“A different kind of fun” at day camp this summer

By Gordon Lambie

Last week marked the beginning of a very different kind of summer for day camps across the province. While everyone is working on adjusting to new standards and practices put in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, representatives of two local camps told The Record that the changes have not gotten in the way of giving those kids who got a spot an enjoyable way to spend their days.
“The kids can still have fun, it’s just a different kind of fun,” said Chris Fowlis, building manager for the sports complex at Bishop’s University, where the Lennoxville day camp has been based for the last several years. Fowlis pointed out that, like with pretty much everything else in society at the moment day camp staff have had some big adjustments to make in the weeks leading up to the start of the summer. “This is something completely new, but it’s new for everyone,” he said.
So far, Fowlis said that the biggest difference he’s seen with regard to past summers was in the counselor training, which took place much more online than in person.
“It almost feels like it was against the rules of camp counselors,” he laughed in reflecting that even at the training level the normal standard for camp is lots of face-to-face, hands-on activities.
When it came to thinking of new ways to play, Fowlis said that much more than in years past the team reached out to local teachers for information on life in the classroom in May and June and recommendations on ways to engage children while also keeping them safe.
Brian Wharry, Director of Quebec Lodge, shared that although this year has brought with it a range of new challenges for staff, he doesn’t feel it has had a negative impact on the experience of campers.
“It’s been great,” he said, explaining that the camp’s 20 campers spent almost all of the first week outside.
“We do as much outdoors as we can,” Wharry continued, explaining that the camper capacity was reduced by one third to account for indoor space if the weather really becomes a problem.
“Social distancing is the hardest part,” the director said, observing that with distance rules different at different ages, and some children being siblings, there are a lot of different possible distances to moderate.
“You always have to think of the rainy days,” Fowlis said as he pointed out that although the Lennoxville camp has been able to benefit from being one of the city’s smallest camps in fairly large facilities, the camp is still limited by ensuring that it has appropriately distanced indoor space available if everyone needs to come in out of a storm.

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