Though activities will look different this year due to restrictions caused by COVID-19, YMCA Camp Robbins will still open on July 6.
The decision came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that summer day camps would be able to operate beginning June 29. However, sleepaway camps will not open this summer, as social distancing procedures would be harder to enforce. Camp Director Josh Horner was overjoyed when he learned that Camp Robbins could open.
“[I was] absolutely thrilled,” he said. “We had been running an emergency childcare program at Berea Elementary School since April, so we had a lot of protocols and procedures already in place from that.”
Camp will run for four sessions this year. Session one will take place from July 6-17, followed by session two which will run from July 20-July 31. Session three will take place from Aug. 3-14 with session four taking place from Aug. 17-28.
There will be fewer campers each session in 2020 than in previous years. Capacity is limited to 100 children per session, down significantly from most years where the capacity is 250 campers. A 10:1 camper to counselor ratio will be in effect the entire summer. These campers will stay with their counselors exclusively throughout the day.
Campers and staff members will be screened three times a day by the camp nurse: at drop-off, middle of the day and before pickup. Children and counselors will not need to wear face masks as long as they maintain a distance of at least six feet.
Disinfecting of surfaces and handwashing will be more strictly enforced this year at Camp Robbins.
Since the camp will be opening this summer, its three scholarship recipients will be able to attend for one session. Elijah Kilgore, a rising sixth grader at Valley Central Middle School (VCMS) and Adrienne Kilgore, a rising eighth grade student at VCMS earned the scholarship as well as Hunter Pearson-Leary, a rising third grader at Berea. These scholarships were given to children of families in need. The Valley Central School District helped identify the three recipients, specifically student assistance counselor Katie Gusmano.
These scholarships were made possible by the Kiwanis Club of Maybrook. Back in January, the club held a spaghetti dinner which raised more than $2,000. The group originally planned to sponsor scholarships for two children, but were able to sponsor a third due to the success of their fundraiser. Over 70 people attended the spaghetti dinner including Maybrook Mayor Dennis Leahy, President and CEO of Walden Savings Bank Derrik R. Wynkoop and members from several other Kiwanis clubs such as Middletown, Minisink Valley and Newburgh.
“It was very successful and we owe a lot of thanks to other Kiwanis clubs who were very supportive,” said Tina Johnson, treasurer/village clerk in Maybrook and a member of the village’s Kiwanis club.
Unlike Camp Robbins, many local municipalities chose to err on the side of caution. Gardiner, Walden, Shawangunk and Crawford’s summer camps were canceled this year.
“We love our Gardiner families and wish we could provide summer recreation this year...,” the Town of Gardiner announced on its website. “While we recognize the hardship this cancellation places on families, our perspective is that summer camps with children and counselors cannot properly maintain the social distancing necessary to keep everyone safe, as Ulster County continues to grapple with this virus.”
Meanwhile the Village of Montgomery Summer Camp will have similar restrictions placed on it this summer. The camp will be held July 6 to Aug. 7.
The camp will have only 60 campers per week this year, instead of its usual average of 200 children per week. Groups of campers will be kept separate from one another. Staff members and children will be given temperature checks each morning. If there is inclement weather during the day, the camp will ask parents to pick up their children. Parents will be notified by 8 a.m. that camp is canceled if inclement weather is known ahead of time. Camp Director Tom Taylor believes that camp opening this year will benefit everyone.
“We think we can handle it,” he said. “These kids need to get out. Some of these parents that are going back to work need a place for their kids to go… We’ll make it work.”