ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Across the Bay area, parents are getting the news they’ve been dreading after two long months of homeschooling their children. Many of the summer camps parents were relying on for a much-needed break are now announcing they won’t be holding camp after all due to coronavirus concerns.
"It's been such a roller coaster not knowing what's going to happen and you think you’ll get a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel and then they take it away,” said parent Ashley Perez. Her 5-year-old son Caleb was set to begin summer camp in June, but that has now been canceled.
Posts expressing disappointment could be found all over social media Thursday night from kids and their parents.
Parent Heidi Brooks Parker posted on Facebook, “I think I am going to cry. That was our only option for the summer. Anyone know of any others that is not an expensive private daycare?”
Parents looking for alternative camps report many are already filled up. Zoo Tampa had “sold out” on their website and many others were still accepting applications but were advising parents to check back for updates on possible changes.
Experts suggest getting on as many waiting lists as possible in the event CDC guidelines become less restrictive allowing camps to open up slots for additional children.
That remains uncertain and parents like Ashley say they’re not holding their breath. “I talk to all my mom friends and they're really in the same boat,” said Perez. “At this point I don't know what other options we have so I think it's going to be juggling it for another two months during summer.”
As 10 Tampa Bay learns of additional cancelations, suspensions, or postponements this list will be updated.
Here is a running list of how certain camps in your county are proceeding:
Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation 2020 summer camp programs have been canceled due to the coronavirus.
"The decision was made to protect the safety of children, their families, and Parks & Recreation staff who lead the camps. The closures align with a decision this week by Hillsborough County Public Schools to cancel in-person summer classes," the county wrote in a news release.
The county says parents who pre-registered their kids fill receive a full refund for the sessions they paid for.
Hillsborough County's summer programming typically began the first week of June and ran in a series of two-week sessions during the summer.
To fill the void, the county said it will be developing virtual programming to engage and educate kids through the summer months.
Parents can visit the county's website for additional information.
As part of the mayor’s Lift Up Local initiative, the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department will begin this summer with a two-week Summer Kickoff Camp Program free of charge. This camp program will run June 1 to June 12, Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at eight sites with limited registration to reduce capacity.
Instructions on how to register for the lottery will be made available on the Parks and Recreation website.
Polk County Parks and Recreation have also chosen to cancel its 2020 summer camps and recreation programming.
“This difficult decision was made due to the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Parks and Natural Resources Director Gaye Sharpe said. “The health and safety of our campers, parents and staff is paramount during this challenging time.”
The county says staff is exploring other ways to keep kids active this summer while following the governor's executive orders. No specifics have been provided at this time.
The following are canceled: Camp R.O.C.K., Summer Frenzy Programs, A to Z Nature Camp and Discovery Center Summer Recreation Outdoor Education.
For further information on closures, you can all 863-534-7377
Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) is planning to host a modified 2020 Summer Day Camp program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online registration begins Saturday, May 30, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. Summer Day Camp plans are contingent upon entering Phase II of Governor DeSantis’ plan to reopen Florida, and wellness indicators while camp is in session.
Families can check back here for updates.
Pinellas County camp registration is still active on its website as of May 14. But it is important to note the county has canceled all special events and gatherings of 10 or more until further notice.
The locations of two of the county's summer camps, Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center and Heritage Village Park are also listed as closed until further notice.
The Recreation Division’s Summer Camp program for 2020 has been canceled in Tarpon Springs.
10 Tampa Bay has reached out to the county regarding its final plan when it comes to summer camps.
To check the Pinellas' park and preserve COVID-19 guidelines click here.
But, the city of Clearwater, recognizing the need "to help give parents a break and to keep children active" will still be hosting limited-capacity summer camps from June 8 through Aug. 7. To fill the slots and abided by CDC guidelines the city is holding a letter for camp spaces beginning May 27.
Parents looking to grab a spot need to head to the city's website between May 19 and 25 to enter. Priority will be given to Clearwater residents, local business owners and city employees.
To help ensure safety and social distancing the city is implementing the following: assigning a staff member to a group of nine campers that will stay together daily, daily wellness checks of staff and campers, and eliminating field trips or large gatherings.
At this time Sarasota County has delayed summer camp registration as it continues to monitor the "ongoing situation."
Here are the current changes in place:
- Camp registration will be announced once Phase Two of reopening Florida begins
- Registration will only be on a weekly schedule to provide flexibility
- Spots available will be reduced to help maintain social distancing
- No adventure camp this year. Only camps for those six to 11-years-old
- Registration will be online and available on a first-come-first-serve basis
"Please know that we understand how important summer and specialty camps are to you and the participants and we will be updating this page as soon as we know more," the county wrote online.
To monitor when registration may reopen click here.
Registration for Manatee County's Summer Blast Camp is suspended until further notice.
Families can check back here for updates on the future of the camp.
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