Fort Worth

Fort Worth Working on Modifications to Summer Camps, Recreation Programs Amid Pandemic

Camp Fort Worth, which was set to begin June 8 and end August 7, would normally host at least 1,800 kids at city facilities

NBC 5 News

Fort Worth city officials are looking at modifications to summer programming supported by the city due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Camp Fort Worth will not be carried out in its traditional nine-week operation this year due to uncertainty with COVID-19 and its impacts such as budget constraints, city officials announced this week.

Kelli Pickard with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said they’re now looking at alternatives such as smaller-scaled mini camps with fewer children at a time.

“Instead of offering the full nine weeks, we want to offer the flexibility for families to do a week at a time,” she told NBC 5 on Wednesday. “We’d also reduce the program rate for that camp given the changes in the type of program, but we also understand economically that people are struggling right now. We want to make sure we gave them a good opportunity.”

The camp program, which was set to begin June 8 and end August 7, would normally host at least 1,800 kids at city facilities. Pickard, who has been with the city for nearly 22 years, said planning for this summer has been uncharted territory.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. There’s so many factors at play from public safety factors to budgetary factors,” Pickard said. “We normally onboard about 160 temporary employees in the summer, and we’re not able to hire those. We hire additional staff for the aquatics program to serve as lifeguards, and we can’t hire or do certification training for lifeguards right now.”

Registration for this year’s summer camp program opened in February. Families who have already signed up will be contacted as planning moving forward, Pickard said.

“It’s hard to have so many unknowns,” she said. “We want to want to be able to tell people exact dates as much as they want to hear exact dates. We are all in that “wait and see” response. We don’t want to start these programs too soon. We want to be responsive to the public health information we’re getting and do it as soon as we can and as safe as we can as well.”

This week, city officials also announced anticipated changes to other summer programs as well. This includes the opening of swimming pools at Forest Park and Marine Park, which is typically in late May.

“A late opening of these pools may be feasible, subject to appropriate public health guidelines. The spray ground at Sycamore Community Center will open when it is safe to do so,” a city release states.

Spring and summer seasons for adult sports leagues have also been suspended. As of this writing, the Fort Worth Cup soccer tournament and Fort Worth Classic softball tournament will remain on the August schedule, pending future decisions on emergency restrictions.

As for youth sports, the summer volleyball league is suspended. However, some clinics and sports camps may be offered, depending on when emergency restrictions are lifted.

For more information on summer programming in Fort Worth and impacts related to COVID-19, click here.

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