It was sometime in early June when the counselors and director for the Barrett Park summer camp program approached village Director of Recreation Jimmy Fitanzo to inform him that should it be cancelled this summer, it would be for the first time in more than 35 years.
“So we got on a Zoom meeting, and myself and the counselors came up with a re-imagined type of program,” Fitanzo recalled. With restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, the program would have to be cut down, with fewer staff and smaller groups of campers and built-in social distancing procedures. After the redesign, Fitanzo and the staff brought the plan to the mayor and, he said, “he gave it his blessing.”
“The biggest thing was the parents,” he said, noting the pressures the virus has put on them, having been unable to send their children off to school during the latter half of the year. The camp would offer a brief respite, and give them a chance to run errands or relax.
Although the camp’s capacity was halved to about 150 campers, Fitanzo said the cut-down program gave the staff a chance to acclimate themselves to equipment and activities originally intended for the camp’s full-day program, which would have launched this year for the first time. “We’re using it as a positive,” he said.
And roughly halfway through the summer, feedback has been good. Despite the deep uncertainty, Fitanzo said, “it worked out.”