One of the biggest challenges for the reopening of the economy in New York and New Jersey is the cancelation of all the summer camps that working parents rely on as childcare each summer.
It was very sad to see one camp after another send notifications out this week that they will be unable to open. This includes both local day camps and the sleepaway camps all over upstate New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The owners held out as long as they were able, sending encouraging emails and vowing to do whatever they could to gain compliance with local health guidelines and safety. In the end, the restrictions being placed on everyone were just too much. Especially for the day camps, where the staff goes home each night and comes back.
So now what?
Where I live, a lot of families have gone racing to join beach clubs. The rules the beach clubs are using to comply with health guidelines are incredibly (necessarily) draconian. They’re saying no ball playing. Imagine five ten year old boys being told to sit 6 feet away from each other and stare into space rather than throwing a football around. It’s not going to happen. Kids are going to be kids and it will be impossible to uphold a lot of these things in real life, even if they sound livable on paper. No swimming pools, no cabanas, chairs spaced out, limited occupancy, etc. Watching how people in other parts of the country are congregating again, I can’t imagine that not happening here by July 4th.
And then you’re going to have lots of kids hanging out on the streets all day, on bikes, walking around, hopping fences into closed parks. I think there’s going to be a massive safety issue in every community as a result of there being millions of kids without organized activities or places to go. And they’re not going to be staying away from each other. Remember being a teenager?
The ambivalence will be plain for anyone to see. And with many parents working, awareness of what their kids are doing, at any given moment, and with whom they’re doing it, will be tough.
So, like everyone else, I’m hoping the reopen goes okay. But I don’t think we should expect kids to be anything other than kids all summer, no matter what guidelines the states and counties lay out.