The sights of summer camp will look different in Illinois in the coming weeks as the state continues taking steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Still, even with traditional activities like swimming and group sporting events on hold, demand for camps is high as parents going back to the office under phase three of Illinois' reopening process search for activities to keep their children occupied.
Staff members at B.R. Ryall YMCA of Northwestern DuPage County, which plans to open its Glen Ellyn camp in mid-June, recently surveyed 200 families and close to 150 want their kids to go to camp.
“Parents can definitely expect a different experience for their child, still with lots of fun, but knowing that groups will be smaller,” said B.R. Ryall YMCA CEO Rob Wilkinson.
Wilkinson said campers will be encouraged to wear masks and there will be temperature checks and health screenings before each day.
“The safety of kids is the Y’s No. 1 priority. Not only the kids, but also our staff,” Wilkinson said.
Phase 3 of Illinois’ reopening process allows camps to operate with a maximum occupancy of 50%, 10 campers per group, social distancing and enough available indoor space where groups can be separated.
The Pleasant Dale Park District in Burr Ridge said it will start its camp on July 6, but only for campers in third through eighth grades.
Recreation supervisor Laurie Murray said campers will be mainly outdoors and can go inside in case of inclement weather.
“I’ve organized and worked with other people on different physical distancing games. Again, keeping that small group of 10 where each group would have their own equipment. Lots of hand sanitizer, hand washing stations, appropriate breaks and re-cleaning of those areas,” said Murray.
Murray said the park district is accepting residents and non-residents for summer camp.
The Fox Valley Park District, based in Aurora, said it's in somewhat of a holding pattern regarding its summer camp.
A spokesperson said it tentatively plans to resume camp on July 6 and the plans would be to incorporate smaller group sizes, increased sanitation practices, face coverings when necessary and social distancing restrictions in accordance with health department and CDC guidelines.