DES MOINES, Iowa – Local summer camps are gearing up for kids to come back.
Unlike many, Easterseals Iowa’s Camp Sunnyside has been able to keep some of its programming going during the pandemic including last summer. This summer, staff will follow newly released CDC guidelines to ensure safety.
“Any clients that are able and comfortable to wear masks we do request that they wear a mask,” Anna Lensing, marketing and communications coordinator for Easterseals Iowa and Camp Sunnyside, said. “All team members will be masked up. Lots of hand washing and of course, when possible, we will maintain a six foot distance. We are out here on 80 acres of land so we have a lot of opportunity to spread out but still have a lot of fun this summer.”
Easterseals and Camp Sunnyside is a disability service provider. Their clientele includes people of all ages with disabilities and children without.
Due to visa issues, they weren’t able to have international students on staff this summer which won’t allow them to do as many overnights. However, their programming includes four summer sessions with different schedules and age ranges to choose from.
“It’s a place that parents know they can bring their loved one and they’re safe and they’re having fun,” Lensing said, “and the parent is able to work and continue on with their life knowing their loved one is taken care of.”
Staff at Camp Fire Heart of Iowa are also following guidelines from the CDC, as well as the American Camp Association.
Camp Fire Heart has day camp sites in Des Moines, Ames, and Boone with an overnight camp in Boone.
While there are concerns about kids falling behind in their education during the school year, camp staff have concerns about the social repercussions the pandemic is having all year.
“From our perspective, we’re concerned about those kids catching up on making memories,” Owen Ballard, development and camping programs director for Camp Fire Heart of Iowa, said, “and having fun and being able to be a kid without worrying so much about that stress and anxiety they’re feeling with COVID-19 and everything that’s happening in our world.”