One of the summer signatures in the City of Falls Church are the camps offered through its Recreation and Parks department. Covid-19’s spread throughout the country influenced the City to scale back or outright cancel certain camps, making “fun” one of the lesser known, but more persistent casualties of the pandemic.
“Those kids make relationships in the summer, especially the ones in the Summer Fun program for the full eight weeks,” Amy Youngs, the deputy director for the City’s Recreation and Parks department, said. “It’s just sad that there’s a lot of kids who aren’t having the experience they’re used to having.”
The camp season that was supposed to kick off in mid-June didn’t even hold its first get-together until Falls Church’s staple, Summer Fun, began the week of June 22.
More camps began to open up starting July 6, with dance and soccer activities allowed to start up with modifications to keep up the social distancing. Writing and LEGO camps also got going this week starting on Monday, including another popular offering in All American Sports. Youngs mentioned that more specialized camps, such as fishing and mountain biking ones, have also been full.
But an age limit that the Recreation and Parks department decided on excluded younger children. Youngs said that the minimum age for this year’s camps was chosen at 8.
Preschoolers, Youngs added, were expected to have a hard time maintaining the social distancing protocols that have become commonplace in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Youngs and the rest of the staff referenced Virginia’s Department of Social Services as well as the state’s Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when making the final call on how camps will be run.
Just like with the raised age limit, those guidelines have left some families on the outside looking in when it comes to enrollment.
On a given week, the camps would typically have 600 kids registered, Youngs said. Now, those same camps are topping out at 150 kids per week. Capacities have been lowered as well, with a camp that would normally host 20 kids being chopped down to 12.
“There’s definitely been some parents that are saying ‘Please take my kid and give them something to do,’” Youngs said with a chuckle. “But in general, I think people are being a little more cautious.
So far, the Recreation and Parks department has only announced which camps will be available through the end of July. Interested campgoers (and their parents) should expect an update on which camps will be offered for the month of August on Monday, July 20.