‘Parents are dying for camp right now.’ Will it happen in NJ?
The pools and fields are getting prepped, and employees are being hired, at the three New Jersey camps owned and operated by Jonathan Gold.
But right now, he has no idea whether there will be a summer 2020 session for kids.
"Everybody's just waiting to see what happens," Gold said. "Parents are dying for camp right now."
Summer camps, which apply yearly through the Department of Health for a license to operate, will ultimately hear from the state whether they have the green light to invite children to play during the warmer months. Children and parents in the state learned Thursday that school won't be back in session until at least May 15 due to the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey, said camps' offices are open and they're accepting applications from parents who want to book spots for their children. Time is still on their side, and so much can change over the next 30 days or so, she said.
But camps are not moving forward with an all-or-nothing mindset — the start date, typically in late June, could be pushed back a few weeks, or certain amenities or rules may need to be adjusted.
"Camps were under the threat of a measles outbreak last summer and had to change things very quickly," Lupert said.
At the end of the summer 2019 season, parents booked about 80% of the spots available this year at Eagle's Landing Day Camp in North Brunswick. Owner Barry Wasserman anticipates a very busy June on the phone with parents, whether or not the season is on.
"We offer a 100% refund for any reason until June 28, 2020," Wasserman said.
Wasserman said the camp would be willing to comply with any restrictions put in place by the DOH, such as limiting the number of kids on the property or adjusting how food is served.
In an emailed statement to New Jersey 101.5, the DOH did not hint at any decision for summer 2020, but said it has been planning and been in contact with licensed camps in the state.