Summer camp is a place where lasting memories are made. The heat of the sun, the smell of bug spray and sunscreen, and the sound of laughter and the sound of new fun nicknames for one another. Summer camp to me has always been a safe and encouraging environment where youth can try new activities that they may not have the opportunity to otherwise experience. This summer, the staff of Parks and Recreation rose to the challenge of offering our youth a summer camp experience amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The talented and innovative team of staff implemented a six week modified summer camp for campers. Some of the modifications during the two week session included the camper group would spend one week housed out of one of the local schools and the opposite week of the session based out of Sunrise Park. This allowed each camper to experience Sunrise Park while participating in the program and allowed us to serve more campers under our camp size modifications.
While at Sunrise Park some of the activities the campers enjoyed included playing Newcomb on the volleyball court, swimming and fishing in White’s Pond and sliding down the water slide with the Suffield Fire Department. When camp was in session at the schools, the campers enjoyed making slime, engaging in minute-to-win-it challenges, making their own ice cream and competing in the egg drop competition! Campers also engaged in a variety of arts and crafts projects and socially distanced games.
One mother described the camp in an email to Park and Recreation: “My husband and I both work full time outside the home, and this camp has been a blessing during such a tumultuous time in our world . . . both kids are having the times of their lives . . . Both kids talked about the egg drop all weekend!” When asked what camp experience was the most valuable for the child, parents responded with “Being able to do activities outside the house in a safe environment during Covid . . . Time with friends to try new things . . . Interaction with other children.”
Ashley Reid, Camp Director, determined that the success of camp was due to “the staff being flexible and adaptable and working as a team. The staff brought energy, even when some days are difficult to bring that energy. The staff showed the campers a fun summer filled with fun activities!” When chatting with a camper his insight on camp was “playing outside and getting to do fun games with other kids. Jedi was my favorite game and noodle tag was pretty fun, too.”
As summer is quickly coming to a close, I want to thank all of my staff for their hard work and dedication on crafting a fun summer camp while keeping the campers safe. I want to thank the parents for trusting us with your campers during these uncertain times. I also want to especially thank the campers for providing the staff a summer to remember!