Camp Revamp: Gearing Up For Summer Amid The Pandemic
The pandemic has changed many things, including the way summer camps operate. Both day and overnight camps throughout the state have put numerous protocols in place to lessen the risk of COVID. Though Mississippi summer camps may operate a bit differently than in the past, they still offer the core fundamentals that make camp so valuable for children, such as building self-esteem and gaining independence, which are more important now than ever before.
There are many summer camps still running this year, and a list of camps in Mississippi can be found in the back of this issue of Parents & Kids magazine. Each child has different interests and needs, and there’s sure to be a camp that’s perfect for your specific child. Please refer to our Summer Camp Guide for all the details on the options.
One option on the coast is at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, which offers 15,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, seven-and-a-half acres of outdoor play space, a theatre, Viking kitchen, and more. It offers a summer camp program that has been engaging children for 23 years. Recently, we spoke with the center’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Sonja Gillis, who shared details on everything from a typical day at camp to COVID-related changes.
Parents & Kids: Who are your camps geared toward?
Gillis: We offer 11 weeks of fun, creative, and educational topics for ages four through 10 along with musical theatre camps for ages six through 18.
Parents & Kids: What does a typical day at camp consist of?
Gillis: We offer morning (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) and afternoon (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) sessions, or register for one of each and build a full day’s schedule, which includes free lunch bunch supervision (campers must bring their own lunch).
Parents & Kids: Has the pandemic completely altered the camp experience?
Gillis: LMDC has made sure our summer camp program aligns with local, state and CDC guidelines to provide a safe, play-based learning experience for our campers.
Parents & Kids: What changes can camp attendees expect due to COVID?
Gillis: All LMDC families must comply with a specific set of protocols to create a safe camp environment this summer. In addition to requiring masks for staff, volunteers, and campers ages six and up, LMDC staff and volunteers will have their temperature taken each day and parents will be asked to answer health screening questions about campers each day, including the camper’s temperature prior to camp. Additionally, staff will utilize a non-contact thermometer for temperature checks. Lastly, it’s important to note that these protocols may change as local, state, and CDC guidelines are revised.
Parents & Kids: How will you handle social distancing, masks and hand-washing?
Gillis: Campers and staff will engage in increased hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer upon arrival, departure, before and after eating, before and after bathroom use, and between activities. All campers ages six and up must bring and wear a CDC-approved face covering. While our four- and five-year-old campers are not required to wear a face covering, we strongly encourage parents to send a CDC-approved face covering for our littlest campers. Additionally, smaller group sizes will ensure more spacing between campers. We will do our best to disallow touching of any kind between campers, but also understand that this is not an isolated, one-on-one camp experience; other campers will be in attendance and present in our facilities.
Daniella DiRienzo is a self-proclaimed southerner who graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011 and has been working as a freelance writer ever since.