No need to feel down as YMCA summer camp starts up

Jun 30, 2020

Kids and parents are getting a much-needed break from each other as the Dartmouth YMCA’s Camp Metacomet started back up for the summer on June 29.

“YMCA Southcoast always knew that we would do everything in our power to open,” said Executive Director for the Dartmouth YMCA Maxine Hebert. “That was our goal right from the get-go.”

The first day started off with parents waiting to sign off on health checks before dropping their kids off for the day. 

Camp Metacomet is operating at a reduced capacity of 130 kids instead of the usual 200-plus.

Other safety precautions include equipping all counsellors with hand sanitizer and asking children to put all their belongings in baskets that get disinfected at the end of every day. 

“I’m actually hoping it will help with the lost and found,” noted Hebert with a smile.

Counsellors were trained virtually, and children are kept in groups of ten without mixing. They are also taught to wear masks when social distancing isn’t an option.

“No one has complained,” said Hebert. “They’ve been great about it.”

On Monday morning, camp counsellor Kendal Carvalho was sitting with her group under a tree going over the rules. 

“Now that we have Covid, if you’re sneezing, should you sneeze into your hands?” she asked.

“No!” shouted the kids. When asked where to sneeze, one boy yelled out, “In your elbow!”

Planning for camp during the time of Covid was “a little bit of a challenge,” Hebert noted.

“You don’t know how many times we put schedules together and decided stuff, and then a new set of standards would come through,” she said. “Like, ‘Just kidding! This is the update to the update to the update.’”

But families are taking it all in stride, with many age groups — such as the 5-6 year olds — already filled to capacity.

“It’s day one,” Hebert noted. “Everyone’s kinda paranoid, like ‘Can I touch this? Can I do this?’” 

“The kids, they’re just happy to be outside,” she added. “They’re happy to be here, they’re happy to see their friends.”

For the first couple of weeks, the camp is only offering traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts, and field games. There will be no rock climbing or high ropes, and no archery — at least for now.

Hebert commented, “We wanted to just kind of test it out, and say ‘Let’s just go completely basic for a couple of weeks, let’s work out all the kinks.’”

Groups of kids were swimming, playing soccer, and helping out on the Sharing the Harvest community farm on the first day.

Eleven-year-old Logan Lemos, who said that he has been coming to Camp Metacomet for seven years, was helping his friends feed the chickens. 

Some of the birds were named things like chicken nugget and pork chop, he said.

Although running a day camp in the time of Covid was tough, Hebert noted, it was worth it.

“It’s made it all worth it just to see the kids smile, and see that they’re happy,” she said. “Now we can just focus on giving them a great summer.”