MAINE, Maine — There will be more smiles and laughs at summer camps across Maine this summer.
Newly-released state guidelines say camps of any session and any length are able to operate, as long as they follow COVID-19 prevention checklists which include:
- Out-of-state campers must complete required testing or quarantine prior to arrival.
- Camps must adhere to gathering and spacing limits for indoor and outdoor activities.
- Masks must be worn.
Click here for the overnight summer camps checklist.
Click here for the day camps checklist.
"We've been looking forward to this day for many, many months," said the president of the Maine Youth Camping Association and the owner of Winona Camps, Laura Ordway.
Ordway said of the 170 licensed youth summer camps in the state, roughly 10 percent were able to operate last summer. This year, she believes the vast majority of camps will be able to open.
"Our smaller non-profit, multi-session, short-session camps needed to have the guideline updated so that they would be able to run anywhere from three-day programs, to four-day programs and week-long programs," Ordway said.
Girl Scouts of Maine is one of those camps. Last summer, its camps were not able to operate at all. Mary Ellen Deschenes, the chief of outdoor operations, said they are looking forward to welcoming their girls back.
"We're really hopeful and positive. The guidelines are reasonable. Our biggest challenge is going to be to ensure that all of our folks or campers are able to get tested before they come," Deschenes said.
Ketcha Outdoors, a day camp in Scarborough, was able to open last summer. It is also figuring out how to follow the new guidelines.
"For us, the limiting factor is storm space. Normally, we'd bring everyone into the great room on a lightning storm day and sing songs and do skits, but you can't bring 300 kids together, so we're breaking them down into cohorts of 16 and will have to space them around camp in storm-proof shelters," Ketcha Outdoors Executive Director Tom Doherty said.
All say they are looking forward to kids enjoying everything summer camps have to offer, no matter what it may look like.