Nova Scotia

Halifax to have modified summer day camps this year

Highlights include outdoor half-day camps for children between six and 12. There will be "virtual opportunities" for older youth.

Information on how to register will be released once the public health guidelines are confirmed

The Halifax Regional Municipality says it will be offering modified summer day camps for children between six and 12 from July 13 to Aug. 28. (Shutterstock)

Day camps run by the Halifax Regional Municipality are back on this summer, but with modifications to account for COVID-19.

On Thursday, the municipality said it would be offering modified summer day camps for children between six and 12 from July 13 to Aug. 28.

Public health guidelines for the camps are still in the process of being confirmed. Once those requirements are met, camps will be offered at select facilities during the following sessions:

  • Weekday morning camp, which is one week of sessions from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Weekday afternoon camp, which is one week of sessions from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The half-day camps allow the option "to maximize the number of participants while following public health protocol and ensuring safe physical distancing," the municipality said in a news release.

Most of the camps will be held outside so people can physically distance from one another. If the weather doesn't allow outdoor activities, the camps will be moved inside unless it has been designated as an exclusively outdoor camp.

The Discovery Centre's immersive dome theatre is shown. The Halifax museum will be hosting day camps this summer. (Discovery Centre)

Camps for preschool-age children will not be offered this summer due to "difficulty enforcing physical distancing requirements for this age group," the municipality said.

There also won't be camps for youth 13 to 24, but the municipality said there would be "virtual opportunities" for them. These opportunities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Employment skills, like preparing a resumé.
  • Conversations on the environment.
  • Conversations on the upcoming municipal election.
  • The youth services plan committee.

There will not be a youth leadership program offered this summer "due to group gathering requirements and health restrictions."

Information on how to register will be released once the public health guidelines are confirmed.

N.S. releases day camp guidelines

On Friday, the Nova Scotia government posted its return-to-day-camp guide online.

It covers what different organizations running day camps have to do during the pandemic, including having a plan for people to stay at home if they become stick or have travelled outside Nova Scotia in the previous 14 days.

Camps also have to show how physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures will be enforced. There also needs to be a plan for sanitizing high-touch surface areas and how to keep parents and guardians informed of all the rules.

Day camps have to keep daily attendance records of all staff and children in case of an outbreak. Groups cannot exceed 10 people.

Kids looking forward to camp

Henk van Leeuwen, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Halifax, said nothing in the new list of guidelines surprised him. He said there's a lot of excitement for this summer.

"We've heard from our club families and we've heard from our club kids. We know they miss their friends, they miss their program leaders and we miss them," van Leeuwen told CBC Nova Scotia News at Six in an interview on Friday.

"So we're a vital community hub and lifeline and a fun distraction for kids right now. Because we also know and have heard that kids are experiencing a tough time."

Theatre camps improv COVID-19 guidelines

In an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Halifax on Friday, Laura Caswell, director of education at Neptune Theatre in Halifax said they're already planning workarounds for when camps start on July 2.

For example, camps for children age four to six have been reduced and there won't be any group singing. Caswell said there will be more of a focus on videos, too.

"I'm so relieved that everything has come through and now we have proper guidelines to follow and we're really ready to take on this challenge," Caswell said.

Chris O'Neill, executive director of Ross Creek Centre of the Arts in Canning, told Mainstreet everything needed to be rejigged to be exclusively day camps this summer.

O'Neill said the goal will be to make sure people are following the guidelines without making it feel so strict. She said some staff are going to turn those COVID-19 guidelines into games.

"We really feel strongly that this has taken a big emotional toll on kids and we want to try and relieve some of that burden," O'Neill said.

Summer camps at Discovery Centre

The Discovery Centre in Halifax decided last week to start offering in-person camps starting July 6. It's working with its existing registrations to determine further capacity because summer camp spots were filled in March.

The camps will be held Monday through Wednesdays. The Discovery Centre will be closed to the public on the days the camp is running.

The centre plans to have a slow opening, beginning in July and it will be operating to the public four days a week, Thursday to Sunday.

Some health protocols that will be followed include reducing the size of groups, controlled traffic flow, personal protective equipment for staff and enhanced cleaning in camper areas.

With files from Mainstreet Halifax and CBC Nova Scotia News at Six