Summer youth camps in Texas will soon be up and running, and organizers are hard at work preparing to welcome kids back.
Under the second phase of reopening announced by Gov. Greg Abbott, day and overnight youth camps can operate starting May 31. Standard health protocols have been issued by the state as part of the reopening process.
Daphne Barlow Stigliano, CEO and president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, told NBC 5 they have been planning how to safely reopen their doors ever since closing in March.
“We never stopped envisioning the day that we would reopen. We are very excited to welcome kids back,” Barlow Stigliano said. “This is what we’re used to. This is what we love.”
In Tarrant County, two of the Boys & Girls Club facilities will open on June 8 and three more will open on June 15. They will be opening camps for one-week sessions through July 31, Barlow Stigliano said.
Among other safety protocols, all staff members will wear masks. Temperature checks, and health screenings with short questions, will be conducted for both the kids and staff.
“We’ll be having much smaller groups. So, we’ll be having one adult to 10 kids and we’ll be keeping those groups together during the duration of their programming time,” Barlow Stigliano said. “We’ll also be looking for activities that will keep everybody active, but kind of apart at the same time, so it’s important we observe social distancing as much as possible. That can be a little bit of a challenge with active young people, but our staff has been working really hard to come up with fun, engaging activities to keep kids off the couch and at the club.”
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Barlow Stigliano said because limited spots are available, families that are interested in participating should apply online as soon as they can. They have consulted with other organizations and nonprofits in the area to collaborate on how to safely reopen.
Tony Shuman, CEO and president of the YMCA Metropolitan Fort Worth, said they are inviting all members back to their facilities on Monday. Two of their locations will open youth day camps on June 1, while remaining facilities are waiting until June 8.
They will not offer overnight camp options this year, Shuman said.
“The YMCA is such a trusted organization in the community. We wanted to make sure that before we opened up our doors, we can do it really safely for our members, for our staff, and for our kids,” Shuman said. “We recognize that parents need to get back to work. Parents have trusted the YMCA for years and years when it comes to providing activities for their kids.”
Like their gym rooms, Shuman said sanitizing efforts and social distancing measures will be taken up a notch. This includes the use of disinfectants and smaller group programs, Shuman said.
“They’re [kids] going to be eating lunch at their own tables and not in a big dining hall, but they’ll still get to do those fun things that are outside, you know? They’ll still get to run and jump and play,” he said. “We’re asking all of our campers to bring their own crayons, their own scissors, so they can pack in and pack that out.”
As far as their gyms, Shuman added locker rooms and showers would not be open . Equipment will also be spaced apart.
“We’re asking that all of our members wipe the equipment before they use it and after they use it, and then we’ll have staff on an hourly basis to make sure everything gets wiped down,” he said.
As of right now, Shuman said the YMCA locations with indoor pools will not be offering recreational swimming. Lap swimming will be allowed, with two people in each lane. They anticipate their swimming lesson program to begin later this summer, possibly in July.
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