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The YMCA of San Diego has been serving the greater San Diego community for the past 138 years, and one of the areas they best showcase their mission, according to Baron Herdelin-Doherty, the president and CEO, is through their summer camp programs.

“Summer camp, like many Y programs, is about learning skills, developing character and making friends,” said Herdelin-Doherty. “But few environments are as special as camp — kids become a community. However, we know our new normal will look a little different.”

Like many other community recreation facilities, the San Diego Y is trying to navigate how their programming will look in a post-pandemic world, especially with summer camps.

Herdelin-Doherty said health and safety has always been their top priority, long before COVID-19. “Even with our high standards for cleanliness, we know our cleaning and disinfecting processes will be enhanced with hand washing stations, heightened cleaning protocols, daily health checks and more,” he said. “Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided for each staff member, and sanitizing of supplies and facilities will occur throughout the day.”

Another precaution is training camp staff, not only from a health and sanitation standpoint, but also to help kids and families with the social or emotional support they may need while returning. In addition, camper groups will be smaller than the guidelines their county has provided, but in the same ratios. The groups will be stable with no intermingling, activities will be based on social distancing, and staff will remain consistent with groups all week.

The Y’s summer day camp is able to open quicker because of a generous grant from the San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. “We were blessed to receive support from Nathan Fletcher, the county of San Diego supervisor, to help us open our summer day camp program,” said Herdelin-Doherty. “He worked with the San Diego Foundation to allocate $1 million to our Y to help make more childcare opportunities available for parents during this time, through summer camps for youth from low-income families and camp scholarships.”

While summer camp may look and feel different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the San Diego Y is ready and excited to serve families in their community and to get back to the basics.

“We’ll be going back to the basics of summer camp — we’ll be doing fun games, learning camp songs, arts and crafts, and doing what the Y does best,” said Herdelin-Doherty. “And that’s providing kids with memorable experiences, all centered on our core values.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is a staff writer for Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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