Inside JCPRD: Summer camps – a little different this year, but memories to last a lifetime

Whichever JCPRD camp you choose, your kids will soon be laughing and playing with friends the way summer was intended.

By Jennifer Anderson

Unprecedented times. Uncertainty. Social Distancing. We’re all in this together. We’ve heard these words over and over in recent weeks, and they’re absolutely right. Now let’s cautiously add some additional words to our conversations: fun, play, friends, can I go to bed early – I’m exhausted! Maybe the last one is pushing it, but I challenge you to think about going to camp as a kid. Days filled with arts and crafts, games and snacks, hiking and playgrounds, falling asleep in the car on your way home… ah, those were the days. Now it’s time for the next generation to have those same childhood memories, even as the threat of the dreaded COVID-19 virus has consumed our thoughts in recent weeks.

Johnson County Park and Recreation District will begin many of our summer day camp programs on June 1, with additional guidelines and procedures in place to keep our communities healthy. Whether it’s one of our camps located in elementary schools, in park shelters, at Ernie Miller Nature Center, the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, or one of our many other facilities, kids will soon be laughing and playing with friends the way summer was intended.

EMNC camper having a blast.

But what about social distancing? What about unprecedented times? JCPRD has led the local efforts in developing guidelines to address the very real concerns of COVID-19. And while social distancing with children presents its unique challenges, we’ve done our homework to find methods of mitigating the spread of germs. Groups will be smaller and remain the same throughout the days and weeks of camp when possible. Staff will wear masks indoors and will reinforce proper and frequent hand hygiene with the children. Supplies and materials will be disinfected between groups, and frequently touched surfaces will be wiped down often throughout the day. Field trips and swimming will be replaced with on-site enrichment, greatly reducing the need to transport children in busses. And check-in each morning will take place separately from the camp group (i.e. curbside, sidewalk) and will include a brief wellness check before a child enters camp.

We adore your children and can’t wait to get back to doing what we love. Their safety and the safety of our community drives us as we move toward providing camp experiences for Johnson County families. And while it may look a little different this year, camps will be filled with activities and projects that will leave lasting memories in the hearts of your children. If we do it right, they’ll even be asking to go to bed early.

Jennifer Anderson is the Children’s Services Manager for JCPRD’s Out of School Time, Preschool, and Special Populations programs. A proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies, Jennifer has spent her 23-year career providing services for the families of Johnson County.