Governor's 11th Hour Call to Allow Day Camps to Open is Too Late for Many

HFA Summer 4An 11th hour call from Governor Andrew Cuomo which will allow day camps to open on June 29 appears to have come too late for many camps to pivot and open for the summer. Cuomo’s executive order was not accompanied by any requirements from the County or State Departments Of Health so camp owners were left wondering what would be required if they did decide to open for the summer. With only three weeks to plan and hire staff, it simply left too little time to allow them to welcome campers this year.

We surveyed some local camp owners and received mixed messages. Here is what we learned.

Anticipating that many kids would need options for this summer, Backyard Sports adapted early and is offering programs for kids in their own backyards. According to Danny Bernstein, “Backyard Sports is teaming up with Next Level Camps this summer to bring summer camp to you. As camps and village programs close their doors due to the current health crisis, we are determined to provide the fun and interactive activities that mean so much to your kids… and to do it safely from your own home. With our Next Level 2 U “Backyard Bound” and “Backyard Sports Academy” options, families can choose from various sports, summer camp activities and enrichment options to create a flexible two-hour program that is fun, engaging and age appropriate for your child. We will send an experienced coach with equipment to your home to work with a small, predetermined group of 4-8 children chosen by you (the parents). Morning and afternoon scheduling options are available, ages 5-12 years old. For families looking for a more intensive sports experience, the Backyard Sports Academy option is for you. For a more traditional summer camp experience with a combination of sports, camp games and various enrichment options including art, dance, cooking, yoga, drama and more, the Backyard Bound option is right for you. For more information and to register, please visit or call Danny at Backyard Sports for program details: 914-304-4052.”

Matt Davanzo of Squire Camps is hoping to be open. He said, “We are not sure what we are doing  yet.  We have a plan in place to run for 6 weeks, and are planning on opening, but awaiting some more information from the county until we say definitely yes.”

Camp Ramaquois also hopes to open, but not until July 20, given the proper information by the NYS and Rockland Departments of Health.

Challenge Camp is sticking with their plans to host a virtual summer camp. They said, “We will not be holding in person camp. We will be virtual only with Challenge Camp @Home. As an academic oriented camp, a sizable portion of our staff is older and we had concerns for their safety and the safety of our camp community. While the Governor has announced that camps can open, they still have not released the rules and regulations. Based on the CDC's guidelines that we have seen, the restrictions will be highly limiting as to what campers will be able to do.” However they “are absolutely still taking signups - - and offering parents the flexibility to sign up for 2,3,4 or 5 classes each session so they can customize their campers schedule in a way that works best for the family's summer schedule.

The Music Conservatory of Westchester will also be strictly online this summer, as well as the Steffi Nossen School of Dance who reports, “We have decided, after long deliberation, that we will remain virtual for the summer and see how things feel.  We hope we will be back in the studio for fall, but make that decision later over the summer.”

However, the Governor’s delay left some without options:

Deputy Village Manager Rob Cole said the following about Scarsdale’s popular day camp run by the Recreation Department. “Like many Westchester communities, the Governor’s call authorizing came too late. Summer Camp programs involve a great deal of preparatory work, including coordination with Westchester County Department of Health, hiring, contracting, etc. Therefore, there is no current plan to offer summer camps. However, the mini-camps are still be planned, as related in our press release that announced the Summer Camp cancellation.”