West Marin summer camps go online during pandemic

06/03/2020

With new county guidelines, summer camps in Marin may now open, though some are planning to go online for the first time ever. The rules mandate that campers are kept in stable groups no larger than 12 and attend only one camp in any three-week period. On top of enforcing distancing and mask requirements, camps must take every kid’s temperature at the start of the day, promote more frequent handwashing, and sanitize surfaces. In Bolinas, the 2 Mile Surf Shop’s camp will take place over nine weeks outdoors, with campers and instructors in small groups spread out across the surf. Drew Reinstein, the shop’s owner, said he had to reduce his typical limit of 16 campers to 12, but that he will not be hosting the same group for three weeks. “I can’t run my camp with the same kids for two to three weeks in a row,” he said. Camp won’t come with all its altruistic lessons this year, either. “You can’t share lunch, you can’t share snack, you can’t share your water bottles, you can’t share sunscreen,” he said. Other camps have opted to reduce risk by going online. For the first time in over 20 years, Howie Cort will host her San Geronimo Valley Community Center summer camps online because of the difficulty she anticipates in adhering to the new rules. “It would be really difficult to do social distancing. We have kids transitioning to kindergarten, up to 10 years old,” she said. Dave Cort, her husband and the executive director of the center, added, “It just seemed, infrastructure-wise, too overwhelming and too risky for our kids, our staff, our families.” Instead, the camp—offered for free—will feature online videos of cooking and other activities that campers can watch at home. “We’re going to tape ourselves doing various arts and crafts, science experiments, games, activities, backyard scavenger hunts,” Ms. Cort said. Two of Melissa Flick’s school-aged kids went to the camp last summer. “I understand the reason and the decision for not doing it in person and doing virtual, which is an awesome opportunity to have that as a parent,” she said. “It’s fantastic that there’s the opportunity, that they’re offering it virtually.” Dance Palace Summer Camp will also go online, with Zoom sessions three mornings a week coordinated by camp veteran Laurel Ann Riley. “We have hip-hop dance, sensory art, parlor and riddle games, theater games, a superhero dress-up party, photography, cartooning, nature appreciation, pajama day,” said director Bonnie Guttman. “The way the sessions are structured will hopefully foster community.” The camp costs $75 a week, or $250 for four weeks, but Ms. Guttman said there is plenty of scholarship money and urged people in need to apply. Though the guidelines permit in-person camps, Ms. Guttman said, “It just really isn’t safe yet for us to be able to do that. I want people to know we’re not blowing it off; we’re erring on the side of caution.”