What Will Summer Hold for Grand Rapids Families and Grand Rapids Summer Camps?
Well THAT was unexpected.
In a matter of weeks, everyone’s summer plans were thrown on their heads and many of us are still spinning from the effects of the statewide shutdown that has extended way longer than anyone anticipated.
Even when schools across Michigan were closed through the end of the school year, I thought, “It’ll be better by June though, right? We’ll still have summer camps, right???”
We may have summer camps, but summer camps will be different from anything in the past.
Many camps, like us parents, are reeling from the continuous extensions to the state’s “stay at home order.” If you think it’s hard to pivot and find new plans for childcare, virtual school, and mental health care, imagine being a summer camp.
The logistics involved in running a single summer camp for one week are expansive, and if you multiply that by several weeks of camps, with hundreds of families and staff involved, supplies, etc, it is nearly impossible to regroup after a state shutdown.
But some summer camps are doing it.
So Will There be Grand Rapids Summer Camps in 2020?
We still don’t know. Neither do our camps. We’ve polled our favorite local summer camp organizations to gain some insight and the answer is simply that they are all up in the air.
Some have canceled. Others have gone virtual. And yet others are still trying to decide. What’s safe? What’s allowed? What’s smart?
Summer camps are a critical part of the working family’s summer. My husband and I both work. For the past several months we’ve been scraping together workdays with virtual school and child care. Frankly, it’s been hellish.
To face another 3 months in the same holding pattern, with summer camps closed, is a very terrifying thought. And parents that rely on summer camp as child care are in a quandary as well.
But despite how much I love summer camps (okay, and my kids do, too), these camps are doing what they need to keep our kids safe from coronavirus.
Here’s How West MI Families are Feeling about Summer Camps 2020
Camps opening up for summer 2020 is only half of the equation. Parents need to be willing to send kids to camp, too.
We conducted a survey of close to 400 West Michigan families to see how they were feeling about summer camp this year. Here’s what we learned:
Before the pandemic arrived (as of February 2020) most parents – 93% of respondents – were planning to send their kids to some type of summer camp this year.
It’s not surprising that as of May 19, 2020, parents are feeling very differently toward summer camp, and not all people feel the same way.
- 21% of respondents told us that their plans had changed for the summer – originally they were planning to do summer camp but will be skipping all summer camp options in 2020.
- 27% of parents are waiting – they will decide to sign their children up at a later date, if at all.
- 36% of survey takers report that their children were already signed up for summer camp and they are waiting to hear updates from the camps.
Parents are also divided on sending their kids to camp, even if recommended CDC precautions were put into place.
Our question: If camps open this summer and agree to follow all of the recommendations of the CDC and state and local governments, how likely are you to consider sending your child to camp this summer?
33% very likely, 24% somewhat likely, 21% not very likely, 22% I won’t be sending my child to camp this summer
The people planning to attend camp were vocal, writing things like:
We are not afraid of our kids catching this virus…no more so than anything else. We want camp to happen. No to masks, but maybe yes to more sanitizing.
Please do not cancel summer camps. There is no way to 100% protect anyone from everything. The children have already lost so much by closing schools and being locked in their homes for over two months. This is not healthy for anyone, mentally or physically.
If parents are expected to return to work and summer camps are part of our child care plan, what choice do we have?!
And many sentiments expressed were like these in favor of keeping kids home:
I feel that the CDC requirements take away the fun aspect of summer camp. My daughter was looking forward to field trips, playgrounds, and social interaction. These are the things she will likely miss in summer camp.
Honestly, I don’t think we will get to any place that the CDC and local governments agree is “safe”, so I’m just resigned to that. It’s better safe than sorry and hopefully it’s just one summer lost.
I feel incredible uncertainty around this virus and will be waiting it out. We are enrolled in one camp that was postponed until August and we may or may not attend depending on how this all plays out. We will not likely be signing up for the other camps for the same reason.
Given the rise of distance learning over the past few months, we were curious to hear what families were thinking about virtual camps. We asked:
If your child’s camp was changed to an online format, how likely would you be to have your child attend that camp?
67% of parents reported that it is very unlikely their kids would do an online summer camp, compared to the 16% who said it was somewhat likely.
It appears that parents and kids are tired of screens, as one commenter said, “My kids don’t like watching live streams, and I don’t really want to manage it. I would be interested in activity boxes/kits. We probably wouldn’t do the virtual part unless there was a really huge draw to it.”
Another parent explains, “Virtual camps sound fun in theory. However, after weeks of virtual school, I’m done with convincing my kids to sit in front of a computer to interact with other people.” And, ” They are ready to be done with virtual learning and enjoy the summer. Virtual learning is necessary for school but does not translate to the outdoor and social benefits of a camp. It would be too much to ask of our children. They need a relaxed and free summer. We are going 1980s outside all day on the bikes and devices will be put away..”
It’s the human interaction that kids and parents are missing the most, “Camps are mostly beneficial for the social interaction and relationships built with peers and mentors.”
In summary, “Uhg. Enough computers. We’re kind of virtualed out.”
There we have it. Just like everything else going on in the world right now, we’re uncertain about what the future holds.
Our survey of the summer camps in the area reflect this, too.
Below, you’ll see a list of camps that have canceled, some that have gone virtual, and others that are planning to open for business.
We all know this is a fluid situation – camps and parents may yet change their plans this summer.
We do hope that whatever happens, you all stay well.