Adjusting summer camp programs to comply with state regulation during the state’s phased COVID-19 reopening hasn’t been easy, but East Boston’s four premier youth camp program providers are adapting well.
”Summer camp is in full swing at the East Boston Y at our Ashley Street location,” said East Boston YMCA Executive Director Joe Gaeta. “We have taken all the necessary safety precautions laid out by the Department of Public Health in order to ensure a safe and fun summer for all our children and staff.”
Gaeta said the Y is currently at capacity with 60 children and have been practicing the proper amount of social distancing and cleaning techniques daily.
“Each day the youth take part in awesome STEAM activities, physical activities, teamwork activities, and educational activities–including virtual field trips,” said Gaeta. “This year we are intentional about working as much education into fun as possible to help with the “Covid Slide.” Each activity is a ton of fun for kids without knowing they are learning core educational building blocks at the same time.”
Gaeta said being able to provide the community with a safe place for children to be during the summer months is the Y’s top priority.
“It’s fun to see the kids return to some sort of normalcy given they haven’t been in school since March,” said Gaeta. “Staff are energetic to engage our youth each day and provide them with ample space to have a good time”
Over at Piers Park Sailing Center Executive Director Alex DeFronzo said while it is such a challenging summer and a difficult time for many Eastie families the kids have been having a blast.
“They are doing a great job following the rules, and we appreciate parents and guardians that are always wearing a face covering and keeping a safe distance from program areas,” said DeFronzo. “Socialization is such an important part of youth development and being outside makes it as safe as reasonably possible. While we’ve had to forgo some of our favorite parts of the summer like lunch parties and weekly island trips we’ve added a few new activities like weekly Friday races right in front of Piers Park.”
Now in its third week the Sailing Center’s three major programs are well underway.
“We have Harbor Explorers for 6-9 year olds, Science of Sailing for ages 10 and over, and our Future Leader/Instructor Trainee teen program,” said deFronzo. “All three are fully booked. Our boats and hands are collectively cleaner than they have ever been and we are going to do all we can to make it through the summer safely and with as much fun as possible.”
Salesian Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Mike Triant said the club kids have been having a good summer so far.
“We have had a great camp thus far,” said Triant. “This is week three for us and the kids are having a great time. I think just being out of the house and being around friends, even though it is such a limited number of people they interact with, is having a positive impact on the behavior of the kids. All the parents seem very comfortable with our processes and procedures. We are still growing and now have close to 80 kids in the camp.”
Justin Pasquariello, executive director of the East Boston Social Centers, said the Social Centers took a bit longer to reopen and started summer programs on Monday.
“We ended up taking a bit longer to reopen so today is our first day back,” said Pasquariello. “We reopened one early learning facility in a new location due to pending displacement from Orient Heights public housing and reopened more school age programming summer camps at 68 Central Square for the same reason and all is going well so far.”