YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California – Some summer camps go to great lengths to keep campers safe this summer.
At Camp Tawonga near Yosemite, organizers say hundreds of campers have already been able to reunite without COVID after taking several precautions.
“Families were quarantined before their children came to the camp. Everyone had a PCR test before coming. And then each berth was a pod for the first 5 days. These 12 children therefore ate together, slept in the same cabin, did all their activities with just their bunk. And then they did another round of PCR tests and when they were all negative, we were able to pod the whole camp, ”explained Jamie Simon, CEO of Camp Tawonga.
360 children aged 7-17 spend 3 weeks together playing football, swimming and walking.
The nearly century-old camp extended its sessions to reduce exposure and adopted a new outdoor dining pavilion due to pandemic precautions.
After all the COVID tests passed, Simon says she will never forget what it was like to see campers singing arm in arm for the first time.
“It was so powerful to see these kids with big smiles on their faces in a beautiful place, in community, after being isolated and alone for so long,” said Simon. “It was a very special moment.”
At Camp Hi-Sierra, also near Yosemite, the Boy Scouts’ Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council hosts approximately 300 Scouts per week.
“Everyone is so happy to be here in the mountains. It’s awesome, ”said Bruce Lee, camp director.
Anyone 18 years of age and over should be vaccinated, while younger people need a vaccine or a negative COVID test.
“Probably 80% of our kids here who are between the ages of 11 and 17 have been vaccinated, which is an incredible number,” Lee said.
He says the monitors are all vaccinated and sleep in cabins, while campers are limited to two per tent.
Directors of both camps say the summer has been a memorable one.
“I think after a year of COVID, isolation, addiction to technology, this camp is really the antidote,” Simon said. “That’s all COVID and the shelter-in-place weren’t. “
Both camps say they have had no cases of COVID.
Camp Hi-Sierra says instead that they are struggling with the common cold.
Registration for Camp Tawonga sold out on day one and currently has hundreds of children on the waiting list.
KTVU has contacted several public health departments, who say camps are required to report cases of COVID.
“So far we are not aware of any overnight camp outbreaks that have occurred in Santa Clara County. This is something we continue to monitor and any case associated with an overnight summer camp would be studied by our team here, ”said Dr. Vit. Kraushaar, Santa Clara County Assistant Health Worker.
Dr Kraushaar says it is not too late for incoming campers to get vaccinated before leaving.