Local camps trying to adapt in order to still host campers this summer

Posted at 11:47 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 02:47:53-04

Kids and teens will have to wait a little longer to make summer memories at Camp Natoma this year, as the coronavirus pandemic put the camp's permitting process on hold.

"The decision [to put camp on hold] wasn't really a decision; the state is not in a phase of opening right now that allows for residential summer camps for kids. So our start date is soon and we are not able to obtain a permit to operate and our pool is not allowed to operate," explained Emily Zbin, Executive Director of Friends of Camp Natoma.

Zbin says hundreds of kids come to the came each year and having to delay the start of camp could be a huge blow financially.

Camp staff are hopeful the county regaining local control will help them get back on track and able to start hosting camp again by July.

They believe campers need an experience like what they provide now more than ever.

The resounding message from our local families was: "Please have camp this summer. My kids need to get outdoors; my kids need to get off their screens; my kids need to move their bodies and get out of this rut," Zbin said.

Staff at Woods Humane Society are adapting their Critter Camp to go virtual for the month of June.

"What we have planned is for each day to have two different meeting times. So one of the meeting time will be more education focused and interaction and game focused and the other time will be hands on learning with an animal," explained Jamie Relth, Humane Education Manager for Woods Humane Society.

To try to still have some hands-on experience for the campers, staff say kids will be given projects to complete at home.

"We'll learn how to make treats and toys for the animals that they can donate, they can even start their own fundraiser pages so they can feel like they're doing something to help the animals," Relth said.

Both San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County submitted paperwork to the state Tuesday to try to regain control of reopening.

County officials say, however, there's no way to know when those documents will be approved.