Every summer, Julie Billiart Schools holds a four-week summer day camp experience for children with social and learning differences. Like most things, COVID-19 has challenged the “normal” way of doing things. For months leading up to the first day of camp, counselors and leaders planned for how students could safely enjoy camp. That planning has paid off.
Because of the positive attitudes of campers and counselors and JB’s intense commitment to health and safety protocols, Beyond Camp is going extremely well. Camp Director, Chris McCloskey, and all camp staff are committed to following the guidelines and recommended best practices issued by the Ohio Department of Health. During training, McCloskey and his team reviewed and discussed the safety of all campers. Sanitization stations have been set up throughout the building. Social distancing floor markers have also been placed in classrooms and throughout the building to help campers visualize a safe distance from one another. All staff members and many campers are wearing face masks. Everyone is also washing and sanitizing their hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs.
“The Social Thinking theme for week one of camp was Social Distancing with the objective of teaching all of our campers about appropriate personal space and proper social distancing etiquette,” says McCloskey. “With the new rules of socializing, it's important that our students and campers be taught the new rules. We know that it takes time for them to adapt to new social expectations. Having our week one focus on social distancing helped with the transition back to the school/camp environment.”
McCloskey had to rework how camp would look this year as a result of COVID-19. Because many of the community-based activities that campers would typically attend have been cancelled, McCloskey is bringing in more outreach programs like Outback Ray and Dr. Awesome BubblePalooza. He is also holding inventive onsite activities for campers like the Color Run and a variety of water-based activities. McCloskey and his staff have incorporated more academic activities into the schedule, as well.
“The campers and staff are so happy to be back,” says McCloskey. “With all of the restrictions and protocols in place, we have still managed to brighten the spirits of our campers and their families during a challenging time. This experience will help them transition into the school year with more confidence and a better sense of what to expect.”