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Local summer camps adapt to keep kids safe

Local summer camp directors explain how they're preventing COVID-19 outbreaks.

BOONE, Iowa — A string of COVID-19 outbreaks have been tied to summer camps across the country.

However, none of those outbreaks are in central Iowa.

"We want to make sure that we're also being as safe as possible," said Alex Kretzinger, executive director of Des Moines Y Camp in Boone.

To reduce the risk of the virus spreading through the camp, Kretzinger said they're following CDC guidelines and implementing their own health protocols. 

There's a new drive-thru check-in process for overnight campers which includes a screening and temperature check. Parents aren't allowed to walk their kids back to the cabins.

The camp is also reducing the number of kids who can be on site each week and the number who can eat in the dining hall at the same time. Masks are required in some situations.  

"We have had to add masks to indoor gatherings of campers from other cabins," Kretzinger. "The cabin we view as a family group, so just in that cabin they don't need to wear masks indoors, but when we mix kids from other cabin groups we do add masks."

Kretzinger said the camp is making sure the majority of time is spent outdoors.

Sandy Miller, the artistic director at Heartland Youth Choir, said the staff is cleaning thoroughly and campers are spreading out. When singing, she said the kids are three or four feet apart and some wear masks.

Group sizes for various activities have also been reduced.

"I know that the kids are safe and I know that they're singing which is a part of their being," Miller said. "I feel very confident at night when I go home that our kids are going to be safe and that we're going to have a successful day the next day."

The director of the Y Camp said if someone does get sick while at camp, there is a nurse on-site with rapid COVID-19 tests. 

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