MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Going into the summer of 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty for operators of summer camps like Camp Pendalouan, a Muskegon YMCA camp on Big Blue Lake in Muskegon County.
That uncertainty lead Camp Pendalouan and five other summer camps in Muskegon County to cancel programming in 2020 due to the coronavirus. Now it's one year later and Pendalouan is planning a summer season with six sessions for campers beginning June 20.
Camp operators and directors tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE that going into this summer, there's better guidance available to hold a COVID responsible camp.
"The CDC, we have the state, and the county giving us direction," said Muskegon YMCA CEO & Executive Director Bruce Spoelman. "They all have much more experience, when you think about it, than any of them did last year."
All six of the summer camps in Muskegon County are planning to welcome back campers in 2021.
"It's a good feeling," said Spoelman. "We have a few sessions that have already filled."
Camp Pendalouan will be requiring campers and staff to wear face coverings, the camp's capacity is being reduced to 60 percent, recreational equipment will be sanitized daily and campers will eat meals outdoors.
"So every meal is going to be like a picnic," said Spoelman. "We bought new tables and doubled the size of our deck at the lodge."
Earlier this year the American Academy of Pediatrics released detailed guidance for camp operators. It's the kind of best practice guidelines that weren't available going into the 2020 summer camping season.
The new AAP guidance stops short of recommending all campers be tested for COVID-19 prior to attending. The recommendations do say testing can be one important part of a broad strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep campers safe.
The AAP guidance calls on camp directors to maintain good communication with families and campers when it comes to expectations for the use of masks, social distancing and hygiene.
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