CONWAY — “I’m optimistic,” John Eastman, director of the Conway Parks and Recreation Department, said Wednesday regarding where things stand with the annual eight-week summer program geared for boys and girls ages 6-14 from Albany and Conway.
That optimism amid the COVID-19 pandemic comes the day after Gov. Chris Sununu’s Governor’s Economic Re-Opening Task Force, which has been meeting daily since April 22, shared its recommendation for summer camps. The governor has not approved those recommendations yet.
The task force, made up of 19 people from around the Granite State including Rep. Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), who chairs the House Commerce Committee, came up with an approach for summer camps. The task force took into consideration that parents will need care for children as they return to work. The committee’s recommendation calls for keeping campers outside as much as possible, and separating them into groups that would move about “as a self-contained bubble.”
The task force noted that camps are willing to push back their usual late June start dates.
“We’re hoping we start June 22, but it might be June 29 or July 6,” Eastman said, adding, “Mike (Lane, assistant recreation director) took part in the weekly (virtual) N.H. Parks and Rec breakfast meeting today and heard the guidelines. We think we can make it work."
Last summer, Conway Rec had 275 children register for its Monday-Friday daylong program offering arts and crafts, games, sports, special activities and weekly trips.
The cost for the full summer program is $290 if you register before June 8, and $300 after that date.
“It’s a great deal for an eight-week program,” Eastman said.
Scholarships are available. To learn more, call Lynore Wagner at (603) 901-1139.
This is scheduled to be the first summer that Conway Rec has hosted camp in its new location within the Kennett Middle School in Conway Village. For the previous 20-plus years, Conway Rec had been housed in the Conway Community Building in Center Conway.
“If we were still at the old place, as much as I’d hate to do it, I would probably recommend that we not do a summer camp,” Eastman said. “There just wasn’t enough space there to the needed social distancing. It’s going to be a challenge here, but I think we can do it and do it well. The thing we have going for us here is that we have a lot of outdoor space. We have a ton of room for groups.”
He added: “If it rains, we have a big enough facility indoors that we can spread out everyone.”
Eastman said children will be separated into two groups by age. Ages 6-9 will be in one group and 10-14-year-old children will make up the other group.
“I think no matter when we open, camp is going to look distinctively different in how we do things,” he said.
Eastman hopes the community will learn by the end of the month if camp is a go or no-go.
“I think we need a decision by the end of the month,” he said. “Parents need to register their children. I’ve got to get counselors hired and process a lot of paperwork. We still need counselors. Right now, I’ve got 11 counselors and Robby (Moody, program director), so we probably need four or five more people.”
Counselors work for nine weeks. Applicants must be 18 years or older.
“Experience working with elementary-age children is preferred,” said Eastman. “Also, we have two potential counselors in training positions available. Applicants for this position must have completed their junior year of high school.”
For a copy of the application, go to tinyurl.com/y9gdql65.
For those wanting to follow Conway Rec is on Facebook at tinyurl.com/yc5yjmen.