FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Summer camp is back for kids to enjoy but staying healthy during a health crisis is still a priority.
New Life Ranch has day and overnight camps and they expect about 5000 campers to attend this year. It’s a big jump from last year where things slowed down because of the pandemic.
New Life Ranch tells us after such an intense year, they are excited for kids to get away from the screen, all of that city noise and to come out enjoy the outdoors.
The Executive Director, Tom Graney says they are taking several measures to keep everyone safe. There’s extra cleaning of public spaces and campers will be encouraged to wash their hands often, especially before meals.
The biggest change which worked really well for them last year is that the campers will operate in cohorts.
“Instead of having a week of camp with 300 campers, all together for chapel service, all together for meals, all together for activities… we broke them up into cohorts or squads. So, we had the smaller groups and those groups stayed together for all of their activities,” said Graney.
He adds that the majority of its activities like canoeing, archery, and high rope course to name a few are outside so that helps reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Changes have also been made to the pick-up and drop-off schedule of the kiddos to spread it out. Campers will also be more spaced out in their cabins.
At this time, there are no mask or vaccination requirements for campers. There will be medical professionals present on site for the camp community.
Graney says you can do camp differently and still be successful.
After months of restrictions and isolation being outside, social, and camp life could be good for kids mentally, physically and emotionally.
Dr. Blake Hansen with Northwest Health says there has been a huge increase in screen time during the pandemic. He encourages kids to take a break from the laptops and cellphones and get active outdoors.
He suggests kids go see their primary doctor for a checkup before heading off to camp to make sure they are in good health.
He adds regular COVID health screenings are just as important.
“As a parent it’s going to be important to tune in because we know when kids do not have as much energy like they normally do, not acting like themselves, their appetite is not quite like it is normally,” said Hansen.
Parents should check for fever, cough and body aches for example and talk to kids about looking out for those same symptoms when they’re on their own.
Doctors also encourage kids 12 and older to get vaccinated to reduce the spread of COVID-19.