North Texas organizations scramble to reopen summer camps

Summer camps can open at the end of the month and organizations in North Texas are scrambling to pull programs together that meet state guidelines.

A lot of the organizations that normally offer in-person camps either cancelled programs or switched to virtual camps. Now some are trying to switch back — figuring out ways to offer kids the outdoor summer experiences that, for many, are a right of passage.

For the Boy Scouts of America in North Texas, overnight camp at facilities the organization owns will go on as planned with additional safety measures. But day camps at third-party facilities will be virtual instead.

Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, says June caps are cancelled but there is hope moving forward.

“We are having a meeting tomorrow morning actually to make decisions about what we think we can offer in July and August,” Bartowski said.

It’s a mixed bag for families used to relying on day camps at city recreation centers.

Dallas says it’s still working on its citywide programs, but anticipates reduced service with fewer kids.

Plano says its recreation facilities will be open to members only starting June 1. But camps are cancelled with a few exceptions, including classes at High Point Park Tennis Center.

The YMCA, which has been running emergency child care at six sites since March 23, says it’s ready to hold day camps at local schools and churches.

“With the 25 percent capacity, with the governor’s orders, we can’t have the camps and members in the building,” said Curt Hazelbaker, Dallas YMCA CEO. “We have learned a lot through that … safety procedures, social distancing. Keeping the kids active, but keeping the kids apart, so that’s been a good training ground for us to start our camps,” Hazelbaker said.

The Dallas YMCA says it does have room available in its day camps and financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

Still, some summer programs, like those offered by the Dallas Museum of Art, will stay virtual.

A spokesperson for the city of Fort Worth said they don’t have an update to share on its summer programs.