She said they decided to cancel camp in early April rather than wait and take a risk because of the level of uncertainty. She also said their camp has a foundation of interactive games so a summer of social distancing wouldn’t be the same.

“This was going to be such a new level of things that were unknown, uncontrollable and then really potentially unsafe,” said Jones. “It would just sound so sad to say ‘be apart, don’t touch each other, don’t be so close.’ That’s sad for kids. Usually we see kids together and we smile and we go aw and they’re holding hands and they’re arm in arm.”

She said she and her husband typically donate $10,000 to $15,000 to a scholarship program to send kids to their camp but are unsure if they’ll be able to do that because of the financial hit this year. In response, camp families have donated $8,377 to the fund to help send kids in 2021.

Jones also said they typically increase fees year to year to make up for inflation, but they're not sure what they'll do in 2021. She did say they'll be redoing their terms and conditions for the refund policy.

A third San Diego summer camp is taking a different step: moving online. Tech Adventure Camp has hosted camps featuring tech adventures, robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and more in San Diego for about six years. Executive Director Dr. Korey Sewell said they knew the summer wouldn’t be normal in April and realized they would have to adapt. He said hands-on learning is important for tech education, so they’ve created a new type of program.

“What if we had some experiences where we allow you to do the things at home and keep going at home?” he said.

They created a virtual camp. Kids have at-home robotics kits to build. A portion of camp will be in a group video class, some will be one-on-one time with an instructor and the rest will be tutorial videos. He said this year, they’re also feeling the financial hit, but they hope to grow this virtual setting into a hybrid class that can be used in future summers. He hopes the profits will return in a few years once the hybrid format is ironed out.

County restrictions for summer day camps can be found here.