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Hurley Y preparing for summer camps with COVID-19 restrictions

SALISBURY — Summer camps are an annual affair at YMCA locations across the country, and this year the Hurley Y is looking ahead to camps that may have the same restrictions as last year.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as unique as it was last summer,” Hurley Associate Executive Director Alan Lambert said.

Lambert organizes the location’s summer programming and is hopeful for a waning pandemic and eased restrictions come June. But he said staff is preparing to implement the same practices it put in place for last year’s camps and has become accustomed to during programming over the past year.

For now, groups of children will be limited to 10 per staff member instead of the normal 15. Groups will also have their own space and not cross paths with other groups. Everyone will be required to  wear masks and maintain social distance. The goal of keeping the groups separate is limiting the impact if there is an exposure or positive case.

This has some other implications for summer camps. Groups can’t come together for a big game of dodgeball or be put on a bus together for a trip to Dan Nicholas Park. If things stay the same, those kind of activities will remain off the schedule.

Hurley Executive Director Richard Reinholz said the Y is trying to cover all its bases because of the uncertainty.

“I remember talking to Richard when we were planning camp last year in April, and how this thing might still be here in June,” Lambert said. “Now we’re approaching the second June.”

The Y is hopeful for more widespread vaccination efforts that will let things get back to more normal.

Things may look similar, but there are some additional changes. Last year, the group sizes were even more limited, at only eight kids per staff member and 50 kids total at the camps. The Y had just reopened for some limited services after shutting down as the pandemic ramped up across North Carolina.

“Last summer was very restrictive,” Lambert said, noting kids have become better at wearing masks, even while exercising

The entire Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA has taken on the Y Academy, a new program aimed to fill the childcare gap created by blended and virtual learning models in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. It follows many of the same rules, including small group sizes and no cross contamination.

“I do think those kids being in controlled environments does help keep them safe because you know they are going to be following those guidelines,” Lambert said.

Applications for local Y summer camps will open in March.

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