Plans to hold summer camps for kids are, as one organizer put it, moving ahead “full steam ahead” but with COVID-19 safety precautions still in place.
While camps were cancelled or curtailed last year due to the pandemic, the vaccine and a better understanding of the safety precautions needed to hold camp sessions mean organizations can plan ahead. Registration is now open for most camp programs.
Pace Academy in Buckhead will have a full slate of camps, according to Zach Slaney, the school’s director of auxiliary programs.
“We are moving ahead at full steam with our programs for this summer,” Slaney said. “Pace will be offering athletic, academic, STEM, and specialty camp offerings for campers in grades K-8 for eight weeks between June 1 and July 30.”
Registration opened in January at Pace and Slaney expects the slots to fill up quickly. Visit paceacademy.org.
Similarly, Westminster in Buckhead will hold its summer camps with the “same COVID safety protocols in place that allowed us to safely host several of our day camps last summer,” according to the school’s communications assistant director Justin Abraham.
“Some of those protocols include mask wearing for campers and counselors, temperature screening, scheduled handwashing times, social distancing, and extra cleaning and disinfecting of spaces and equipment throughout the day,” Abraham said.
Along with day and sports camps featuring outdoor activities, there are a number of specialty camps being offered by Westminster including filmmaking, chess, coding, and even one for Dungeons & Dragons. Visit Westmintster.net for a complete schedule and to register.
In the City Camps will host summer sessions at two locations this year – Chabad Intown on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and at the Weber School in Sandy Springs – for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade.
Spokesperson Tali Benjami said In the City Camps is working with medical experts to be sure about COVID-19 precautions for the summer. “We ran a modified version of our camps safely for four weeks last summer, so we do have a lot of experience with that this year,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin said as much outdoor programming as possible was being scheduled so that kids won’t be couped up inside a closed space. She said partnering with Chabad Intown would give campers plenty of opportunities to be outside on the BeltLine. Some of the camp offerings include basketball, magic, art, soccer, archery, cooking and more. Visit inthecitycamps.org for more details.
Budding actors can check out the Alliance Theatre’s series of in-person and virtual camps for all grade levels scheduled for spring and summer. Camps will be held not only at the Alliance’s home base of Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, but in partnership with schools around the city. From performing on stage as part of a musical to working behind the scenes, there’s a camp for all interests and ages. Visit alliancetheatre.org for details.
Lovett School in Buckhead will host an array of camps, according to Charissa Gransden, band teacher and assistant director of fine arts. She said that, besides the usual slate of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention precautions, the band classes come with elaborate extra protocols. Brass players wear specialized masks with a slit just big enough for the mouthpiece, and their instruments may wear masks, too – a veil of fabric over the mouth of the trumpet, for example. Water keys, which allow the moisture from breath to be drained out of the instrument, are now emptied onto toilet-training pads made for puppies.
But the biggest challenge may be the basic precautions that mean a band isn’t quite a band. “Normally, I would teach 50 kids at a time. Now I’m teaching eight or nine at a time,” said Gransden. Band students want to be in an ensemble, “So we are having to find different ways to keep the kids’ morale up,” she said.
Universal Tennis Academy (utatennis.com) and Agape Tennis Academy (agapetennisacademy.com) said they have been practicing the CDC precautions for all players at their metro Atlanta centers and will do the same for their summer campers this year.
Amy Pazahanick, founder and CEO of Agape, said that has allowed young tennis students to stay on top of their game.
“Yes, our students are able to still consistently practice tennis and are still able to collaborate safely,” she said. “The big advantage of tennis is that it is outdoors. We have been very fortunate to have minimal cases of COVID – especially with the youth – at the tennis center.”
“As you can imagine, it has been an exhausting task” for everyone involved in the process of following the precautions, said Kathy Glanker, UTA’s summer camp coordinator. “During this time the need for some level of exercise still exists for most people and we believe that tennis is still a sport that can be enjoyed safely,” she said.
John Ruch contributed to this report.