James Davis, now 23, has been attending Camp Anchor in Lido Beach since he was eight years old. Every year, he counts down the days when the camp will start, according to his mother, Lisa Davis, of Baldwin.
"Any activity he can do with his friends, he appreciates," his mother said.
But this year, with the coronavirus pandemic spreading across Long Island, the summer at Camp Anchor was an unknown.
The Hempstead town-owned camp, sitting on the beach, serves about 1,200 children and adults year-round. There are about 680 summer campers.
James, who is autistic, attends a day care program during the winter but relishes his summers in the fresh, open area of the camp during the summer.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Calvin said last week that the camp will allow the youngsters, adults and volunteer staff to spend one day a week at Anchorduring the summer. There will also be five weeks of online classroom activities for the campers, including arts and crafts and daily videos.
Camp Anchor, which has been closed since March, will be open for summer activities beginning July 13. Anchor will be limited to about 120 campers a week. The camp's pool and spray pad are closed, and it has not yet certain whether they will be open this summer.
The safety efforts will be under the direction of Dr. David Neubert, the Hempstead town physician.
"We are following the guidelines of the governor, but we are going further," Neubert said. "Every single person, campers, staff, volunteers, will be physically screened and handed a questionnaire. Temperatures must be 99.5 or less for admittance to the camp.
"I had reached out to the parents and it was important to have a balance" between creating a safe environment and opening the camp.
"They are safer here than you would be going into a store," Neubert said.
Two years ago, Camp Anchor celebrated its 50th anniversary. Anchor is an acronym for Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation. In a typical summer, the camp has about 300 volunteers and 250 staff members.
"This camp is a unique place," Clavin said. "It's the crown jewel in the town of Hempstead. We wanted to provide some kind of camp for the kids and their parents. We will have a safety program, but the camp will offer a sense of joy."
The safety program will be supervised by Dr. David Neubet, the Hempstead town physician.
Town Parks Commissioner Frank Zangla said in a letter to parents that the camp may host some family events, providing Long Island is qualified to enter Phase 4 this summer.
Ms. Davis said Camp Anchor and its people have become like family. "We definitely understand why they can't open full time," she said. "But the one week is a respite" for the campers.