RAYMOND P. LAVIETES UNIT SUMMER CAMP
Summer Camp Update - July 8, 2020
The staff at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley was on a mission to reopen this summer after being closed since mid-March. This determined group is proud that they were able to create a safe environment for camp, ease the stress of parents who needed childcare, and provide opportunities for campers to be with friends, play games, grow, learn, and have fun.
Shaye Roscoe, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club, says "we're so glad to have our doors open again and to be doing what we do best, giving kids a safe place to be a kid and helping kids reach their full potential."
Staff members wear masks and perform health screenings, including temperature checks, for anyone who enters the building. Breon Sanders, the Ansonia Unit Director, said "the highlight of each day is greeting the kids and seeing the campers and the youth development professionals engaged in the daily activities."
Jennifer DeLeon, the Shelton Unit Director, said "although it is much different than we are used to and I miss being able to have all of our kids back with us, it is reassuring to hear the positive feedback of parents and members alike, such as how much fun their child is having or even the kids sharing that they had the best day ever!"
The Club has been an important part of the Valley landscape for over 64 years. The Board of Directors led by Frederick Serra, President; Shaye Roscoe, CEO; Jim Queen, Director of Operations; and Unit Directors, Jennifer DeLeon (Shelton); Jesse Patrick (Seymour); and Breon Sanders (Ansonia) worked closely with the Office of Early Childhood, Naugatuck Valley Health District, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to create a camp that is safe, fun, affordable, and educational.
The Club was retrofitted to ensure maximum safety with quality air filters and closures. Loyal friends of the Club donated safety supplies, thermometers, and scholarships to help offset the cost of camp.
Kids are organized into small groups and placed into teams with an assigned home base. Campers have the opportunity to use the gymnasium and athletic fields with schedules for each team. While the new norm is different from years past, there are some highlights that remain the same - including visits to the Club's Splash Pad and treats from Valley Jim's Soft Serve Ice Cream Truck.
Having a regular structure during an unsettling time can help kids with key opportunities to socialize, get exercise, and engage in enriching programs that help offset the potential learning loss from March. Even in the midst of a pandemic and all that anxiety that it creates, it is possible to create a safe environment for kids to thrive.
Jesse Patrick, the Unit Director for the Seymour Unit, said "there's absolutely a social benefit to the kids being at camp. They've been without their peers for a long time, so they're very happy to be back with their friends."
While the state has already loosened guidelines to allow for bigger groups and removed the necessity to check temperatures, the Club will maintain the safety protocols already in place for the families. They prefer to err on the side of caution. With the state of Connecticut preparing for schools to reopen in the fall, the Club looks forward to collaborating and supporting the educational system to ensure kids and families have access to programs and safe childcare options this fall.