Cranbury Township gears up for the reopening of summer camp

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Cranbury’s summer recreation program will look a little different from previous years, as the Recreation Department adapted to a new normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

As of July 6, the program is still slated to have three sessions this summer, according to Recreation Director Ken Jacobs.

“We purposely waited a week after the July 6 date when camps and programs can open statewide to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row,” he said. “We had to think outside of the box, because we usually have the program at the Cranbury School and understandably the school did not want to have the program conducted on school grounds this summer.”

The program has been moved to Village Park with the first session scheduled from July 13-24. The first session only consists of morning sessions from 8:30-11:30 a.m.

“We have a strict set of guidelines that will be followed. Director of Summer Recreation Tim Brennan and I have put in a lot of time to organize this summer’s program. He will be the onsite individual who will oversee everything,” Jacobs said.

Following Session 1 will be Session 2 July 27-Aug.7 and Session 3 Aug. 10-21. Both will contain morning and afternoon sessions.

“To be COVID-19 compliant we had to cover 64 pages of regulations. We took rules and adapted them. We went through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, state guidelines, national and state park recreation guidelines,” Brennan said.

According to Brennan, getting the program going this summer would be an expense of between $6,000-11,000.

“That is far more than we pay. That is one of the reasons why the camp costs $250 per person per session. We are usually about $180 for a week and you are there for six hours, taking trips and going to the pool twice a week,” he said. “This time there are no trips and we cannot leave campus.”

There are three grade level groups for the summer program: first and second grades, third and fourth grades, and fifth to seventh grades. Three tents will be set up inside of Village Park with each age group having their own tent, bathroom and portable washing station. They will also have their own parking lot for dropoffs and pickups, according to Brennan.

“When they get to Village Park the first thing they will do is stay in their car until staff takes their temperature with a touchless thermometer. Staff asks them several health related questions and then releases them to go to their tent area,” he said. “They will have their own little blankets to bring and distance it apart from the other children until the designated group gets together.”

The activities for the campers in the first session will include art with a teacher who will go to each group, social distancing tools, and 30 minutes for an organized sports activity. The sports activities available will be dodgeball, volleyball and badminton.

“Children in each group will have to bring their own art supplies each week so they are not shared. For sports, each group will also have their own set of Frisbees and balls. We have reinvented and changed rules for those activities to be COVID-19 compliant so that there is no contact between each child,” Brennan said.

There is an emergency plan in place in case of a thunderstorm disrupting a session, which will also maintain social distancing requirements.

“We do have a walking route to the basement of Town Hall, where there are rooms that we would go to. Each group will only have a maximum of 12 campers this summer and so they would be smaller groups,” Brennan said. “All campers are required to bring three face covering masks with them in a Ziploc bag. If we can’t maintain that six-foot distancing they will put one of their masks on.”

The program would assign 10 or so campers to two or three counselors during sessions.

“For the first session we will have nine staff members combined through the three groups that will be counselors for the kids. We also have an art director, sports director and myself,” Brennan said. “There will be a total of about 12 people on staff and we will also have a health coordinator each day.”

A four-hour training session is set up for staff for COVID-19 compliancy, according to Brennan.

“Every time a camper goes to the bathroom a counselor has to go with them. After the camper is done the counselor wipes down every touched surface in there,” he added.

The summer program in 2020 is only available for Cranbury residents compared to previous years.

“Normally we are open to everybody and anybody for the summer camp, but because of the rules this year we are sticking to just Cranbury residents only,” Brennan said.

To get the summer program ready during 2020 took work and Brennan said the department knew that the children needed it, along with the parents.

“We are not going to do anything that puts anybody in danger. This is something we wanted safe for staff and children. I love running the camp and this my 24th year here,” he added. “I am nervous that we may not end up with the camper numbers that we need. If we don’t we won’t be able to open camp.”

For more information about the 2020 summer program or signing up, visit www.cranburytownship.org.