PEI

Camp Gencheff reopens for day camps as kids hope for sleepovers

Camp Gencheff has opened for day camps and hopes it will be able to offer overnight camps sometime this summer if COVID-19 public health measures allow.

'It was really hard to stay closed, as we know that families rely on us'

Camp Gencheff is offering day camps again after being closed since March break due to COVID-19. (CBC)

Camp Gencheff has opened for day camps and hopes it will be able to offer overnight camps sometime this summer if COVID-19 public health measures allow.

The camp, located in Stratford overlooking Hillsborough Bay, serves children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Executive director Elysia Hickox said the day camps for children will run throughout the summer Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

She said at the end of the day some kids are wishing they could stay overnight.

It can be the only opportunity for that child or adult to have an actual vacation for themselves without their family.— Elysia Hickox, Camp Gencheff

"A lot of the girls here now are just like they have to go home every night, then they come back," she said. 

"So they are expressing that they are missing that kind of sleepover part of the camp."

'Vacation for themselves'

The sleepovers offer a break for parents, as well.

"Because it's specialized care, sometimes it's families' only opportunity to get a night or get a whole weekend or get a week off," she said.

It was really hard to stay closed, as we know that families rely on us.— Elysia Hickox, Camp Gencheff

"A lot of families can only send their child to like maybe an aunt and uncle's house or you know family members, but then they're limited to just that one interaction whereas here you know you've got 20-plus people all together. So it can be the only opportunity for that child or adult to have an actual vacation for themselves without their family."

Hickox said if they are able to provide full week camps in August, they will have one week for children, one for teenagers and two for adults.

Could extend into school year

Otherwise, they will continue to offer day camps for the summer and into the fall if necessary.

"Depending on the schools, how they roll out in September, we will still be providing a program if there's a lack of school support for them, we'll be doing days as well if that's needed."

After being closed since March break, Hickox said she's just happy to have the doors open again.

"It was really hard to stay closed, as we know that families rely on us. But it also does force us to look at what we are, what more can we do for Islanders with this COVID situation," she said.

"You know, we have come together a lot more as a community with our families and trying to problem solve and provide support."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker

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