Summer camps prepare to welcome campers back in-person

LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) – Summer camps are hard at work preparing to reopen in-person, and organizers say the demand is higher than ever after a year of canceled and virtual events.

Camp Director of Camp Tanager, in Mount Vernon, Donald Pirrie worked hard planning for this summer, figuring out COVID-19 safety measures from masks to social distancing.

After cancelling last year due to the pandemic, they’re bringing kids back for day and overnight camps. They’re putting layered safety measures in place for each building and classic camp activities like archery.

“The shooting part was easy, the lining kids up at the targets, and firing at targets is really easy to do,” Pirrie said. “The thought that had to come into it was how does sanitation look after and before the fact, washing hands before and after, cleaning off arrows and bows.”

He says weekly day camps are capped at 40 campers, which is down from the usual 60-70. Pirrie said spots filled up quickly.

Camp Tanager is also currently building a new cabin and lunch hall. Pirrie said the new lunch hall will be more than double the size of the current hall. The construction will help meet what Pirrie said is a growing demand from families wanting to come to camp.

Theatre Cedar Rapids is also bringing back in-person summer camps after going virtual last year.

On-site Summer Camp Coordinator Mic Evans says in-person classes of around 25 will be spread out on the lawn of Brucemore instead of inside the theater, to better allow for social distancing. Some of the camps are being offered online.

“The demand has been high,” Evans said. “I think the hunger for arts camps and arts programs, in-person work in a safe and comfortable and healthy way has been really, really high.”

He said he’s looking forward to giving students the opportunity to meet and work together in-person this summer.

“Art disappeared for a year,” Evans said. “And so to be able to come back to it in full force, even with our masks and our distancing, and outside, and virtual, I’m just excited to step back into the theater and into the classroom with my students.”

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