Summer Youth Programming a Patchwork of Open, Closed, Virtual Due to COVID-19

May 21, 2020 • Filed under News

Earlier this week, Lisa Haverty cleared away board games, dolls and other items from the large central room at Haverty Hollow, the site of her Atlanta summer day camp Frog Hollow.

She set up a washing station for toys and bought a no-touch thermometer. She tacked up a list of guidelines on the front door of the log building that houses the camp. She’s had the swimming pool cleaned and readied for 80 campers ages 5 to 10.

Her bucolic after-school and summer day camp, where children dig in the dirt for worms, tend a guinea pig and frog, swim and do archery and other outdoor activities, will open this summer — although at half-capacity.

Other summer programs are not necessarily following suit. Horizons Atlanta, a summer learning program with 10 sites, has made a different decision.

Executive Director Alex Wan said nine of its sites will not be offering in-person programs. Kids won’t be splashing in the pool, going on field trips and having face-to-face lessons. Instead, Horizons programs will offer a mix of online activities and old-fashioned boxes of materials delivered to kids at home.

Across the country, summer youth programs have been disrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic. Program leaders are making decisions about whether to open their programs and how to run them differently if they do.

“Everyone is working on this. Everyone is trying to figure this out,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association.

Most summer learning programs are not expected to open, according to Catherine Augustine, co-author of the May 2020 report“Getting Support for Summer Learning: How Federal, State, City and District Policies Affect Summer Learning Programs.”

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