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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

DeKalb Park District Opens In-Person Summer Camps For Kids In Grades K-6

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Connie Kuntz
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Camps begin June 1st and will run through the middle of August.

The DeKalb Park District is offering in-person summer camps for children entering kindergarten through 6th Grade. Superintendent of Recreation and Facilities Greg Bruggeman says kids can expect to participate in a variety of safe, healthy activities including human foosball, arts & crafts, and virtual tours of the Louvre Museum and the San Diego Zoo.

"We're looking at adapting a lot of our programs that we have done in the past," he said, "to comply with social distancing, as well as with 10 participants." 

This year, the camps will be held at the Sports & Recreation Center instead of Littlejohn Elementary School. Because of the coronavirus, Littlejohn's pool is out of commission. Bruggeman said, "We wanted to have it [the camps] at our facility and have a little bit more control over the cleaning and how some of that got done."

Bruggeman acknowledged that it is going to be a challenging summer because of the pandemic, but emphasized, "It's really important that we allow kids to be kids. It's important to us that kids aren't just left inside."

Though they won't be taking the campers to the pool or on field trips this year, Bruggeman said DPD still has a goal of providing resourceful activities that promote social, emotional and physical growth. "When they go back to school or when they are going into junior high and they recognize somebody they met in camp," he said, "they will have that ability to make a connection whereas otherwise they wouldn't." 

For decades, camps have provided kids of all backgrounds with a variety of supervised activities ranging from hiking and canoeing to performing arts and computer programming. "I think most adults that grow up in a camp atmosphere -- or have gone to camps in the past -- look back at those times with a sense of romance," he said. "No one looks back to their summers and really remembers the summers they spent on the couch watching TV." 

Bruggeman understands that the pandemic has made people are reticent about starting the camps, but he said they are being very careful. "We're working with the CDC guidelines, we've been in touch with the DeKalb County Department of Public Health, and we're using the Illinois Department of Public Health as guidelines for cleaning and keeping everybody safe."

He stressed that safety is their first priority and fun is second. "We've expanded that training into areas that we have never done before," he said. "We're looking at ways that we can maintain individual supplies for everybody, and then just trying to make it as fun as possible."

To learn more about the summer camps, click here