Y-Camp in Boone updates to mask optional outdoors for campers

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BOONE, Iowa — COVID-19 protocols will give the Y-Camp in Boone a makeover. There will be mandatory hand washing before entering the dining hall. Gone will be the popular buffet style meals but camp officials assure they will unmask all the fun a camper can handle.

“It’s fun, this building fills you with energy when you are in it. Just the amount of people laughing, interacting and having a good time here,” said Y-Camp Executive Director Alex Kretzinger as he walked through the Cownie Dining Hall.

On Friday, the CDC released new guidance for camps that allowed a much welcomed change that Kretzinger can share with campers. “The new part is that outdoor activity, when responsibly distanced, masks are also optional,” said Kretzinger. Organizers want to make sure campers have masks on standby. “We are not 100% mask optional. Indoor activities where we can’t distance, we are still going to require masks,” Kretzinger said.

Daily health questions will be standard and plans are in place if a camper shows symptoms of the coronavirus. “We are going to provide a rapid test if that is what the parent is comfortable with. The parent will have the option. We will call them and let them know that’s the situation. They can either come pick them up or we will test them and depending on the results of the test we will enact our action plan for how we respond,” said Kretzinger.

Sleeping cabins will be limited to eight campers and two staffers. Kretzinger said, “When they do sleep in the cabin we are breaking them up sleeping head to toe, so they’ll have a mattress length in-between heads if someone is on the top bunk and bottom bunk.”

Organizers admit the transition won’t be an easy one. “It’s going to be weird, I mean I think of my first time taking my mask off in a business for the first time and feeling uncomfortable. Think of a 9-year-old doing that?”

Aside from making sure campers make memories to last a lifetime, staffers may be also be busy checking in on a campers mental health. Kretzinger said, “Probably our biggest need this summer is how we can show up for those kids struggling to make the transition from a virtual distanced learning interaction to in-person active social activities.”

It’s more than just a breath of fresh air. Kretzinger said, “Our goal is to make sure kids can be as comfortable as possible and safe as possible.”

Organizers are excited to welcome back the first group of overnight campers Sunday June 20. Spots are still open for the summer. Just head to www.y-camp.org for more information.

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