CAMDEN, NJ — Children splashing. A lifeguard’s whistle. A parent's pleas to slow down.  

All noises common this time of year at the North Camden Community Center pool — one of two public pools in the city — were absent Wednesday morning, an hour after the gates opened for the first time this summer. 

“I honestly didn’t know that was today,” Camden resident Kevin Matos, 38, told TAPinto Camden.

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Matos watched over his two children - who are in town from Puerto Rico - while sitting on a bench at Pyne Poynt Park located behind the center.

“There would have to be precautions for me to take my children, what’s happening is not a game. What’s happening is hard to control...but yes, I would take them,” he continued. 

The city hopes that’s the case, saying the decision to open pools, which Gov. Phil Murphy has approved, was not done lightly.

“As summer arrives, residents need relief from the sweltering temperatures,” Mayor Frank Moran said upon announcing public and spray pool openings. “Camden residents are being asked to maintain social distance, maintain healthy hygiene and to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. We are happy to be able to provide our Camden residents with access to these safe and family friendly settings once again this summer.”

Some of the rules you should know if you're planning a visit locally: stay home if you’re not well, avoid sharing items, wear a face mask when not in the water, wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.  

Camden city has bared the brunt of COVID-19 in the county, accounting for nearly 2,400 cases as of this week.

Jerry Campos, a Camden resident since 1989, said he's not taking any chances.

“Because of what’s going around I could see people not wanting to go to the pool right now. I don’t plan on it any time soon,” said the 37-year-old father.

Instead, Campos built a store-bought pool beside his house for his daughter.  

“We're doing fine what we have here,"he said. "There would have to be no more virus in order for me to bring her out there. She hasn’t been to Walmart, let alone a [city] or spray pool.”

Mario Morales, 73, lives a stone's throw from the north Camden pool but hasn’t been to the center in years. 

“Esta muy temprano para abrir,” he said. “It’s too early to open.”

“Regardless, I wouldn’t go. The bacteria and people that close together doesn’t seem like a good idea,” said Morales, who has lived in Camden for over 50 years.

Still, it may be too early to tell whether residents will take advantage of the public facilities - with three young boys eagerly grabbing registration forms (which are required to be filled out by someone 18 or older) at the center around Noon. 

A table, set up a few feet from the pool, also provided visitors with safety guidelines and pamphlets.

The North Camden pool, located at 6th and Erie Streets, is open for children 14 and under Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and for 15 and older 2 to 5 p.m.

Another in Centerville is located at the Isabel Miller Community Center at 8th Street and Carl Miller Boulevard - open for children 14 and under Friday through Tuesday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and for children 15 and older 2 to 5 p.m. 

Spray pools, open from noon to 8 p.m. seven days a week are located at:  

  • 4th & Jasper Sts. – Liney Ditch Park
  • 4th & Washington Sts. – Washington Street Park
  • 7th & Clinton Sts. – Clinton Street Park
  • 9th St. & Ferry Ave. – Elijah Perry Park                                                                            
  • 30th & Fremont Sts. – Alberta Woods Park
  • Park & Baird Blvd. – Farnham Park
  • 6th & Erie Sts. – Pyne Poynt Park
  • 28th & Mitchell Sts. – Ralph Williams Park
  • Morgan St.  – Reverend Evers Park

Pre-registration is required, which can be accessed online at www.ci.camden.nj.us/summer-pool-2020-registration/.

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