Summer camps, programs to reopen


Beacon Falls, Prospect cancel town-run activities

By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Some summer camps and programs are preparing to open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while others won’t be running at all this year.

The first day of summer is Saturday, and summer camps and programs are allowed to begin on Monday by state order. Those that open will have to follow revised guidelines issued by the state Office of Early Childhood. The guidelines limit the number of children for a summer program to 50 and 10 per a group. The guidelines also cover precautions that have to be taken, including screening staff and children for illness, employees must wear masks, social distancing, and regular hand washing.

Overnight summers camps are still prohibited.

The Naugatuck YMCA plans to start its summer program Monday. The program, which runs until Aug. 28, is for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. There were 32 children enrolled as of last week, Naugatuck YMCA Director of Operations Sherri Beck said.

“The YMCA is moving forward to provide the best summer ever. What that looks will be different from previous years,” Beck said.

Beck said groups of 10 campers will stay with each other during the whole program. Staff members and siblings will be placed in the same group to limit exposure, and staff will be required to wear masks at all times, she said.

Children will also get their own box of supplies for arts and crafts, Beck said.

The YMCA had a head start on how to operate during the pandemic. The Y reopened its childcare program on May 18.

“Children are accepting the changes and are not complaining. I think it’s the positive energy from the workers,” Beck said. “The children are feeding off that positive energy and going with the flow.”

Kelly’s Kids Inc., a nonprofit, farm-based camp for children in Prospect, stayed open during the pandemic. Founder and owner Kelly Cronin said the outdoor farm camp had four children whose parents were essential workers.

Cronin said the nonprofit’s summer camp for ages 3 to 18 will be limited to 30 kids, with 10 campers per group at different times. She anticipates the camp will be at capacity because some other camps aren’t opening.

“We’re trying to be as helpful as possible to help-givers and parents,” Cronin said. “We want to give them a really good summer experience.”

The campers will be outside a majority of the time, Cronin said.

“We’re here to bring them (campers) some happy times,” Cronin said. “Parents and children are both stressing.”

Beacon Falls and Prospect have canceled town-run summer camps and programs.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said the town canceled summer programs on the advice of Chesprocott Health District.

“Until what we get a firm handle, everything is closed until further notice,” Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

In Naugatuck, the Parks and Recreation Department is moving forward with two summer camp sessions.

Recreation Director Kim Eyre said the first session will run from July 6 to July 24 and the second will be from July 27 to Aug. 14. The camps are open to children in first through sixth grade, she said.

The camps will run at schools, fields and the Naugatuck Recreation Center. The summer camp will consist of three programs with a total of 90 children, Eyre said. Each camp location will have 30 children divided into groups of 10, she said.

Once the department gets final approval to use school facilities, Eyre said the department will open up registration for the camps. She said information will be posted on the department’s Facebook page and notices will be sent through its emailing list.

There won’t be field trips this year, visitors will be limited, and children will be asked to wear masks in classrooms, Eyre said. Although the camps will look and run much differently this year, she said the department is glad to be able to run them.

“Summer camp is important, and we’re grateful we’re going to offer it again,” Eyre said.