NEW YORK - Camp Settoga is an oasis in Rockland County run by the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. It’s a 22-acre site where kids can swim, play sports, and hang out together in an environment outside the city.
Whether or not the campgrounds will be full of happy campers or will be desolate, is still up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The JCC’s Director of Camps Genna Singer says "right now camp is on this summer," but they are waiting for guidance from the state on best and safest ways to have children and staff there amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
"There's something just so unique and so different about what camp can provide, and so the hope is even if it is shorter and it has to be looked at a little bit differently and we have to adjust our activities, that the opportunity is just so remarkable for our kids," Singer said.
The American Camp Association for New York and New Jersey says it is waiting for guidance from the governor and state Health Department on whether sleepaway and day camps can open this summer.
“We are literally waiting to see if they are going to license camps, and what types of guidelines will camps have to follow in order to be able to keep kids safe," said American Camp Association for New York and New Jersey Executive Director Susie Lupert.
Lupert says sleepaway camp could be a safe place for kids to gather this summer.
"If the guidelines show that is true, if we are seeing the infection rates go down and if Governor Cuomo believes and feels that children can gather safely in that way," she added.
The community organization Commonpoint Queens typically has thousands of children in its day and sleepaway camp programs.
CEO Danielle Ellman says its emergency child care program during the pause of non-essential business activities in the state has been a practice run of sorts for the challenges camps would face this summer.
"We've been strategizing different ways in which this type of social distancing can be applicable to a summer camp environment thinking about busing and all the different ways in which a day camp moves children and how we can do that as safely as possible," Ellman said.
Ellman says her organization remains hopeful, explaining that as the city and state begin easing restrictions on businesses, camps at some point should be allowed to reopen, too.