The Granite YMCA Had a Successful Summer Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic
Manchester, NH (September 2020) – Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this summer was truly memorable for over 7,500 children that attended day camps at The Granite YMCA. It was certainly a different experience, especially with all of the new precautions and procedures surrounding COVID-19, but camp staff rose to the challenge to keep children safe while also having fun.
“Summer is the ideal time for kids to get up, get out and explore, and this was especially true this summer, following several months of stay-at-home orders,” explains David Ports, President and CEO of The Granite YMCA. “The social, emotional and physical benefits camp provides were more beneficial in 2020 than ever before. We’re thrilled that we were able to open our day camps and help children get active and make connections with friends both old and new.”
In order to help keep campers and staff healthy and safe all summer long, The Granite YMCA, followed state and local requirements, and adapted several changes to its day-to-day operations including:
- Daily health screenings for campers and staff
- Mask requirements for when social distancing was not possible
- Reduced capacity in camper groups
- New curbside drop off and pick up procedures
- Increased cleaning, sanitizing and handwashing
“Safety has always been our top priority at The Granite YMCA, and while COVID-19 is unlike any other challenge we’ve faced, by following guidelines set forth by YMCA of the USA, American Camp Association, CDC and state and local authorities, we were able to provide kids with a safe, beneficial and memorable experience like no other.”
At the YMCA of Downtown Manchester, each child received a cloth face covering on their first day of camp. New specialty camps were offered such as photography, musical theater and lacrosse, which became quite popular. Even though campers could not take field trips, they were able to visit Arms Park for activities and picnic lunches and received ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s each week.
“The kids had a great time in photography camp and really enjoyed walking to Cat Alley and taking photos there!” said a YMCA of Downtown Manchester day camp parent.
At the YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown, parents greatly appreciated the new check-in/check-out process that was much more efficient than in previous years. Over 150 campers, families and staff participated virtually over Zoom in the Character Champion Celebration where they were able to recognize outstanding campers who represented the Y’s core values. Staff were creative in adapting activities and helping maintain social distancing while still having fun. Campers also enjoyed leading songs and other activities during opening and closing ceremonies despite not gathering together in a large group.
Jennifer Denoya, mother of Diego and Matías noted, “For Diego, it was not his first year at Camp Halfmoon, but he didn’t really notice a difference. Yes, of course some things had to change because of COVID-19 but he had such a wonderful experience and a whole lot of fun despite that. He felt “normal”, loved socializing, and was kept safe. For Matías, it was his first year at camp and certainly one that he will always remember. I have never seen someone come home so dirty and exhausted but thoroughly excited for the next day! Thank you so very much for keeping our kids entertained, safe, and healthy. Thank you for opening this summer, for implementing safe practices, and for having excellent staff as always.”
Virginia, a gymnastics camp parent said, "My kids had a fantastic time at gymnastics and ninja camp this year! They loved the addition of arts and crafts and I loved that drop off and pickup was such a smooth process. They are still talking about the Christmas in July theme week, it really added some much needed magic to their summer. They gymnastics staff are amazing! They went all out to ensure all the safety measures were followed and that the kids still had an incredible experience."
At the YMCA of Greater Londonderry, a new sensory area was added which gave children the ability to explore, create, and be in nature. Campers were able to just have fun and be kids after being isolated for over 3 months with school closures. Due to group sizes being smaller than in previous summers, camp relationships were stronger than ever before between campers and staff.
“My children LOVED camp. Every day was a new exciting tale to tell – from archery, to throwing a tomahawk, to making friendship bracelets, exploring sensory, crafts with Granny B or making slime with Miss Ashley. They were living the life! All in all this past summer was better than I could have dreamed of. My children came home exhausted and dirty, filled with stories and smiles. The memories they have made will be with them – and me – forever. They are already asking about next summer - their excitement has not dimmed; and, to be honest, mine hasn’t either. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the YMCA of Greater Londonderry for giving my children an experience that can never be replaced and the confidence and love that every child deserves,” said parent Nicole Burke.
The Granite YMCA offers more than 30 day camp and overnight camp programs across 7 different Y locations. The Y is keeping the summer’s best practices in place as it continues to adapt to the latest guidance and recommendations from the CDC and the state. For current Fall program offerings, information about our YMCA DAY Academy, and more information, visit www.graniteymca.org.