Few kids camps open for summer

GHENT—While New York is on Pause so are many of the things that make summertime memorable, especially for kids.

Like ball games, swimming at the local pool or lake, playing tag with a group of friends and summer camp.

Currently, no municipally-run summer recreation program in the county will open this summer, Columbia County Director for Public Health Ed Coons told The Columbia Paper this week.

The one exception might be the City of Hudson’s summer youth program run by City Youth Director Nick Zachos, but he is still working on program details and has not yet submitted his permit application, according to Mr. Coons.

Many towns have a summer program, there are about 16 total around the county, and they all must secure a permit to operate from the county Department of Health.

The health department makes sure sanitary codes are met and that staff connected with each summer program have background checks, and a variety of certifications—like for CPR, lifeguarding, boating, depending on what the program offers, Mr. Coons said.

Three private camps will operate day camps only this summer. They are Camp Eagle Hill in Elizaville, which is usually a sleep-away camp; Flying Deer Nature Center in East Chatham and Woodland Ways in Harlemville.

A June 29 post on the Hudson Youth Center’s Facebook page, says that the Hudson Youth Department has decided to go forward with summer programming as the state moves forward with reopening. “We recognize the great need for youth to socialize in-person, express themselves, gain life skills outside of school, and build community. With the uncertainty of the status of programming in the fall, we decided that this summer allowed a safe opportunity to offer the youth” extracurricular programming they have not had in many months. “We have been working around the clock to plan and organize safe summer programs,” the post says.

In keeping with safety and state, county and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations, protocols and recommendations, the Hudson program will not be a traditional summer camp at Oakdale Lake.

To physically distance and keep activities near where most youth live, the program will be operated out of a number of off-site locations, such as a 20’ x 40’ tent with picnic tables at the Waterfront Park, the pavilion at Charles Williams Park on Mill Street, known locally as Cherry Hill, a tent near Bliss Towers on State Street where Youth Ambassadors will be based and at Oakdale Park.

Participants must pre-register online and no drop-in participation is allowed to maintain stable groups. Class sizes will be limited to 10 youth maximum. Off-site programs will be offered to ages 8+.

Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, ADA restrooms, water and snacks will be provided for each program. Instructors will be accompanied by two Youth Department staff members to assist and support.

Though there are many limitations, we aim to provide safe and high-quality activities. We deeply miss serving our youth and look forward to being able to provide them with programs in hopes of creating fun summer memories they will never forget,” the post says.

At Ancram’s June 18 meeting, the Town Board voted not to open the town’s summer kids camp, which usually serves about 60 kids every summer and is free to Ancram residents.

Likewise the town’s pool will not open, although annual routine maintenance will be performed.

‘Though there are many limitations, we aim to provide safe and high-quality activities.’

Hudson City Youth Center

Facebook page

A resolution adopted by the board says the state established guidelines for operating kids day camps and pools to protect children, counselors and lifeguards from exposure to Covid-19, require, among other things, that 6-foot social distances be maintained, or that masks be worn, and that rest rooms be sanitized after each use. The camp director and head lifeguard have determined it is not possible to adhere to the state guidelines and have recommended that the camp and pool do not operate in 2020. The Columbia County Health Department and Board of Supervisor’s chairman have strongly recommended against opening kids’ camps and pools this summer.

Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin said that since children have been out of school for the past three months, “parents may have already figured out what to do about childcare.”

Youngsters who would have received a free bag lunch during summer kids camp are now being provided with food by one of the three school districts that serve the town, according to Jack Lindsey with the Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization. Other school districts throughout the county are providing meals to their students as well. Any Ancram family who finds themselves in need of food should call him at 518-329-7306.

At a special meeting June 23, the Copake Town Board decided to open both the tennis court and the skateboard area at the Town Memorial Park. Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said the rationale is that in both activities players bring their own equipment and they are not contact sports.

Earlier, at its regular meeting June 11, the Town Board voted to cancel the Summer Day Camp and the Summer Music Program and keep the park closed.

Ms. Mettler said she expects the park will open to more activities including the playground beginning July 6. She said the park was never closed to walking or kite-flying or any individual activity.

Copake Park Summer Recreation Program Director Bryan VanTassel told The Columbia Paper this week that once the decision was final not have the summer program, he saw posts of Facebook from some parents offering to take care of another parent’s child for the summer.

Mr. VanTassel, who has run the Copake summer program with his wife for the past four years, said they are both teachers at Taconic Hills. He said his wife will be teaching summer school this year instead of assisting at the summer program and he will be taking the summer off, theoretically. The couple has two children, ages 1 and 3.

State Park beaches have been open to swimming since Memorial Day Weekend, at 50% capacity. Visitors must practice social distancing at state beaches. Pools will remain closed.

State Park campsites, cabins and cottages are currently open at limited capacity and taking reservations, which are expected to fill quickly. Reservations can be made in advance by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Online reservations are encouraged. No walk-up camping stays will be accepted.

State Park beaches, day-use areas and historic sites may charge an entrance fee of between $6 and $10.

To contact Diane Valden email columbiapaper.com

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