June 29th, 2020 was a day that will not be forgotten at SMLI. It was the first day of Summer Camp 2020 and the day we re-opened our doors for programming after the Covid-19 quarantine. One month earlier, we had just finalized plans for an all virtual camp experience since it seemed that reopening was very unlikely. When Governor Cuomo announced in early June that summer day camps would be allowed to open, we were completely surprised. After evaluating our options, everyone at SMLI knew the best option was to reopen for the summer. The possibility of reopening felt a bit surreal and we were all excited to get back to teaching science.
With the Governor’s announcement allowing camps to open came on June 3rd and with camp opening on June 29th, we had quite a bit of work to do and little time to do it. Finalizing lesson plans, ordering materials and supplies, promotions, registrations, obtaining camp forms, hiring summer staff, and cleaning the facility, equipment and supplies kept us quite busy but we felt well prepared once the reopening date approached. An abundance of new procedures had been put in place to ensure safety of the campers and staff. Parents were assigned specific drop off times to reduce traffic and were to be greeted by a staff member that conducted a pre-camp health screening. We would be breaking our campers up into 5 groups each having their own designated outdoor space for lunch, recess, and outdoor learning. Each group would also have its own designated classroom inside the facilities with their own water cooler, assigned bathroom, and even their own entryway into the buildings. Frequent cleaning of equipment and supplies, daily sanitizing of the building, and plenty of PPE equipment would be on hand.
When the first day of camp finally arrived, nervousness began to set in. With new health and safety guidelines implemented along with revised camp protocols, many questions loomed. How will kids respond to the safety and social distancing protocols? What can we expect when they arrive? Will they have the same camp experience as the past? The first wave of cars arrived around 9:15 am and pre-camp health screening began. By 10:00 am, all the campers had arrived, and camp was ready to begin. For the first time in 4 months, kids were learning science at SMLI. As the day progressed, everyone seamlessly adjusted to the new routines. Even with the new safety guidelines, the air was filled with the same heart and soul of summers past.
While it wasn’t perfect, everyone at SMLI couldn’t be happier with how that first day went. It was such a relief to see all our preparations pay off and we were confident that summer would be a great success. Routines were adjusted and camp continued week by week, providing a great experience and creating memories. Parents showed an overwhelming amount of appreciation for our work and their support of our efforts was integral to a successful camp. Like every summer, we were sad to reach the last day of camp. The amount of work put in to make this year’s camp successful in these difficult times made it particularly difficult to see it end. It was gratifying to see what we had accomplished together and it was a summer that will not be forgotten.