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Field trips are a traditional part of a summer camp experience. Whether it is to the zoo, a trampoline park, or a Cleveland Indians game, children of all ages have fond memories of those summer trips with friends. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to host field trips this summer.

Jill Korsok, the director of Orange Community Education & Recreation in Pepper Pike, and Abbey Phillips, the director of day camps and youth services at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood, have both made adaptations to their camps’ field trip policy, but still assure campers will have a fun experience.

Korsok said Orange Community Education & Recreation can usually have as many as 150 kids, but those numbers will be significantly reduced in order to comply with the state of Ohio’s social-distancing guidelines.

“We’re currently following state of Ohio guidelines that say we can have groups of 10 or less,” Korsok said. “If those kids are in a situation where we’re going on a bus, we’ll be going in very small groups so they can maintain social distancing. They’ll have to continue masks whenever they’re in any sort of environment that requires it. We’ll continue following all COVID practices, which is what makes field trips really difficult.”

Phillips said the Mandel JCC has eliminated traditional field trips this summer, but will have groups of campers go off-site to its Burton location for kayaking, hiking, canoeing and other outdoor activities.

“We’re creating kits they can take with them with hand sanitizer and wipes,” Phillips said. “All of the locations have been scouted ahead of time to make sure there are areas – whether it’s a public park or something like that – that can be reserved specifically for our group.

“We’ll have staff arrive beforehand to wipe things down before the kids get there. And of course, we’ll make sure they’re sanitizing while we’re at the event.”

Korsok said her camp will also be doing outdoor activities, including a visit to a Cleveland Metroparks. However, the guidelines on small groups will make it challenging to organize transportation to those places.

“Definitely the transportation is a hurdle, because we can’t put 50 kids on a bus like is typical for us,” Korsok said. “That’s not going to work this year. Managing how we get places is really important.

“We don’t know that that’s going to be a possibility at this point in the year. We’re hoping it will be, but we just don’t know that for a fact, yet. That’s why our strategy is more to bring activities here to us that we can do safely.”

However, Korsok added they will be adjusting for this and also bringing in more activities on-campus than they normally would.

“Field trips are a really fun part of a typical summer camp,” Korsok said. “Getting to go and have new experiences with your friends is a really enjoyable part of typical summer camp. But we also know that’s something that’s a concern, so it’s something we’re not doing this year.

“So instead of doing that, we know we can bring an activity to our campus and still have the same types of experiences. It may be a different format, but it’d still be a fun day for kids.”

Phillips said, “In my opinion, having fun is more important than where it actually takes place. I know we’ve gotten very creative with our programming that can take place on-site this summer. We’re bringing a lot of excitement and new things to our location, instead of sending our constituents out for those sorts of things. But it is all about having that variety of different experiences and exposure to new activities.”

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