Social distancing has changed life for children around the area over the past couple of months.

The Owasso Family YMCA is trying to keep at least one of those traditions, its summer camp, intact. Signups for children ages 5-12 are underway, with the first day of activities scheduled for June 1.

“When we open up our summer camps, we’re going to do so to provide the richest experience possible and not sacrifice that during this time,” YMCA of Greater Tulsa Vice President of Mission Kyle Wilkes said. “We feel like this is very important.”

Day camps will run from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. beginning Monday, June 1, and continuing through Aug. 9. Activities include STEM projects such as baking soda volcanoes, toothpick towers and other brain-bending activities; arts and crafts where campers will make slime, paint and camp bracelets; sports like basketball, soccer, frisbee and kickball; swimming at the indoor pool; literacy activities and outdoor education where campers learn about the environment, gardening and animals.

Being able to provide day camp programming during COVID-19 took on additional preparations.

The YMCA corporation headquarters recently released an 82-page field guide, used nationwide as guidelines for holding summer camp amid the coronavirus pandemic. Just a few of those recommendations implemented during summer camp include taking the temperature of campers and staff every day, wearing proper PPE and sanitizing rooms before and after use during day camps.

“As a staff we had to get together and figure, what do campers do and who touches what,” said Owasso YMCA Executive Director Tracy Tucker. “We had to figure out, ‘Is this an activity we could move forward with? And if not, what could we put in its place that is just as fun and exciting?’ It was a lot of creativity outside the box.”

In an effort to reinforce social distancing measures, day camp will be limited to 100 children. The revamped look to the YMCA’s summer camp incurred additional expenses. Those costs were offset by the financial efforts of local State Farm agents.

“They actually reached out to us and donated money to help keep kids safe for camps,” Tucker said.

Wilkes said the need to provide a memorable summer camp experience is essential for families in the Owasso area, particularly at this time.

“We feel like it’s critical that we step up, not only (for) kids but for the families. We know that there is a need for childcare and that families are trying to go back to work,” he said. “ … Ultimately we want to encourage everybody to get ready for summer. We’re excited to provide it for the community and serve in the way we know that is important right now.”

Camp fees are $165 per week for members and $195 for non-members. Scholarship opportunities are available for campers along with grants for children of essential workers. Those interested can register online at ymcatulsa.org under the programs tab.

For questions or additional information, email the Owasso Family YMCA at owassoms@ymcatulsa.org or call 918-272-9622.