With opening still a possibility, summer camp organizers remain hopeful

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ It looks like summer camp may still be on the table in Rhode Island.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Thursday that the state hopes to have summer camps open by June 29, but that’s dependent on how well the state is handling the virus.

It’s exciting news for Laura Stiles, president of the Rhode Island Association of Camps and program director at Camp Westwood.

“A lot of us know that camp is going to be looking different this year and we’re okay with that,” she said. “We just hope that we can be a good resource for parents and get the kids back outside and enjoy nature again.”

Stiles says the R.I. Association of Camps serves more than 12,000 kids statewide. She said she’s waiting for more guidelines from the state on how exactly camps will be allowed to operate. Raimondo expects those guidelines to be released sometime next week, but some of those restrictions will include social distancing, regular cleanings and smaller group sizes.

“We’ve known for a while that, if we’re having camp, it’s probably going to be smaller groups and camp is going to look different,” Stiles said. “For the last couple of months, we’ve been in constant conversations about how it might work, and what that means for the campers and staff.”

Joe Pratt, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Newport, says small groups could actually offer the chance for kids to build stronger friendships. He said he’s excited for the possibility of summer learning at Camp Grosvenor in Saunderstown.

“Eight weeks a year, right? That’s the typical summer camp experience – 320 hours over the course of the summer,” Pratt said. “How do you pass that up? You can really make an impact. You can really make a difference in that child’s life.”

While camp is a possibility, Raimondo said she will be canceling organized youth sports this summer as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though she acknowledged that the state is looking at ways to introduce some sports camps this summer.

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