MAINE, Maine — Governor Janet Mills says Maine summer camps and recreation programs will be allowed to open June 1, amid the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. It's part of "phase two" of the state's reopening plan. 

On Wednesday, the Governor's Office released COVID-19 prevention guidelines for Maine summer camps. 

However, some summer camps are still choosing not to open for the 2020 summer. One such camp is Camp Vega in Fayette.

"We have made the really really hard decision, devastating decision, not to open our camp this year," says Camp Director Emily Courtiss.

Courtiss says the government guidelines, specifically those requiring campers to stay in small cohorts with limited interaction with other cohorts, would significantly alter the Camp Vega experience.

"The reality of camp is that kids and counselors want to be together, camp is the opposite of social distancing," says Courtiss. "We didn't think it was fair to put all of this responsibility of preventing the spread between cohorts on counselors and campers who have no experience with that." 

Courtiss says while the decision is a painful one, it's the right one for her particular camp. 

"This isn't to say that at other camps it couldn't be safe and couldn't be worthwhile... but with what we knew about COVID-19, or what we didn't know, we just didn't feel we had the tools to keep our family safe."

In Belgrade, Camp Modin will open this summer and is preparing to potentially face the virus.

"We have faced Measles, Meningitis, H1N1 and we've managed to navigate through it by being prepared for whatever comes at summer camps and by also working with the government of Maine," says Camp Modin Director Howard Salzberg.

Salzberg says he feels the Maine government is working closely with camps to decide the right path forward. "I think they have faith in our ability to mitigate the risk to the community by acting as an island unto ourselves and really isolating this summer."

Salzberg says Camp Modin campers will not be taking off-camp excursion this summer as it has in the past.

"What we'll change this summer is that we won't bring campers out into communities such as Portland or Bar Harbor, because of the fact that we don't want to introduce that kind of risk into the general population, but we can allow camp to continue on our own properties."

with government COVID-19 prevention guidance on hand, Maine's nearly 200 summer camps will now each decide whether to open.

Salzberg says, "It's a very painful personal decision for each camp." 

Courtiss says, "Ultimately, all of us want the same thing, and that's that every camper and staff member, whether they come to Maine or not this summer, finishes the summer healthy and safe and happy."

The Mills administration summer camp guidelines say "camps will be subject to closure per CDC recommendations if there is an outbreak within the camp."

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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