Working During The Pandemic: Day Camp Edition

It is fair enough to say that we are all living through something we never thought we would experience in our lifetimes. Pandemics are something you read about in history books and see in movies. And yet, here we are almost seven months into a global pandemic. So many things were adapted to keep people safe, especially in work places, such as working from home, putting in place safety measures like masks and hand washing. People even lost their jobs because companies could not survive the economical crisis that was brought on by the pandemic. In all, it was like watching a horror story unfold everyday. Back in April, if you told me that I was going to run a day camp for eight weeks as a successful first-year supervisor I would have never believed you. 

I got the call in mid-April saying that, if the government allowed it, we were going to run our day camp during the summer. To be honest, I did not know what to feel. I was scared out of my mind, but also excited to provide a service for kids who were stuck at home since the beginning of March. My coworkers and I started going back and forth to start brainstorming ideas on how we could actually make it work. At the beginning of May is when we got the green light from the government to go forward with our plans to open the camp. 

 

face mask prevention Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

We had our first meeting the first week of June. We were all nervous. This was the first time we were all out of our houses since the beginning of quarantine. I think we all washed our hands every two minutes that first week of work. We were given two different scenarios as to how the camp could run this summer. It was basically cutting the camp in half and using two community centers for each half of the camp, or staying at one community center and reduce the amount of kids from 60 to 20. After many discussions, we ended up deciding on splitting the camp in two. We thought that it could give more kids the opportunity of getting out of the house and getting that socialization that they desperately needed. It was a tough decision to make that all of us were not too fond of, but it ended up working out. 

The main aspect of our preparation was figuring out how to adapt games to the guidelines that were given to us. We could not play games like dodgeball or even tag because the kids would have too much contact with one another. We had to avoid using items like balls or pinnies, or any other type of objects that had to be shared amongst the kids. So, we adapted as much as we could. We made separate art boxes for each child that they kept for the duration of the summer, which included markers, scissors, a glue stick, and a few other art-related supplies. We bought pool noodles that we cut in half and put duct tape at each extremities to easily disinfect and for the kids to play tag without touching each other. We had “hand-washing songs of the week” related to our weekly themes, each one lasting 20 seconds, as well as a hand-washing routine. We created a binder of adapted games for the monitors which were all games that were safe according to our guidelines. We had a table in each room with everything from disinfectant and COVID-19 emergency kits, to hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. We tried our best to be prepared and it was worth it. 

hands with gloves on fist bumping Photo by Branimir Balogović on Unsplash

Once we were past the first couple of weeks, I was starting to become a little more optimistic. Our monitors were keeping up with the cleaning, the kids were washing their hands without us asking, and everyone was respecting what we called our “bubble,” which was social distancing as best as we could. The staff would always wear their mask even when it was not obliged by the government, even a viser at times. Week 6 was when I started to see the finish line and I could not believe it. Our hard work was paying off. No one was slacking when we were getting close to the end, our amazing group of monitors always gave their all every day for the kids and it paid off. Our last day of camp was Aug. 21. No one got COVID-19 or even a small cold, and we all left with a huge smile on our faces. We actually did it and I still can't believe it. 

I learned quite a bit this summer. Obviously, this was new to everyone, but working through a pandemic is definitely not how I envisioned my first year as a supervisor. However, getting to create an amazing summer for kids who deserve the world was worth all of the anxiety and the stress. I am beyond proud of my team and, even though it might be weird to say this, out of my four years at this day camp, it was one of my favorites. However, I am excited to get my normal summers back.