As Texas starts to reopen from COVID-19 closures, local summer camps are ramping up plans to welcome children, though some camps will be different from the norm.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced another round of businesses allowed to reopen, including youth camp operations, starting May 31.
Longview World of Wonders normally offers several sessions of camps at its hands-on children’s museum in downtown, but interim Executive Director Rhonda Bullard said the governor’s plan did not allow such museums to open yet.
“We’re hopeful he updates that soon and things change,” she said. “But until it does, we will stay closed.”
At the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, summer classes will begin the first week of June, but with limitations, according to its website.
A maximum of 10 students will be allowed in the physical classroom, the website says. Additional class spots will be available to allow students to watch and participate via a Zoom livestream.
Supplies for Zoom participants can be picked up at the museum one week before class begins, the website says.
The Longview Public Library’s summer reading program is going totally virtual, Youth Services Supervisor Jenna Yeakley said.
“Basically, what that looks like is daily events that are going to be online via our Facebook page to keep kids busy,” she said. “In addition to that, they have reading goals that they’re trying to meet varying on age range. They can get a prize for meeting them, and they have activities they can do at home and get rewards.”
The Boy Scout camps at George W. Pirtle Scout Reservation near Lake Murvaul will begin in July, according to the website.
Some local colleges already had canceled their summer camps before the governor’s announcement Monday, and they will keep them closed, including LeTourneau University in Longview and Tyler Junior College.
Kilgore College spokesman Chris Craddock said in a written statement the college has not yet made a decision about its summer camps.
The RecSports Summer Camps at the University of Texas at Tyler are on hold, according to a written statement from the university. The camps could start June 15.
University leadership is meeting this week to consider the implications of the governor’s directives, spokesman Lucas Roebuck said.
The Tyler Museum of Art does not plan to host summer camps, despite Abbott’s blessing to open, Executive Director Christopher Leahy said.
In the past, the museum has hosted six weeks of summer camps filled with arts activities.
Pine Cove, a Christian summer camp at Lake Tyler, has not canceled camps but had to make adjustments to its original plans for the summer.
“We have revised our cancellation policies to serve our camper families well, as we know every family has been impacted differently by COVID-19,” according to its website.
Pine Cove submitted a health and safety plan for review by Abbott’s appointed Texas Strike Force regarding how to safely open up camp.
The camp was prohibited from opening its first planned week, which would have begun this coming Monday, and its website says campers who were registered for that week either rescheduled to later in the summer or chose to reserve for 2021. The camp’s website says it will open for overnight youth camps beginning May 31.