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Summer Fun: In-person camps are back this year

Last year, the pandemic pushed summer camps to the wayside.

Child care centers and other programs offering camping experiences heavily modified or canceled their programs, but with restrictions easing summer camps are back in force and local organizers are hopeful.

The demand is there. Rowan Wild, the local wildlife program based out of Dan Nicholas Park, is bringing back its camps this year and they have all filled up.

Partners in Learning mostly serves young children, but its summer camp programs take students all the way up through the 10th grade. Last year the weeklong, full-day enrichment program was canceled in its entirety.

Partners Executive Director Norma Honeycutt said being able to hold the camps is progress, and the nonprofit feels good about being able to offer the programs. The hope at this point is there will be more flexibility on field trips by the time summer rolls around so the kids can experience activities off-campus.

Honeycutt said the summer camp field trips normally include a weekly swimming outing, visiting parks, nature museums and almost all of them are outside experiences.

The Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA is a major local provider of summer camps between six locations. In Salisbury the Hurley Y is responsible for programs, but all the branches are planning to either follow state protocols as they are or adjust as Gov. Roy Cooper continues to lift restrictions.

The Y is planning field trips, but uncertain about whether it will be able to take them. The hope is restrictions will be loosened to allow slightly larger groups to travel together.

Hurley Executive Director Richard Reinholz said the facility is hoping to provide a normal summer experience for the kids and make adjustments depending on state stipulations at the time.

Last year, the Hurley Y programs were not able to visit Rowan County Museum sites or Dan Nicholas Park. The nonprofit is hoping to bring those popular trips back this year. Reinholz emphasized the goal is to make the programs safe and fun for campers.

“The big part is keeping kids safe and making it a fun environment,” Reinholz said.

There will be 10 weeks of camps from June to August available and among the activities are sports, science, cooking and board games.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Horizons Unlimited is bringing back its in-person science camps this year and is offering some options for families not quite ready to get back fully in person.

Last year, the camps were all remote with supply kits students picked up at Horizons.

This year’s camps have been paired back to only four. One of those — a camp focused on the educational software “Bloxels” — is returning from last year and is all-virtual.

For families like the look of the program or for an experience that is mostly at-home Horizons is offering a rocket camp. Students will engineer their own rockets and meet at the end of the camp for launch day.

There will also be two in-person camps. The junior naturalist camp will give kids some insight into flora, fauna and biomes, with some fun outdoor survival skills thrown in for good measure.

Horizons will also offer an indoor camp using its in-house planetarium to teach students about the red planet and give them a bit of perspective on space.

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