While awaiting more guidance from the state, RI summer camps prepare to reopen


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Gov. Gina Raimondo recently announced that she hopes to summer camps will be able to open by the end of June, leaving organizers across the Ocean State thrilled for the fun, albeit extremely different, experience.

Steve O’Donnell, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence, said the possible reopening of camp is not only good for the kids who participate, but for the parents and staff that have been laid off due to the pandemic as well.

He said although Raimondo only recently announced that she hopes summer camps will open by June 29, they’ve been planning and preparing for that best-case scenario for weeks.

“It’s great, its great news, especially this time of the year with the weather and getting kids outside,” O’Donnell said. “The physical camp of kids being outside is exactly what the doctor ordered.”

“It’s also great news to be able to bring staff back, telling some of our staff they will be back employed,” he added.

O’Donnell isn’t the only one excited for the possibility of in-person summer camp. The Rhode Island Association of Camps is also looking forward to receiving guidance on how the state’s summer camps will operate.

Other camps, like the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, have decided not to host an in-person summer camp this year. The Girl Scouts have not yet released what their official plans for the summer are.

O’Donnell said when it comes to the YMCA, he is waiting for more guidelines from the state, which are set to be released next week.

There are, however, a couple of things he says he knows for sure will happen.

“Right now we know there is a 10-to-1 ratio. The words they are using are ‘stability groups,’ those 10 children would stay in that same stability group every day,” O’Donnell explained. “They would also be with the same camp counselor every day and they wouldn’t co-mingle. They would always be 8-to-10 feet away from other groups.”

He also said there will be plenty of cleaning, protective measures and contacting tracing.

“Certainty right now we are preparing for masks – also washing hands frequently is going to be the norm, hand sanitizer, repetitious cleaning, we also have a company we hired to come clean the grounds,” O’Donnell said.

“With contact tracing, if someone is sick at camp, it’s easy for us to go to the Department of Health and say, ‘These are the people that may have exposure.’ It’s not as hard as you may think, it may be difficult because kids are kids, but I think they have been so well trained in all of this, the last couple of months,” he added.

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