COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)– D.A. Turner Branch YMCA is operating in full swing after COVID-19 placed restrictions on how they operated summer camps last summer.
Last summer, the camp only allowed 30-40 children to participate due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year the camp is at full capacity with 120 camp goers. Registration for the camp opened during spring break and within two weeks the camp reached its full capacity. Child Care Director Jed Tuiolosega said he’s glad to see smiling faces again.
“I think this is a great opportunity for these kids. I think we love it as a staff to see them, smiling faces. Going from the school year to the summer, it just gives them a chance to have a lot of fun and socialize with their friends,” Tuiolosega said.
Even though enforcement of the mask mandate has ended in Columbus and vaccines are available for children ages 12 and up, summer camp officials are still recommending camp goers wear their mask because some are not old enough to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We deal with a lot of elementary kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. So we’re kind of in that mix of confusion, where that age cannot get vaccinated. For the 12 to 15-year-olds, I think they have some measures in place going forward next year. So we highly recommend it for their safety, staff safety and for the families too,” Tuiolosega said.
The children wear masks when they are in close proximity but when they are doing physical activities and playing sports they are allowed to take their masks off and get some air. Camp councilors have included a lot of physical activity in the day-to-day schedule.
“We’re doing a lot of drills in our camps, with specific sports. So were learning a lot of new games with basketball, soccer, football. So we’re giving them an opportunity to learn more in detail about certain sports and were still putting our academic components in,” Tuiolosega said.
Tuiolosega told News 3 he wants this to be a great summer for the kids.
“I think this is going to be a great summer for all the kids, for those who haven’t had the chance to get into a camp. There’s plenty of opportunity for them to do things, I think they still have some virtual things going on. It doesn’t beat the physical presence of kids face to face, staff face to face. I think they enjoy the time they have, physically, in front of someone,” Tuiolosega said.