Camp Buddy goes virtual, YMCA develops safety plan for summer camps

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – The YMCA and AMA released new guidelines on Monday outlining the best policies that camps can use to keep children safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many families are still deciding whether or not their kids should attend summer camp, but one popular program in our region has already made that decision for them.

Camp Buddy will not have camp in-person this summer. The President of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society told WSAV News 3 that he cannot imagine putting his campers at risk.

“Camp Buddy is such a hands-on camp. We do physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. The fact that kids with Down Syndrome have comorbidities, they have a higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes, that when they get sick they can go downhill pretty quickly,” said John Bogardus.

Bogardus said that COVID-19 is extremely dangerous for people with Down Syndrome. Camp directors are planning to hold a virtual camp so that buddies can still socialize with each other and families can learn some activities to do with their kids at home.

The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is also making changes to its summer camps. The District Vice President said, “it is not going to be a regular summer.”

Mark Simons told News 3 that campers and staff members will be screened daily. They will have a questionnaire to answer and they will have their temperatures checked. Parents will also be given tablets to sign their children in and out of the YMCA.

Simons said that children will be assigned a homeroom to play most of their activities in and to hold all of their toys throughout the summer. The District VP said that the YMCA plans to have smaller groups per counselor than the CDC recommends, which is 1 to 20. He also said the YMCA will do its best to keep campers with the same two counselors all summer. There will not be any contact sports, transportation from the center, or field trips.

Simons said as a grandfather, he understands how important it is for children to have the opportunity to attend summer camp.

“It’s really hard to try to keep kids six feet apart, but we’ll do our best. We are going to have multiple times a day that they’ll be washing their hands with soap and water and frequently cleaning the areas that they’re visiting. This goes not just for this summer but for any summer. Parents want a safe summer and they want a fun summer.”

Camp starts June 1st. Register here.

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