A day camp claims it had zero reported cases of coronavirus and kept its 300 campers and 150 staff members safe and healthy this summer amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Rolling River day camp located on Long Island, New York, credited strict safety guidelines for their success against the virus and said this could be a good indication as schools start to reopen in the upcoming weeks.
As the camp wrapped up its six-week summer session with the good news, parents breathed a sigh of relief. “We were a wreck worrying about if we should send him to camp this summer. The risk of exposure not just to him but to my husband and me,” Doreen Matheny, a parent of one of the campers, shared with Fox News.
“My husband has several underlying health issues that make him high risk,” the concerned mother said.
She explained how her 7-year-old son, Jackson, was getting depressed being quarantined for months as an only child, especially after she and her husband had to return to work. They needed to make that leap of faith that Jackson would be OK going to a summer camp.
“We were proud of the camp doing such a great job. But it definitely gave me a pit in my stomach every day,” Matheny told Fox News.
Marissa Goodman Allaben, the director of the camp, told Fox News that they had to operate at 50 percent capacity to allow for social distancing. They downsized from 600 to 300 campers and 150 staff members who all had to abide by the newly established rules to prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Allaben discussed with Fox News the mitigations in place to prevent an outbreak. Some included “smaller group sizes (10-15 campers) that interacted with the same assigned cohorts for the entirety of the summer, additional handwashing and sanitizing stations, masks for campers when indoors with members of other groups, masks for staff members and no bus transportation.” Allaben said they also staggered arrival and dismissal times and performed temperature checks for all campers and staff. There were no buffet lunches and only individually wrapped lunch items were allowed.
The director also said how they had pre-camp health screening forms and mandatory COVID-19 testing for all campers and staff prior to the first day.
One camp counselor told Fox News the youngsters didn’t have a problem with following the new rules.
“The campers were having fun at camp so they weren't focusing on the mask, they were focusing on their camp activity,” Judi Lisi, a counselor at Rolling River, told Fox News in a statement. “Additionally, it wasn't difficult to keep the groups separate because the daily schedule allowed for socially distant activities and there was time in between each activity for cleaning."
The counselor said to Fox News, “Overall, I feel like the kids really needed camp and it was good to get back to a normal daily routine. It was nice to be in a positive environment where the focus wasn't solely on COVID-19."
Parents and the director said the promising results of hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing gave them some hope that the upcoming school year will be safe enough for the students.
“Based on the outcome of the camp season, we feel confident that with the proper guidance in place, school openings can be very successful,” Allaben told Fox News. “We recommend that schools work closely with camp directors in their region to review best practices and implement successful prevention and screening strategies.”