Andy Pritikin, owner and director of Liberty Lake Day Camp, has been awarded the 2021 American Camp Association Special Recognition Award for his advocacy in opening summer camps in 2020 and 2021, and the policies put into place to ensure a safe summers for campers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His work motivated hundreds of camps across North America to open last summer, and most of the rest to open in 2021, according to information provided by the day camp, located in Bordentown.
Pritikin, who authors nationally published parenting articles, and hosts one of the camp industry’s most listened to podcasts, has been advocating for years that “kids were already in screen/technology overload, and losing their social skills. Since the pandemic hit, these same children have been forced to stare at screens, while taken away from formative social interaction- causing bigger social, mental, and emotional issues,” according to the statement.
In the months leading up to summer 2020, Pritikin became the de facto spokesman for the camp industry, appearing over 35 times on local and national television, and virtual media outlets, according to the statement. Days after testifying at a Senate subcommittee hearing about the re-opening of childcare centers and summer camps, New Jersey day camps were given the green light. Other state governments followed New Jersey’s lead, and hundreds of camps throughout North America were inspired by Pritikin and Liberty Lake to open, following similar safety protocols.
Pritikin is passionate that the summer camp experience carries more significance right now than ever before, as in New Jersey, it remains as one of the only places for children to socialize with their peers, outdoors, without face masks nor social distancing.
Pritikin said in the statement, “our unique environment really fosters the kind of socialization that can return the childhood experience to our kids.”
Liberty Lake forged a path to opening in 2020, creatively integrating precautions to ensure camper and staff safety, according to the statement. Hand cleaning stations were added throughout camp, activities were altered to fit CDC guidelines, rules about social distancing between groups and activities were put in place, and summer camp was as clean as could be! In the end, over 1000 campers and 250 staff enjoyed one of the most positive experiences of their lives, with no kids or families testing positive or getting ill.