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Many camps in the Midwest and the East have been moving activities indoors, seeking advice from medical professionals and hoping the air quality improves soon so campers can get back to hiking, playing tetherball and waging games of capture the flag.
“It has been a little tough just for our kiddos who are here, most of them are here for one week, and they want to swim. At the beginning of the week, we had some thunderstorms roll in so they couldn’t swim and then the air quality changed and so we’ve had to close our pool and then open our pool and then close our pool again. So it’s been back and forth a little bit,” said Executive Director of the YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, Mike McElhinney.
“We’re treating it like a rainy-day experience,” said McElhinney. “The biggest thing for us is the safety of our campers and our staff and we don’t want anybody to develop any issues because the air quality is bad and they’ve been outdoors.”
Campers like Christopher Mallon had to alter their expectations of certain camp traditions as their activities were moved inside due to air quality.
“I’ve only seen fog like this before. I’ve never seen this kind of smoke,” said Mallon.
Associate Vice President of risk management and safety for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Paige Meyer, said because their core groups are children, the elderly and the immune-compromised, they had to make some hard decisions to close certain camps and specific outdoor activities.
“And I know that our day camps specifically are a big childcare space. So it’s so parents can go to work every day or guardians can go to work every day. But on the flip side, we’re being trusted with those people’s prized possession and we want to make sure we do that the best way that we can,” said Meyer.
But the campers and staff have stayed positive throughout the changes.
“I think really that that camp is still going strong, even though we can’t be outdoors and our mission is still, you know, to help these kids grow and do what we can. And we’re adapting as best as we can,” said McElhinney.
This article was provided by The Associated Press.