After a year where most summer camps stayed closed due to COVID-19, many kids (and their parents) are looking forward to the return of day camps this summer.
"You get really close with your friends and peers around you," said 11-year-old Grace McInturf.
"The best part is it's outside in nature," said 8-year-old Kyli Sierra.
"There is definitely a need for camps this year more than ever," said New England Base Camp Director of Programming Darrin Johnson.
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With year-round programming even during the pandemic, New England Base Camp in Milton, Massachusetts, has been adjusting and readjusting as masking, distancing and capacity rules have evolved.
"As long as we're planning and prepared for it, we're able to run the programs normally, just for smaller groups and maybe a little more spread out," Johnson said.
More on the coronavirus pandemic in Massachusetts
New summer camp guidance from the CDC, released this weekend, calls for kids to be in pods, kept three feet apart – except while eating, which is six feet apart.
Counselors must be six feet away from everyone. Masks must be worn unless eating, drinking or swimming. And employees 16 and older are encouraged to get vaccinated.
"It does make a big difference in some regards, in the planning aspect and determining which programs are actually able to run, or how to adapt those programs," Johnson said.
Programming Director Darrin Johnson said while some camps are understandably opting not to open this summer, New England Base Camp will be running eight weeks of summer camps, 100% outdoors — except for in inclement weather, when they will use pavilions and restructured cabins.
"Our cabins that, pre-COVID, were seen as for overnight camping, those have been converted into a classroom-type form, so all the bunks were removed, it gives us safety from a building perspective," Johnson said.
And parents, if you want to sign your kids up for summer camp and haven't yet, there are still openings at many camps, and the rules could loosen up again before the summer.