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14th Jul 2021

“There’s hundreds of kids going to Center Parcs, yet we can’t run a camp for 25 of them”

Laura Cunningham

“It seems hard to understand why” – Summer camp organisers express outrage at indoor ban

Short notice and a lack of guidance has left business owners reeling,  as many summer camps due to open on Monday of this week have now been cancelled.

A further blow came when the latest ruling on indoor dining means our children will be allowed to go to a restaurant or a pub with us, but not attend an indoor summer camp.

 

Tracey Fitzgerald owner of The Dojo in Tramore explained: “We run our summer camps every year and they’re indoors usually, in an industrial unit. So we’ve no option of an outdoor space.

“We had hopes that we would go ahead. We were scheduled to start on Monday the 12th and we presumed that indoor was opening on the 5th like everybody else, but when that announcement came that the indoor dining wouldn’t go ahead, there was no clarity around summer camps. Last year, there would have been a dedicated section on Gov.ie for summer camps and guidelines, but there was nothing on it this year.”

Describing how they planned to operate safely she added: “We would have used the pod system and we would have reduced our numbers from what we normally take. And we would have done staggered drop offs and collections for the parents. We’d everything in place, basically. There’s hundreds of kids going to Center Parcs yet we can’t run a camp for 25 of them”

Explaining that she found out about the ban by reading an article on Facebook Tracey said: “I found out on Friday afternoon.”

Christine Campbell owner of Anyone for Science has moved her entire operation outdoors: “Given that they’ve been in schools for so long…it seems hard to understand why. Even if we could come indoors when it rained, that would be a huge step forward for me.”

Some organisers decided from early on that without any guarantees or even direction from the government, they’d have to make alternative plans, as Stef McSherry from Kinderama explained to HerFamily: “Normally, at this time of year, we would run camps for minis. This year we decided not to. There seemed to be no guidance whatsoever — were we supposed to run pod systems? What would happen if we had a positive case? It just seemed too up in the air. I am not surprised that they have stopped the indoor summer camps, but I feel that we should have had clarity on that back in May”

With no guidance, Stef decided early on that she simply couldn’t plan an indoor camp with no guidance from the government: “We opted to record an on-demand (online) summer camp, so if you need your kids to calm down after a day at the beach you can put on a mindfulness exercise or relaxation. If it’s wet outside and you need your kids to burn off a bit of energy, try a sports class or make-believe adventure.”

The hope is of course, is that foresight like this will see businesses through what should be a busy period. But for those not so prepared, it’s a worrying time: “I feel very sorry for providers having to sort out this mess now”, Stef added.

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