The Alfond Youth and Community Center in Waterville is set to open its day camp and enrichment program in early June with extra safety measures in place to protect patrons from the coronavirus pandemic.

The center’s Day Camp Tracy and Summer Enrichment Program & Early Childcare Program will begin on Monday, June 8, and run until August.

In order to abide by new guidelines set by the state, Crista Lavenson, director of advancement for the youth center, said the center has implemented several precautionary measures.

We’re going to do wellness screenings, taking temperatures for everybody who enters the building,” Lavenson said during a phone call on Tuesday. “Kids in the childcare program don’t have to wear masks, but parents who enter the building to pick up their children have to wear masks and if they’ve traveled out of state they aren’t allowed to enter …

The Alfond Youth Center plans to go ahead with its summer programs but will reduce the numbers taking part in order to observe social distancing guidelines. Emma Gallagher, 6, from left, Lahla Brann, 7, Emma Chaput, 8, Anderson Phinney, 8, and Xavier Bernardini, 7, show off their freshly cut chard in the greenhouse at the center in Waterville April 17, 2018. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

“We’re doing the screenings out at Camp Tracy as well, and before anybody is allowed to come to the camp, we’ll do it daily. We’re guessing about 80 kids is what we can handle.” 

Lavenson said the space the center has available can accommodate the restrictions to be implemented for the camp and the enrichment program.

The enrichment program is held at the center’s main campus on North Street in Waterville and will be the only program held inside the building this summer, according to Lavenson. Camp Tracy operates on a 32-acre campsite on McGrath Pond in Oakland, making social distancing possible.

Both programs have reduced the number of participants who can take part this year, Lavenson said.

In previous years, Lavenson said, “We can take up to 250 in Summer Enrichment, but it usually maxes out around 180. And Camp Tracy’s numbers are usually 160 per week.”

This year, the enrichment program is limited to 150 children and Camp Tracy is limited to 80 children.

The center is also not going to provide bus transportation from the center in Waterville to the campsite to Oakland.

“We were advised to do no busing due to social distancing,” Lavenson said. “Everyone needs to have drop-offs and pickups from the campsite.”

Large group activities have also been canceled due to social distancing guidelines.

“There will be no large group activities like the whole camp all coming together. We’re doing small groups,” Lavenson said. “And again, trying to do everything outside, keeping it in groups of 10, and with kids we do the best we can. We were told that 3 feet apart for kids is good, but we’re going to try and keep everyone 3 to 6 feet apart.

“We normally have parent nights, but we’re not doing that. We won’t have a group of 40 kids doing relay races, that kind of thing. It’s all small group activities.”

The modifications made by the Alfond Youth Center come after the state released a six-page COVID-19 prevention checklist for day camps and summer programs last week.

The restrictions implemented by the state in the checklist include limiting the frequency of gatherings, events and extracurricular activities; limiting the size of gatherings to 50 people or fewer; staggering the use of communal spaces and drop off and pick up times and locations; implementing strict social distancing; avoiding field trips to gathering or recreational places; and intensifying cleaning, disinfecting and ventilation.

Around 14 of the state’s 270 camps have decided to cancel their 2020 seasons in lieu of the new guidelines.

“We’re just trying to do this and maintain the utmost safety,” Lavenson said. “We’re going to follow all of the guidelines to get the kids here.” 

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