A Washingtonian magazine headline is exaggerated for vivid impact. "Summer Is Officially Beginning to Be Canceled," it posted last week. Actually, it's no exaggeration to say activities in June, July and August will be notably different than usual. Forget Memorial Day parades, July 4 municipal fireworks and probably county fairs. Health concerns and closings, which began in March as the coronavirus pandemic spread nationwide, aren't over yet – even though businesses reopen in some states. It's still unclear when and how summer camps, public beaches and outdoor gatherings such as festivals, rodeos, races and concerts might return. Many camps around the country notified parents they won't open.
Medical experts advise against summer travel by air because of continuing risks from the lung virus known as Covid-19. Team sports are out, so soccer leagues and Little League games won't happen in most places. But boating, fishing, campsites, hiking and picnics are OK – while keeping safely distant from others, of course. As for day camps and sleepaway camps, a treasured tradition for many families, it's also still unclear whether local and state officials will let them operate in some form. The Centers for Disease Control, a federal agency, hasn't issued specific advice for camps. That uncertainty brings numerous announcements of cancelled seasons. "That screaming you're hearing is me discovering that the summer camp I was counting on sending my kid too just cancelled all its programming," Denver mom Megan Verlee tweeted two weeks ago.
Seeds of Peace, an international camp in Maine that unites Jewish teens from America with Palestinian youths from the Middle East, is among those skipping the summer of 2020. "With so much uncertainty around the global health and travel situation, we simply cannot anticipate or prepare for all the potential risks that we might face this summer, from sickness at camp to travel disruptions," says director Josh Thomas. Some camps plan to move dance, music, theater and writing programs oinline. Interlochen Arts Camp, which enrolls 2,800 kids and teens from 50 countries in its northern Michigan summer program, will switch to virtual lessons and workshops while making the session shorter. Some camp operators cling to optimism. Jay Jacobs, owner of three sleepaway camps in New York and Pennsylvania, hopes to proceed. "Camp will be opening on time this summer," he tells The New York Times, adding: "Child care has been deemed an essential business."
YMCA executive says: "Even in the summer environment, they have to maintain that safe distance. And that’s going to be complicated because kids are kids. . . . We may have to reduce enrollment." – Dan Pile, head of YMCA in Birmingham, Ala.
Camp director says: "Camps can make the environment safer [than neighborhood play], because we're going to supervise it and structure it that way." – Jay Jacobs, who runs summer camps in New York and Pennsylvania
Government doctor says: "We are not going to be in a pre-coronavirus lifestyle or society for a while. This is a new society, we have a new norm living with Covid-19." – Dr. Joe Gastaldo, Ohio Health Department infectious disease specialist