In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, three city of Berkeley summer camps announced changes in operations and will start accepting registration forms starting next week.
Berkeley Echo Lake Camp, Berkeley Day Camp and Sports Central Camp are opening registration for several youth, adult and family programs for this summer, according to a city of Berkeley email. Under the guidance of local public health officials, the three camps adjusted program lengths, implemented COVID-19 safety protocols and changed transportation policies, in addition to making other modifications, according to city of Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront director Scott Ferris.
“We’re providing an opportunity for families and youth to go someplace outside of their house, which provides some relief for the parents,” Ferris said. “It also provides the recreation and interaction that kids need — something important for not only their physical growth, but their mental health to be interacting with other kids.”
The Berkeley Day Camp program focuses on hands-on nature activities and education for children, while the Sports Central Camp program trains children in sports such as ultimate frisbee and basketball, added Ferris. Registration for both programs will open Feb. 23.
While the programs are usually one week long, Ferris said both camps will extend them to three weeks and offer three sessions of the programs this summer. Each session will have 42 children divided into three cohorts of 14 children that will rotate between staying at the Codornices, Shorebird and Glendale La Loma campsites over the course of the three weeks, he added.
“In terms of working with kids, you want to have the same employee or employees working with one group of no more than 14 kids,” Ferris said. “Keeping these cohorts separate and rotating will prevent large gatherings.”
Berkeley Echo Lake Camp offers three summer programs that focus on outdoor activities and “traditional camp experiences” at Echo Lake, with registration opening Feb. 16, according to the city email. The camp will offer six sessions of youth programs and three sessions of family programs. Older adults will also have the opportunity to participate in the 50 and Better Camp program.
In compliance with COVID-19 regulations, Ferris said the three camps will enforce mask use, facility cleaning multiple times a day and regular temperature checks of camp staff and participants during their programs. He added bus transportation to campsites will no longer be provided, requiring parents and families to directly visit campsites for drop-off and pickup.
“Over the last year we’ve really figured out how to run camps in this pandemic environment,” Ferris said. “It’s the appropriate thing to offer as much as we physically can for residents and Berkeley.”