Summer Programs in the 2nd year of the pandemic
Panda Bear. Pancake. Pantsuit. Panorama.
I'm enjoying the internet trend of subbing the word we're all sick of hearing (PANDEMIC) with something silly. It's about finding play in the midst of a very serious time, right?! I'll spare you the confusion from here on out though! :)
We've now gone an entire year with no KOOP Adventure Play programs for children. While we're thrilled to get back and excited to welcome kids back to our beautiful field for self-directed play as they work through what this past year has been, we're moving forward with caution. Just like every other program in the area, we'll follow public health guidelines and will keep safety top of mind.
Here a few ways the summer camp experience will be different. We don't know all the ways it will be different just yet, but here a few big ideas from our view while still solidly in winter (or false-spring in Central Illinois!)
Masks will be required. The baseline expectation and requirement will be that masks are required for children in attendance, for parents at drop off & pick up and for playworkers staffing the site. Children will be expected to bring a minimum of 3 masks per day for changing after meals/snacks/when wet or dirty. Outdoor handwashing stations, scheduled and managed sanitation practices and physical distancing will be a part of our re-opening.
Fewer Registrants: In order to maintain safety guidelines, we will keep our spots more limited than in previous years. I'll share that summer 2019 we had our biggest summer program ever-- filling 10 weeks with dozens of kids-- we were FULL and had a waitlist for every single week. We anticipate that with a smaller group, these spots will fill extremely fast. Please sign up for what you know you need, but keep in mind that your sign-up effectively reserves that spot and turns others away.
Change in sign-up process: Typically I'd reply with info for submitting payment quickly to finalize registration. This year, out of an abundance of caution, the payment window won't open until early April and will close by May 5. You'll receive an email prompt from me with all the details you need. If you don't pay in that window or communicate with me, your spot will automatically be forfeited as I move down the waitlist. There isn't a lot of wiggle room or flexibility with that this year, so please plan accordingly.
All outdoors: We've always been mostly-outside, typically only moving inside for a cool-down, bathroom use or for rainy weather. This year, we'll follow a similar idea, but there will be differences that likely only returning campers would notice. We'll also break into smaller and separate groups if we need to be inside due to weather.
More info as it comes: For the last year, several of our staff have been working with children daily in different, non-playworker roles. This means we already have experience in mitigating and managing risks of Covid-19. We have an understanding of what public health guidelines mean in practice with children and what it means for play. And we deeply understand the responsibility we carry as we plan to hold safety as the top priority in conjunction with public health. That being said, there are guidelines about this type of program that haven't been released yet and we will work diligently with our public health contacts to ensure we have prioritized safety at every point of our program.
We ask for your patience and understanding as we work towards re-opening. There are many spinning plates to get our program up and running after a year away and in other roles. We can't wait to see our KOOP crew again!