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Summer camps begin to open up with smaller numbers than usual

BY ORA NELSON

Summer programs are trying to open in the summer while following the social distancing guidelines in place.

Summer camps have been hit in varying degrees by COVID-19. Many have altered programs or cut activities to ensure the safety of their campers.

“We are doing our best given the situation,” Angela Blackburn, director of Andalusia Full Gospel Tabernacle’s Camp Te Amo. “We didn’t want to overdo it so we’re not taking in as many children [into Camp Te Amo].”

Camp Te Amo has limited group sizes to keep their children in a more controlled and safe environment over the summer.

“It’s affected us gravely,’ said Steve Lewandowski, director of Blue Lake Summer Camp. “We made the decision to cancel all of our summer camps on May 15.”

Blue Lake will instead be offering “family camping” for groups of immediate families.

“This would be an opportunity for families to get out of the house,” said Lewandowski. “We’d require face masks [to be worn] inside and will take everyone’s temperature three times a day during meal times. We have a hotel here and the separated restrooms will allow them to be used cleanly and safely.”

Southside Baptist Church opened their summer camp on May 18.

“Besides some extra cleaning and staying out of common areas, it’s been pretty normal for us,” said Carie Bush, director of Southside Baptist Church’s Camp Sonshine.

Others have decided not to risk it and have canceled programs completely.

“We’re not going to have a summer program at this point,” said Ramsden. “But we have chosen to do the Summer Feeding Program as a takeout [service] for June.”

These decisions were not done lightly.

“That [deciding to suspend the summer camps] was a really difficult thing to do and the family camp is a great idea to keep Blue Lake in mind,” said Lewandowski. “But our income is user-based.”

“I just couldn’t, as a parent, promise other parents that I’d be able to for sure keep their children safe if it [COVID-19] came down here,’ said Lewandowski. “If I made a decision that hurt us [at Blue Lake] or gave us a bad rap and hurt us in the future. This is looking at the long-run for us.”

“We appreciate our parents that bring their children back and it breaks my heart having children that want to come but we can’t let them,” said Blackburn.

“We’re working to keep Blue Lake in people’s minds during this tough time,’ said Lewandowski