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Though many camps have canceled or postponed summer experiences, others have decided to offer their in-person programs with a few tweaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Barr, managing member and owner of The Wembley Club, and Jim Rosenberger, owner of the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club, both in Bainbridge Township, decided to offer sports day camps at their clubs with changes in place to safely operate.

The decision to open was carefully considered, both owners said, even though Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said summer camps were allowed to open.

“We feel our camp can open and follow the guidelines set forth by the state of Ohio to ensure a safe environment for our campers,” Rosenberger said.

Barr added keeping the camp operating provides extra fitness options for children.

“We believe exercise is vital to health and having everyone sit at home all day is not good,” he said. “We know we can help people exercise and be healthy and make sure it’s done safely.”

After deciding to operate, both camps created plans to keep campers safe and space sanitary.

“We have published 11 or 12 pages of new protocols that we’re following this summer to make sure everyone is super safe,” Barr said. “We’re distancing, disinfecting well beyond the requirements from the governor and his team. We’ve also reached an agreement with Your Healthy Spaces and they’re going to come in and apply a disinfectant every 30 days for six months. It kills 99.99% of germs. The treatment is also green-friendly and protects the surfaces it is applied to for 30 days continuously.”

Barr added staff at The Wembley Club has been restructured and bolstered, tripling the budget available for housekeeping services. Staff will be cleaning “constantly,” he said. As for summer camp, campers will be practicing social distancing, smaller groups and encouraged to wash hands before and after play.

At CVAC’s sports camps, Rosenberger said staff and campers will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

“All camp staff will follow state guidelines, such as wearing face coverings and washing hands frequently,” he noted. “We are using games and activities that will keep social distancing when appropriate and the campers will also frequently wash their hands.”

Parents should be aware of a few things before sending their children to camp this summer. Before participating, parents should also discuss the changes with their campers.

“Parents need to track their child’s temperature and look for signs of illness as set forth by the CDC and keep their child home,” Rosenberger suggested. “Campers may wear a face covering and bring their own sanitizer for personal use. Daily fun and games will be the order of the day at our camp with an extra emphasis on social distancing and handwashing.”

Barr added, “The kids who come to camp this year should be aware that it is going to be very different. Parents should be explaining why it’s a good idea to follow these guidelines and why they should cooperate. Parents can help put kids in the right frame of mind, which will be appreciated by our staff if we have kids who know why this is important.”

In light of how different this summer will be, Barr and Rosenberger placed importance on still having fun.

“Summer camp creates wonderful memories and lasting friendships,” Rosenberger noted. “We will not allow COVID-19 to dampen the camper experience.”

Barr said, “Everything we’ve done is to be ready for the unique year that we’re in. We’re ready for it. It’s about getting kids out to exercise but also have a safe experience. We think we can strike a good balance between the two.”

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