GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Summer camps are a tradition for most school-age children, but with COVID-19 and the on-going pandemic, they will look and run a little different this year.
With school out of session, some camps have already opened or made plans to open. In Greeneville, The Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County is back open and celebrating their official first day of summer camp, but with far fewer kids.
“I like it, but then again I don’t because I miss all my children, I miss all my little babies because there were so many and just to see them smile and be happy, makes me happy and I love it,” said staff member, Jazmine Blue.
The center usually sees 275 students during the summer, but due to the pandemic, they had to cut that to 50%. They began summer sign-ups in late February and reached the 50% mark by March 20th, closing further registration as COVID-19 restrictions were put into place.
While it’s still a significant amount of children all in one place, staff ensure they’ve made it a safe environment for all. “We are offering masks for the kids and staff are wearing masks, I have mine right here,” said Program Director, Phelan Story.
Story tells News Channel 11 they’ve initiated new protocols for this year’s summer program. Staff is taking temperatures upon arrival and only letting other staff and campers in the building, with parents staying in their cars to sign their children in and out.
They’re also sanitizing and wiping down surfaces every time they move to a new room and continuing to practice social distancing among campers and staff. It’s not the same, but the tradition of summers spent at the boys and girls club is continuing on.
“I’ve been here 20 years, it’s a joy to see their faces. I send my four kids here and they’ve been coming for the past 5 years,” said Story.
More changes at the camp include the cancellation of off-campus field trips this summer. While the Boys and Girls Club in Greeneville is at full capacity, there is a waiting list parents can access in hopes of signing their child up. Contact the center at 423-787-9334 with any inquiries regarding this summer’s program.