Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Hall of Fossils display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History 

One of the most time-honored traditions for day camps in the summer is going on field trips with fellow campers to locations around the city. Whether it’s the local zoo, adventure sports parks or the museum, field trips offer a good opportunity for campers to explore the city they live in.

Renata Brown, director of school and family learning at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland; Jacqueline Gerling, director of communications for the Cleveland Metroparks in Cleveland; and Jamie Haggerty, general manager of Adrenaline Monkey in Warrensville Heights, said it is essential to provide a safe environment for outside camps to visit.

Haggerty said Adrenaline Monkey has changed several things this summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For one, they are no longer open to the public during camp hours. This way, there is no mixing of the general public with field trips. Another major change is, instead of having five different areas in the facility for campers to break off into large groups, the building is now broken into 20 different areas called adventure zones. This way, children can be broken into smaller groups.

Haggerty said it is very important to continue providing this environment for children this summer.

“With a place like ours where people don’t see us as essential, we feel differently, because exercise and mental health is important,” Haggerty said. “A lot of it is perception. Are we perfect? Is anybody perfect? No. But it’s important that we’re trying and that parents, families, outsiders and anyone involved can see that we’re doing our best and enforcing our protocols and guidelines that we put in place.”

Brown said limiting capacity at the history museum will be the biggest difference.

“We’re used to hosting very large groups,” Brown said. “We’ll have entire grade levels come. We’ll have groups of 100 regularly coming to the museum; during our busiest time of year with school groups in April and May, we would regularly have over 1,000 school kids arriving in the mornings. Because our sizes are restricted right now, we’re offering all of our virtual programs to keep us busy and to keep reaching out into the community.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, groups can’t be larger than 10 people.

“Outside camp groups can visit the parks on their own for self guided exploration or request a naturalist-led program,” Gerling said. “Naturalist programs will be accommodated in a limited capacity as staff availability allows and must follow current COVID-19 guidelines from the state.”

Brown said the museum has also begun taking temperatures of people entering the building, as well as a timed-ticket entry system to ensure the capacity of the museum remains at a safe number.

“I think we’re looking at safety as the No. 1 priority,” Brown said. “The museum is an amazing place just as it is. So we can ensure that you’re going to be safe when you come through the door, we enforce mask wearing, we have hand sanitizer everywhere and one-way traffic through the building. If you’re feeling safe, you’re going to have a fun visit, because who doesn’t want to explore dinosaurs or our live animals out in Perkins?”

Haggerty said the biggest challenge has been balancing fun and safety. But, she still feels that Adrenaline Monkey is a fun place to spend a summer day.

“As you can imagine, policing kids in an environment that’s supposed to be fun and free, is difficult,” Haggerty said. “Kids, when they come to Adrenaline Monkey, they want to run around and be kids. They want to do their thing, do all the courses and not have to worry. Telling kids to not do what’s normal to them is really difficult and heartbreaking at the end of the day, because we all know that kids need this. They need to be free, they need to be creative.”

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