For many children, June marks not only the completion of the school year, but the start of summer – and summer camp!
For decades, Saanich Parks and Recreation has been at the heart of summers filled with activity, friendship and learning. Many of those same experiences return next week to parks and community recreation centres near you, they’ll just look a little different than in summers past.
While Saanich continues to offer much of the diverse summer programming as in years past, programs that are more difficult to adapt for current health protocols have been put on hold, explains Adam Richards, Recreation and Community Programmer at Saanich.
“That being said, we’re still excited to offer a significant variety of camps, from our Saanich Neighbourhood Parks Program in seven Saanich parks to specialty camps,” Richards says.
“Our theme this year follows Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice to Be Calm, Be Kind and Be Safe, with our own addition: Have Fun. We’re even putting it on our T-shirts!”
Lots to explore and experience – safely
Many of the programs previously hosted inside the recreation centres are now planned for outdoors, where it’s easier to ensure physical distancing and reduce the amount of touchable surfaces. Speciality camps on offer range from engineering and archery to arts, basketball and more.
- Group sizes and the camper-to-leader ratio have also been reduced, Richards says.
- Leaders will keep individual camps separate, rather than coming together for activities. For the same reason, before- and after-camp care is also suspended this year, but general, full-day camps will begin at 8:30 a.m. to provide parents a little more flexibility.
- More of the camps for older youth are also on hiatus this year, as they largely relied on out-trips, and half-day camps for younger children are also fewer. “Our priority was on being able to offer families care throughout the day, so those who need to can get back to work,” Richards explains.
- Campers will follow hand-washing and hygiene measures through the day and have more individualized supplies, to help prevent spreading of germs. They’ll also be monitored for cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms and are asked to stay home if they’re ill. Multiple sign-in and sign-out stations will help prevent large groups congregating, and parents will be notified of the procedures ahead of time.
- Keeping that emphasis on having fun – safely – staff have had training in the new COVID protocols and have been busy behind the scenes planning lots of exciting new activities and games to keep kids active and entertained, Richards says.